For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed writer-producer Delores Edwards. She began her career working in network television news and has spent more than 15 years writing and producing news, magazine, short/long-form format, entertainment, talk, and documentary programming. Some of her credits include ABC News & News Specials, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS, CNN, VH1, BET, and Good Day New York. She has written and produced stories, features and profiles on people like Patti LaBelle, Bessie Nickens, a 94-year-old painter, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, and upcoming entrepreneurs, as well as produced stories on finance, fashion, and both Gulf Wars. To learn more, visit her website.
Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.
Right now, I am a Series Producer on two programs for WGBH: Basic Black and Open Studio. Basic Black is the longest-running public affairs program in the country produced by and for people of color. This upcoming season will be its 50th. Open Studio is an arts magazine program covering everything from major exhibits to in-depth, sit-down profile interviews with artists like, playwright Ayad Akhtar, Longy School of Music’s Sistema Side by Side music program as well as Misty Copeland, Lori McKenna, Leslie Odom Jr, historian Sarah Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla and more. It is the best of both worlds.
In addition, I am also working on my documentary idea about women and unemployment, expanding a short and working on getting an Op-Ed piece about plus-size clothing published. I am also passionate about creating my “Voice and Vision” workshops to help women, groups, and companies share their voice, help them think outside of the box and shape and share their stories that will inspire, inform and tell people who they are.
Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
My interest in producing a public affairs program really came from my time as an undergraduate student at Northeastern University watching Say Brother (now Basic Black). The program covered what was going on in the city and concerns for people of color, so when the opportunity came up to manage and oversee this show and Open Studio, I pursued it. Since my time here, both programs were nominated for an Emmy as well as other awards.
The idea to create my workshop stems from wanting to help entrepreneurs, freelancers, women and others who see that in order to get to the next stage or step, they need some help in crafting their story—not in a braggy way, but in a style that brings to light who YOU are–confidently and authentically. I thought about this after working with young women in a volunteer setting and saw the need to for a workshop like this. We all have something to say. We have ideas and things we wish to create–why not get some help with presenting those ideas in the best light?
My doc projects are a result of the issues that came up after the economic downturn. While the unemployment climate has gotten better, there are still hundreds-of-thousands of people out of work and having trouble finding work. I saw it first hand with friends and the effects it had on them. I also know what it felt like because it has happened to me too.
The op-ed is my informed observation and criticism on an issue I deal with every time I shop for clothes. My plan is to tell my story and have it published. (I’ll let you know when it lands!) It’s about stretching myself creatively. Plus, I have something to say!
There is a film idea too but it’s still percolating.
Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
Tough question. Right now, I am really inspired by people like Ava DuVernay, Courtney Kemp for creating, writing and showrunning Power; Misty Copeland for her perseverance; Oprah and Shonda Rhimes for creating their media companies.
Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?
Again, it’s knowing that I have something to say. It’s knowing that there is much more I can give, so I push myself. Hey, sometimes you just have to do it for yourself if no one is around. Speaking up and asking for what I want and need is key too, even at times, when it is challenging.
Also, I watching the recent Emmys and seeing various people of color in attendance– and winning. Look it’s not about the award; it’s about the recognition and the opportunity to create. To me, it’s also an indication that some doors are opening, slightly. On the flip side, it’s also realizing that other avenues exist. If I want to produce something and publish or broadcast it, it is not an issue. I could post it, sell it on Amazon or start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money. I guess what I am saying is there are ways to get your work out there so people/audiences can see it. What gets murky is being able to sustain yourself while doing it. That is the challenge.
Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?
I’m good. Just the ideas that I have mentioned –writing, doc projects etc.
Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
Seeing my ideas on the air every week.
Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
Running a studio and greenlighting projects.
Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?
Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
It’s been a little difficult lately given my current responsibilities, however, I try to stay connected by attending events, film festivals and taking at least one weekend away each month to recharge — a sort of staycation. Sometimes having a change of scenery and a chance to sleep gives me a new perspective.
Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?
Q: What is your favorite piece of art?
Work by Leroy Campbell.
Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?
I admire a lot of people so it’s hard to pin down, however I do admire Former First Lady Michelle Obama. She along with her family endured a lot of taunts while inside and outside of the office. Despite all of the issues, she remained gracious and elegant. Plus, I’m still working on getting my arms to resemble hers!
Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
Having a voice and helping others find theirs.
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. It’s not fancy, but it does the trick.
Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
You are doing great. You’ve accomplished a great deal and are continuing to grow. Things will come your way – some good, some bad. When they come remember to stay grounded. Celebrate whether things happen or not, if you get a compliment or not. Keep your eyes pointed forward and stay away from naysayers or those who wish to kill your dream–recognize that they are frightened people who are afraid of being left behind as you begin to move forward. Do not settle and feel like you have to stick around with the people who try to tear down your ideas because if you do, you will not move closer to your own dreams. Theirs are theirs. Yours are yours. Own your dreams. Guard and protect them until you are ready to share them with the world. As you give to others, including your friends and family members, remember to give to yourself, always. You’ve earned it and so much more. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Have fun and buy yourself some flowers!
Q: Where would you most like to live?
California, Atlanta, Chicago or Toronto.
Q: What is your idea of success?
Peace and ease. The ability to not worry about outside things. Being comfortable and realizing that I have enough. A feeling of being able to take care of myself financially, no matter what.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
Spending time with friends, family, in good health, having the time to do whatever I want, create projects at my own company from anyplace in the world, being joyful, and discovering new things and places—and being excited about those things and places.