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Dori Wilson

Publicist and model Dori Wilson was born in Winona, Mississippi. At the age of seven, Wilson moved to Chicago, Illinois. She attended Farren School, Shakespeare Elementary School, and Hyde Park High School. She continued her education at Roosevelt University, where she graduated with her B.A. degree.

Upon her graduation from Hyde Park High School, Wilson began working for Goldblatt’s in the Accounts Payable Adjusting Department in 1961. Wilson then moved to Compton Advertising, Inc., where she worked as a secretary and assistant producer. She also started her part-time modeling career and became the first African American runway model in Chicago, Illinois in 1964. Wilson began her modeling career by working for Marshall Field & CO. and Carson Pirie Scott. In 1968, Wilson joined Foote, Cone & Belding and on their advertising project with Sears, Roebuck & Co. During the project, she also worked as a model and instructor at Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Charm School. She was promoted in 1970 to director of fashion and casting at Foote, Cone & Belding, where she cast models and helped producers during shoots. During this time, she continued to model and starred in numerous fashion shows, advertisements, and events, including Gucci’s Fall 1970 campaign and the Dress Horsemen and Trophy Board Annual Benefit Fashion Spectacular in 1975. In 1980, Wilson began her successful entrepreneurial career with the opening of Dori Wilson Public Relations, a firm whose clients have included the City of Chicago, Tiffany & Co., and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The following year, Wilson helped form The Chicago Academy for the Arts.

Wilson has been a member of the Girl Scouts of Chicago’s Association Board for over thirty years. She has also been listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans and in Donna Ballard’s book, Doing It For Ourselves: Success Stories of African American Women in Business, which was published in 1997. In 2008, she was honored in an evening of recognition at the Stanley Paul/Raelene Mittelman Scholarship Benefit.

Wilson lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Dori Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 25, 2010 and July 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2010.029

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/25/2010 |and| 07/16/2017

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Schools

Lincoln Elementary School

John Farren Elementary School

Ariel Community Academy

Hyde Park Academy High School

Roosevelt University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Dori

Birth City, State, Country

Winona

HM ID

WIL53

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

I'm Just Saying... And It Is What It Is And Whatever

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/15/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburgers, French Fries

Short Description

Public relations executive and model Dori Wilson (1943 - ) was the founder of Dori Wilson Public Relations and the first African American runway model in Chicago, Illinois.

Employment

Woolworth's Department Store

Goldblatt's

Compton Advertising

Foote, Cone and Belding

Dori Wilson Public Relations

WMAQ-TV

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Bright Colors, Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dori Wilson's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson lists her favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson talks about her parents' professions

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dori Wilson talks about her elementary school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dori Wilson remembers her childhood homes in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dori Wilson describes her early interest in fashion and beauty

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson describes her early career in advertising

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson describes how she became a professional fashion model

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson recalls her appearance on 'The Dating Game'

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about the black is beautiful movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes her community involvement in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about her positions at the Foote, Cone and Belding advertising agency

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson remembers her talk show, 'Memorandum,' pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers her talk show, 'Memorandum,' pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson recalls founding Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes the clientele of Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about her relationship with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her decision not to pursue a television career

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about the public relations industry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson describes her involvement in political campaigns

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson recalls her public relations work with The HistoryMakers

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson reflects upon the future of her career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about her parents' opinion of her career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson narrates her photographs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Dori Wilson's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson lists her favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson remembers her early experiences in Winona, Mississippi

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson recalls her early experiences in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about her siblings

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dori Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dori Wilson remembers the holidays

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Dori Wilson describes her early aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Dori Wilson remembers moving to Highland Park, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers living with her mother's white employers

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson recalls her experiences of discrimination in the Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson remembers the Shakespeare School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about her early work in the retail industry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes how she came to work for Compton Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson recalls her first professional modeling job

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson describes her modeling career in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about 'The Dating Game'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson talks about the advertising industry in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson describes her experiences as an African American model

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson talks about the elite society of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson remembers her transition to the public relations industry

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson remembers the nightlife of the 1970s in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson remembers meeting Potter Palmer IV

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson talks about her social circle

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers notable figures from the entertainment industries of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson remembers Barbara Gardner Proctor

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson talks about the advertising agencies in Chicago's River North

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson describes how she came to work at Foote, Cone and Belding

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson recalls the initial investments in the Dori Wilson Public Relations firm

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson recalls the early years of Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson remembers the events organized by Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about her friendship with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers her role in Oprah Winfrey's early career

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson talks about Oprah Winfrey's career

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson talks about the importance of networking in public relations

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about the challenges of small business ownership

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her career in public relations

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about segregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson describes her involvement on the boards of civic organizations

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson describes her role at the Chicago Academy for the Arts in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson talks about her public relations projects

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes how she became her nephew's guardian

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about the challenges of parenthood

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about the future of Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about her service on women's boards

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Dori Wilson describes the fashion industry in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Dori Wilson remembers Nena Ivon and Marilyn Miglin

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Dori Wilson talks about the Lawson House YMCA in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson talks about her relationship with Ann Dibble Jordan

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson talks about her work with Columbia College President Mirron Alexandroff

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her experiences in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her life

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 3

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$8

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Dori Wilson describes how she became a professional fashion model
Dori Wilson describes how she came to work at Foote, Cone and Belding
Transcript
But on this job I was working for Shepp Chartok [ph.], who was the executive TV producer. And Shepp was, again, a very wonderful liberal Jewish fellow and liked me and saw something in me and I said to him, "I want to learn what you do," because I knew that he was always going on photo shoots and on filming shoots and so it was--it was Shepp Chartok who took me on, on some of his filming for commercials. And I remember that we were at Reyeye Studio, R-E-Y-E-Y-E studio in Evanston, Illinois, and we were--because one of the accounts that I worked on, that my boss worked on at Compton Advertising [Compton Advertising, Inc.; Saatchi and Saatchi] was Alberto Culver [Alberto Culver Company; Unilever]. And during those years Alberto Culver did lots and lots of TV commercials and they were for what was called (unclear) testing, so we did hundreds of commercials and the ones that would hit the air would be the ones that tested properly. But we were always in casting sessions for models with great hair. So it was on one of these pre-shooting, pre-filming casting sessions, Shirley Hamilton was there, who was a large agent in town, and Shirley Hamilton saw that I was tall and thin and said to my boss, "I'd like to send her on an audition," and I remember my boss saying at the time, "Well, let's just hope she gets it." So, I did and that's how I started in that.$$Okay. Were you excited about that?$$I think it was a job and it was a chance of getting more money and I'm--I'm sure that I was somewhat excited about that, and I'm not sure whether at this time Shepp Chartok was my boss because Shepp subsequently left or whether it was Jack Davis who was at this boss--my boss at that point. But I remember that I would get off from work at four o'clock, run outside and catch the bus in order to be on the--the first audition that I had was for the auto show [Chicago Auto Show]--the first job that I had was for the auto show. And so I would work to be on the floor and I'd work the five to eleven [o'clock] shift at the auto show. And because I could speak, you know, our backgrounds came in handy, I was talking about Chevrolet cars, I remember that. And during the intermissions, when we were having our breaks, I met lots of other models who said you should be doing runway work, and I did not really know what runway work meant, but I subsequently learned. And I went and auditioned, I was at 111 East Jackson [Boulevard], as I said, which was very close to State Street and Marshall Field's [Marshall Field and Company Building, Chicago, Illinois] was holding auditions every month for the models to do there, at that time weekly, they were called tea room shows that were in the Narcissus Room on the seventh floor of Marshall Field's. And I went on those auditions for a year before I finally got a chance to do the work, but I became involved in other things in the city that gave me the visibility to do other work.$$Now, let me ask you, in these early days, were you the only black model out there doing these things at the auto show, for instance, were you the only black model there?$$No, I wouldn't say I was the only black model, there were a few, because remember some of them--some of the models traveled. And certainly I wasn't--so there were other models, there weren't very many, and there weren't very many who were aggressive to want to take it to the next step, because I didn't want to do just the auto show, I wanted to do the other things that I heard about. And I remembered that there was a model, and I don't know whether or not you know her, whose name is Ann Jones, who is just extraordinary; very short, but with wonderful hair and very chiseled features. I think maybe half Indian [Native American]. And so Ann Jones was the photo model at that time because that was the look that was in for models that you couldn't really tell quite what they were. In the runway business, however, I was accepted for being different and for being tall and for being skinny and for being dark because fashion guys create--love that, you know it makes--a dark skin is better for showcasing their clothes. So what had been considered a liability for me when I was growing up became an asset. Though I will say that when I started modeling, I sent my picture to one of the major traveling shows, and they sent my picture back to me because I did not look like the look that they were--were looking for. On the other hand when the designers came in from Paris [France], I was what they were looking for.$So you're at Foote, Cone and Belding and are you--I have you as director of fashion and casting and so what are you doing in that regard then?$$Well, Foote, Cone and Belding recruited me after reading a story about Dori [HistoryMaker Dori Wilson], and I think Dori's work with the film festival [Chicago International Film Festival], and, and as I mentioned, I had gained some notoriety while with Compton Advertising [Compton Advertising, Inc.; Saatchi and Saatchi], and CBS 2 [WBBM-TV, Chicago, Illinois] called up and, and asked me to, to take over--there was a very popular show called 'The Lee Phillip Show.' And I hosted 'The Lee Phillip Show' for two weeks while Lee [Lee Phillip Bell] took a holiday, which was just unheard of. And so there was an article written about that, of the various clothes that I wore, and here's what Dori's doing on this show and whatever. And so Al Weisman [Albert P. Weisman] from Foote, Cone and Belding called up and said, "You know, you're in the advertising business. You've got, at this point, four years under your belt, and we need you to--we'd like to talk to you about coming to work for us." Well, I had also been doing my modeling, and I'm wearing my top eyelashes and bottom eyelashes, and, and my wigs, and I'm running to do my fashion shows after work. And I said, "Nah, I'm not interested. I wanna become a big model, a big, black model." And those were the days of Naomi Sims in New York [New York] and Naomi was indeed my color, and had made wonderful strides, and that's what I wanted to do. And so John--I mean, excuse me, so Al Weisman said, "Well, I just want you to come and talk to somebody." So it ends up that I met with John O'Toole, who was president of, of Foote, Cone and Belding. And I didn't really realize the significance of that. And so I remember arriving for our breakfast with my wig case in my hand and lots of stuff on because I had a fashion show that day. And John, in essence, said to me, "Okay, you've got four years of experience under your belt. We need African Americans. We need women, so don't you wanna become more than just a pretty face?" And I said, "How dare you say that to me?" He said, "Well, I mean your pretty face, you know you're not making--it's not really doing anything important, but you can come and work for us and really make a difference, and I will still allow you to pursue your fashion shows." And so I did. I went (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So what did you learn, what--$$And then I got in trouble for doing my modeling because when I went there, because I'd had experience with, with TV production, Foote, Cone had picked up millions and millions of dollars in billing in Sears [Sears, Roebuck and Co.], the Sears business. And Sears would make, what we called regional commercials, like they would make dresses and shoes and this--whatever they had on sale, they would make little short commercials, and those commercials ran in different markets. You know, Texas could be dresses. Ohio could be shoes. So they were really doing retail only in TV commercials. And there was a unit of us that traveled around doing commercials. You know, in the winter, we worked in Florida or in California. In, in the good months, we worked in Chicago [Illinois]. So our little retail unit did some six or seven hundred commercials. My job in that was fashion director, fashion and casting. So if, indeed, Sears says, we're gonna be selling these dresses, then I would arrange for casting sessions to bring the models in, and then make sure that they were fitted properly. That they looked good, that they were accessorized properly, of course, working with seamstresses and things. But, therefore, the title, casting and fashion because they felt--Foote, Cone felt that that would give me--that would be a way for me to use whatever knowledge I had learned in the fashion business. And so it was a title that they created for me.$$I see. So you were there--is it, you said--$$Fourteen years.$$Fourteen years, okay.$$And I left there only to open my own business [Dori Wilson Public Relations, Chicago, Illinois]. And during that time, it was a wonderful experience, again, because traveling with a unit, and the unit being a TV producer, associate producer, a writer, an art director, a copy--I mean a copywriter and an account executive. And so it was a wonderful learning experience too. And, again, you learn about the work that goes into making these little commercials that we may or may not remember. It's a huge, huge business.$$So what--well, it's a huge business, and that's when really things were staffed, you know--$$Oh, yeah.$$--because you had--$$Yes.$$--you know, I mean that's when jingle writers, you know, or singers (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Exactly.$$--even could make a lot of money--$$Oh, yeah, and we worked so much with those jingle writers and, and the singers and the voiceover people and I still hear voices on TV that I recognize. Joel Corey was a very big one, and I still hear Joel doing McDonald's [McDonald's Corporation] and things around town.

Alisa Starks

Advertising executive and entrepreneur Alisa A. Starks helped launch the country's first African American-owned chain of movie theaters. Born in Chicago on September 14, 1960, Starks grew up on Chicago's South Side.

Starks graduated from Aquinas Dominican High School in 1978, enrolling at Northwestern University. She received her B.S. in journalism in 1982 and her M.S. in 1983 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. From 1984 to 1989, Starks worked in advertising for Burrell Communications Group in Chicago. She and her husband, Donzell, lived in Los Angeles for two years before returning to Chicago. Starks returned to Burrell, where she became a vice president.

Deciding to take the entrepreneurial plunge, the Starkses began to explore partnerships to build new theater complexes in minority neighborhoods-areas that major movie chains had been historically neglected. In 1997, they beat out Magic Johnson to win financial support from the city of Chicago to build three multiplexes on Chicago's South and West sides. The new theaters were hailed for their aesthetic beauty and their ability to bring jobs to otherwise neglected and rundown areas. By 1999, the Starkses expanded their theater empire, building a new cinema in Charlotte, North Carolina, and setting their sights on other inner-city neighborhoods around the country. The same year, their company partnered to create the Meridian Entertainment Group, which began by opening a chain of Meridian Theaters and by acquiring eight existing Chicago movie theaters. In just two years, the Starkses had gone from just three multiplexes to controlling 20 percent of Chicago's movie screens. A downturn in the market and other problems forced the Starks to cut back to their original investments, which they operate today. They see their movie theaters as community centers.

Alisa Starks has been an active leader in several community and civic organizations. She has served on the boards of the Muntu Dance Theatre, the Metropolitan Pier of Exposition Authority, the Ancona School and the Chicago International Film Festival. Starks and her high school sweetheart, Donzell, married in 1988. They have one child, Ahmad, and live on Chicago's South Side.

Alisa Starks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 27, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.208

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/27/2003

Last Name

Starks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Firman House

St. Philip Neri Catholic School

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School

Northwestern University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Alisa

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

STA01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/14/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Leisure entrepreneur Alisa Starks (1960 - ) is co-owner of the country's first African American owned chain of movie theaters, Inner-City Entertainment. She later founded Meridian Entertainment Group, and gained control of twenty percent of Chicago's movie screens.

Employment

Burrell Communications Group

BBS Marketing

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alisa Starks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks talks about her mother's upbringing and career as a school teacher in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks describes her parents' marriage and her home life as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks describes her paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks talks about her father's upbringing, career, and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks remembers how her parents fought for her admittance to St. Philip Neri Catholic School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alisa Starks recalls celebrating black history at age eight

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks talks about her grade school years

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks describes the sights, smells, and sounds of her childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about her militancy as a youth and why she stopped speaking out

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks describes her experience at St. Philip Neri Catholic School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks describes the role of religion in her childhood and her parents' value for education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks talks about her decision to major in journalism as a senior at Aquinas Dominican High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks talks about her undergraduate experience at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks talks about the beginning of her career at Burrell Advertising, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alisa Starks talks about the beginning of her career at Burrell Advertising, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alisa Starks talks about dating relationship and marriage to HistoryMaker Donzell Starks

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks reminisces about meeting her husband, HistoryMaker Donzell Starks and their mutual interest in business entrepreneurship

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks describes her experience living in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks explains the beginning of her dream to open a black-owned movie theater

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks talks about an opportunity to open a movie theater in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks describes an opportunity to open a movie theater in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks talks about acquiring the land in Chicago, Illinois to build Inner City Entertainment Theaters

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks recounts an important partnership with Cineplex Odeon

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks talks about the changes in Lawndale and Chatham, neighborhoods on Chicago, Illinois's South and West sides

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks describes her understanding of the influence of community relationships on the longevity of businesses

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks describes catering to her clientele

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about how the theaters engage African American communities

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks describes the "hat controversy" at one of her movie theaters

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks talks about the reception of different films amongst black audiences

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks reflects upon black independent filmmaking

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks describes marketing independent films

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks talks about providing entry-level jobs in the community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks shares her hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks considers her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

9$8

DATitle
Alisa Starks talks about the beginning of her career at Burrell Advertising, pt.2
Alisa Starks talks about the changes in Lawndale and Chatham, neighborhoods on Chicago, Illinois's South and West sides
Transcript
But I called Shirley [Searcy] and I said, "I need to, you know, to set up an appointment with Tom Burrell [HM Thomas J. Burrell]." "Okay, I've heard your name and I'll see what I can do." And so she calls me back later, and she says, "Well, you know, he doesn't--you know, he thinks there is really nothing we can do right now." I said, "You need to make this happen," you know. And she goes, "Maybe I can get him on the phone." She gets Tom Burrell on the phone and we start talking. I don't know what I said, but I had the next morning I had a breakfast interview with Tom Burrell. And I had already prepared for what I was going to present him with. And what I did, I created--even though I wasn't on the creative side, I was applying for a job on the account management side--I had a book created, like a portfolio, like art directors because I knew that was his background, was in art direction. And so, the book told the story of me and my accomplishments, and why Alisa Starks--I was then Alisa King--and Burrell should work together. And it also included in this book, like, some of the old ads from when the agency first opened--stuff that he hadn't seen in ten years that I had gotten from old issues of Ebony and Jet and stuff like that. And he was like, "Okay, you know, I think you got to meet one more person." I was like, "I thought you were it. Aren't you Tom Burrell?" (Laughter). You know, and he said--and now I know why he wanted me to meet this person; this person was Sarah Burroughs, who would ultimately become president of Burrell Communications Group when he would become chairman. And he had me interview with her, and she just fooled me to death. I knew when Julius liked me, Gene Morris [HM Eugene Morris] liked me, Tom Burrell I could read it. "Okay, I'm in like Flynn, right now." But with Sarah Burroughs, I could not read her at all. And she you know, I said, "Okay, so you'll get back to me?" And she said, "Yes." And the next thing I knew I had the job. But so, there are stories that they can tell you, of who this persistent person is. Gene will even tell you, "Her mother ran into me one day. (Laughter). "I didn't know her mother." And just how I was persistent in getting the job. So, that was kind of the trail through advertising.$Now they've been successful. I mean, the people go to the show there.$$They go to the show. Well, and interestingly enough, the most successful site is the [E.] 87th [Street] and the Dan Ryan [Expressway], our site. And it's the homerun site; it takes care of the other two. We knew when they gave us the other sites that they would trail Chatham [Chicago, Illinois]. Lawndale [Chicago, Illinois] each of the three communities that we went in were very different African American communities. Lawndale was the most challenged of the three communities. The site that we were on was empty and hadn't been developed since the riots in the 1960's. This was bare land. We were really being trailblazers at that site. But that was also the site the mayor was aggressively wanting done by one of these exhibitors. And that's how they got them, because the mayor wanted something to happen in those communities that would bring these kinds of jobs, entry level jobs, into that community. And there was nothing over there. I mean, Dominick's came in after us. All these people that are you know; they benefit from us being trailblazers there. But you go there today and you see an entire shopping center. You know, the Bank of Lawndale was there. Then there's us, then now there's Dominick's, there's Payless, there's Blockbuster, there's all of that. There's only one out-lot that isn't the out-lot that's there. But it's due to a contract that they couldn't bring in the tenant right away. And now that, well, what happened is McDonald's had an exclusive. They're on one side on one out-lot, and this other out-lot is designed for another fast food chain. And McDonald's kind of just prohibited that other chain from coming in until a certain period of time. That time has expired. So, that will be completely--if you look at that now, they've got market rate housing. The community is drastically changing right now. You can't even get into some of the new homes for less than $200,000, $300,000, for some of the new developments that they're building over there. You look at the other site at [W.] 62nd [Street] and [S.] Western [Avenue]. It was kind of like the middle of the road between Chatham and Lawndale, literally and figuratively. Western Avenue, a strip that runs from the furthest point north of the city to the furthest point south. I mean, known for car dealerships, known for business, but nothing really shopping mall kind of deal. We put our theater at 62nd and Western. More development comes in there, Pep Boys, Aldi's. K-Mart was supposed to come right next to us until it went bankrupt. And then you look at Chatham. Chatham, of the three communities, most developed. The household incomes are larger. The, you know, these are more homeownership in that community. All of that, you know, a stable community.$$It's more black home ownership there than any other place in the city.$$Yeah. So, and then you look at the numbers, the dynamics, the whole nine yards. The two malls were almost, they were more than fifty percent vacant when we went in--both sides of the street. After a week, Home Depot comes in. Now, you've got Marshalls' first inner city store. You know, you've got Bally's. You've got all that kind of stuff. Cub Foods came in after us. That mall is like, what, ninety-nine percent full of You know, on one side, one store big store I think that always keeps changing hands is that Ames on the other side. But in every community that we went in, there was development, which was something that we kept preaching to the banks. They knew how important that getting us in was to each of those communities. And all we were doing was using the model that was very similar to the way that governments have developed the suburban communities. You get in your large acre tenants and create a shopping center, and voila! And a lot of times it was a theater. Where are most of the movie theaters? In these shopping centers in suburban communities. They helped build that, because the other people will come if there's a movie theater. So we got, after these theaters were built--oh, every city, every local official was like calling us all over, "Please come." The problem is I can't be everywhere. And if you've got a theater here, I can't have another one two blocks down the road. But we've been interviewed a lot from like when they a lot of people interviewing us about, well, coming to see the theaters, and seeing the change in all three.