We had the good fortune of connecting with Devan Renea and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Devan, how do you think about risk?
In the entertainment industry risk is everywhere, especially as it pertains to navigating the pathways of your career success. When I initially started out in the game, I took MAJOR risks because where I come from opportunity, very much like time, waits for no one. Like the mantra of a true hustler I believe, “you gotta get it, or you’ll get got.” So, following my dreams inevitably lead me to take all sorts of risks; like pursuing and obtaining four degrees, packing up and relocating states three times, the last of which was cross country, and throwing myself into the creative deep end when I was only an intern.
Risk has always been a factor throughout my career and ultimately my life because I agree with Thomas Jefferson’s philosophy, “with great risk comes great reward”, so in a way risk has been that special fuel which has propelled me closer toward my dreams. Yes, of course there is always the fear of failure, but the fear of not pursuing my passion has always eaten at me far worse than anything else ever could. So, I just prefer to glitter risk with a bit of optimism to get me through those difficult moments of ennui. I think the late, great, John Witherspoon from Ice Cube’s Hood classic, “Friday”, echoed it best when he said; “You win some, you lose some, but you LIVE, you LIVE to fight another day” — and LIVE to fight another day I do indeed, RISK be damned!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a new age Renaissance Artist —that is to say, I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with many talents. I started off as an actress, so I was always a natural storyteller, and years later I developed a passion for producing. Currently, I’m a television writer, most recently for OWN Network’s new legal drama series, “Delilah.” I’m also a Filmmaker, Producer, Show Creator, Drummer, and Screenwriting Instructor for non-profit organization, Kids in the Spotlight. I think I’m most proud of my progress because the road to reach this far, “ain’t been no crystal stair”, and although I am nowhere near where I’d like to be, I realize only now, I can’t go wrong on the right road—and indeed I feel I am FINALLY on the right road. As a transplant to Los Angeles, I was challenged with adversity early on while trying to establish myself in the rat race of Hollywood, but I was fortunate enough to find a home early on at Warner Bros. for many years. While paying my dues as a Warner kid, I had the privilege of serving as the board Co-Chair President of the Black Employees at WB (BE), which allowed me to oversee employee engagement initiatives geared at strengthening diversity and inclusion across all of Warner Media. My forte was hosting cross collaboration joint studio mixers between affiliate Black studios, which came easy to me because of my producing background. However, going from the metropolis of what is affectionally referred to as the DMV (DC, MD, VA), to hosting lush parties for Black Hollywood, and eventually writing for a powerhouse like Oprah Winfrey, was by NO means an overnight transition. It has only been through prayer, determination and sheer tenacity that I’ve made it to this point in my development, and I’m so grateful for my transitional growth. It has also been with tremendous amounts of faith and a bit of sheer madness that I continue to press on in the direction of my dreams of becoming a Showrunner. When the world see’s the Devan Renea brand; Boss, Writer, Dreamer, a Black Queen on the rise, I want them to get excited. I want them to be empowered. I want little Black girls that dream of becoming Filmmakers, Showrunners, or working in television production, to look at my brand, point to it, and see themselves personified. I want them to know that it’s possible to build yourself from virtually nothing, but realize that with humility, hard work, dedication, and passion—the impossible can be achieved, because I am living proof dreams DO come true. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned thus far is that this life is a journey NOT a destination, and on this journey anything you imagine is possible. You just have to want it badly enough and go after it with everything you’ve got. So, when the public sees the Devan Renea brand, I want them to be reminded of what happened when creativity, met hustle, timing, and raw talent—and yours truly took her rightful place in the limelight!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Things have definitely been touch and go with the world readjusting post the Covid 19 pandemic. However, if I had my way and everything was open and safe for all, I’d take my friend to Mama’s in Hollywood for Brunch. The shrimp n’ grits or the fried chicken and waffles is my favorite. Then we’d be off to Venice to layout by the beach and have cocktails. Later that week we’d hit up Ocean Prime for Happy Hour in Beverly Hills. Be sure to get there before 6PM! My favorite cocktails to order there are sidecars because I’m a Cognac Savant— Hennessy of course–and then perhaps do a little window shopping after. That weekend we’d hit up Leimert Park to hang out and support some local Black artists and vendors, and afterwards if we’re feeling fearless, hang out late night at my favorite neighborhood bar, the Dime off Fairfax!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a shoutout to Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars, available now for purchase nationwide, which is a fantastic novel I had the pleasure and privilege in aiding the development of, alongside brilliant author and educator B. Sharise Moore. Set in 1920, this captivating young adult thrill ride explains; what happens to four talented teens when they get the chance to tour a magician’s spellbinding amusement park, but instead of harmless fun, they encounter strange creatures, wild adventures, and secrets spanning the past, present, and future.
I am very happy to also announce here FIRST on the Shoutout series, that I’ve adapted this wonderful novel for TV, alongside my super talented co-writing partner, B. Sharise Moore, and were very excited that Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars is currently in development at a major network! Stay tuned for more updates on this project www.JustDevanRenea.Com
And pick up a copy of Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars TODAY from the following retailers!
Don Azu Keita Bill Ian. Hudson