Francesca’s big strides
As a six-year-old living with her grandparents in Christ Church, Francesca Danielle Harewood often sat with her grandfather and watched television in Barbados.
“I would rush to be with my grandfather so we could spend time together enjoying what was on CBC Television,” said Harewood. “It was at that time that I developed an interest in television and I said when I grow up I want to be involved in TV in some way.”
Back then, Francesca’s grandparents, Ashton and Fredrica Agard, were helping to raise their daughter’s engaging child while her mother Grace Agard-Harewood was working and studying in New York and her father Arley Harewood was employed in communications at the United Nations headquarters.
“My grandparents taught me so many things that have helped to make me who I am today. Indeed, I must certainly say thanks to them and to the love and guidance of my mother, a remarkable woman who ensured that I receive a sound education, was raised to be respectful and disciplined, and to set goals and reach for the stars,” added Francesca.
“My mother had sent me to spend some of my early years with her parents in Barbados and I have never regretted that marvellous experience. They showered me with love and guidance.”
What a pity then that her grandparents and mother aren’t alive today to see where she has reached. They died during the past dozen years, the Agards in Barbados and their daughter in New York City. However, they lived long enough to see her begin her career as an entertainment attorney.
But how far has Francesca reached since then?
Last Monday, the Bajan New Yorker, who went to some of the best schools in New York, Connecticut and ultimately California on her way to becoming a corporate attorney, assumed duties as vice-president for business affairs at NBCUniversal Entertainment, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies involved in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.
“My new position is a dream come true,” Francesca told the SUNDAY SUN. “It offers exciting opportunities and comes with onsiderable responsibilities. You can’t help but love every minute of it.”
As a vice-president of business affairs at NBCUniversal based at Universal City in California, Francesca – a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Wesleyan University in Middleton Connecticut which awarded her a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1992, and the University of Southern California Law School in Los Angeles where she earned her juris doctor degree – negotiates all aspects of scripted programming deals with talent agents and lawyers on soap operas, game shows, dramas, comedies, you name them.
As part of her job, she works with various departments in the company on a daily basis, be they on the creative, production, financial, musical, advertising, sales, legal and syndication sides of the business.
“I am a negotiator, working on programming deals, similar to what I did at the Disney-ABC Television Group at Burbank in California where I was director of business affairs,” she explained.
“In that role between 2009 and last month, I worked closely with creative and production executives throughout all phases of the development of shows from the idea stage through production, working with talent and production staff.”
Before that she was head of business and legal affairs at SITV Cable Network, now known as NUVO-TV in Los Angeles. For five years, she was the production attorney for live daytime talk shows, trivia game productions and reality competition programmes that ranged from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Super Millionaire to The Tony Danza Show, productions of Disney-ABC Television in New York.
“I have also worked on the legal matters involving such popular soap operas as All My Children, One Life To Live and General Hospital as well as The View and Chew, she said. “I have worked on musicals, specials, prime time series and on the telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. That experience prepared me for what I am doing now.”
But there is another side to Francesca, the sister of Terry Arthur, music director of Barbados’ Square One band. As the owner of properties in New York City, Barbados and California, Francesca must have a sound business head on her shoulders.
Ultimately, she dreams of one day living and working in television and entertainment in Barbados.