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Tracey Edmonds

Film producer and talent manager Tracey E. Edmonds was born on February 18, 1967 in Los Angeles, California to Jacqueline and George McQuarn. Edmonds graduated from Stanford University with her B.A. degree in psychobiology in 1987.

Upon graduation, Edmonds ran a successful mortgage and real estate business. Then, in 1993, she created Edmonds Entertainment Group, Inc., a multi-million dollar enterprise actively involved in all aspects of the entertainment business. Edmonds Entertainment produced the film Soul Food in 1997, which earned five NAACP Image Awards. The success of Edmonds Entertainment set the stage for the independent film production company, e2 Filmworks. Edmonds produced two independent films under this banner: Hav Plenty, which was released in 1998; and 2001’s Punks. In 2004, she executive produced the reality show College Hill, the first African American reality program on BET, which set a network record as BET's highest rated series premiere. Edmonds also produced the series Lil' Kim: Countdown to Lockdown, as well as DMX: Soul of a Man, which both aired on BET in 2006. She has produced a number of other films and television shows, including Light It Up, Soul Food: The Series, Josie and the Pussycats, Maniac Magee, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is, Good Luck Chuck, Who’s Your Caddy? , New in Town, and Jumping the Broom, which won two NAACP Image Awards.

In 2006, Edmonds was hired as chief operating officer and president of Our Stories Films, where she oversees the development and production of projects for urban audiences. In 2013, she launched ALRIGHT TV, an inspirational, faith-friendly YouTube Premium channel, for which she serves as president and chief executive officer.

Edmonds has served on the boards of the American Film Institute, People for the American Way, Children Uniting Nations, and the Producers Guild of America. She also served as a Global Ambassador for CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that works to fight global poverty. Edmonds has won numerous awards, including Turner Broadcasting System’s Tower of Power Award in 2000; Ebony magazine’s Outstanding Women In Marketing & Communications Entrepreneur Award in 2002; the Girls, Inc. Award in 2004; the National Organization for Women’s Excellence in Media Award in 2005; and The Caucus for Television Producers, Writers and Directors Diversity Award in 2006. She has also received an Honorary Doctorate degree in business from Southern University.

Edmonds resides in Beverly Hills, California with her two sons, Brandon and Dylan.

Tracey Edmonds was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 19, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.313

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/19/2013

Last Name

Edmonds

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

E.

Schools

Braodacres Avenue Elementary School

Progress Elementary School

W.C. Woodbury Middle School

Bishop Gorman High School

Woodrow Wilson Classical High School

Stanford University

First Name

Tracey

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

EDM04

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/18/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Mexican Food

Short Description

Film producer and talent manager Tracey Edmonds (1967 - ) was the founder and CEO of Edmonds Entertainment Group, which produced numerous films and television shows including Soul Food, Josie and the Pussycats, Good Luck Chuck, Who’s Your Caddy? and Jumping the Broom.

Employment

Edmonds Entertainment

e2 Filmworks

Our Stories Films

ALRIGHT TV

Yab Yum Entertainment

Edmonds Record Group

Edmonds Management

Favorite Color

Beige

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641425">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tracey Edmonds' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641426">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tracey Edmonds lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641427">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tracey Edmonds describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641428">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her maternal family's move to Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641429">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tracey Edmonds remembers her maternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641430">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her parents' teenage years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641431">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tracey Edmonds describes her father's family background, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641432">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tracey Edmonds describes her father's family background, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641433">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her father's childhood in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641434">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tracey Edmonds describes how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641435">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her father's coaching career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641436">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tracey Edmonds describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641437">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tracey Edmonds recalls her early years in Nevada and California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641438">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tracey Edmonds describes her early childhood memories</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641439">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tracey Edmonds recalls her elementary school experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641440">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tracey Edmonds describes her experiences at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641441">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tracey Edmonds talks about the segregation at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641442">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her extracurricular activities at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641443">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tracey Edmonds recalls her experiences with racial discrimination at Woodrow Wilson High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641444">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tracey Edmonds describes her experiences at Woodrow Wilson High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641445">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tracey Edmonds recalls her college application process</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641446">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tracey Edmonds describes her experiences at Stanford University in Stanford, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641447">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tracey Edmonds remembers studying abroad in Florence, Italy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641448">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tracey Edmonds recalls her professors at Stanford University in Stanford, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641449">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her decision to become a real estate broker</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641450">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tracey Edmonds talks about the entertainment of her youth, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641451">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tracey Edmonds recalls the entertainment of her youth, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641452">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her mother's real estate company in Newport Beach, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641453">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tracey Edmonds remembers meeting her first husband, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641454">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tracey Edmonds remembers meeting her first husband, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641455">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tracey Edmonds talks about the formation of Yab Yum Entertainment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641456">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tracey Edmonds recalls the artist she worked with through Yab Yum Entertainment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641457">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tracey Edmonds talks about producing the film, 'Soul Food'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641458">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tracey Edmonds talks about the success of the movie 'Soul Food'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641459">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tracey Edmonds remembers the creation of 'Soul Food' the television series</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641460">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tracey Edmonds talks about the theatrical release of 'Light It Up'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641461">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tracey Edmonds describes her acquisition of the film 'Hav Plenty'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641462">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tracey Edmonds talks about producing the film, 'Punks'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641463">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tracey Edmonds describes her various entertainment companies</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641464">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tracey Edmonds remembers pitching 'College Hill' to BET</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641465">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tracey Edmonds talks about the filming of 'College Hill'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641466">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tracey Edmonds talks about the reception of 'College Hill'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641467">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tracey Edmonds recalls producing 'Jumping the Broom'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641468">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tracey Edmonds talks about Our Stories Films</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641469">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tracey Edmonds reflects upon her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641470">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tracey Edmonds talks about mentoring aspiring film producers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641471">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Tracey Edmonds describes the YouTube premium channel Alright TV</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641472">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Tracey Edmonds describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641473">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Tracey Edmonds reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641474">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Tracey Edmonds talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/641475">Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Tracey Edmonds describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Tracey Edmonds remembers meeting her first husband, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, pt. 2
Tracey Edmonds talks about the filming of 'College Hill'
Transcript
So, that was February of 1990, by May is when I made the decision to move up to L.A. [Los Angeles, California]. And so, the weekend of our move we're unpacking and I'm in sweats and a ponytail and we decide to take a food break from moving and we go to KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken] to go get some food and stuff and we're coming back to our new office and stuff and, you know, there's a lot of traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard, my mom [Jacqueline Moten McQuarn] detours and goes on a side street and there's a, some kind of studio on this side street and so out, you know, comes Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds [Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds] walking out of this studio and we're driving, you know, and she's like, "Isn't that that guy Babyface you were supposed to do the video with?" And I said, "Yeah," I said, "I think that's him." She goes, "Well, you should go say hi to him." I go, "Mom, I don't look good, you know, like I'm dirty, no." And so, she was like, "Well, I don't care what you say, I'm driving." So, she pulls into the parking lot or whatever and rolls down the window and, you know, Kenny is dressed in a nice suit and, and everything and so my mom is like, "Hey, are you Babyface?" And he's like, "Yeah." And she's like, "You know, my daughter, Tracey [HistoryMaker Tracey Edmonds], was supposed to be in this video with you but she got chickenpox. There's Tracey," and he's like, "Oh, yeah," you know, and I'm just like (laughter). And so, he's like, "Yeah, you know, we were wondering what happened to you." And I was like, "Yeah, I got sick," you know. And she's like, "Well, she just moved up here and she doesn't know anyone, so, here's her card," you know. And he's like, "Oh, okay." She's like, "You guys should get together," you know. And so, he's like, "Okay." And I was like, you know, we drove off. And I was like, "Mom," I was like, "that is so embarrassing." I'm like, "Why did you do that?" And so, but sure enough like, you know, he got the card and I think I got a phone call (laughter) in the next hour or so, where he called me and invited me to, to dinner. And so, so, we had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey [California] and, you know, the rest is history. And so, we just, you know, we dated for, I think a year and a half and then got engaged and, you know, got married a couple of years later.$$Okay. Okay (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And then my, my life changed.$$Yeah, and apparently his did--$$(Laughter).$$--too because, you know, he wrote that you really pushed him, I mean, you know, in terms of what, what his ambitions were and what he was trying to do you, you were, you give him a, a push.$$Oh, I never knew he said that. That--$$Yeah, that's, we got a quote in here.$$(Laughter).$$I don't wanna read it but, but there, yeah, he actually said, he said this to--anyway.$$Is that from a interview he did for something or--$$Yeah, yeah.$$Oh.$$Yeah.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$Yeah.$$So, yeah, he said, "She, she pushed me in ways I needed to be pushed. She encouraged me to try new things, things I had never done before."$$Oh, wow. That's, I mean, that's really sweet. We, Kenny and I are still to this day, we're very close friends. And so, I have a lot of beautiful, beautiful memories with him. And, you know, when we talk about how my mom, I always told my mom how she was blessed to be young and to have had that real young love and, you know, and, and, getting your first house together and having kids together and all that kind of stuff, I had that with Kenny which was beautiful. You know, and so, he was like my first young love and we, I mean, we had an amazing time, we grew together. And so, we did the house, buying our house and fixing up, and finding furniture, and fixing rooms, and having, you know, our babies together. And, and then I always, you know, I had this travel bug and he--in me and he knows that's just my character so I'm always, you know, I was the person to take him to Europe for the first time and so I was like, you know, always the one kind of planning these experiences and these memories that I wanted us to have together. And so, so we did our first Europe trip together, we saw China together, we saw Japan together, we climbed through pyramids of Egypt together, Thailand, Australia, we went all over the world together, you know, as we got older and experienced life and, and stuff together. And so, you know, and he was, you know, both of us, I think, you know, he really supported me in my ambitions and I did whatever I could to, to support him too behind the scenes too. And--yeah.$$Now, he grew up in Indianapolis [Indiana] right?$$Um-hm.$$That's, yeah, 'cause (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah. Yeah, he--yeah, he grew up in Indianapolis. But we did, you know, we did a lot of things together. Like when I decided that I wanted to go into film, you know, and become a producer and stuff and created Edmonds Entertainment [Edmonds Entertainment Group, Inc., Los Angeles, California], he supported me and I found the 'Soul Food' movie and I said, "Hey, well, let's do this together," you know. So, I produced the movie and then he did all the music. So, it was, it was fun 'cause, you know, we flew out to Chicago [Illinois], I had just had Brandon [Brandon Edmonds]. And we're staying in this, you know, hotel, I think it was like the Four Seasons Hotel [Four Seasons Hotel Chicago] or something, I'm on the set every day producing the movie, he's got a little studio set up inside the hotel room and he's writing all the songs as we're shooting the scenes and stuff. And so, so, we did that a few times on movies together and stuff and then we created a management company [Edmonds Management Group] and stuff. And so, I really, you know, I was inspired by--like I read this Donald Trump [President Donald John Trump] book when I was in, in college [Stanford University, Stanford, California] and it was kind of, you know, about the art of branding yourself, you know. And then we saw how Trump branded himself and put Trump all over the hotels and all that kind of stuff. And so, when Kenny and I got married I was like, "Okay, let's be like, you know, one of those big families and let's brand ourselves and stuff," and, you know, and I said, "And let's do Edmonds Entertainment," and, you know, and then we bought a, a, a building together and so I put a big E at the top (laughter), at the top of the building for Edmonds and--$$Well it--$$--you know (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I, I think that all that worked.$So, Stephen Hill and BET [Black Entertainment Television] they said, "Okay, the, this 'College Hill' thing that you just pitched sounds really interesting. We only have this amount of money." And I was like, "Are you serious?" And they're like, "Yeah, and we need thirteen episodes. Can you do it?" And so, for me, you know, I've done a lot of things, as I'm sure you see, that's not always about making money. It's just about like taking things to another level for African American entertainment or opening a door or proving a point. And so, so, I said, "Okay, all right. I have this amount of money, you need thirteen episodes. Okay, I'll do it." And so, so, again, me being really hands on with everything, so I went out, I found a university that let us do it, Southern University [Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College], Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And, and I grabbed Chris Cherot [Christopher Scott Cherot] who I had done 'Hav Plenty' with because I knew Chris knew how to make stuff for no money (laughter). So, I'm like, "Chris, I have X number of dollars, we need to do thirteen episodes, okay. Can we get our guerilla reality making going and lets me and you go out to Southern University and shoot this reality show, and can you direct it and help me put it together?" So, he was like, "Okay, let's do it." So, so, we went out and shot our first season of 'College Hill.' Now, so sad compared to how all these shows are properly done. I mean, the only location we had were the kids' college dorms themselves. And so, nowadays, and in our subsequent seasons we got to put them in more, you know, better locations, a real house, and all this kind of stuff. First season we were actually just inside the dormitories having to shoot in these little tiny rooms and, you know, we had no story producers, nothing, so it was just me and Chris and it was all about casting. So, it was all about finding eight kids with really strong personalities that--$$Really different personalities.$$Yeah, really different personalities.$$I, I know one, Jabari Roberts from Chicago [Illinois].$$Oh, yes, yeah, yeah.$$He is exactly the way he is in (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah.$$--on TV and--$$Yeah.$$--and people probably think that he's acting or doing something.$$No.$$He, he's exactly like that.$$No.$$He was the nerdiest kid in the--$$Absolutely.$$That's him.$$And we were really the realest reality show out there. We never scripted anything, we never pushed the kids to do anything, you know, it was all about strong personalities and, and the right casting and stuff. So, so, we did the show at Southern, they put it on the air and it broke all their ratings, you know, history. You know, like we, you know, we were the, had the highest ratings in the history of, of BET. And so, everybody went crazy, you know, over this little show, you know, or whatever and so I was like okay, cool, cool, yay, okay, well, we showed that there's an audience out there. So then, so then, we got picked up, you know, for another season. And then slowly, the second season they gave us, they increased our budget a little more, and then finally BET got bought out by Viacom [Viacom Inc.]. So, once that Viacom money came in they were really able to give us a proper budget, so that we were able to look like, you know, the competing shows, we were able to look like a, you know, a MTV show [Music Television; MTV], you know, or whatever. And so, so, we had six seasons always, you know, the number one top, top, top show. And it was really interesting because, you know, early on that first season like nobody knew what our budget was and everybody was like, "Well, how come your show, I love it, but how come it don't look like, you know, the other shows on, you know, why it gotta look like that?" I'm like, if you only knew (laughter) how much money, you know, we had to, you know, to shoot with, you know, it was, you know, pennies. So, so, yeah, so, we did six seasons and, you know, we were their number one rated show and then unfortunately we were put on pause because the regime changed and so to this day I've been trying to get them to unpause us and let us continue on, you know, with the show. And I get a million tweets 'cause it's on Netflix and, you know, everybody is like, "Oh, my god, Tracey [HistoryMaker Tracey Edmonds], when are you bringing back 'College Hill'?" You know, "What's going on with that?" And so, still talking to the network about it.

Bill Duke

Film director and actor Bill Duke was born William Henry Hudson Duke, Jr. on February 26, 1943 in Poughkeepsie, New York to Ethel Louise and William Henry Hudson Duke, Sr. Duke earned his A.A. degree from Dutchess Community College before attending Boston University, where he originally enrolled as a pre-med student, but earned his B.A. degree in theatre. He received his M.A. degree in fine arts from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Duke later attended the American Film Institute.

Duke began his career as an actor in New York City with the Negro Ensemble Company, performing in plays such as LeRoi Jones' Slave Ship and Melvin Van Peebles’ musical Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death. Duke’s first movie role was in 1976 when he portrayed a young Black Muslim revolutionary named Abdullah Mohammed Akbar in Car Wash. Duke then held the recurring role of Luther Freeman in the series Palmerstown, U.S.A. before his directorial debut in 1982, directing episodes of Knot's Landing, Falcon Crest, and Flamingo Road. Some of Duke's most prominent work was his direction of teleplays for the PBS series American Playhouse including “The Killing Floor,” which was chosen for Critic's Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985, “A Raisin in the Sun,” which received an Emmy nomination, and “The Meeting.” During the 1980s, Duke amassed more than 100 television directing credits, including more than seventy episodes of roughly twenty television series such as Miami Vice, Dallas, Crime Story, Cagney and Lacey and Hill Street Blues. Duke directed his first feature film in 1990, a film adaptation of Chester Himes' novel A Rage in Harlem. He went on to direct many other films including Deep Cover, Sister Act 2, Hoodlum, Deacons for Defense, and Prince Among Slaves. Duke was also featured in numerous television series, including in Fastlane, Karen Sisco, and Black Lightning, as well as in films like Predator, Menace II Society, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, and High Flying Bird. In 1993, he co-authored Black Light: The African American Hero with Paul Carter Harrison and Danny Glover; and, in 1996, he published The Journey: A Tale of Human Healing. Duke published his memoir in 2018.

In 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Duke to the California Film Commission. Duke also worked with non-profit and charity organizations such as Educating Young Minds, and has taught at several universities including Howard University and New York University School of Arts. In 2008, he founded the Duke Media Foundation, aimed at teaching new media skills to youth.

Duke is the recipient of numerous awards including the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the NAACP’s Special Award for Outstanding Achievement, SCLC’s Drum Major for Justice Film Award, and a Cable Ace Award. President Bill Clinton also appointed Duke to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Duke was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 19, 2008 and November 20, 2019.

Accession Number

A2008.115

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

9/19/2008

11/20/2019

Last Name

Duke

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Duke

Occupation
Schools

Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School

Duchess Community College

Boston University

New York University

Violet Avenue Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Bill

Birth City, State, Country

Poughkeepsie

HM ID

DUK04

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

True Power Is An Individual's Ability To Move From Failure To Failure With No Loss Of Enthusiasm.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/26/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Film director and actor Bill Duke (1943- ) has over 100 directing and acting credits, including for directing American Playhouse, A Rage in Harlem, and Sister Act 2, and acting in Fastlane, Commando, Predator, Menace II Society, and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Employment

Negro Ensemble Company

Howard University

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485916">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bill Duke's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485917">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bill Duke lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485918">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bill Duke describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485919">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bill Duke recalls his maternal family's move to Poughkeepsie, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485920">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bill Duke describes his mother's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485921">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bill Duke describes his mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485922">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bill Duke describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485923">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bill Duke describes his father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485924">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bill Duke describes how his parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485925">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bill Duke describes how he takes after his parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485926">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bill Duke describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485927">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bill Duke describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485928">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bill Duke talks about his family's self-sufficiency</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485929">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bill Duke remembers his upbringing in Poughkeepsie, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485930">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bill Duke describes the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485931">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bill Duke remembers Violet Avenue Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485932">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bill Duke remembers his early experiences with dyslexia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485933">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bill Duke describes his early interest in writing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485934">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bill Duke remembers Dr. James Hall</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485935">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bill Duke recalls his introduction to theater at Boston University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485936">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bill Duke remembers Lloyd Richards</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485937">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bill Duke recalls developing his skills as a director</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485938">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bill Duke remembers his favorite film and television programs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485939">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bill Duke describes his early theater career in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485940">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bill Duke remembers his introduction to Hollywood's entertainment industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485941">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bill Duke describes his short film, 'The Hero'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485942">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bill Duke remembers co-starring with Richard Gere in 'American Gigolo'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485943">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bill Duke describes his transition to directing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485944">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bill Duke remembers directing 'The Killing Floor'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485945">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bill Duke recalls directing 'A Raisin in the Sun' for PBS</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485946">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bill Duke remembers acting in 'Commando' and 'Predator'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485947">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bill Duke recalls his directorial credits in the 1990s, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485948">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bill Duke remembers directing 'Deep Cover'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485949">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bill Duke describes his directorial philosophy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485950">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bill Duke reflects upon his experiences as a director</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485951">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bill Duke talks about the art of acting</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485952">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bill Duke talks about his favorite actors</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485953">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bill Duke recalls his directorial credits in the 1990s, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485954">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bill Duke talks about his book, 'Black Light'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485955">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bill Duke describes the film 'Deacons for Defense'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485956">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bill Duke talks about the California Film Commission</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485957">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bill Duke describes his civic involvement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485958">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bill Duke describes his concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485959">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bill Duke reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485960">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bill Duke describes his plans for the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485961">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bill Duke reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485962">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Bill Duke talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/485963">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Bill Duke describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

8$2

DATitle
Bill Duke talks about the art of acting
Bill Duke talks about his book, 'Black Light'
Transcript
--As an actor, it's a different kind of feeling. It's just--it's like writing. I'm a writer, but I don't write much anymore; it's just like too isolated for me, you know? If I get married, or I'm gonna be a writer again because I can--somebody's there, but writing is a desolate, desolate experience. People don't understand, I don't think how--writing is like--just, just you and, as they say, the tabula rosa [sic. tabula rasa]. It's that blank piece of paper, and you're writing, and you go, what the hell? What is that? You try to make it better. You don't, you don't even know if it's better; you feel it's better. That's how acting is. Acting is like--[HistoryMaker] Lloyd Richards used to say something like, it's falling into darkness backward; you just gotta trust. It's not because you're so bright or talented, but the degree of your research and preparation is important in the final analysis. See, stage fright--they call it stage fright, which you've probably seen, is this (gesture). You go on stage, and you're supposed to be John, but the actor is observing himself being John. So who's onstage? The actor and John. The writer didn't write the, the, the part for Bill and John (laughter), he just wants John (laughter), so Bill has to surrender whatever he is to John. That process of surrender is called trust, and if you cannot do that, you end up being a--kind of a mannequin-like version of John 'cause John's not there. You watching John, or pretending to be John, is there.$$Well, you know, we, we still have like certain iconic actors, I guess, that people write for them to be them playing a role, you know, in a way. I mean, I guess in the old days, like John Wayne really, you know, his parts were really written for a guy to--for John Wayne to be the, you know, the person, except for when he played Genghis Khan [in 'The Conqueror'] (laughter) (unclear) which didn't work out too well. But they, you know, they kind of write 'em for him, you know, he's just (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well yeah. And that--there's nothing wrong with that. They're called personality actors, and that's okay, and I, you know, I don't put that down. But the great actors of our time, the great actors of all time, you know, the great stage actors, the great--they play a spectrum of people from fathers to murderers, and every role they're in you believe it, you believe them. They have that facility, the ability to surrender to the craft in a way that's just phenomenal.$You published a book called 'Black Light: The African American Hero' [Paul Carter Harrison, Danny Glover and Bill Duke].$$It's a collaboration between [HistoryMaker] Danny Glover and myself.$$Okay.$$Uh-huh.$$And now what were you trying to do in that book?$$Pray--pay homage to all the people who had made it possible for me to be here, all the sacrifices they had made, all the deaths, all the, the limbs that had been cut off, all of the--coming over on this middle passage. All the not being able to go in the same bathroom, at the same water fountain, standing up for who you were and are, and--so that we could be here talking now.$$So it was like a photo essay type of book, right?$$It's, it's, it's, it's photographs, but also it's writing about the history and so on.$$Okay. Now, it's read at--that directors write history and stuff, but you, you see--you don't see yourself just as a director, I guess, in the generic sense, right?$$Well, directing--in order to direct successfully, I really think that you have to be dabbling in everything from writing to painting. I mean directorially, you're creating composition, and it's moving motion pictures. If you study the composition of still pictures, then you get an understanding of what balance is in a frame, and so you try your best to study the greatest painters of all time, which I tried to do, and to borrow from them in terms of understanding composition. 'Cause composition is not only where you place people, but composition also has to do with texture and color because someone that's way in the back can be the center of focus of the, of the frame if they have red on and everybody in the front has on white. You learn things from painting and sculpture and great writers from T.S. Eliot to, I mean to, name them, I mean you know. You, you set yourself to a standard. If you're, if you're your only standard it's kind of convoluted, but if your standard is to be as--if someone has set a mark for you and you say, I would like to be able to tell a story as well as Lorraine Hansberry or T.S. Eliot in his poetry, or whoever it is, that's, that's to me is part of it.