KEY HAS A TV SHOW!!!! I wish I deserved to feel the pride that I feel currently, but I had nothing to do with this beyond a lot of know-it-all production and life advice:) That’s right, Keyanna Bowen (aka East & Lane) – my first official mentee, an EHD contributor, a stellar designer, self-taught photographer, and on-camera wonder, has booked and shot a pilot for Magnolia Network that starts streaming tomorrow on Discovery+. I’m going to let her tell you what she did to lead up to this outrageous opportunity (spoiler – years of hard work), but before I turn it over to her I want to emphasize how important it is that you tune in over the weekend. TV pilots often don’t get picked up to actually create a series if the viewership numbers aren’t high and I know that this weekend will be a busy one with the holidays. But PLEASE, put it on in the background if you don’t have time to watch it till next week, every view counts and share it on social, even if you have a tiny following. Not only do I want this for Key because she deserves it, but because we need more representation, faces of color in the design world and in design TV. She’s incredible, full of so much talent and grace – in a really down-to-earth and humble way. These are the people we need as examples on TV.
OK real quick – it’s called Rental Redo, on Magnolia Network on Discovery+. I asked Key a few burning questions. Take it away, Key.
Q: How did you book your own TV show? Walk us through the steps that made this possible.
Having a design tv show has been a lifelong dream of mine, and my journey to get here has been a thoughtfully planned, yet serendipitous course of events that started back in 2016. Well, actually, 2009–when I graduated college with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and dreams of becoming the next Genevieve Gorder (then later, Joanna Gaines). But no need to recap my post-grad days when I lived with my parents and had no real responsibilities, or direction in life…those were fun years. Oh! to be young with no bills, again…
For the sake of time, let’s start in 2016.
Wait, wait! Actually, we need to start in 2012. That’s when I really set the goal to be on TV and started my “FIRST” blog…
2012: Set Goal – Living on the eastern shore of Maryland, I quickly realized the lack of creative opportunities in my small town. I had two options: move to a big city with more opportunities, or create my own. I chose the latter and started a blog, as jobless creatives do. Not East & Lane. It was called “The Blend TV” ::cringe:: I don’t talk about it much. It was short-lived, with mostly fashion and DIY videos, because I still lived with my parents and didn’t have a home of my own to decorate. But, I knew if I wanted to be on TV one day, I needed to start practicing. And boy did I need practice…
DIY Watercolor Table Coasters with The Blend TV
I found some circa 2013 “Blend TV” videos over on YouTube. I’m 100% going to regret resurfacing these, but my embarrassment is your enjoyment…cheers!
Shout out to my hubs (then boyfriend) Daniel, who filmed all these videos (and still shoots all my videos to this day… started from the bottom, now we’re here! And by here, I mean 2014, our wedding year!
2014: Bloom Where You Are Planted – I married Daniel, obviously for his skillsets ( j/k ;-)) and we move into our first rental home together. A small, 2 bedroom, builder-grade condo. It was my first time having a place of my own to decorate. My passion for design grew even deeper and I wanted to showcase my love for all things home. So in 2015, I taught myself how to use a DSLR camera, rebranded The Blend to East & Lane, and started positioning myself as a design enthusiast. The only problem was/is, design isn’t really a thing when you live in a small, rural town. Farming is…punkin chunkin is… spending thousands of dollars on design services, not so much. And a lot of people (especially Black people) simply can’t afford it where I live. And that bothered me. So my mission was to have East & Lane be a resource that could inspire people to create a home and a life they love no matter where they live, or economic status. Hence my motto, “bloom where you are planted.”
2016: Never Stop Believing – This is where serendipity comes in… I’m sure you all are familiar with Erin & Ben Napier. They are stars of the show Home Town on HGTV. Well, prior to them having a show and becoming big-time celebrities, we were following each other on social. I don’t even really recall seeing their posts much, but somehow I saw their post about the premiere of their show, Home Town. I commented with congratulations and how excited I was about the show, since I also lived in a small town. And went back to scrolling…
The next day, I received an email from the production company that made their show. Apparently, their executive producer saw my comment, checked out my blog, and wanted to know if I had any interest in making an HGTV show. I could not believe it! I was for sure this was my “big break”.
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.
The production company asked us (Daniel & I) to send some iPhone videos. At that time, husband and wife renovation/flipper shows were very popular, and that’s what Network’s wanted. But my husband and I were not home flippers…we were renters. And the network was not interested in rental shows (at that time), so they turned us down.
But even after hearing “no thanks” from the network, I never stopped believing…for the most part 😉
2017: Create Your Own Thing – I became tired of renters being a forgotten population on design TV, and the blogosphere, so I took matters into my own hands and instead of waiting for a network to give me a show, I would create my own renter-centered content. At that time, the lease to our condo was ending and we needed to find another rental. You guys may have read a little bit of this backstory on my office makeover post, but as a refresher, I searched for what I called a “fixer-upper” rental. Similar to how people buy and makeover an old home, I would rent and makeover a dated rental and document the whole process on my blog and YouTube. My hope was that it would allow me to flex my design muscle and inspire renters that we too can have beautiful homes… and show these tv networks that #RentersLivesMatter!
Our Rental Kitchen Makeover (Part 3) – The Big Reveal
I found this adorable 1950s cape cod, in a great neighborhood, but super dated inside, and the landlord agreed to let me make updates (which he would pay for). I made a 3-part kitchen makeover video series for my YouTube/blog. Little did I know that this video series would catch the eye of a Magnolia Network Executive 4 years later…yet at the same time it’s exactly what I had hoped would happen.
2018-2019: Grow While You Wait – During these interim years, my interior photography business was really taking off, but I tried to find as many ways as I could to grow in design. Again, living in rural America, there aren’t hundreds of people knocking down your door for design services, but I wanted to have as much experience under my belt as possible so I could be a resource for others and if/when a design show dropped in my lap. I started working as an assistant project manager for a high-end design + build firm, located over an hour away from my house. The commute was dreadful, but I knew it was the best way for me to really learn all the facets of construction and renovations. And then, in 2019, I went to carpentry training school. The training was a two-semester course offered at my local community college. The final project was to build a shed (which teaches you the basics of home building). Unfortunately, our class didn’t get to finish because of covid shutdowns, but they still let us graduate. Again, it was all about finding ways to grow while I waited for my dream to manifest.
2020: When One Door Closes Another Will Open – I think it goes without saying that 2020 is a year that most people don’t wish to recall, but for me, it will go down as one of the most memorable years of my life. Despite the tragedies, so many businesses and people were looking for diversity. My photography and design business blew up. I had the honor of being selected as the EHD mentee (and my goodness, Em could not have come into my life at a more perfect time because not only has she been able to mentor me on my blog, but she’s been an absolute godsend in helping me navigate the tv biz).
In the Fall of 2020, a production company that makes digital content for Lowes hired me to host a rental makeover show for Lowe’s YouTube Channel. This was my first official hosting gig! And even though it was only for YouTube and not actual television, I felt like it was the universe preparing me for the real thing. I was also ecstatic that brands were FINALLY interested in the renter space. We filmed and aired one episode (here). It got great reviews and we had plans to film more. But then, sadly I received news that Lowe’s had decided to shelf the series due to covid shutdowns/concerns ::ughhh:: Needless to say, I was super bummed.
And then, here comes serendipity again…
Within this same timeframe, I received an email, but this time it wasn’t from a production company, but rather an executive from an actual tv network. Magnolia Network. He had seen my kitchen makeover video series (from 4 years ago) on YouTube, and loved the idea about making a show for renters! Funny how all of a sudden everyone was interested in renter content…
From there, things moved super fast. I guess because I was dealing directly with a network exec, versus a production company. Typically it can take months and even years for a show to be greenlit. But I received that email in November 2020, had a few zoom calls in December, and by February the show was greenlit.
2021: Manifestation – Magnolia officially greenlit the pilot on February 16th, which also happens to be my husband’s birthday. We joke that it was his gift for all the years he put in being my videographer. There were several months of legal stuff, and pre-production, and then we finally started filming the pilot end of August through mid-September.
For the sake of time, I’ll leave all the nitty-gritty details for another post, but let’s just say filming a tv show is NOT glamorous, AT ALL. There were several times my sister (who helped me on the show) asked me why anyone would ever want to be a design tv host –the days are extremely long, stressful, and production budgets for the design/renovation are in no way sufficient, and you definitely can’t survive off the talent rate… and yet, call me crazy, but I still loved doing it and so grateful for the opportunity, and know it is what I’m meant to do in life.
Sheesh! I know that was an earful, or should I say eyeful 😉! But what may seem like overnight success has been almost 10 years in the making. Which is why you should never give up on your dream(s). Delay is not denial!
2. Why did you want to have a show? We all know that it’s a lot of work and tv shows don’t pay nearly as much as people assume that they do, so why was it something you wanted to do?
Ha! You are absolutely right, there is very little money to be made from TV. Especially when you are “new talent”… let’s just say I won’t be quitting photography anytime soon lol. But for me, it was never about the money, but rather the desire to be a hope and inspiration for all, but especially my community. It’s no secret of the lack of Black representation on design tv, and I want to be a part of that change so black girls (young and old alike) know that they are talented enough, beautiful enough, smart enough to achieve the same opportunities as their White counterparts.
Here’s the trailer! just wait for the ad to play:)
3. What next?
Welllll, I hope more episodes! This is just a pilot, so ratings will determine whether the Network orders a full season. Which is why I would love (read: NEED!!) for you all to tune in tomorrow…and the next day…and the next day. I’ve been told that ratings from the first 3-7 days are the most important! That’s one good thing about it streaming on Discovery+, it will be available for your viewing pleasure 24/7, so you can’t miss it! So please tune in at your convenience (but preferably between tomorrow and Monday :-))
Opening Photo Credits: Design and Photo by Keyanna Bowen
Huge congratulations Key, very well deserved. I love your style and am delighted that all your work is paying off. Alas I am in Ireland so won’t be able to watch, but wishing you massive viewing figures and a full series to come!
Thank you so much!! Oh no, I wasn’t aware that streaming wasn’t available internationally… but thank you so much for the support!
Hooray Key! This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your story to get where you are today. 🙂
Thank you! I hope it will inspire someone else’s journey <3
Thanks for your honesty on your journey to get here. You paved your path (or rented? Ha) and your hard work made it happen. Best of luck!
Thank you so much!!
YESSS KEY!!!! So so excited for you. I have been waiting (for something?) to get Discovery+ and now I HAVE to get it for the premiere! I can’t wait to watch!
Thank you! Your support means everything!! I hope you enjoy the show!
Yaaaay! An overnight, 10 year, success story!
Be proud, be strong, be fierce.
You’ve done the hard slog and you’ve got the talent…now shine!
haha exactly — nothing happens overnight. Thank you so much for your support!!
Very cool! Congratulations!
Having tenacity and a dream and never losing sight of it is the path to “overnight” success. So happy for you.
It’s been a journey <3 Thank you so much!
Congrats on your hard-won and well-deserved success, Keyanna! It’s wonderful to see a network taking renters seriously. And I’m grateful to be reminded of your gorgeous living room.
Thank you so much! Yes, so glad to see renters finally getting the inspiring content they deserve! So glad you like my living room. Thank you!!
Biggest of congrats Key!! Love your work and aesthetic, you deserve this and so much more. I will be tuning in!
Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope you enjoy the show!!
Congratulations and I am wishing you the best on this! Can’t wait to watch!
Thank you!!! Your support means everthing!
Thank you so much for telling your story. I needed to read it.
You’re so welcome! Hoping it inspires your journey <3
“You should never give up on your dream(s). Delay is not denial!” is what I needed to hear today! So inspired reading this – a great story of perseverance and positivity, so well written, packed with motivation. I would read a whole book about how you persevered to manifest and achieve your goals as a black creator. Definitely will watch!
That is my only hope, that others will find inspiration for their journey through my accomplishments and testimony <3 Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the show!!
Honestly this sounds like a great concept for anyone wanting to do light reno / makeover but doesn’t have a huge budget for opening walls, new cabinets, etc. I’m excited to watch!
Yea absolutely! The show is not just for renters, anyone will be able to get helpful tips and ideas for their homes, whether they own or rent! Hope you enjoy the show!
Congratulations, Keyanna!!!!!!! This is so awesome!!!!!!
Congratulations Keyanna! I can’t wait to watch it. And I think it’s a fantastic idea for a show, renters and also for so many people who own their homes but can’t afford major renovations.
Thank you so much!! And totally! All though the show is called “Rental Redo” it’s really for everyone looking for budget friendly makeover ideas!
We are in! So exciting! Excited to watch and glad to support your continuing success!
Thank you so much! Your support means everything!!
i’m so proud to know you and so impressed by your grit and work ethic (all while making it look easy!!! how!!!). can’t wait to tune in tomorrow!
Haha! What you know about punkin chunkin? lol! Thank you so so much Caitlin!
I guess I HAVE to get Discovery+ now!!!! Congratulations.
hehe! it will be worth it! Thank you!!
Congrats! Can’t wait to watch this weekend.
Thank you!! Hope you enjoy!
Lame question but I do not see the link to the trailer?
Thank you so much!! Not sure about the trailer issue…
Congratulations Key!! As a fellow Eastern Shore gal I’ve loved reading your perspective! I’m so happy for you and will be sure to tune in this weekend!😁
Aw thank you so much!! Just want us small town gals to know anything is possible for us 🙂 I hope you enjoy the show!
Congratulations!! Your show is timely not just for renters, but also for homeowners who want a new look and design without any reno at all. Period. (Looking at you HGTV) I look forward to your ideas and inspirations.
haha! Yes, this is not JUST for renters! Thank you so much!
Good for you, Key! You’re such an example for young people everywhere! I am amazed by not only your hard work and perseverance, but also by your incredible creativity and skills. Congratulations!
Thank you so much!!
Ahhh, I just signed up for D+ so will DEFINITELY be watching asap! Perhaps during my lunch break tomorrow while I work from home 🙂
Yay!! I hope you enjoy the show!!
An Eastern Shore gal on TV!!! This is so exciting and I
know little Ole Salisbury should be proud to know you
are out there making a difference. We do have quite
an amount of older rentals in our area. It seems that
some of these landlords could be able to team up with you to allow you to guide the renters in making their house their home. They could foot the bill while you
and the renter make the house much more appealing
for the next tenant. I can’t wait to see where this takes you.
Thank you!! Excited for the possibilities!
This is such amazing news! I am excited for you but also for viewers who get to watch you. I find your work to be absolutely breathtaking. I mean that sincerely – every space I have seen of yours makes me feel exactly what I want to feel like in a room. I never fully understood the directive to get in touch with how you want to feel in a room until I saw your living room. You are a huge talent, and I am happy for more of the world to get to know you. Congrats! I will definitely be tuning in.
Thank you so so much for your kind words! Knowing that my work resonates with you is a complete honor! Thank you so much for your support and I hope you enjoy the show!
Also – I literally just said to my co-workers yesterday that I really want carpentry training. When I read that you went to carpentry school I immediately (literally) opened up a new webpage to search for this. I didn’t even finish your post until I checked it out. How exciting that a regular person can just go to school for this rather than having to apprentice! Thank you for this!
Awesome! Yes, check your local community college. There are a shortage of trades in my area, so the community college received a grant to offer free carpentry classes to get people interested in the trades. Not sure if its offered elsewhere, but worth checking into!
I just finished the first episode and I’m hooked! I wish all the best, because you have an aesthetic and vision that needs to be seen! Congrats on your show!
Thank you so much for watching! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!
Congratulations, Key. Best of luck to you. One thing: I associate “Bloom where you are planted” with Mary Engelbreit, who used that phrase on her artwork, in her magazine and on her products. You might want to acknowledge her…. Just a suggestion.
Gonna disagree here…”bloom where you’re planted” definitely predates Mary Engelbreit and wasn’t coined by her (though I love her art).
Yes, the phrase is credited to a 15th century Italian St. Francis, though not the St. Francis. Mary E popularized it with her charming art. I think giving credit to the women who come before us and, in this case, used this phrase before Key, is a feminist thing to do. It won’t harm Key to do it, whereas there may be viewers who will wonder why she’s using Mary’s phrase. Mary herself still is in business and very successful. She also has a sad, but amazing story. She and her husband lost their 19 year old son to a gunshot wound in 2000 or so. the police never determined if it was murder or self-inflicted. Mary and her husband were devastated, but took in their son’s infant daughter, adopted her and raised her. Mary has given interviews about her life turned on a dime and she has focused on different issues, while still running her business. Mary’s granddaughter/daughter, Mikayla, is bi-racial. As a result Mary has been active on equal rights issues, including Black Lives Matter. She is a worthy foremother. To the down voters – Seriously? If you do not agree with ideas here, why not say that… Read more »
Thanks so much, Trudy! I definitely don’t want my words to be taken out of context– when I said “my motto”, I am not inferring that I made it up, but rather that it is an expression that I live by. And to your point, Mary Englebreit is not the originator, some say St. Francis is the originator (but even that’s not “confirmed” as ideas behind this saying are found in the bible. The phrase has been used as book titles, on clothing, mugs, journals etc. for decades, so I’m sure people won’t think that I made it up, as its already a frequently used motto. I appreciate your concern, but perhaps that is why the motto is used so often without credit, because its hard to confirm the originator? so please don’t think that me using the motto sans credit is anti-feminist, because I guess if credit needs to be given it should go to St. Francis, not Mary…
I appreciate your response, Key, although I think you misunderstood my point. Mary Emmerling is a big reason why that motto is so popular. Acknowledging her with a tip of your hat would be a kind thing to do. It also would let potential viewers know that you are aware of that another woman brought that “motto” to massive popularity through her artwork. And that is a smart thing to do as a business woman. There are lots of women and men who are older than you who loved Mary’s work and bought it. Many of us follow blogs and design tv shows today. They are a potential audience for your work, as long as you don’t alienate them by appropriating the work Mary did to establish that motto in pop culture.
Your POV is very interesting… so what I hear you saying is, instead of crediting the actual originator St.Francis, you rather me credit the person who made it “popular”, Mary Englebreit? This reminds me of when Kim Kardashian wore her hair in cornrows, and mainstream media credited her for the “new hair trend” when in fact Black people had been wearing their hair like that for hundreds of years prior (ie. it originated in Black culture), but Kim K made it quote on quote “popular” for mainstream…so she got the credit instead of Black culture. Do you see the issue with crediting someone just for making something “popular” versus the actual originator? So although I understand your point about giving credit, I’m not sure I agree with excluding the actual originator… In any case, I of course would not want to appropriate anyone’s work, and thankfully with the phrase already being so widely used, I’ve never had anyone assume that I made it up, but if that ever happens I’ll be sure to tell them that “St. Francis was the originator, but Mary Englebreit made it popular”, that way all my bases are covered 🙂
I did not suggest that you credit Mary Englebreit instead of St. Francis for your “motto: Bloom Where You Are Planted.” Please don’t twist my words.
As you know, no one knows who originated the phrase, “bloom where you are planted.” There is a lot of speculation and some consensus around a St. Francis, but not the St. Francis of Assisi. But by all means, give credit to the uncertain originator and the woman who made the phrase hugely popular in American culture 20 years or so ago. It’s a nice solution.
Are you seriously comparing my suggestion that you give Mary Englebreit a tip of your hat for the motto to the cultural appropriation and racism storm that surrounded Kim Kardashian’s cornrows? I don’t think that analogy works logically. And I definitely do not like your implication about me.
How can you have spent ten years readying yourself for a tv show without learning that viewers will have ideas/suggestions, and learning to say “Thank you for your suggestion.” Period, full stop. No need to imply that the suggestion or the “viewer” is racist. In fact, doing so is counterproductive to your purposes, I would think.
Actually, saying “no thank you”, as Key did, is just as valid. Maybe YOU should learn to say “thank you” when someone explains why they disagree.
Also my 100 year old grandmother has said “I bloomed where I was planted” her entire life, so I think you may be giving too much credit to an artist that made YOU specifically aware of the phrase; asking everyone else to also give that credit is….misguided (as Key explained!).
Just signed up for Disney + so I can watch this. I’m a homeowner, but who doesn’t want affordable ways to make a home look lovely? I’m excited for you, Key!
It’s actually on Discovery+ not Disney. And yes, it’s not just for renters, homeowners can get some great budget-friendly ideas too!! Thank you so much!
Congratulations!! I am so glad I signed up for Discovery (3 month intro special to watch “Growing Florett”) so I can watch your show too! ; )
Even though I am a homeowner, I don’t have the money to spend on renovations (need to focus more on maintenance issues) so seeing ways to improve interiors without major renovation dollars is great for homeowners like me who don’t have lots of money. Someday I hope to be able to afford some major renovations, but in the meantime I’d still like to live in an attractive, personal home! 🙂
I’ll be watching this week!
Oh yay! ( I love Growing Florett). And yes, this show is great for homeowners too! Thank you so much for your support. I hope you enjoy!
I watched the pilot and was totally impressed. You are a natural! Your ideas and tips can help so many people (not just renters) who love design and creating a beautiful home but would not be able to afford a total renovation. That’s probably the majority of people. Design shows and design blogs often lose sight of that. I wish you continued success and you pursue your dreams, Key.
I’m so so happy you enjoyed it!! Thank you so much for watching!!
Congratulations Keyanna! I have been so impressed by all of the work you’ve shared here and on your own blog and Instagram. Your story has inspired me even more (“delay is not denial” is such a good reminder!). I have started my free trail with Magnolia Network solely in order to watch your show. Can’t wait to watch you bring hope and inspiration to all!
Thank you so much for your continued support! I never want my journey to be about me but rather an inspiration for others! I hope you enjoy the show!
Congratulations! How very exciting! Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is a great reminder to do what we love and THAT will be our lives! I will be watching this weekend. Such a great concept!
You’re so welcome! And you’re exactly right <3 Thank you so much for your support!
Just finished the first episode. I loves the transformation almost as much as I loved your adorable dad! Your relationship seems so sweet and genuine. Fingers crossed for more episodes!
Haha, thank you!! My dad is definitely the true “star” of the show! lol Fingers crossed!!
Awesome episode! Great design and great tv presence. I’m impressed!
Thank you so much!!! Your support means everything!
I watched last night- what an awesome project you completed!
Can’t wait to see more!
Thank you so much for watching! So glad you enjoyed!