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Dorez Douglas - From Motown to Tinsel Town

In the world of television and film entertainment there are very few with the staying power and track record of success than my interview subject today, Dorez Douglas.

From the harsh winters of "Motor City" to the sunny beaches of "LaLa Land" this strong, educated and determined African American woman beat the odds of the 1980's male dominated entertainment world by making a life and a living for herself with her family in a business she loved and continues to love today. This is my 14 "QnA" session with a true pioneer of the trade. Ladies and Gentlemen ... Dorez Douglas!



1) Where are you originally from Dorez?

Detroit, Michigan


2) What is your educational background?

I finished almost 2 years at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. 3) What year did you start in the entertainment business and what was your first job in the field?

I started in 1980, after moving to Los Angeles. I had no idea how to find work in the Entertainment Industry. But a woman I met at a networking meeting told me to sign up with temp agencies and tell them that I'd prefer jobs in the industry. I followed her advice and registered with a few agencies. They found jobs for me almost immediately. After a couple of years, I was able to get hired as a Pre-Interviewer/Receptionist on a TV show called "The Love Connection." I worked in the production office. The producer, Eric Lieber, was a big help to me. He got me interested in the production side of the industry.

4) How did you meet your husband?

I met my husband, Lee, at a bus stop on my way to work. I was living in Detroit at the time, working for the government.


 

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5) How many children do you have?

We have one daughter. Her name is Anna.

6) Is she in the entertainment industry like her Mother?

No. She's a fashion designer and she has an e-commerce store called Nacelo Style.

7) What drew you to this business and what keeps you involved after 30 years?

I started out wanting to be a singer, because Motown was just starting up in Detroit. I was in my teens. The company was offering opportunities to young people. But my mom vetoed that idea. She and my father were deeply religious and didn't want me involved in the music industry. When I started getting hooked on television shows, I became interested in acting. That's how I got the idea to move to Los Angeles. But it took a long time before I could actually do it. I tried once when I was 25, without success. My second attempt was 5 years later. That's when I managed to find work in the industry. What keeps me involved is the fact that there are so many exciting, enlightening stories that haven't been told. So I'm always looking for one of those. I also love discovering new talent, and being able to hire people.


Producing partner, Willie D. Burton, winner of two Academy Awards.

8) Has the industry ever jaded or taken its toll on you?

This is a very tough, often cold-blooded business. If you're not grounded and if you don't have a good support system, you can get burned out or discouraged very easily. You can also get mixed up with the wrong people. I'm fortunate to have a solid family relationship and a great producing partner, Willie Burton. But, there have been times when I get discouraged... especially when I'm dealing with people who don't understand how the industry works and who have unrealistic expectations. I also get knocked for a loop sometimes when a project falls through. But, I've learned over the years that it's best to always have many projects to develop, and to not take things personally if they don't work out. I also take care of myself mentally and physically. I take days off regularly and make time to enjoy my family.


Dorez, Willie and crew on the set of her short film, "Voices," starring Lamman Rucker."

9) How long did you and your husband work together in the field and how did you manage to juggle a family in this very demanding business to become so successful?

My husband didn't start out working in the entertainment industry. But when he retired, he decided to try doing background work. He fell in love with it. He did it for about 10 years or so. Throughout our marriage though, he was always my #1 fan and supporter. We were married for 37 years. Whenever I felt discouraged, he always found a way to cheer me up. He never lost his positive attitude... even when he had to stop working after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He managed to overcome it, thank goodness.


Lee and I were able to balance our family life and careers by involving our daughter as much as possible. I often brought her to meetings and to work. Or Lee would pick her up from school and bring her when he picked me up from my job. We spent our off days hanging out as a family.


10) How did your husband pass away?

Lee passed away from a heart attack at the start of the pandemic, while we were in lockdown.


11) Not being from California what compelled you to try your luck here.

As I mentioned, I was born in Detroit, Michigan. What drew me to California was because I had heard from various people that it was best to live in Los Angeles if you're serious about working in the entertainment industry.



Actor Lamman Rucker and Dorez at the Los Angeles premiere of their film, "Voices."

12) What if any significant changes have you seen develop in the industry over the last three decades and do you consider those changes more positive than negative or vice versa?

The biggest change I've seen in the industry is the rise of streaming platforms and the use of social media in building a fan base. Those are game-changers and they've leveled the playing field for newcomers as well as established professionals.

The negative change is the fact that a lot of the content isn't very good, because there are so many streaming platforms. It's easier to get exposure for projects. But I'm not seeing quality films.


13) What is your take on the whole "AI" controversy engulfing the entertainment industry way of thinking now? Is the worry justified or could it possibly be something that benefits?

I think AI does offer certain benefits, if used properly. But I don't think it will ever replace professional writers. AI doesn't have a soul or emotions. It's only able to regurgitate information others have provided. It can't generate content from nothing - as far as I understand it. But, as I said, it's useful in certain ways, if handled correctly. For example, if you use it to create an article, you should still edit it and add or take away the parts that don't fit or that don't work etc. You also want it to be in your own voice. So you have to add your own emotions and flavor to it. AI can also help get your creative juices flowing by spitting out a bunch of ideas. But, in the end, you still have to do most of the work.


14) Where do you see a womans role, especially women of color, in the next 50 years in this industry?

I think more and more women will get hired as executives in the industry, particularly women of color. I also think there will be more of us in the areas of producing and directing.


If you have the desire and the drive to be part of the entertainment world and you want to learn how to navigate the realities of the industry Dorez provides seminars and workshops on this business of show! To benefit from her experience and guidance reach out to Dorez via IG @msdorez or email dorezd@gmail.com to schedule a consultation.


My thanks to Dorez Douglas for taking the time out of her always

busy schedule to speak with me.


Dempsey Gibson

IG @dempseygibson

www.dempseygibson.com

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