Quantcast
From Waitress To Exec: Paramount’s DeDe Brown Talks Power Moves And The Self-Work That Wins
Courtesy of DeDe Brown

From Waitress To Exec: Paramount’s DeDe Brown Talks Power Moves And The Self-Work That Wins

Her career is proof that the recipe for leveling up isn’t a cookie-cutter one

BOSS UP

It’s always great to be able to see power in motion, and the more we see this, the more we can embody it in our own lives. Black women executives in entertainment oftentimes showcase this in more ways than one—leveling up while innovating, day by day, a single step at a time.


In the case of DeDe Brown, senior vice president of multicultural marketing and publicity at Paramount Pictures, you've got a living-and-breathing lesson in how to succeed in the entertainment industry. She is a powerful woman who’s using her role as an executive to not only push her own boundaries, but to also apply leadership for change.

She balances duties of overseeing campaigns for some of the entertainment powerhouse’s most successful projects and franchises (think, Jackass, Scream, Sonic, and The Lost City) with co-leading the steering committee of Paramount’s Project Action initiative, an effort driven by the global marketing and distribution team’s advocacy of social justice for Black and brown people around the world.

Add to that her role as the co-host of Blk on the Scene, a podcast that brings the contributions of Black creatives in the entertainment industry to the forefront and does its part to change the narrative on authentic representation.

And check a few more notches on her resume: her work in strategic leadership and boss moves are evident in her work with blockbuster films including Bad Boys for Life, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters and TV hits like The Neighborhood, South Side, and God Friended Me. Before that, she served as a freelance consultant in fashion, sports, and media and was even the director of special events and PR at the New York Post.

Her early career path was one of twists and turns—an adventurous dance with a trio of chance, smarts, and fortitude. xoNecole caught up with the busy executive to talk about how she landed into her current role and the importance of recognizing that one’s path to success doesn’t always have to resemble anything close to cookie-cutter.

Early Days of Powerful Pivoting

The University of Alabama grad studied broadcast journalism only to graduate and decide that the career path just wasn’t what she really wanted to do at the time. “I’ve always had this interest in entertainment, and so [it was about] just not knowing what to do when I got out of school,” she recalls.

“I was thinking about starting in small markets, covering the cat stuck in the tree or a house fire, but I couldn’t look into my magic ball and realize how quickly the world was going to change with social media. I also didn’t have any mentorship or any sort of plan or path of, ‘Oh I should figure out this whole entertainment thing.’ It took like three or four years for me to really find my way.”

Brown took on jobs like waitressing and working in retail, and it was while waiting tables at a popular eatery that her life and perspective would change. At the time, there was a new themed dining experience called Planet Hollywood, a chain that would become legendary for its celebrity-connected events and marketing, and a friend recommended that she apply for a job there. (The founder, Robert Earl, is infamous for the success he had with the Hard Rock Cafe, and early investors and partners include Hollywood heavyweights like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, and Sylvester Stallone.)

“I had to get myself together and I just started inquiring about other things I could do. That led to me becoming the executive assistant to the PR manager and the general manager of the restaurant. This was pre-internet and social [media], [and] it was the only way people in regional markets were getting access to celebrities and talent in that whole experience. It was a wonderful introduction to the world of PR and entertainment but also [to] community relations and events. I got a really immersive and hands-on experience.”

She likes to cite "serendipity" as a major influence on the ebb and flow of her career in entertainment, but humility is also a major component, especially considering that she went from serving food to eager customers to serving big-budget campaigns and life-changing opportunities for creatives of color in Hollywood. “I do think there is some benefit to not having a plan in some way because then you’re able to take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves that were unexpected. I also presented a willingness to learn, to be a sponge, and to be super-nimble,” she adds.

Building Impact and Flourishing

As an executive, she’s a huge fan of not only “tooting your own” horn in your career, especially "as Black and brown women,” she says, but diving into personal and professional development in order to get to know your strengths and skills you could improve on.

“I was freelancing and consulting for seven years, with some success—I worked on Fashion Week and various sporting events—but I was culling it all together again without much of a plan. I learned a lot, but it was when I realized, ‘Okay, I’ve got my focus on so many different things during this freelance period, how can I narrow my focus to have more impact, a better salary, and where’s that going to take me in the next 10 years?’ That’s when I really began to hyperfocus on multicultural marketing and publicity, knowing that it was something I loved."

"I had a bit of an intro to it working in 2014 on the Get On Up campaign with Universal Pictures, and I always had in the back of my mind, again, that I loved being at the service of amplifying Black and brown voices. The more entrenched I became in multicultural publicity and marketing, the more I realized, wow, I am having an impact, I can have an impact, and how do I amplify that impact?”

Today, both in her VP role as well as her work as part of the Project Action team, whose in-action efforts include Paramount Made (an executive mentorship program that has reportedly facilitated cross-department promotions for junior staffers, the prioritizing POC-owned businesses for vendor opportunities, and the formulation of an equitable talent and intern recruiting unit), she’s able to truly tap into merging passion with profession.

“In a lot of the personal and professional development work I’ve done, I’ve realized that first I have to show up as a human being who cares about people and cares about embracing people,” she says. “The goal for me is collaboration and using our expertise, our passions, our intersectionality to come together for a common goal.”

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image courtesy of DeDe Brown

Real-Life Teachers Share Their 'Abbott Elementary' Experiences

There’s an embarrassment of riches that comes with being a fan of ABC’s hit comedy Abbott Elementary. The show, which stars Quinta Brunson as Janine Teagues, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard, Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie, and Janelle James as Principal Ava Coleman, is about a group of mostly Black educators at a predominately Black elementary school in Philadelphia and has captured audiences for its tender, hilarious, and lighthearted depiction of what it's like to be a Black teacher to young Black students.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
10 Travel Destinations For A Perfect Winter Escape

Is the snow getting you down? Traveling during the holiday season could be the perfect winter escape that you've been looking for. According to a report by Business Wire, 53% of Americans are preparing to travel between December and February. Traveling during this time of year might be the reset your body needs before taking on the new year. From popular destinations to underrated locations, there is no shortage of places to visit and experience during this time of the year.

Keep reading...Show less
How To Answer Tough (But Common) Job Interview Questions

Landing a job interview is already a feat in itself, but actually getting through it feeling like you've won is a whole other issue. Whether it's a dream job that you want in order to take your career to the next level or that promotion at your current job, it's likely you'll be thrown a few curve balls by way of tough questions. They're often common and a tad basic, but they can bring about feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, or confusion.

Keep reading...Show less
Don't Miss These Epic Cyber Monday Deals By Black-Owned Brands

Many of us, at some point during this year, made it a point to be a bit more frugal and devote more dollars to that savings account in the name of adulting. But today isn't one of those days, sis! Cyber Monday is here, and the deals today are something serious! As we all know, Cyber Monday is the last opportunity to grab hold of the tremendous post-Thanksgiving sales right before the Christmas shopping season goes into full swing. It's the perfect time to take the plunge on pricier items that are finally on sale or to get the bulk of your end-of-year shopping in for a steal. The only thing that could be better than scoring an epic price slash on a dope haul is knowing you're supporting hard-working Black woman entrepreneurs in the process. After all, what's better than buying Black?

Whether you've got the bulk of your holiday gifts accounted for, or have barely made a dent in your shopping list, we can't stand to see you miss out on these incredible discounts being dished out by some of our favorite ElevateHer brands. From Uoma Beauty's epic 80% off sitewide discount to Forvr Mood's very rare candle sale, here's a list of all the best deals to get your hands on before Cyber Monday is out!

Uoma Beauty - Get Up To 80% Off The Entire Site, No Code Needed



Melanj Hair - Get Up To $60 Off Hair Extensions



Ami Colé - Use code "Holiday" for 20% sitewide.


Peak + Valley - Enjoy 25% off all products with code "blackfriday"


Salt.xo- Shop 40% Sitewide No Code Needed


Grace Eleyae - Buy One Get One Free on Apparel, Products, and Select Accessories

Milano Di Rouge - Get 25% Off Select Styles, No Code


Aseye Studio - Take 30% Off Sitewide For Cyber Monday



Sucré Couture - Up to 45% Off Sitewide


Andrea Iyamah - Take An Additional 25% Off


Forvr Mood - Enjoy 30% Off All Candles With Code "CyberMonday30"


Kingston Goods - Enjoy Free Standard Shipping + 50% off duvet covers with code COZYSZN


8 Kinds Of Sex Every Couple Should Have In Their Rotation

When it comes to sex, you can never have too many tricks up your sleeve. A long-term relationship can quickly become boring, and nothing kills desire faster than boredom. When people get comfortable in long-term relationships, they often lose their spark. Relationships are like monthly subscription services. You get the first month for free, but after that, you have to actually start investing in order to continue to reap the benefits.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts