Carlos King Wants More Black Reality Shows To Be Produced By Black Production Companies

Carlos King, who runs Kingdom Reign Entertainment, the company behind the hit Love & Marriage franchise, knows a thing or two about producing African American-focused reality television.

Kingdom Reign is behind three Love & Marriage series for OWN set in Huntsville, Detroit and D.C. as well as its latest creation, Family Empire: Houston, which launches today.

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There are plenty of others on television such as Basketball Wives LA, Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard and The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

The problem, as King, sees it, is that not enough of these shows are produced by Black-owned production companies.

“There’s a lot of African American-based shows in the world. 99% of them are produced by white-owned production companies. White-owned production companies are doing a great job of producing the Black unscripted shows but, for me, how special would it be for a show to represent the owner of the company so that we’re able to really have the ability to not only understand storytelling, but understand the culture in which the storytelling is happening,” he tells Deadline.

When Denzel Washington was promoting Fences, he gave an interview where he said, “It’s not color, it’s culture”, a view that King agrees with.

Carlos King (Kayla MaDonna)
Carlos King (Kayla MaDonna)

“My secret sauce is the fact that my shows represent me and my family and my background. That makes my talent feel so comfortable with giving their real life to the show because it is difficult to expose your real life in front of the world to judge, it can be uncomfortable at times. But when you have a company that is owned and operated by a person of color, who hires predominantly people of color to produce these shows, it really does feel like a family empire,” he adds.

Having spent nine seasons working on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, King says this is the reason that he started Kingdom Reign. “You can be somebody who talks about change, but I believe you have to step in front of the conversation and be the change. I wanted to be the change in the room, I wanted to leave my very comfortable position of the showrunner, where I knew where my money was coming every single Friday, to really invest in myself, and invest in my community and invest in my culture.”

King acknowledges other Black-owned companies in the unscripted space, including Jesse Collins Entertainment, which produces events such as the Grammys and Emmys, and Monami Productions, run by Mona Scott Young and behind franchises such as Love & Hip Hop.

But he says that Black professionals in the entertainment business haven’t always been “given the opportunity to really get our foot wet in this business as owners of companies”.

“We’re hired, we are definitely showrunners and producers. But when it comes to ownership, it’s not as easy for us. I have to show my industry and my peers that I am going to be the change that I seek,” he adds.

In addition to hiring people of color, King wants to be able to invest in them for the long-term as well so they can launch their own companies. “I want to take them under my wings and help them operate their own production companies. That is definitely a bigger goal for me, to be able to look at Kingdom Reign Entertainment as this huge conglomerate and then to be able to have subsidiaries under me that are totally run by people who worked for the company,” he says.

Kingdom Reign Entertainment was founded in 2012 and King sold his first show Hollywood Divas to TV One, where it ran for three seasons. From there, he sold Selling It In The ATL to weTV and Styling Hollywood to Netflix before scoring the Love & Marriage franchise.

<em>Love & Marriage: Detroit </em>(OWN)
Love & Marriage: Detroit (OWN)

He also makes Belle Collective for OWN, which just aired its fourth season, and Bold & Bougie, which recently launched on weTV.

His latest show is Family Empire: Houston, which follows the multi-generational Braden family.

King says that he was keen to do a show in the Texas city and then discovered this family, whose business is real estate. “It is is about the entrepreneurship of this family, but also just what happens in family dynamics, from relationships to love to the drama. It’s seeing people who represent the real world,” he adds.

His hope is that Family Empire can be its own franchise and expand into new cities with new families. “With Family Empire: Houston, the DNA of the show is a successful family, so when it becomes another franchise, I will definitely look for a family-owned business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be based in real estate, it could be a restaurant, it could be a tech company. I want to be able to really diversify it,” he says.

Next up, King would like to move into the true-crime, dating and gameshow spaces. “True-crime is something that we’re developing and talking to a few streamers about. I also want to host and produce a game show. I look at what Steve Harvey has done with Family Feud, which was my favorite. Gameshows are something that millions of [people] just love. Look at how long Wheel of Fortune has been on. I want to be on in American households five days a week.”

Kingdom Reign was also one of the producers behind The Stroll, a feature documentary for HBO that premiered at Sundance in 2023. The film, directed by Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker, documents trans history in New York, from the perspective of Black and Latina trans women who had been sex workers in the Meatpacking District during the 1980s and 1990s, in an area known as The Stroll.

“It was really special to be at Sundance and sell a documentary that really spoke to the trans community. My goal is to continue to tell different stories that some people may shy away from. We are definitely navigating to have more of those,” he says.

King may also find himself in the M&A space as larger production groups look at opportunities. He says that he has already been approached for investment. “I’m always open to a meeting and a conversation. My focus is to continue building the company and make sure that we are seen as a multifaceted, diverse, storytelling company,” he adds.

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