A Journey Toward Excellence

A five-time Emmy winning producer of CBS' The Amazing Race raises the bar for reality TV

Name Hayma “Screech” Washington
Title: Executive Producer, The Amazing Race CBS
Location: Los Angeles
Age: 52
Power Play Maintains entertainment — and integrity — on a reality TV show
Most professionals are in a race of some sort. What’s your approach to distinguishing your brand from the pack?

If you don’t pay attention to the elements you are responsible for and you’re racing to get to the end, you may find that you’ve shown up without all the pieces. You can’t be so focused on racing to finish first. You have to distinguish what is important to whatever your goal is — in my case, producing a show. You have to make sure that you’ve got all your pieces in line and you’ve got to make sure you achieve the creative vision. That is more important than the race.

Detours can threaten success and lead to frustrating trials. What’s your strategy for surviving such hurdles?
When our contestants go to detours, there is a pro and a con. In business I try to take that same philosophy. Am I going to hastily run through it to get it over with? Or am I going to step back and take my time, focusing on how strategically best to approach it?

How do you stay at the top of your game?
Sometimes the day is hard. If I can stay positive and stay focused and get to the end of the day, I’m on top. Those are daily personal rewards. You keep that in your forefront and let that be your mission — then there are no bad days.

Do you fear or prepare for that moment when consumer attention to your product fades?
We prepare! There is nothing that you can produce that is not going to eventually become old. As producers, we are always thinking about how to keep our product fresh and not become complacent. You have to always look at how to reinvent it — in reality TV they sometimes call it “the twist.” In the end, in general life and other creative forms, you’re gonna have to remember that when its gone it’s nothing personal.

Are you compelled to build upon the amazing record of earning five consecutive Emmys? If so, what’s at the core of your determination?
I was trained by some of the best. They taught me a standard that I bring to the game. It is an honor to be recognized after all the years I put into producing it. I try to maintain the level of quality I was trained to deliver: perseverance, focus, and dedication to what we’re setting out to do. The five Emmys say the work has been acknowledged. You got to do it because it’s what you do; it’s what you love; it’s what you’ve chosen to be your career. If you get lost in trying to win awards at the cost of not enjoying what you do, you may be very disappointed. If I had been working to get an Emmy, I would have missed it because it’s been 24 years. I probably would have given

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