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

I Tried It: Amina Adem Natural Skincare Routine

Creative Producer and Spelmanite Maura Chanz has amazing, flawless skin, so we had to know, what's her skincare routine?

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
Why Ami Colé Founder Diarrha N'Diaye-Mbaye Never Quit

Here’s an indisputable fact: Black is beautiful. It always has been and it always will be. No one understands this more than Diarrha N'Diaye-Mbaye. As a little girl growing up in Harlem, New York, the Senegalese-American entrepreneur spent a lot of time in her mother’s hair salon watching the carousel of Black women that would come through the doors of the shop and saw how beauty could be a communal experience.

Keep reading...Show less
Here Are The Least Compatible Zodiac Signs, According To Astrology

Astrology can give you insight into who you connect with on different levels, and where your heart is meant to be. The basics of astrology compatibility are that air signs go well with fire signs, and earth signs go well with water signs. The elements in the zodiac are nature's way of guiding people toward what feels good for them and what doesn’t, and when looking at what would make two signs incompatible, this is a big one. You also can examine compatibility by looking at the different modalities such as fixed signs, mutable signs, and cardinal signs.

Keep reading...Show less
Bianca Kathryn Is Making A Bold Statement And Building Inclusivity With Yo Soy AfroLatina

Bold statements allow us, as Black women, to affirm ourselves, be sure we are heard, and let the world know we are to be loved and acknowledged. They unite us, spark healthy discourse, and allow us to build community in a way only we can.

"I'm Black and I'm proud."

"Reclaiming my time."

"My Black is beautiful."

Keep reading...Show less
What's A Praise Kink? 8 Phrases To Get You Off In Your Next Partner Play

Does hearing the phrase, “you’re such a good girl” during sex turn you on? If so, you might have a “praise kink.” When I hear the term praise kink, the church girl in me wants to immediately play “The Lady, Her Lover and Lord” while riding reverse cowgirl. But that’s not what is meant by the term praise kink. A “praise kink,” is a sexual fetish that focuses on overt praise, exaggerated compliments, and an outpour of verbal affection.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts