She earned an Emmy Nomination
I never knew just how incredibly talented my dear friend down the street was until she got nominated for an Emmy! I adore her, I knew she had a cool job, but I didn’t really “know” until — the amazing news was announced! Do I really know my friends as well as I think, do I listen well, and pay attention? Sure, we may think someone scary might be living in the house next door, or they may be the sweet neighbor we have wine with on the porch, but sure enough, in my neighborhood, some pretty incredible ladies live right near me, and they have a lot to share.
The sweet demeanor and easy chatability on a walk or in the camp pick-up line underscores the beauty of what I didn’t see — Val LoCascio is a powerhouse! She was likely running around in her favorite burgundy sweater and faded black jeans when she was nominated for an Emmy as co-producer for HBO’s “The Weight of Gold.” Her groundbreaking documentary demystifying the mental health issues of Olympic athletes. In addition, she is the producer of National Geographic’s “The Dalia Lama: Peace and Prosperity,” chosen for the Tribeca Film Festival.
I wanted to know how this down-to-earth, kind-hearted, straight-shooter, Mom of two strong young-adult girls, wife, dutiful daughter, and sister… and best friend to many (including me) –got this amazing body of work accomplished (and there’s more on the horizon).
How did she do it? And what can be learned from her experience growing her company Potomac Hudson Media (run from her home office)? And like many of us, her long career continues to adapt as her life changes. Her career is long, and it has evolved. I wanted to share her story.
The Key to Success: Making Personal Connections
The main takeaway from our discussion was her ability to make and cultivate connections. These connections, she says, turned into professional and personal relationships the were and are the foundation of her company—people she works with every day. Connecting is the lifeblood to her product, these incredible documentary works.
Share a Little Bit about Yourself
Where did you grow up and how has that shaped you? How did your career evolve?
I grew up in a small town on Long Island, but my parents were very intentional in exposing us to everything because they wanted us to have a lot of different experiences. This shaped me, and it is still what I seek — unique experiences.
My husband and children influence me in so many ways. Their perspectives are often different from mine, which has added a whole other dimension to my life and how I think about things. They are also my biggest cheerleaders and give me honest feedback, and for this, I am very grateful.
How did you become a producer? Is that something you worked toward? What motivated you?
My career evolved from working as an executive in strategic communications in my twenties and thirties to becoming a producer in my forties. I worked for National Geographic as a consultant on the strategic communications front, and I always had an interest in producing. I always wanted to work towards it, but I wasn’t sure how it would happen. I was motivated by my love for film and media and the growing desire to know more about the business. My path became more apparent when I met with a friend who headed up HR for ABC News, and I confided in her that I was looking to gain some producing experience. She offered me an opportunity to work as a producer on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” and I grabbed the chance!
Being a producer requires a great network of talented professionals. How did you create and grow your network?
You create a network of talented professionals by being open to joining professional groups or just grabbing coffee with a peer. I also love connecting with other people, so in the end, it is really about both of you sharing your stories and seeing what naturally comes from that conversation. Just reaching out to one person or them reaching out to you can truly change your trajectory. My current business partner and I initially connected over LinkedIn (like so many do) as we had many friends in common, and she had recently relocated to the DC area. We started chatting and realized that we had complementary skills….and after a few phone calls and ongoing meetings, we decided to work together on two film projects.
Often, personal friendships and professional relationships overlap. How does that work for you?
Many professional relationships turn into friendships; often, we are both focused on the same mission. I try to keep my relationships separate from my work life, although in some cases, it can make sense to work together if you have a great synergy.
How do you stay connected to everyone?
I think checking in with people keeps you connected. Just a quick text or e-mail can make all the difference. I care a lot about the people in my life. I’m interested and open to them, their lives, and their experiences. I think that creates a strong foundation for work…and friendship. But it starts with me and how I approach people. I never really thought about it until you asked! I guess it’s a good thing that I am the way I am. I built my life on this!
What do your “connections” mean to your life? How do they shape you and influence you?
This last year opened our eyes to the importance of connections and community; they keep us anchored. As a storyteller, I love hearing others’ stories about their lives, and they always inspire me — sometimes professionally, sometimes personally.
The openness I talked about, being ready to listen, ask questions shows I care about what I’m hearing. That’s how the story is unfolded to me – with trust and care, the foundation for making a connection with someone.
What would you say your superpower is?
Hmmm….I think it is the ability to multitask, which was overwhelming when I had young children. I know this about myself – I can have many things going on, and I can get them done. It’s my confidence thing. Not always the fastest way, but I get there. One of my best tools is dividing my day into parts and assigning different projects, even time with friends and family, to those sections I’ve mentally set for myself. It works every time. I don’t have to get everything done in those daily time frames, but if I stick to my daily plans, it all gets done eventually. Indeed, there are times where one project or person takes precedence, but doesn’t that happen to all of us. Nothing is ever smooth sailing, but that’s when I reach out. And that is when I’m glad for all of the people I know and love.
With an Emmy Nomination, what did you plan to wear to your taped segment to the show? And what does your work attire look like?
Unfortunately, due to Covid, the Emmy Awards were streamed. Had it been live, I think I would have worn something that was both fun and elegant. My work attire is all over, but I love jean jackets with a tailored blouse or a simple dress, even a sweater in my favorite color.