In the midst of ending a 25-year marriage, creator Silke Schwarzkopf developed 2nd Act TV based on her stormy, emotional and – more often than initially anticipated – comical experiences with starting life over at fifty. Appropriately dubbed “Hormonal Reunion,” the pilot shoot featured a circle of real high school friends reuniting 35-years later to discover that, not unlike high school, all are navigating major life issues … now with just a few more wrinkles! A supportive setting (and a few glasses of wine) prompts open conversation about highly personal matters that surprisingly are not so unique! The desire to have true love, purpose, passion, and yes – hot sex – is alive and kicking after 50. The challenge is taking stock and – if need be – charting a new course in the era of “menopause without a manual.”
My story is not really unique, as I came to discover. One out of four Baby Boomer marriages ends in divorce. Most women are dealing with hormone changes by the age of 50. Many women are unsatisfied with their lives and are looking for more meaning. They are frustrated, suffer in silence and continue to cope with hollow relationships.
What is unique about my story is that I decided to share my life with all the bruises, bumps and triumphs that accompany divorce after 50, hormonal changes, dating, finding love again, and career reinvention. I decided to bring all these issues into the open, freely talk about them and help to put “recreating life after 50” into a more favorable perspective.
My life was like many other women my age. I was married for 25 years, enjoyed a thriving career in media and video production, and co-owned a production company. Looking from the outside in, it seemed I had it all. But like so many other women my age, there was much more brewing below the surface. The last ten years of my marriage were a struggle. I was miserable. We had completely grown apart and lived separate lives.
I was the one who finally left the marriage. It became crystal clear that I did not want to spend another 30-years living this way. I took a deep breath and knew it was time for me to rediscover the life I had left 30 years earlier. I reconnected with close friends from high school and college. Facebook made it easy.
Around the same time, my business partner and I decided it was time to pursue different directions. This was scary and exhilarating at the same time. So many doors were beginning to open up. It was time to take a big step out of my comfort zone and become “me” again.
I thought I was the only one in this position, but quickly discovered that many of my friends had the same thoughts, problems, insecurities and desires that I did. After a particularly humorous and wine-induced evening with my best gal pals, the producer in me jumped into action. I knew that if the cameras had been rolling on our conversation, we’d have a hit show!
2nd Act TV was a menopausal seed ready to spout.
I started doing more serious research to see if this type of show would have an audience. To my astonishment, I found out that the issues my friends and I were discussing were hardly unique. We were a statistic that was growing among Baby Boomers. The divorce rate for people over 50 is one in every four couples…more than double the average for other age groups. In fact, the phenomena earned it’s own name – Gray Divorce. What really intrigued me was that women were initiating most of the breakups. My group of friends and I were living examples of those statistics.
After doing all my research and listening to my friends share their stories, I knew we were on to something. Having owned my own production company and been in Public Relations for over 25 years, I began my quest to find a director who understood what I wanted to do.
Through a series of synergistic events, I found Rick Graves, a fabulous filmmaker, director and photographer of our vintage who understood my vision. We brought together a group of friends who could contribute their talents, resources and skill sets to develop a television show.
Over the past five years, our vision for 2nd Act TV took various turns and detours, and evolved from a 30-min reality talk show to a digital media platform directed and operated by our core group of friends. Can you imagine that the networks were not interested in allocating production budgets to the 50-plus demographic, she asks facetiously? (I wrote a blog about my experience at the television industry conference Real Screen West you might find interesting.)
One thing that stands out for me throughout this process is that the power of women – and people over 50 in general – is greatly overlooked not only by the media networks, but corporate America as a whole. People over the age of 50 control over 60% of the disposable income in the United States. Women continue to outnumber the men in this age group. Yet, less than 5% of the all mighty advertising dollar is focused on us, who we really are, and what we really want!
My goal is to help change that and demonstrate that our 2nd Act can absolutely be the best and productive time of our lives! One of my biggest surprises in this process has been that, while we set out to create a show for women, over 40% of our audience is men. Taking note of this trend, we look forward to bringing you fun, relevant and inspirational programming for living life to the fullest after 50!
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