I am a mom, business owner – In that order. I’m a Momprenuer
I started later in life being a mom. My friends from high school had kids that were in middle school and my friends in LA were just starting to think about it. I suddenly found myself on an island on my own. My son’s father was previously married (and divorced long before I met him) with two children. With not going into too much detail, his relationship with his ex-wife and kids was strenuous and complicated. Soon, I came to realize that this was going to be a journey I would take on alone.
I was producing clip shows and variety shows. I started a show for NBC and the next day I found out I was pregnant. The project was exactly 9 months. Literally on my last day of work, I packed up my stuff, went home and the next day gave birth!
I really thought I would give birth and then continue to work – but from home of course. (insert knowing giggle here…
I quickly realized that this was not possible. I felt very isolated because my friends in LA were all working, I had no relationship to speak of to support me (both financially and emotionally) and my family was all back in Minnesota. No one tells you what you should do after giving birth. My advice to anyone who is pregnant is after giving birth, stay at home in bed for 3 months and tell your friends and family to visit, they must bring food and then let you sleep while they adore and care for your baby. Figure out someway, somehow to have someone clean your house at least once a week.
I’m not kidding…do it…
My career catapulted out of two things; the right time – right place and survival! I was spending 12-14 hours between the office and in the car. My nanny, her husband and their son were sitting down to dinner (at my house!) with my son every night. I wanted that to happen, since there was no reason for her to miss out on her family time just because I was working an impossible schedule and battling the infamous LA traffic. It was horrible, I drove home many nights in tears. I knew I couldn’t go on like this forever, but had no idea how to get out of it. When Reality TV came on the scene, I was basically asked to find real people to be on TV. I created and set up the systems and structure for reality TV casting and just like that saw an opportunity to become the 1st full service reality TV Casting Director, Producer and Developer. I quickly realized in order to embark on this journey I needed my own office and it had to be close to home. So, 16 years ago I opened up my own office down the street from house, with all of $5.00 in my pocket.
Conlin developed, Produced/Cast Nanny 911, Hell’s Kitchen, Utopia and Celebrity Bootcamp, to name a few.
I made it work and the best thing to come out of it is that I was now close to my son and even though I was going to now be working 24/7 at least I will do it my way. I quickly shifted what my life would look like – there is no balance – my work life and home life became a new lifestyle for me – it was all combined into one.
What is your parenting Philosophy?
My parenting philosophy is very simple. You need love, trust, and communication. My mantra is this – when raising children they need to feel safe, be loved and encouraged every day. They also need to be heard. Start really listening and paying attention to what they have to say and acknowledge what they are saying. They should also be exposed to as much of the world as possible, all types of people and remember it’s the journey not the destination that builds character. Structure is important but it doesn’t have to be scheduled it just has to be consistent.
What is your meaning and purpose?
My meaning and purpose is touch as many people as I can to let them know they have a voice and how best to use that voice. I love seeing people around me grow and go after their dreams and most importantly that they are prepared through this journey that it is not easy and never give up. If you let people know that the “not so fun and not easy” stuff, will happen, they can at least be a little prepared through the challenging times of life and it is real.
Did you know this all along or was it something you figured out later in life?/How did you come to this?
I knew it but I didn’t know it. As a young girl, I was impacting people around me, even older people and could see their pain and their struggles because they were not being their true selves. It was later in life when I was working with thousands of real people wanting to be on TV, that it really clicked what I was meant to do.
Do you have a daily practice or special “me time” ritual?
Ha! I have a million of them that I would love to do everyday; mediation, yoga, run on the beach, ballet class, drink coffee and read magazines and books on philosophy. I fit it in when it fits!
Conlin owns and operates The Conlin Company, a full-service casting, development, and production company in Los Angeles, with additional resources in New York and Europe. Conlin specializes in casting, development and production of reality television shows, host and expert casting, commercials, films, documentaries and campaigns.
Conlin has functioned in virtually every aspect of production: executive producer, producer, story producer, associate producer, line producer, production manager, and director of talent development and research. She has served as a producer and/or casting director for some of the most successful reality television series on primetime programming.
Starting out in the industry as Phyllis Diller’s tour manager, Conlin moved on to become a talent agent with Agency of the Performing Arts, representing music and comedy talent. Talent representation was a natural segue into producing and casting for clip, variety, and reality shows.
Conlin is considered a trailblazer in the reality television genre for her role in defining the criteria and developing the systems needed to bring real people to the TV screen. Conlin Also identified a niche for European production companies, leading The Conlin Company to provide casting and pre-production services in the U.S.
Conlin is a producer of FOX’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hell. Additional producer and co-producer credits include: Chef Academy (Bravo), Nanny 911 (FOX), Marriage 911 (FOX), It Girls (VH1), Guinness Book of World Records Primetime (FOX), Hidden Victims: Children of Domestic Violence (Lifetime), TV’s Greatest Christmas Moments (FOX), Oops: The World’s Funniest Outtakes (FOX), You Asked For It (NBC), and When Animals Attack (FOX).
Conlin is the casting director for some of the most successful reality television series on primetime networks (ABC, FOX, NBC): Hell’s Kitchen; Kitchen Nightmares; Hotel Hell; Utopia, The Swan; Nanny 911; True Beauty; Secret Millionaire; The Moment of Truth; Worst Cooks in America; Food Court Wars 2; Paradise Hotel; Love or Money; Mr. Personality; Who Wants to Marry My Dad?; Forever Eden; and The Complex.