By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report For America Corps Member
There are various attributes of Chantel Clea that make her an exemplary event producer.
The Baltimore native is first born in her family, so she took initiative to monitor her siblings’ homework assignments, make sure they stayed out of trouble and help out with household chores. These youth experiences made her a natural leader.
Clea also maintains a keen eye for detail and a love for Black culture and advocacy. She never forgets about the small details, and she can weave in key cultural elements into each event she produces.
After working in the event planning department at the NAACP for over 10 years, Clea was given the opportunity to be the executive producer for the annual awarding of the Spingarn Medal, which is given to African Americans for outstanding achievement.
That year, the award was given to Quincy Jones, and it was the first time Clea felt completely connected to a project. It was also the first time that the attendees remained at the dinner from beginning to end.
Clea’s success led her to open her own business, Clea Event Productions, in 2016.
“Our mission is to really educate, empower and entertain Black people through events,” said Clea. “ understanding the client’s story, being able to understand what message they want to convey to their audience and making sure it leaves the audience with a value-add so that their message penetrates. It’s more than just an event, it’s an opportunity to educate the audience.”
Clea Event Productions boasts a wide variety of clients in the mental health space, higher education and politics. Clea has produced events including the Black Mental Health Alliance’s Dr. Maxie T. Collier Awards, Congressman Kweisi Mfume’s victory party and the Young Gets it Done voter registration rally at Morgan State University.
After taking on a project, the first thing Clea does is sit down with the client for a strategic planning meeting to understand their needs and vision.
“We want to become an extension of your team to really help your vision come to life,” said Clea. “What we also do is just bring in suggestions and ideas to really enhance or suggest methods that can help the client achieve their mission.”
Clea Event Productions is not just staging and lighting. It’s producing an event in a way that relays the client’s message while keeping the audience engaged and entertained. The company also partners with Intel Media Group to promote each event and elevate the client’s brand.
When COVID-19 hit Maryland, Clea was able to improve her skills and acquire new ones. She ramped up her clients’ social media, taught herself how to use Final Cut Pro to edit videos for clients and learned how to produce events through Zoom.
In 2021, Jesse Collins became the first Black producer of the Super Bowl halftime show, and Clea believes that one day she too will get the chance to produce the big-name event.
By the end of the year, Clea hopes to set up an educational space for high school students to learn about event planning and production as a career.
“Ultimately, what I want to be able to do is let little Black girls from Baltimore and beyond know that even if you don’t know what you’re doing after high school, there is a trade for you. You can do event production. You can do event planning,” said Clea.
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