For the entire life cycle of a National Geographic television show – from the greenlight meeting to when it airs – an attorney such as Charnay Augustin is actively involved with the process.
“You wouldn’t believe the sorts of things that come up!” says Charnay, an Associate Principal Counsel for National Geographic Partners. For each program, Charnay does everything from drafting contracts to working closely with the production management team on any legal issues that may arise.
Before joining National Geographic, Charnay worked as an advertising attorney for a major telecommunications company reviewing and approving any customer-facing materials.
“I like to sum up that job by saying, ‘You know all of that fine print you see or hear in an ad? I wrote that,’” Charnay explains.
Prior to that, Charnay worked as an attorney for a radio broadcasting company in the Washington, DC, area. She earned her law degree from Howard University and graduated from Hampton University for her undergraduate degree.
1. You’re an alumna of two HBCUs: Hampton University and Howard University. What was your most memorable experience as a student?
It would be impossible to pick just one memorable experience! What I will say is that the experience of simply being surrounded by students who looked like me was uplifting, especially after coming from a high school where I was always one of the only three to four black students in my honors and AP classes. It also was important to experience and have it reinforced that Black people are not a monolith. We all come from different backgrounds and have different interests, thoughts, and ideas. It was a special experience unlike no other to be in that environment where you could feel (and still feel) the love and support we often don’t get out in the world. Also, there’s nothing like an HBCU Homecoming!
2. You are a co-chair of NOIR DC, one of National Geographic’s Business Employee Resource Groups. What has been a highlight of this experience for you?
Getting to meet and work with my colleagues from all different business units that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to interact with and knowing that I am a part of a group that has worked and is continuing to work so hard to bring positive changes to the Company for Black employees.
3. How has mentorship played a role in your career?
I would not be where I am without the support and guidance of some amazing women and men who’ve pushed me to aim high and helped me navigate the legal profession, especially given that I’ve had quite a nontraditional path. I’ve also learned that mentorship doesn’t always have to be a formal relationship. You’d be surprised what you can learn, and teach others, by simply talking to people.
4. As an attorney for a television network, the question must be asked: Do you watch any legal television shows?
I watch them all. Seriously, legal dramas – next to crime dramas – are one of my favorite genres! I’m always on hunt for new ones, but I feel like I’ve already seen all the great ones!
5. After working from home for the past 11 months due to the pandemic, what has been the silver lining for you?
It’s tough to think about silver linings when this has been such a devastating year for so many people. But if I had to pick, I would say I’ve really enjoyed the time away from the hustle and bustle of life pre-Covid. I’ve had a lot of time to reconnect with myself, my hobbies and interests, the outdoors and the simple joys life has to offer. I’ve taken lots of walks these past 11 months. I’m looking forward to the weather breaking so I can get back out there on a regular basis!