Harpo Productions, Inc.
It is difficult to imagine a job at Harpo Productions, Inc. without envisioning the glamour and excitement that must accompany it.
As a production executive, Irma Norris is only too happy to point out that they work very hard at producing a superior product—THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW— and that it’s not all fun and games.
Norris keeps busy overseeing the audience, travel, and production management. She monitors the below-the-line budgets for studio and field productions, which includes design, lighting, audio and video.
And when The Oprah Winfrey Show goes on location, it is Norris and her team who coordinate everything from craft services to technical crews and equipment to ensure that everything comes together seamlessly.
Norris got involved in the industry after reading an article about glamorous positions.“I liked what I read and started taking classes at the City College of New York’s Film Institute,” she laughs.
Since Norris was not a union member, she started out interning for free so that she could garner experience. She got a job at National Educational Television (NET) as an assistant to three production managers.
After a short run at NET, Norris moved to WNET-TV and worked her way up to Operation Manager. After seven years at WNET, Norris landed a job at ABC-TV where she was assigned to the ABC SPORTS Division where she worked as a unit manager.
During her tenure at ABC SPORTS, Norris worked on Monday Night Football, college football, figure skating, gymnastics, the winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia and the summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
In 1988, she was transferred to the Entertainment Division to work on Good Morning America as a production manager, she was later promoted to Production Executive responsible for a team of four production managers.
In this position, Norris set up and managed tours (LIVE telecasts) throughout the United States–including Alaska, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, New Zealand, and Australia.
Of all the traveling Norris has done she says her most memorable trip was to South Africa in 2002 with THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW for their “Christmas Kindness” philanthropic project.
Norris, a breast cancer survival credits her mother, Erma Barfield, for being the major influence inher life.
Her mother’s advice was always “Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability even if you are digging ditches.”
Norris is a true testament of this with two Emmy’s to her credit.
She raised her twins as a single mother for the majority of their lives, and considers them her very best work.
“I never felt I couldn’t do something because I didn’t have a degree (15 credits shy), I always felt everything was attainable.”
It is this attitude that Norris hopes she has passed on, not only to her children (both have advance degrees) and grandchildren, but also to the people she has mentored and influenced.