by Max Bisantz
When asked to describe a typical day, Emmy award winning news producer Angelina Vivolo Cicala has only two words: “Buckle up.” And it certainly has been quite a ride for Angelina, a Brooklyn native whose extensive resume spans all three major networks, includes the prestigious Edward R Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting, and boasts more Emmy nominations than you could shake a stick at. On this particular day I caught up with Angelina at her home office, which currently serves as the headquarters for her own production company, AVC Productions. We spoke during one of the few breaks she allows herself during a work day, having spent hours editing footage for her new show on NBC Nonstop Network.
“All the shows are due to NBC by the end of August, so it’s just craziness trying to get all the footage together!” Craziness, however, is exactly what Angelina seems to thrive on. For more than five years now she has managed to juggle two full time jobs under one roof: principal of AVC Productions and parent (with husband, Patrick) to two young children, Alexandra and Andrew. And while having two energetic kids running around the workspace seems stressful, Angelina’s seemingly got it down to a science. “It’s great. They’re totally into watching when mommy’s got a shoot or when I’m reviewing videos.” She laughs, “They’re being indoctrinated now.”
Of course, Angelina is used to multi-tasking, having spent over a decade bouncing around from network to network in the New York news industry. After nabbing her first job at NBC News Channel 4, Angelina went on to work at ABC’s Eyewitness News as well as WCBS-TV, where she received seven Emmy nominations. “It was an incredible training ground in terms of running my own company because you juggle so many things. I’ve produced everything from investigative to consumer to medical – I spent a day with Hilary Clinton!” In fact, Angelina’s career is so extensive that it even seems to surprise her, her voice rising with enthusiasm at every producer she’s had the pleasure of working with. “It meant a lot to me to ultimately work in the city I love so much. What an opportunity for me, a Brooklyn girl, to be working in the New York news market.”
An opportunity that at one point seemed nearly impossible. Although Angelina is now an established behind-the-scenes staple in New York television, it very nearly didn’t happen. “When I graduated from Hunter the economy was not the best, it was very hard to find a job. People would always say, ‘You’re going to have to move to find work.’” This, however, did not bode well the Bay Ridge native. “I’m a Brooklyn girl! I thought ‘I will never survive in Wichita!’” Luckily, she didn’t have to try, finally landing her first job at NBC New York. And the rest is history. “If someone says you can’t, you will. That is one thing I try to instill in my children.”
It’s also a mantra she continues to live by today with her new production company, AVC Productions. While most new companies struggle to find their footing, AVC Productions has defied expectations and managed to thrive in its short five-year history, even garnering an Emmy nomination for its show, Say I Do, NYC with NYC TV. AVC’s newest show, On The White Carpet on NBC Nonstop Network, once again finds Angelina performing multiple roles, working as creator, writer, and executive producer. “For me that’s just very empowering,” she says in her typical matter of fact manner. Strange. For most that’s just very exhausting.
But while Angelina may have switched gears a bit, transitioning from hard-nosed journalism to wedding programming, she is certainly eager to bridge the gap between the two genres. On The White Carpet promises to provide a lot more substance than most of the bridal fluff that populates the airwaves.
“I think given my background in news, where you’re reporting information and details, it just made sense to produce this kind of show where we’re providing viewers with information. From fashion, to wedding days trends, food and floral design, it’s really wedding news you can use.” Which isn’t to say it won’t also be a whole lot of fun. “We have a profile with Ivanka Trump,” she continues. “Colin Cowie [celebrity events planner] gives us wedding trend reports. Darcy Miller of Martha Stewart Weddings gives tips for couples on a budget – it’s all great!”
When asked to talk about her favorite wedding blooper, however, Angelina suddenly grows nervous. “It’s not that type of show! It’s really resource based,” she reiterates, eager to distance herself from the zany pratfalls and flooded outdoor tents we often see on disaster wedding countdowns; one of the many types of tacky wedding shows that simply confound her. It’s not that Angelina doesn’t have a great sense of humor. She does. It’s just that she has no patience for mistakes, nor the time.
“I think it’s in my DNA. My grandmother came over from Sicily when she was 18 years old. Not knowing a soul, by herself, she worked in sweatshops. It’s just all about hard work, persistence, and never giving up.” Three qualities that Angelina certainly has in droves. Which is why we should expect On The White Carpet and AVC Productions to be just two of the many successes for Angelina Vivolo Cicala.