This week we sat down with Renee Warmack, a Tampa native, dynamic film producer, director, and writer dedicated to using creative and tech mediums to inspire change in the world. With a passion for telling powerful stories of people with disabilities, female leaders, and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in society, Warmack has produced award-winning films that have been recognized for their impact on the community.
But her talents don’t stop at film production. Warmack also offers event production services and coaching programs that empower organizations to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Through workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion training programs, she uses her films to educate and inspire individuals and organizations to create more inclusive environments.
Warmack has been praised for her work and her commitment to improving the Tampa Bay community. Jane Castor, Mayor and Former Police Chief City of Tampa, Florida, had these great words to say:
“Renee Warmack stands out as a shining example of all that is good about Tampa Bay. She is focused on improving the status of our community as a whole and women in specific through education, enlightenment, and networking events. I have viewed her documentary film – Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay, been a panel participant, and attended her events as an observer. What stands out the most is her commitment to improving and promoting women in leadership, as well as exposing and encouraging young women to take positions of leadership. I am proud to support Renee as she forges ahead in these important endeavors and am excited to see what she will accomplish in the future.”
How It Started
From an early age, Warmack understood that college was not a financial option without an athletic scholarship. Determined to make her dreams come true and lacking the luxury of access to a country club, she took matters into her own hands by reading tennis guides and practicing against walls. Her hard work paid off; at Chamberlain High School, Warmack achieved 8 varsity letters in four sports, won county honors, as well as becoming District Tennis Champion for number one singles – proving dedication carries rewards.
With a dream and determination, Warmack took her talents from Hillsborough Community College (HCC) to the University of South Florida’s (USF) NCAA Division I court. Honing in on all aspects of both tennis training and education while competing for HCC, she earned an Associate’s degree followed by two more degrees – a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from USF – ultimately leading her into a successful 20-year career in government doing human rights advocacy, public relations, and program administration before making retirement official in 2017.
In 2022, Warmack produced and directed the “Itʼs Game Time” music video featuring GiGi’s Playhouse Tampa ambassadors born with Down syndrome, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, retired Tampa Bay Buccaneer Michael Clayton, and Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School student body. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Tampa Bay Rays organizations are represented, as well. The film just won the Audience Award at the Dunedin International Film Festival and was nominated for Best Score.
In 2019, Warmack produced, directed, and wrote “Because of Sam,” which chronicles the inspirational journey of Sam Piazza, a young man born with Down syndrome who won Homecoming King and is an advocate for people with disabilities. The movie is transforming how the world views people with disabilities. The film sold out at Tampa Theatre, won the Tampa Downtown Partnershipʼs Urban Excellence Peopleʼs Choice Award, and aired on PBS / WEDU. Warmack provides workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion training programs using the film.
In 2008, she produced, directed, and wrote: “A Community with a Dream: The Founding of the Childrenʼs Board” (CBHC), a documentary commemorating the 20th anniversary of a special taxing district in Tampa that helps kids succeed. The film describes the touching grassroots effort that led to the creation of the CBHC. The movie premiered on government television and was widely embraced by the community.
Warmack produced, directed, and wrote her first film in 2007, called “Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay,” a documentary that chronicles the careers of top female government leaders and shares how they broke the glass ceiling. She made the film to celebrate an unprecedented time in Tampa’s history where 10 women-led (at the same time) government institutions that were traditionally headed up by men. The movie premiered on PBS in 2007, aired on government channels, was featured in film festivals and has been used at USF as a tool to teach leadership.
Passion for Entrepreneurship, Challenges & Lessons
She uses her entrepreneurial venture to impact the world positively, leveraging the freedom it offers to express and implement creative products and services. Her goal? To create opportunities for those who were never dealt an even playing field — giving them their fair chance at success.
Despite the global pandemic presenting a serious challenge to her work with in-person trainings, empowerment events, and film production services, she adapted by creating virtual offerings as well as forming new partnerships within corporate, government, and creative circles across industries. The key advice she gives aspiring entrepreneurs is to push your fear aside and follow your passion.
Despite facing a lack of career planning advice early on, Warmack refused to let that stand in her way. With no film school training under her belt, she pushed away any fears and took the plunge into filmmaking — with remarkable success! This fateful decision led to an unexpected love affair with cinema production, ultimately altering her future trajectory.
To help reach her goals, Warmack successfully utilizes an effective strategy: creating a clear, written vision, believing it can be attained, and taking decisive action to make that dream a reality.
Her dream is to one day win an Oscar, live on the sun-kissed shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and lead a foundation that provides grants to emerging creatives seeking mentorship and resources to help them maximize their potential and crush their goals.