Paul Carrick Brunson: King of ‘Lovetown USA’

Matchmaker Paul Carrick Brunson goes mainstream with a new show 'Lovetown' on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)

Paul with Oprah and fellow matchmaker Kailen Rosenberg

At the very end of 2009 I came out as a Matchmaker and dropped a YouTube video. My second video was right in the middle of the Black Love storm. I did a response to the Helena Andrews article in the Washington Post – Single Black and Lonely, and that went viral. Each week, I was getting 1-2 production companies that were inviting me to have conversations – that’s when Telepictures came up.

I hadn’t thought about the entertainment aspect in terms of my business. You need a business plan but a dynamic plan that can let you shift and dynamic. Because my plan was dynamic I could shift.

I began to realize that a lot of producers who would act like they were working with someone but they really weren’t. They had maybe worked on a set of a show ten years ago but weren’t currently working with a big name. So there was a lot of misrepresentation.  When I would get a message sometimes I wouldn’t even take it at full value
In 2010, I got a Facebook message from a “producer” that said they worked for Oprah. They said “Have you ever thought about doing tv? We would be interested in talking to you.” I honestly didn’t pay it much attention because I was doing a lot, I was doing the matchmaking, speed dating, etc and I didn’t get right back to them. By the time the Anderson stuff had hit and Dr. Drew had hit, summer of 2011 I got another serious message from them. I was going to be in LA for a taping of Lifechangers and they said to come by the office.

So I went to the office, and I will never forget it. It was surreal. It’s important to realize that first shot, that first introduction is lasting. I didn’t realize it at the time, they sat me in this long conference room – with 11-12 people from the OWN team and they asked me to tell them my story. I started telling them my story and they immediately  fired back and said “We think we’ve got a television show for you, are you interested?” And when they told me about this concept I completely fell in love.

What has it been like working with and learning from Oprah?

Oprah is incredible. In New york, I’ve had tequila shots with Oprah, I’ve interacted with her on several occassions. She completely disarms you. She’s everything and more than you think.

But what’s most amazing about her is her warmth. I have worked for a billionaire, and I’ve been around high status people. You can feel it from their aloofness, their entourage, and with Oprah you will sit with her and talk to her, the staff and bodyguards fall back. She looks you in the eye, she touches your arm, she talks to you about current topics. She has this ability to connect that I’ve never seen with anyone. It’s powerful.

What was it like to meet Oprah?

I was hired by OWN and while I was preparing for the show I hadn’t met Oprah yet. But it made sense – I’d met producers and other key people.  My co-host and I found out that we were going to meet Oprah during a live event they were hosting. The producer told me “Oprah’s going to pull you up on stage and that’s how you are going to meet her.”  - while taping for 2 shows and in front a live audience!

When Oprah travels she has this lighting kit because she’s Oprah. One of the producers/camera men – a black guy – whispered in my ear before Oprah hit the stage. He said “Make sure that you stand in the light.”  I asked him what that meant. He said “Just go up on stage and you’re gonna feel it…” He was telling me from a technical standpoint where to stand so that I can get the best light and appear my best on screen as a black person.

So when I got up on stage I see Oprah and I’m sweating, I’m nervous. We hugged, she put her hand on my back. I looked at the crowd, they’re cheering. And then I kind of felt the light on my face, it was warm.  I felt this calmness take over.  I stood there, and I was thinking “Oh my God, this is what life is about. We have to find the light and then let go. Don’t worry about everything else, just find and stand in your light.”

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