Originally, she was going to be based in Los Angeles but the pandemic allowed her to largely stay in Atlanta. Last fall, Hallmark began requiring employees to spend at least part of the week in the office.
“I had to take inventory of my life from a personal perspective,” Lucas said. “I don’t want to leave the East Coast and Atlanta. I have deep roots here. I want to spend time with my mom and my family.”
Lucas has previously worked at Coca-Cola, Turner Broadcasting, the Weather Channel, Discovery Communications, TV One and WABE-FM, which she ran before coming to Hallmark.
Besides running the three Hallmark cable networks, Lucas has placed more Hallmark content on streaming services such as Hulu, YouTube and Peacock, as well as several FAST/AVOD platforms. She also launched the Mahogany movie brand targeting Black women and DaySpring movies focused on Christian faith subject matter.
“We were playing in a very narrow space,” Lucas said. “We needed to deepen and broaden the brand. We diversified our storytelling beyond just race and ethnicity.”
She noted that they “have leaned into humor. We’ve tackled neurodiversity. We had a movie on autism (’Our Christmas Journey’). We had a film with two leads with Down Syndrome. (’Color My World With Love’). We had ‘The Jewish Wedding’ about a Jewish wedding ceremony.”
The network is also launching a Hallmark Channel Christmas Cruise in 2024 which will feature core actors from Hallmark movies and TV shows like “Chesapeake Shores.”
“Our viewers are true fans,” she said. “We sold out the cruise in a few hours.” (Hallmark added a second cruise, which sold out as well.)
She said since Hallmark skews older than most networks, its core cable networks have not lost audience as quickly as other cable networks. And its streaming service Hallmark Movies Now draws about 1.5 million viewers paying $4.99 a month. “We don’t need 20 million subscribers to be successful,” she said. “It’s worked well for us and allows us to lean into viewing pattern shifts.”
While Lucas will step down as CEO, she plans to stay on the Hallmark Media board.
“I really do love this brand,” she said. “I grew up near Greenbriar Mall and would go to the Hallmark store and read the cards while my mom shopped.”
She isn’t sure what her next big move will be.
“If something interesting comes up, I’m not shutting the door,” Lucas said. “For now, I’m living in the moment.”