Self made, awarding winning producer, Kee-Leen Irvine of Rapid Blue. Picture: Charles Johnstone
Self made, awarding winning producer, Kee-Leen Irvine of Rapid Blue. Picture: Charles Johnstone

TV mogul Kee-Leen Irvine: Road to success didn't come easy

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Aug 10, 2019

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Self-made, multi-award-winning TV mogul, Kee-Leen Irvine, proved she has the fire in her soul needed in the cut throat industry of entertainment. 

Her production company, Rapid Blue, has over the years produced some of the most riveting shows on TV, from M-Net’s "Shark Tank", "Dancing With The Stars", "Project Runway" and "The Bachelor SA" to "BBC’s Come Dine With Me". 

Fresh out of high school, Irvine had to work the hardest, smartest and longest to make an impression in the 1990s, when white males dominated the industry. 

She worked her way up every rung of the ladder, from runner to production assistant, production co-ordinator, production manager, producer, co-founder, managing director to a place where she stands firm as executive producer at Rapid Blue. 

“Television has changed significantly since I first started in 1990 from a predominantly white, male dominated space and content only reflecting a skewed and small portion of our entire population. What a blessing to have been part of the political and cultural transformation which has brought us to the place of rich and vibrant diversity we enjoy today,” said Irvine. 

She said she believes women are phenomenal in the television industry, even though it's tough, they portray the nation’s stories with excellence, empathy, compassion and respect. "We are hardworking, intuitive and collaborative,” she said. 

Irvine explained that at Rapid Blue, female employees outnumber the males and she tries to cultivate an environment of support and balance.

“The demands of the industry lends itself to a 'workaholic' ethic, I want my teams to have lives that are full, rich and inspired beyond just the company and I think we’ve managed to create a very special environment at Rapid Blue. We love and support one another. It’s a safe space to laugh and cry together if we need to,” she said. 

Her advice to women entering the industry is to have loads of passion, curiosity, stamina, grit, a funny bone and a back-bone combined with leadership and communication skills. 

“It’s important not to take things personally – you need to be able to receive and give direction and feedback. As a mother of both a girl and a boy, my children are watching me and I have a responsibility to them to model what a strong woman is. I am also so fortunate to have a husband in Duncan who has no qualms loving a woman who breathes fire,” she said.

Irvine said, women uplifting and supporting other women is important for female empowerment and growth. 

“How I wish I had someone alongside me when we launched Rapid Blue and I was a 'young and dumb' 22-year-old, so I count it as a privilege and pleasure if young and upcoming women can stand on my shoulders to reach greater heights,” said Irvine, who will be spending her Women’s Day in George quaffing French Champagne, counting her blessings and toasting all the phenomenal women of Mzansi.   

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