Phenomenal’s Meena Harris, Funny or Die Alum Brad Jenkins Launching Phenomenal Productions (Exclusive)

Meena Harris Brad Jennkins
Thomas Whiteside; Lexey Swall

The new production studio will create videos, social content, and products for causes, nonprofits, foundations and companies, placing “a specific emphasis on communities of color and underrepresented voting blocs."

Meena Harris, the CEO of Phenomenal (and niece of California Senator and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris), and former Funny or Die executive producer and Enfranchisement CEO Brad Jenkins are launching a production house called Phenomenal Productions.

The new production studio will create videos, social content, and products for causes, nonprofits, foundations and companies. Phenomenal Productions will place “a specific emphasis on communities of color and underrepresented voting blocs,” according to the company.

“We saw that there was a gap for really authentic storytelling for young people of color, communities or color, and we were fortunate to be able to work on a couple of campaigns that really put those communities front and center,” Jenkins tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“We have been really good at taking the issues of the moment, or complex specific issues that relate to a specific point in time or a specific community, we draw attention to them, we engage the public and raise awareness, but we do it in a way that is about the long-term community and building power and voice in those communities,” Harris tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Jenkins and Harris first met as organizers for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and they say their careers have occasionally crossed since then (Jenkins worked in the White House office of Public Engagement while Obama was President, culminating in the Emmy-winning Between Two Ferns special on the Affordable Care Act).

“We were organically collaborating with Brad and his team with mainly political content, and it kind of got bigger and bigger and bigger,” Harris says.

Phenomenal Productions is currently working with the Indian American IMPACT Fund to produce videos tied to the upcoming U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia, set for Jan. 5, though the production house plans to create a wide variety of content, beyond election-specific fare.

“It is so much bigger than politics or political content. The reason why people are so fired up and hungry for this is that we are underrepresented, our voices, our communities in all spaces,” Harris says. “This is the case in politics, we know that it’s the case in Hollywood, we know that it’s the case everywhere. We know that the power of this is not just something we can leverage in this moment around politics and these urgent campaigns, but we view the work that we are doing as just as urgent and essential in places like entertainment, and with other brands in the consumer space.”

“Yes, there will be moments where we are creating content specific to [Democratic senate candidates] Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, but it is really also about the community they are serving, and the people electing them, and building social, economic and political power through the content we are putting out,” Harris adds.

“We wanted the message to be that election day isn’t the end, it is the beginning,” Jenkins says. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent trying to influence people or doing this, that and the other, and what ends up happening is that the day after the election, all of that stops.”

“Young people know, especially our communities know that, despite the outcome, all of the challenges these communities are facing has not gone away,” he adds.

Harris’ Phenomenal company got its start with its “Phenomenal Woman” t-shirt, but has since expanded its reach to other campaigns and causes, drawing support from celebrities like Serena Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mindy Kaling. It has also worked with some of the largest organizations in the U.S., and the pair say they hope Phenomenal Productions will take those relationships a step further as it expands into content.

“They [large companies and organizations] know that it comes down to impact," Jenkins says. "It is great to create a piece of content that is funny, but what we are more interested in full campaigns that really create a difference in a community, and that doesn’t happen with just one campaign, that happens with sustained engagement over months and months, in some cases years.”

Harris is represented by Creative Artists Agency.