Liz Trubridge, Executive Producer of Downton Abbey
While the global success of this long-running period drama can’t be attributed to one person, executive producer Liz Trubridge has certainly been instrumental in fostering in atmosphere of love and respect that has allowed the series to go from strength to strength.
In this audio recording she talks to me about her career, her spiritual philosophy and the power of feminine energy
It is her dream job, suiting all that she is. To me she is real Spiritual Pro, inspiring and leading the team of 100+ cast and crew of the production. She is authentic and open, and has experienced many ups and downs on her journey.
She is a deeply spiritual woman, with a fabulous sense of humour, and contributes a clear and distinct style of leadership. Today, seven years after Downton Abbey started production, she still feels it is an utter privilege to produce the show.
Her leadership is not about command and control, but about trust and great relationships. She creates a safe space that allows people to be their best and give of their best, to be vulnerable when they need to be, and then to blossom and flourish. Her leadership style has worked and made a significant impact on the success of Downton Abbey, as it is the most successful costume drama ever.
Liz and I are friends and we have had many conversations over lunch, but until now she has never talked publicly before about her style of leadership or her spirituality.
So we met at Ealing studios on February 5th, 2015, literally a couple of days before Series Six started shooting at Highclere Castle. I have always enjoyed and been inspired by her openness and authenticity which really shine through in this conversation, which is 28 minutes long.
Timings of subjects within the conversation:
00:00 Liz’s early career at the BBC in radio – born feeling drawn to drama – serving her apprenticeship – a dream of loving reading scripts – producing Blue Peter and then getting into drama – a nine month assignment to drama that has now lasted 35 years – starting in continuity
03:45 At the BBC at a good time – working for a great leaders – telling a lie that gave her first production project at the BBC
4:50 Leaving the BBC in 1994 to go freelance after being BAFTA nominated for The Riff Raff Element 5-00 minutes (5:40 – sound) Career break to raise her sons, followed by a career doldrums – couldn’t get back in to producing – would she have to give up her dream?
6:00 Time to Time in 2008/9, a project with Julian Fellowes and a possible project called Downton Abbey
6-40 Her role as Executive Producer – difference between a director and a producer loving the broad sweep from embryo conception to finished programme – loves the broad sweep of projects – there are different types of producers – producers are control freaks! She weaves together all the strands of the tapestry.
9:45 Why producing suits everything about who she is – she loves casting behind the camera and bringing in the best talent and allowing them to give of their best – she hires the director and all the heads of department and then enable them to give the next of themselves
10: 20 As a producer, Liz’s sees her main job is to be an enabler. She creates a safe space for creativity and creative expression – allow people to contribute their vision create an environment to enable people to give their very best – creating a wonderful and enhanced visual interpretation of the words
11:20 Managing big and fragile egos. Hear the fear behind the behaviour. Her leadership style – collaboration and creating a safe space and encouraging people to give their best performance, behind the camera and in front of the camera –
12:30 Her assumption is that everyone is attempting to give of their best – encourage virtuoso performances – you get the best from people by being encouraging and kind.
13:55 Love and fear – spiritual foundations and aiming to operate out of love rather than fear – doesn’t always achieve it – growing up religious and fearful, but sought and longed for spirituality and more openness
15:20 – Laid low many years ago and read a book, and went deep inside and experienced a massive shift in awareness. Received a download of awareness overnight. Her entire thinking changed. The universe is not random, but benign. Believing we live in a friendly universe and opening up and allowing the goodness of the universe to flow through her.
16:45 As Liz shifted in her thinking, she observed the world around her changing. She saw the world is a mirror and shifted as Liz changed her beliefs. She became deeply changed. She made the link and saw clearly the results of her shifts in thinking.
17:10 taking responsible for her own emotional world and life. If she is responsible, she can change things rather that believing it is a random universe and she can’t change anything. The fun of the ride and the most incredible beneficial ripple effects.
18:15 – Liz’s contribution to Downton Abbey – has been to keep a loyal cast and crew that feel like they are a family, where people feel valued, its collaborative, they have a voice. The love that comes through Downton Abbey. Be willing to be unpopular sometimes and make tough decisions and explain why. People say they feel safe when Liz is there. Welcoming the ideas of others. Learning from each other.
21:00 Welcoming the good ideas of others. Getting something right. The cast and crew come back for something more than the money.
21:50 Don’t give up on your dream. Personal encouragement on following your dreams and doing what you were born to do – just because you can’t see a way doesn’t mean there isn’t a way. Focus on why someone would hire you or want you. Focus on serving others, not making a good impression. Don’t give up, keep taking baby steps. Allow things to happen.
24:00 We can all learn to embody more feminine, allowing, inclusive, collaborative, relational forms of leadership. Men need this just as much as women do
24:30 What will Liz do if and when Downton finishes? Plan less, be open, allow rather than force things to happen.
25:20 Feminine energy is very powerful, it allows. What Liz means by having a bigger or larger Self – larger Self, wisdom, inspiration and intuition. A shift in thinking, we are moving towards a more spiritual and feminine form of operating as well as integrating with the masculine.
If you have enjoyed this conversation, please let me know below and what is was that touched you. Liz and I would love us to have further conversations.
There are so many aspects of the conversation that I would love to delve into more deeply, so please let me know what you would love to hear more about. Thanks. By the way the rather dark photo is Liz and I in Carson’s pantry at Ealing Studios in March 2013.