Jojo Ryder is a sought-after executive producer in Hollywood, who has been responsible for the creation and success of many popular reality TV shows such as “The Bachelor,” “For the Love of Ray J,” “Rich Africans” and “Bad Girls Club.” He has made significant contributions to the dating and reality genres, and his influence is undeniable.
Ryder began his career as an intern at Paramount Studios, where he set out to make a name for himself. Now with a filmography of over 27 projects, he has established himself as a major player in Hollywood.
What sets Ryder apart is his commitment to telling diverse stories and uplifting underrepresented voices. This dedication to inclusivity and diversity is reflected in the stories he tells, which highlight experiences that might otherwise go untold. In 2015 Ryder partnered up with Senegalese American singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur Akon to produce “Incorruptible”. The 94 minute critically acclaimed documentary focused on the 2011 political attack on the Senegalese democratic system.
Ryder branched out into feature films like 2014’s “American Heist,” “A Little White Lie” and “Mack and Rita.” In 2021 Ryder decided to take his talents to Facebook with the fashion designer, and businesswoman Tina Knowles Lawson. The show, titled “Talks With Mama Tina”, is centred around intimate conversations in the vibrancy and warmth of Ms. Tina Knowles Lawson’s home. Similar to Jada Pinkett Smith’s famous “Red Table” Facebook show. This project has positioned Jojo at the forefront of Facebook’s pioneering video on-demand service.
With over two decades of experience, Ryder is a trailblazer in the industry, and his impact on Hollywood is sure to be felt for years to come.
GQ had a chat with Ryder to discuss his success and contribution in the entertainment industry.
GQ: Take us back to the beginning. Where does your love for filmmaking come from?
Jojo Ryder: My love for filmmaking came from when I would watch a movie, the journey of the characters and the outcome of the story. Watching films like “ The Cabin In The Cotton”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Casablanca”. Seeing a black and white film turn to colour for the first time “The Wizard of OZ”.
GQ: The hit reality show “Bad Girls Club” was an instant success and altered your career trajectory. What do you think made that show so popular?
JR: I think what made the show successful was the relatability to the cast.
GQ: “For The Love Of Ray J” drew 6.8-7.2 Million viewers and is regarded as one of television’s most successful reality shows. What is your winning formula for TV shows?
JR: I think the winning formula for a hit unscripted show is, can the audience have an emotional investment of the story you’re telling them, and can the journey of the show be relatable to the viewer.
GQ: You began in television and then moved on to cinema. How did the transition go?
JR: From a creative standpoint, it was easy, I actually enjoy it more. From a business standpoint the transition was really hard. I had a lot of success in TV, but the execs didn’t believe I could do cinema, I was boxed in as a TV Executive Producer. After years and years of pushing I finally got my opportunity with American Heist.
GQ: What was it like working with Akon on the 94-minute documentary about the 2011 political attack on Senegal’s democratic system?
JR: It was amazing!! Akon is such an incredible talent but more importantly incredible human being. The documentary “Incorruptible” a lot of changes happened for the Senegal democratic system.
GQ: “Talks With Mama Tina”, positioned you at the forefront of Facebook’s pioneering video on-demand service. How was the experience compared to television and cinema?
JR: It was a great experience, everyone at Facebook Watch was amazing, I would love to work with them again, Tina Knowles was incredible, and her work ethic was something I’ve never seen in all of my years in the business. VOD is direct to the consumer where the consumer can watch the program when they want, compared to Television where there’s a time schedule. A lot of networks / studios for television and film are making programs more accessible to consumers that could work better within their timeframe.
GQ: You’ve worked on critically acclaimed films like A Little White Lie and Mack & Rita as an Executive Producer. What types of projects do you prefer to work on?
JR: I love romantic comedies, Pretty Woman was one of my favourite movies. The type of films I would like to produce would be for DC / Marvel superhero movies, a film franchise like Zorro. I have a really good new fresh idea for it, maybe a mafia movie. I’m just so blessed to make films, and I want to make more! Movies have always been my escape as a kid and still are as a grown up.
GQ: Which television shows or films have you turned down and then gone on to be successful?
JR: There’s two projects that stand out, both of them were films, the two projects that I turned down that were successful, (it still hurts a little bit lol). “Mother’s Day“ starring Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson. “American Made” starring Tom Cruise. Both projects had no talent attached when I was offered. The producers for both projects did a fantastic job!
GQ: How has the entertainment industry evolved since you first started?
JR: The entertainment industry evolved in so many ways. Technology is allowing filmmakers to create their vision better than ever, you can film a movie from your phone. When I first started you didn’t have the tools unless you had a studio backing you. There’s more outlets to get your content out to the world, streaming platforms are growing, it’s a great time.
GQ: “The Bachelor” is one of your most popular shows. What made you believe in the concept?
JR: I believe in love, I believe there’s a happy ever after. Being able to show the journey of two people falling in love from when they first meet to the end, and being able to see different perspectives of a situation / storyline was intriguing.
GQ: With over 20 years in the film industry, you’ve worked with a diverse range of athletes, actors, actresses, and other talent. What are your favourite moments?
JR: That’s a hard question, I’ve been blessed to have so many incredible experiences with so many incredible talents. Every moment on set is a favourite moment because I’m living out my dreams that I had when I was a kid and that is to make shows / films for people to love, have them see a different perspective on something they may have never bothered to think about, giving a young kid and or person a reason to have an escape, the way films were for me when I was a child.