EVP, Current Production, Bravo Media
Levine oversees Bravo’s East and West Coast production teams and is responsible for the programming and production of all original series. Her focus is on elevating Bravo’s commitment to delivering high-quality programming and maintaining the network’s top 10 cable ranking on the merits of 13 returning series including “The Real Housewives” franchise, and a batch of newcomers. Levine learned a prescient life lesson when she worked exercising race horses in her early 20s: “When falling off a horse at high speed, make sure to pull in your tongue and keep your jaw shut,” she says. “ If one is going to aim high, one has to be willing to take some falls and get bruised as well.”
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
Nothing is truly linear. We don’t watch TV in a linear way and we don’t have life/career paths in a linear way. I’ve truly had a “zig-zag” journey to my current position. I thought I was going to be a veterinarian, and I ended up a storyteller. Knowing that now, I would tell my younger self that dreaming big means being willing to take chances with unconventional choices and that you never know where something will lead. And lastly, I often think of something I learned when I was an exercise rider of racehorses back in my early 20s. “When falling off a horse at high speed, make sure to pull in your tongue and keep your jaw shut.” If one is going to aim high, one has to be willing to take some falls and get bruised as well. Try and make sure your landing isn’t debilitating.
Which current programming best reflects the kind of women’s roles you like to see and why?
I love watching shows with women who are large and in charge. Flaws intact and on full display as they successfully make decisions and find their way. For example, Kerry Washington’s role in “Scandal.” I also love “Orange Is the New Black,” which doesn’t offer up the clichéd women in prison roles. Poussey and Taystee show the power of female relationships and a strong sense of loyalty. On Bravo, I often channel Tabatha Coffey as my spirit animal. She is about to reappear in a new series with us and embodies a successful, hardworking woman who faces problems straight on with both creativity and strength, as well as a good dose of irony in her delivery.
What’s been the biggest story in cable this year?
The enduring strength of long-running, returning series. With so many choices of what to watch confronting all viewers, the durability of familiar shows that continue to evolve and present a fresh story and, therefore, continue to succeed is really astounding. Bravo has 13 returning series that are doing better than ever. Other networks have also found success in long running series. As the cable/digital landscape continues to fragment, there is a real opportunity to hold your viewer with people/characters that are familiar, yet continue to evolve.