Lisa Durden: Challenges as a Black Female Producer in Media and Entertainment

Rob Lee: You're welcome to the truth in this art. I am your host, Rob Lee. Thank you for joining us for these conversations at the intersection of arts, culture and community. Today, I'm excited to be in conversation with my next guest, a sought after television personality, pop culture commentator, content creator, celebrity blogger, and motivational speaker who is also an expert on topics ranging from race and politics to television and film. Please welcome the great Lisa Durden. Welcome to the podcast.
Lisa Durden: Hey. Hey, y'all. Hey.

Rob Lee: I love it. I love the intro. So again, thank you for making the time and coming on. I know we're recording this. It's all these different things that come up. So definitely, when folks have the time to come on and chat with me, that I can just answer your questions, I'm super excited. Before we delve into the deeper conversation, I think there's a lot of strength, a lot of power, and a lot of energy giving folks that space to introduce themselves, share who they are. I've had folks come on and I give the full line-by-line introduction, and they'll say, well, you left out I'm a human. You left out on this, so I like to like give that back to the guests when they come on. So if you will, you know, the floor is yours, please. Could you introduce yourself?

Lisa Durden: I'm always grateful. I don't get into the picayune of being introduced. If a person says what they say, I take that as I'm grateful. But since you want me to do it myself, I know me more than anybody knows me. I'm the expert on Lisa Durden. That's a hashtag by the way. So basically, I guess what they call these days a multi-hyphenate. So I'm actually, in my origins, a journalist and I went to Seton Hall University and got a degree in broadcast journalism and then over the course of time my bonus career became being a producer and of course I've directed some things but I do mostly producing mostly in the what they call the factual space, you know, documentaries, factual television, you know, documentary series. I have done a couple of scripted things where people have written scripts and I've been the producer of some of those items as well, which I actually love scripted things more than documentaries because documentaries, it takes a million years to finish them. So I prefer scripted. So I got into that in that world in that way. I got into the producing thing kind of like intentionally, but by mistake, you know, there was an experience I had where I was hosting a magazine show here in the state of New Jersey called Brick City. Everything in Newark is Brick City. And I felt like the director of the show, Brick City, tried to position a Black organization who we were doing a segment on as Black. The name of the organization was called Renaissance Golf, right around the time when Tiger Woods was huge, when he first came on the scene. So there was a lot of Black kids everywhere USA wanting to play golf. So we did a segment on this organization called Renaissance Golf here in New Jersey. And it was a man that started this golf organization to teach kids how to play golf. Well, in Newark, New Jersey, most of the people here are Black. It's a Black, you know, big Black city. So when I pitched the idea to the director, Al Clark, and said, hey, let's do this segment, he said, great. We took the cameras out and saw the kids play golf. I wrote the script for the intro. We interviewed the two founders in the studio. The whole segment was packaged. I'm sitting in front of the teleprompter, as you know. The director is in the control room, and I'm reading the teleprompter. I wrote the script, and I say, hello, and welcome to Brick City. I'm your host, Lisa Durden. And on today's show, and I saw it said, Urban Golf. The record scratched. I'm like, it's Renaissance Golf. Now, I wasn't the Lisa Durden I am today. I was a little bit less, I was a little less the Durdster. My nickname or my alter ego is called the Durdster. My friend Iris gives me this alter ego. So without making a long story long, I'll make a long story short. Basically, this man, Al Clark, literally renamed the organization on the fly. I'm guessing the reason was they wanted folks to know that Negroes were about to be seen on screen when you were going to see them anyway. But what made you like literally do the whole Toby Kunta Kinte thing? My name is Your name is Toby, but he said his name was Kunta Kinte. Who do you get to rename this person? He literally tried to rename the organization on the fly another name. It's literally called Renaissance Inc. So I'm like, it's called Renaissance Golf Inc. Please change it on the teleprompter. He says, well, what does it matter? I said, but it does matter. So since it doesn't matter to you, change the name." He's cursing in the background and saying, okay, I'll change it. So that's kind of like when I decided, oh, this is what they say about Black people telling their own stories, because when we see them tell it, white folks tell it, and we don't like how they're telling it, then they're going to tell it to make it in such a way that they feel it's palatable for them. So that's what made me decide to start producing my own content. So I said, after this, I'm not going to pitch any more concepts to this man. If I see something that I think is a good concept, I'm going to produce it myself. And that's how I literally became, you know, officially, or like by mistake, but on purpose, a documentary filmmaker or filmmaker. And so fast forward, I've done some independent things on my own then you know the guerrilla style thing you go broke and I have now been a freelance producer I get paid to produce your projects if you have one I it's like getting any kind of job you you apply sometimes it's a referral they like your resume they hire you you work for them and you move on so I've done a bit of both and I still like doing both so that's kind of how I became a filmmaker as well so I still do the um The journalism thing, you know, I just did a crime show, you know, I love crime shows, for ABC News that dropped December, the first week of December 2023. A sad story, but it was still a very good project for me because it kind of like, I went full circle here. So I went full circle in all of my skill sets were present in this one two-hour documentary special. I usually am doing something either on TV or behind the scenes. This time I'm doing them all in one. So it was a story called, well, they usually make these kind of, you know, these crime shows, they have a good title. So it was called Diary of a Killer. So this man in New Jersey murdered his girl, baby mama, and hand wrote an entire diary outlining all the details of he murdered her and, you know, gave reasons why, and the whole nine. He said it was, you know, self-defense, but he Of course, James Ray is the man's name. He went to trial and he got convicted. And then actually he was found dead in his cell right before the sentencing of a drug overdose. It's still being investigated. We don't know if he committed suicide with drugs or what happened, but he since died. So that actually came out on December 6th. It's called Diary of a Murder. It was on ABC News 2020. I was one of the producers of the documentary. It was a two-hour documentary, and then I was also an ABC News contributor in front of the camera, so it was a really good project. So that was an opportunity for me to showcase all my skill sets. So that was my most recent, you know, project that I'm very proud of.

Rob Lee: Wow. Thank you. I'm trying to keep track, right? Because like, you know, what happens, right? When I interview folks and then they have like, just like, look, I got it. You're a media professional. I'm sitting here like, all right, let me organize my notes. And I'm like, all right. But I think it's really cool. And I noticed we both did the same face thing, you know, in this in this visual media when it's like, oh, it's urban golf is like, What? And, you know, I run into this just to kind of set the stage a little bit. My background, I've been doing this podcast thing for about 15 years. Long before popular. Right. And I've heard the, oh, you don't look like a podcaster. I've heard all of the different things. And I have folks who, you know, don't look like us will, you know, kind of question sort of my validity on I have folks who look like us who will question my blackness or my authenticity. And it's a very it's a very interesting way to go about things. And it's just like I have a large swath of interest and folks that I can engage in conversation with and have like cool conversations with. But it's like this sort of like constant like push and pull of trying to realize my vision. And I and I think sort of the notion of I want to produce my own stuff, you know, like I've done those things on a much smaller scale. But hey, I can help you realize your vision. Here's my skill set. I got 700 episodes of this podcast, you know, as reference, you know. Yeah. You know, getting to that spot where I don't audition anymore, you know, or whatever that might look like. Yeah. But yeah, engaging in the conversation, it can be very frustrating in that You know, you'll hear, oh, you're an influencer. Oh, you do it. You're a black media outlet. It's like you guys are using weird terminologies. Yes, I'm this, but I'm able to do this, this, this and this. All right. But I appreciate you, you know, sharing like that story, because it also ties into the sort of the introduction piece. You know, the importance of a name, the importance of how we present ourselves to the audiences that are going to encounter our stuff. Yeah. you know, like when I do this pod or when I guess, you know, do guest shots and things of that nature, I, I don't get out of pocket, you know, go real laugh. Everything is a four letter word. It's like, that's not what I do. That's not, that's not my brand at all. Uh, you know, and that is just something about it. And then I see other folks who do different things and maybe kind of get that push. And it's like, you guys are presenting this, but it's like, Oh D. You're, you're making sort of that brand and that type of media look weird. It's like, that's not even what you do. It's just like, you're trying to play a role, a role that's been scripted for you.

Lisa Durden: I understand exactly what you're saying.

Rob Lee: So, so I want to go back a little bit. So was that the, the job that you were describing with the, the, the golf search, was that one of your first media jobs? Was that your first?

Lisa Durden: That was my first on-camera job, on-camera position as the host of the magazine show. So I was also kind of what you would call segment producing, but at the time I was a little bit younger, I didn't know that that's what I was doing. So they used me, it's not a problem. Because I wanted to, when I graduated from Seton Hall University, I was thinking about being the next Sue Simmons, of course, if you know, you know. So she's been retired for, not that long actually, she wasn't retired until like, maybe like the 20 teens somewhere around there. But then over time I realized that I'm not really like that staunch, you know, broadcaster. And then, you know, over the course of, you know, years, social media has put all anchor people in positions now where they, now we want personalities. Now we don't want them to be so stiff and I'm just telling the facts and I don't have emotion. So I kind of like stuck with it long enough to be able to breathe new life into my what you call fledgling career, because now we have, you know, commentators, and we have contributors, and we have all of these different ways in which we consume content, and we engage in media. So that's kind of how, you know, I went from there to here. So that was my first job. Then over time, once I started to kind of like produce things, it was kind of weird. It was a little hard to get, you know, on-camera opportunities until like very recently when people started looking for people like to be split screen and debating with each other. So for about a good 10 years or so, I couldn't get on camera. I couldn't, you know, buy an on-camera opportunity. So I was still doing, you know, I did the Brick City show for about four years, and then I just got a public access show, You Don't Get Paid, and I was hosting my own show, The Lisa Durton Show, because I wanted to stay on camera and keep my chops oiled. But I began to do more work around production, so I seem to have gotten more opportunities as a producer. You know, once I started producing my own content, then people saw that I had the skills and I would get freelance jobs. So mostly the freelance or the production world has paid me more than the TV opportunities. However, fast forward, now that we're in this place in our society where we see a lot of chatter, a lot of things online, I have kind of like gotten a bit, a little bit of a balance with both, but I'm still getting more opportunities as a producer, obviously, that pays more of the bills, but it's still a good look. But that was my first, yeah. And then the sense that I've been on Revolt TV, you see me there very often, I'm a contributor there, talking about, obviously, hot topics in politics. I've been on, obviously, different shows on Fox News, not just the Tucker Carlson show. I've been on Fox, long before Tucker Carlson, I've been on, you know, Fox and Friends, I've been on, Megyn Kelly had a show called The Kelly Files. I've been on those shows. I've been on PIX11 Morning News, talking about, you know, different things from, you know, the lady who played Black when she was working for the NACP. And I was talking about that, those topics I talked about when when Whitney Houston passed away, Michael Jackson, all those kinds of things. I've been on the Dr. Phil show, I mean, Dr. Oz show, doing segments about, oh, my eyelashes got glued down, and oh, my God, help me, Dr. Oz. I've been on so many different platforms, radio shows, obviously. I've been on a Michael Bazin show talking about a documentary I was a part of, and just a whole host of things, from pop culture, politics, to social issues, and everything in between, talking about Kim Kardashian's ass, is it real or fake, all of that. So I do like fun topics as well. So I've done all those kinds of things. And I have had opportunities as a producer behind the scenes as well. So not just this recent project with ABC News 2020. Please watch it if you get a chance. It's on Hulu now. Check out Hulu, Diary of a Killer. I just recently dropped a Hulu series called The Conversations Project. I was not in front of the camera, but I was the supervising story producer. For that, it's six episodes on Hulu. So it's dropped on Hulu. It's digital. You can watch it anytime. And then I've done what you call one-offs, where it's just one episode. Soul Food Junkies is a film about soul food. a docu-series called Brick City, which is a documentary series. Everything in Newark is called Brick City. So that was on the Sundance Channel many years ago, long before series was popular. This came out about 2009, right around the time when Obama won his presidency. And I've done scripted things called Paris Blues in Harlem. It's a short scripted film about a guy, he's dead now. I did it in 2017. He was a fixture in Harlem that had this place where you can go and listen to the blues and get free food. You ain't gotta pay for nothing. He was just great. So we did a film about him and a film about Title VII, about literally Title VII and the equity of, you know, when you're working somewhere, you should get equity as an employee. That was a scripted piece. So I've done a whole bunch of stuff that's been everywhere. So some things landed in film festivals, some landed on PBS, Independent Lens, Sundance Channel, Hulu, ABC News, and all of that. So those things have been very enjoyable. But also too, I still continue to push my own projects. I have a project that I'm working on now called Blind Divas. It's a documentary about two blind women in New Jersey who are doing great things in the blindness community. They're leaders in the blindness community and they're going to show you just how independent blind people can be. but they're going to be showing you the independence not just through seeing a piece of their lives but seeing the things that they can do in those lives through them being friends but also business partners in a non-profit organization that hosts lots of things for blind people to participate in that can showcase their independence and that can also give them confidence that they can be independent. So you get to see all of that. But the film is still in production. It's not done yet. So that's my project. And then another project I'm working on is a feature film about my brother, who is an Ethiopian Orthodox priest. And the film is called My Brother, the Ethiopian Orthodox Priest. People know that there are priests that are Catholic, but they don't know about Ethiopian Orthodox priests. So it's about the religion itself, because I want you to learn about an ancient religion. It's a 2,000-year religion. It's a very ancient religion. But I want people to also understand, whether you're religious or not, I'm not religious at all, that this religion in particular came to the United States at the height of the Civil Rights Movement to re-engage Black people, because we've been you know, we had been out of slavery for a minute, Reconstruction, and then right around the Civil Rights Movement, a lot of Blacks kind of ran away from religion because a lot of religions were a part of the slave trade. Well, Ethiopian Orthodox religion has never participated in the slave trade. So there's a piece of history I'm going to add to the film as well. So my brother is basically the through line that's giving me the access to this sacred religion to tell the story about our history. as it relates to our spiritual history, as well as showing you kind of what this religion is, because you're kind of curious. So I'm going to say that this film is going to show how the Ethiopian Orthodox religion, their trek to the United States and their mission here to the United States in the height of the Civil Rights Movement was the Black Lives Matter of its time, or the spiritual Black Lives Matter of its time. before we had the phrase Black Lives Matter. So those are my two independent projects. And going into 2024, I'm like everybody else. I'm always hustling to find freelance jobs. I got to pay bills and feed myself. It's very difficult for people, but especially Black women in particular, to maintain consistent and get consistent work in the field. And you know what Taraji said, and of course Monique Ben said it, and to get equal pay while you're getting these opportunities as well. So all of that is a struggle for me, no different than anybody else.

Rob Lee: Yeah, thank you. And I think, you know, one of the things I'm really curious about is sort of those early experiences. That's why I was kind of touching on the, you know, that earlier, you know, Brick City, the magazine related position. and opportunity, like, you know, when I think of this, the sort of start of doing this podcast was Trump said something goofy about Baltimore. I got pissed. And I was just like, how can I disprove that through interviews with folks? And I felt like it wasn't just this city, it's cities like it. And Baltimore is like 70% black. That's why I'm based. Cities are the places that folks don't get the opportunity to share their story. And that hits all types of different communities. So that's going to be that entry point. Right. And I learned in doing these interviews and talking with folks that folks really want to share their story. Folks have these really interesting things that connect. And, you know, some of those early interviews, I'll say, kind of shaped how I go about things now of, oh, this question doesn't work or this way of going about things. Initially, I didn't have the visual. I just only had like a black screen. And so it's like, I can't see your face. I don't know if I'm bombing or not. So I was like, let's get this camera right. So for you, is there an experience that when you think of projects that are forthcoming, projects that are in production 2024, you know, and onward, is there an experience that you look back to, you know, early Lisa and think like, all right, this is absolutely something that I'm coming back to now. you know, in this stage of my career, like one of those early points, like, I won't be doing that again, or I've learned from this, from this experience in the past.

Lisa Durden: Well, no. The worst of it all, I guess, if you will, was the experience of kind of like coming to an awakening about, you know, the real way racism happens. And it's not always overt. You know, like the experience I just said earlier about the man, he didn't say, you know, I want to make sure people know, tease up that these are going to be Negroes. But he was, in essence, saying that. So, the biggest lesson was that racism is not always obvious and overt, right? There's internal biases and all those other kind of things. So that was kind of like my hard, not a lesson, but my hardest aha moment or awakening or, you know, like, wow. But I will say the biggest, the the most disappointing, if you will, or the ongoing struggle, if you will, is the journey itself, you know, not quitting. So even from that point forward, you know, once I picked up this kind of multi-hyphenate thing about me where I'm not just on camera, I'm producing as well, you know, in the in-between spaces where you feel a little safe when you get this like freelance job, right? And then you go, ah, and then it ends, and you're back on the grind again. That space where you're always on the grind, and just like Taraji said, my last job did not put me in any position better for the next job. It's as if I never did the last job. No matter how successful I've been, no matter what I've done, just like Taraji, is you're at the bottom. I never got another job After the last successful job as a freelance producer, I'm just using that as an example where I didn't have to kind of act like I never did the job before and proving myself all the time. I never got that call saying you're put on, right? I have gotten one or two calls where they're like, oh, hey, what's going on? What are you doing? Okay, I'll give you the example. I got a call. It wasn't like I saw something on LinkedIn and I applied for a job to be the producer for this two-hour crime show special called Diary of a Killer. So I got a call from the producer. She's got a bigger position now, but at the time she was the producer. And she said, hey, what you up to? What have you been doing lately? She didn't even ask me about the job. So luckily, I don't tell her my business. So I was doing another project, but I didn't tell her that. Because something always says, well, we're not friends. Why am I telling her my business? We're not friends like that. But so I just thought she was checking in on me. So I just said, oh yeah, you know, I'm working at one of the community colleges a little bit and doing a little bit of something. So and I just, I didn't tell her I'm working on the Hulu project. I just didn't mention it because I felt like Why? Luckily, I didn't. If I had said, oh, I'm working on the Hulu project, she would have thought I was too busy. So I didn't mention that just because I just didn't. So she said, oh, by the way, I got a project I think I might want you to work on. So she mentioned this project. It wasn't, there was no title. And she said, okay, now I didn't just, I've been on this lately since 2006. I've been on it for a lot of years. This is like 2023 now. She's giving me this phone call around March. So I didn't just get the job because she's known me, she's seen all my projects, she sees me post, she knows what I do. I still had to prove myself, not that I wasn't in strong consideration, because I'm sure because she did know me and know my background, I had some headway, but it wasn't like I was just got the job on the strength of. I had to still send her my resume. She had to still share it with Matt. She said, and she said out of mouth, I can't promise you anything. She pitched the idea, said, sure, I'll send you my resume. It wasn't like it just came. So the struggle and the pain is the struggle and the pain. That journey, I'm not a journey girl, I'm a destination bitch. I want the destination. I'm like a kid in the car. Are we there yet? You know what I mean? You know how kids in the car, are we there yet? I like a destination, but I can't change that there is no such thing as destination. You've got to do the journey. So the journey of A, having to continue to keep proving yourself even though you've proven yourself because you're not at the top of the food chain. B, always being in and out of work because of the proving of yourself. It's not like you have this trajectory. I have a Hulu series out, now all these jobs are coming in. You know, that middle part between, you know, you having your own projects and you needing to pay the bills is that middle part is the rough deal. And then that other end of it, you know, you working for somebody else once you get a gig, the middle part where you got to keep getting a gig, to the part where the other extreme when you're doing your own projects. I'm trying to do these other projects so I can become my own boss and mostly feed myself with my own projects. Do I give up? That's the struggle. you know, all of that stuff is like in a pot of soup and all boiling together. That's a struggle. Do I give up? I'm not there yet. And age is an issue. As I age, I feel my mortality. I feel like I'm aging out. Not so much that I can't do something at 75 or 80, because people do that all the time, especially men, but I feel like, you know, some things to me is a young girl's game or a young man's game. So it's all of those things that I have to fight in my head to overcome and just keep marching forward till death do me part from myself. But it's a very difficult thing because I don't have the faith. I don't have hope a lot of times. I'm hopeless. I make a joke to people who I know well, I'll say it on your show. People see me, oh, how you doing? Not good. People can't handle the reality. When people see me, oh, what's been going on, Lisa? How you doing? Not good. And they say dumb shit like, Oh, not good? Oh, well, you know, it'll be better tomorrow. Then I go, well, how do you know it's gonna be better tomorrow? Do you realize it could be worse tomorrow? So I just don't like those little stupid ass campy comments because people can't handle the truth. They can't, they're uncomfortable with the truth. So I try not to live my life in an inauthentic way anymore. I'm great, you know, and I'm really not. I don't always give the details. So I try my best to make a promise to myself. And I sometimes I'll say to the person, Yeah, I don't have any hope. I'm a hopeless bitch or I'm a faithless bitch. And I just make a joke, but I really mean that. So what I try to do is I try not to abuse myself with words like hope and faith. I find those words to be abusive for me. So what I try to do is just simply just do what I can if I wake up the next day. I do have plans, but I don't pine over them. So when I wake up the next day, I'll have my little notes, and I'll go, okay, I woke up today, here are my notes, do this and this and this, and then I go to bed the next, and go to bed and wake up the next day if I can. So that's all I can do, because if I actually try to think about the future, if I tried hard to think about what might be, I'm pitching this show, is it gonna get picked up, and oh my God, or oh, I was just on ABC News as the contributor, it's gonna propel me, I have none of those thoughts. because none of that stuff has worked for me. I didn't realize that being a Black woman is that difficult. Well, now I know I'm 50-something years old. So that's kind of the problem. So not necessarily specific, not necessarily specific incidents, except for the one I mentioned with the Brick City thing. Brick City, not the document, not the docuseries, the Brick City magazine show, because there was two things I did that had the name Brick City. So it's more of that. And of course, along the way, I'm sure that a lot of the reason why I'm not where I need to be is because of racism. So I'm sure that there's an odorless smell or odorless poison that I don't, and things are looming, I can't see. I'm not in a room saying, you know, give it to Samantha. You know, so I'm not in rooms like that. But I'm sure the reason why the trajectory isn't there with not just the Lisa Durtons, but a lot of folks who have talent is because if you're Black with talent, you're not the same thing as Becky and Karen with the talent. or Bob and Ken with the talent. You're not gonna get the same opportunities, and it's not an opinion, it's a fact. Yes, and people like to call out, like, ten basketball players and two rappers and one Oprah. Sure! It's like Atlantic City. Atlantic City would be a fool if they didn't let people win, right? If you never hear of people going to Vegas winning, you're not gonna go to Vegas and play. Vegas has to let a person win some money for you to believe you can be a winner. But we know that most people who are black, I'm not gonna say of color because there is something called the proximity to whiteness. Other people of color have proximity to whiteness that we don't. If you have lighter skin and you're a Latino of some kind and you look light, if you're Indian, they dark as hell, but they still have proximity to whiteness because they're not quote, quote, black. But black people, I'm talking about black folks, So they're going to make us believe we can be winners because they're going to throw a couple of basketball players in front of us, a few rappers who live in mansions, and half of them are faking it too. But that's not most Black people. Right?

Rob Lee: This is true. This is true. And, you know, like I'm hearing so many things that like are affirming. I'll say that much as, you know, for the better part of, you know, once I got to the sort of second half of the year and doing this, being an independent, doing my own thing, and having folks that are really prominent folks, editors and chiefs and all of these different things, major people in various areas, various disciplines saying, you're doing this on your own? You're an independent. You're making this happen on your own. So anybody backing?" I was like, no. And they're like, wow, you're really crushing it. You're having people in the radio industry, like from WNYC on down saying, wow, you're doing this on your own. And then I encounter folks who want me to do the audition thing, who I've said this, I'll throw one of these your way. I think you might appreciate this. I was like, don't people color yourself out of black dollars. And, you know, folks will throw it out there. I was like, I don't use things. I kind of mean what I say as far as who I'm speaking with, what I'm applying to, what is the sensibility. And, you know, I made this effort because I got, I got really frustrated. And I definitely relate when, you know, folks will ask you how things are. And it's like, huh, it's literally that too soon to tell or, eh, kind of sucks right now. And if you give folks an honest answer, what have you, it's like, I know how to turn it on. I know how to move it around. But it is one of those things like I recognize like what I'm doing and how I approach it. What I do sits somewhere between anthropology, documentary, and like storytelling. And I've had folks say, oh, you just do this. I was like, no, this is what I do. This is what the intent of what I do is. And I don't have to worry about someone telling me what I do if I'm an independent. And that's what's so important to me in doing this and being able to have, you know, conversations like this. I joke about it all the time. I was like, I talk to people much more talented than I am. And then I steal from them. So I'm going to be stealing from you. I'm going to be referencing things that you said. And, um,

Lisa Durden: So yeah, and so people, you know, start bugging out when I forgot the gentleman's real name, the guy that played in the Cosby show, and then he was working in a supermarket. but so why y'all bugging out? So you presume that he was like this, you know, had this wealth of this, this deep, you know, wealth, like the, the vast ocean of money that he did the Cosby show and he's never going to be broke. And now we, I mean, not that now we, we, now we been new black folks didn't get paid, you know, fairly. So who knows what he got paid for the Cosby show. And he wasn't there every day. He was a recurring character. So, so you're going to bash this brother when he's, feeding his family, but then you bash the brother if he didn't have a job. Because if he didn't have a job and was trying to think, well, until I get another role, I ain't going to do nothing. Y'all would say, well, you got to feed your family. So y'all can't have it both ways. So I totally understood this man's situation. And why are you going to clown this man? Because he's working at a supermarket. He's got to pay his bills. You know what I mean?

Rob Lee: When I, when I do these, these different projects, there's, there is this idea. And, you know, I've, I've been an educator for like the last six months, like teaching like this next generation of podcasters. And it's a really cool opportunity because like I said, I've been doing it for a long time. And when I talked to like some of these like, you know, 18, 17 year olds, 18 year olds that are going into it, I'm like, don't fall for the thing. Don't fall for the Joe Rogan thing. Don't fall for the, you need to have this many downloads. You're going to make this much money and so on. I was like, that's a pipe dream. I was like, what it is, do something that is of value to you, do something that speaks to you, do something that you're interested in, and try to have fun with it. I was like, this thing can eat you up, whatever the creative pursuit is, and this happens to be mine. And I made a point, because I got kind of annoyed with the sort of fakeness of things, like you connect with people. you're doing sort of these conversations that have this community orientation, that have this people are sharing their stories. I take a lot of responsibility in showing folks in their best light and not asking them and wasting their time and things of that nature. And you think you're building something there and you get a few too many of those. They feel like spam. Someone has your personal and they're like, hey, man, how's it going? I want to let you know I'm doing this event. Be great if you come out. Tickets are this much. I was like, that's awareness. That's not an invitation. So when I started to pull myself out of some of these things that I felt that I was being kind of taken for granted of what I'm doing and what I aspire to do.

Lisa Durden: So the person would be saying to you, come out to this thing and there's a price for this particular event.

Rob Lee: Yeah, it's just like this is going to sound wild, but it's like my presence is my, you know, my feet. That's what I'm doing. I'm showing up. I'm being there, but also sort of what I'm doing. You know, you have 700 interviews. You're helping people get their stuff out. I've known people who sold work from someone checking out the pot and it's like, oh, yeah, I want to buy work from this person. I love their story. I'll have 700 reviews.

Lisa Durden: I take the attitude like this, you know, I've been in many situations. I've had my own, you know, cable show. I used to be one of the, uh, chasers on chasing news for two years. I was like, I forget about that chasing. There was another on-camera opportunity that I was on for two years from 2018 to 2020. the show got canceled due to COVID. It was on my nine. I was, you know, it was, you know, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, you know, the local area to New Jersey. And I was one of the quote, quote, chasers or the, you know, the A plus contributors and talk about the usual stuff, pop, pop culture, politics, and social issues. So I've, I've had a, a bit of a, enough, branding to know I have some of a name recognition on a at least localish slash somewhat global national level. But I don't look at myself, nor do I look at other people as there's a one way value. So when I'm being interviewed by people, you're not doing anything for me. And when I'm interviewing people, I'm not doing anything for you. The way I see life is it's cyclical, right? It's complementary. There's an intersectionality. So I feel like when I'm saying yes to someone to be interviewed, I'm helping them. And when they ask me to be interviewed, they're helping me. So we're helping each other. And I don't know, maybe if I was Oprah, I would think differently. I don't know how she feels, but I don't feel I'm going to be any different. If I was as big as Oprah or anywhere in between, if I grant an interview or if I ask for an interview and I'm given an interview, I feel like we're doing it because we want to build each other. So I think the arrogance of people, not that they mean to be arrogant, it's just sometimes we don't think that way, can be sometimes the issue. So if we look at it as, you know, you're not building me up anymore. In other words, if I never get an interview from Joe Blow, Jane Doe, or Susie Q, I'm still going to be Lisa Durden doing what I do. And the opposite applies. If a person never grants me an interview, Right? I'm still going to be Lisa Durden without that interview. And they're going to still be there without that interview. So I think the most important thing that would be nice is if we didn't have the attitude that without me, you can't be and vice versa. So that's kind of the ideal way to look at things because in fact, that's what it really is. It's energies. I'm not like an energy girl, like, you know, crunchy granola and, you know, crystal thing, you know, but I do believe in energy. It's a real thing because I believe in metaphysics. It's a real science. So I feel like when a person says, yes, respect that it took somebody, when I said yes to you, I had to get my makeup done. I had to pay for that. So I want to respect, I want to look good on the camera for you and for myself as well. When people say yes, understand that they're doing something to give you that yes. They're taking, they're saying no to this time period. They're trying to make sure that they're there for you as long as you want to talk to them and they say goodbye and vice versa. When a person asks you, to come on their platform. Respect that. Be on time. You know, try to do your best and be there. Don't be in a rush and really be present in the interview. So I think it's kind of like it's complementary to each other. It's an intersection of two people coming together and hoping an outcome is good. That's kind of how I look at that.

Rob Lee: That's such a such a great answer. And again, you're just affirming things that I had going on in this. You mentioned the stew thing earlier, the soup thing, the stew of brain that I have. It's like, yeah, you know, in those instances where folks reach out and they have me come on, they're like, man, you're like the OG. I was like, man, I'm just a dude. You know, I'm here to kind of do this thing or someone asked me to do a panel or someone asked me to do sort of anything that fits within it. I'm going to run through like a sort of series of things like, can I say yes to this? And if I say yes, what does that mean? And, you know, I'm balding, but it's like, look, I got to hit the barbershop. I got to get that trim. You know, I got to. You know, I'm going to shower today, all of the things, but to make sure that, you know, I'm on point to kind of give them what they're looking for. As you said, it's that exchange is that sort of energy thing. You know, I try to put that in and I'm always super appreciative of. you know, when folks come on. And I had a conversation recently because, you know, I have an entrepreneurial background. And I read you also have it, obviously, through your full background, early age. I read, um, I, I just kind of learned like there's because being an independent, there's so many different things that I'm doing. You don't even list like the fact that I book all of my people. It's like a booking agent, essentially. Yeah, it's hard. It's, yeah. And, but, um, it's, it's an opportunity to learn. And I think the thing that's really cool about it, I, I, I read a lot of, um, books around like artistic process and creative journeys. And, you know, I, I'm one of the ones that stuck out is this idea of almost always trying to be a novice because you're able to like, you don't, you don't think that you're a master and it's like, this is the only way to do it. It's like, Oh, let me explore a little bit. I can learn how to do this in this way. You're not a one trick pony. and be able to do so many different things?

Lisa Durden: Well, you know, this new word, I guess it's not that old, you know, multi-hyphenate. I mean, I didn't think of myself as that. I'm just kind of grinding and doing what I got to do. I took jobs based on my skill sets because I needed to make money. But, you know, one of the, as they say, lessons learned. Again, I didn't know this phone call was going to come in from, you know, the producer at ABC News 2020 about this project I just finished called Tire of a Murder. a diary of a killer. I keep saying a diary of a killer. So before that, when that phone call came in, I'm like, okay, fine. So it was interesting. The call came in for a job that ended up something different. So when she called me for the job, she said, okay, here's what we have going on. I think you'd be great to be the editorial producer for the job, here's what this job is to do. You cover the trial, you go to the trial every day, you take notes, you send us notes, you book people, right? People on the stand, you chase them when they get off the stand and ask them, can I give you an interview, whether it be, you know, the murderer himself, he never did take the stand, but I thought he would, his brother, family members of the decedent, you know, police officers who were investigating the case, FBI agents, all of those folks. So that was the job. So she told me the job, but I said to her, I just can't do a job called editorial producer. I said, I really need the producer credit to help propel me to the next level. Because I said to her openly out of my own mouth, I said, I want my own projects that I'm working on to get to the point where I'm not in need of other people. I can feed myself. And when you're applying for funding, for documentaries, a lot of these bigger funders tell you the qualifications must be that you have been on a project in a prominent position, or you don't even qualify to apply. And they tell you the list of positions, director, producer, director of photography, editor. If you don't have any of those roles, they have smaller funders that may not have the requirement, but it's $1,000. You need $300,000. So ICVS, the Ford Foundation, a lot of these bigger funders who give you bigger funding, want you to have said, to have proven to them that you can take this money and not blow it. So they want to see, have you been in a prominence position before? So that's their reasoning. Of course, it's also to a weeding out process. Then you'll tell you that part, Nevertheless. So she was like, well, no, I can't promise you that. She said, but here's what I'll do. She said, Lisa, take the job. And what I'll do is, as we go along in the project, if you start to do other things, like write the questions and do pre-interviews, I'll promise you, I'll try to get you the producer credit. But I can't promise you that now. But let's see. So she said, I think this will be good for you. So she said, I want to work with you. She kind of just pushed me into, after I sent the resume, her boss said he liked the resume, and she wanted to offer me the job. you know, kind of like, no. So I said, okay, and then the money wasn't right either. So it's like, okay, whatever. It was $200 less than my asking, but whatever, my rate. So because I had known her for a long time, I didn't want to tell her no. I said, okay, girl, it is what it is. So I did it. But what I did was I got inside, like she said, and I actually did more and I got more. So I ended up going from the editorial producer to produce her, because I did the producing work. But more importantly, if I had not gotten in there and listened to her, sometimes you have to kind of like take a big step back to go forward. I would never have gotten in front of the camera because something happened that led me to say, oh, you need somebody in front of the camera to talk about, a journalist to talk about the trial? Well, y'all paid me to cover the whole trial. Why aren't you going to interview me for it like you do any other journalist? I was there every day. Use me. She said, that's a great idea. So then I got that, and that was never our conversation. So it all came together. So sometimes you have to decide on, if you're going into a place and space, how can I take this place and space to get more for myself? and just shoot your shot, you know, because what else can you do? So I just shot my shot and it worked out. In this one instance, I don't always shoot my shot and I don't always win when I shoot my shot, but this is one good example of when I got in, shot my shot, and got everything I wanted plus more. That's one time in many years. So I guess I can write on that into 2024. So it's those kinds of things that give you the courage to kind of keep moving forward even though the struggle's real, you know what I mean? Or the energy, the wherewithal, the struggle's real. It's not as simple as. So that's another lesson I can tell other people that they can realize. You don't always do it. If you feel strong in your spot, and the no is no, and it's a strong no, and you feel like this no can open up the next door, then walk away. In my case, I didn't feel a strong no. I felt like, ABC 2020, but I didn't want this. So if you go like this, then it might be something to revisit. But if you go, oh, hell no, no, hell no, hell no, hell no, no, then that means it's a strong no. So I'm not saying take something that's a strong no. So that's kind of like how I felt about that situation. And I got more than what I bargained for. And by the way, well, I was saying that to say, and because I said yes, then all those years of skills I was using and had, they came to pass. So all of the skills of now being a producer showed up there. All the skills being an interviewer when I had my own talk show for a long time showed up there. All of the skills being a media person when I was on Chasing News showed up there. I just finished my master's in 2021. I got a master's in fine arts and social documentary filmmaking from the School of Visual Arts in New York. And now I can edit and all those things, all those skills showed up there. So I don't feel like now thinking back, those skill sets are wasted, even though I don't use them all all the time. But I feel like, wow, if I had not had those skills, And I used to say to myself, oh, God, I can't take it anymore. I'm doing this other thing. Oh, my goodness. I just don't want to do any more of that crap. What the hell? I've had to edit. I don't feel like editing. And I can shoot. So a lot of those things came to pass in this project and even in the project for Hulu. In fact, it's so funny. I can shoot, I just don't shoot that much, I'm not a cinematographer, but I can pick up a camera and shoot. I was actually working for the job here at, you know, ABC News 2020, and one of the camera people who was there wasn't shooting the gallery. We were able to shoot the trial except for the jurors. So I just said, I'm looking in the viewfinder and I'm thinking, because since I can edit, I'm thinking of editing, I can edit and I can shoot. So I'm thinking, we can probably use some shots of the people in the gallery crying and stuff so that we can cut to that in the edit. I'm thinking like an editor, although that's not my job. So I tapped on homeboy's shoulder and said, listen, while you're shooting, make sure you turn the camera over and get some of the family. They're sitting over there. Because that's the mother, father. I'm the producer. I'm the who, the mother, father. I said, come over here. Here's the James Rays. Some of his family is over here behind us. Get some of that. And when you see the lawyers go over there and pull big bags of evidence out, get that. I'm directing him. Now, I wasn't getting paid as a director, but I can direct. Because I'm a director. I'm directing Blind Divas, my documentary. I'm directing my documentary about my brother, my brother, the Ethiopian Orthodox priest. When I got my master's in fine arts, I had to direct there. So those skill sets, even though it wasn't my official title, all showed up there. to benefit this project, they're all in there, except for I didn't get all the titles. But I knew all the, what they call, I was aware of all the departments. I can do all those jobs. I can edit, I can shoot, I can produce, I can direct. So knowing all the departments and being familiar with them made it that much sweeter to be able to contribute in such a way other than just sitting there taking notes in the trial. I'm making sure the visuals are right and tight as well. So don't worry about those skill sets. Sometimes they'll all come together and come to a head at one place. That happened to me and I was very shocked in a good way.

Rob Lee: I love it. And I see that as well. And I got two more real questions before I get to the rapid fire ones for you. Oh, God. I see it as well. I have a day job outside of doing this podcast thing. And the podcast thing, I love it, but it's not the thing that pays the bills and we all got to eat. I like to eat. I like to eat. And, uh, you know, I have a, I'm a data analyst, you know, and I have that background. Right. And podcasting and the way I approach it as production to storytelling, those two things intersect all the time. And folks look at me like I'm wild. Like, I'm like, I'm like, I'm crazy when I say I do this in the day job and I do that. And like, oh, those are two desperate, different things there. And I was like, no, they serve each other. One makes me pay for the other. Like when someone comes to me about a grant and they think that, oh, I'm just an artist and I don't know how to tell a story. I was like, I have the analytics. You want a spreadsheet, SQL script, what you want, how you need it. And they're like, oh, oh, wow. Or if I go to someone with pure numbers thinking that I can't write a narrative around it, I can get you some English lit. You know, what do you need? And I think in being able to do all of these different things, I so agree with it because You know, I sometimes when I get in front of large groups of people because I don't do it regularly and I have the reps in it, I get thrown off and then I kind of write myself. And that's why I like talking to folks in sort of the theater space, because I'm like, OK, so how do you do this? How do you know how do you get those nerves over? And, you know, one of the things I learned from it is that I'm able to improvise and go with the flow really well. And, you know, this past summer I was going I wasn't feeling well because, you know, we don't have every day isn't a great day. Right. And it's like a movie. It's the inaugural film festival in Baltimore. And they asked me to do it. I'm like, oh, wow. And the wild thing is, I'm on this big LED board. A 75-foot LED board has me on it all weekend. So all of the filmmakers are like, you're the guy. You're the Rob Lee guy. And I'm like, okay, I'm now even more nervous because people have an expectation now. I'm like, I'm not gonna flub this. So I practiced my intro and all of my stuff ready to go. As soon as they're saying, oh, so we're about to do the shorts program. I forgot everything I was gonna say. And I was like, oh, I'm gonna bomb this. And I'm looking at how many people are there. And I'm like, all right, I know how to introduce a thing. It's like what I'm saying, they don't really care. Ultimately, I need to get to the point where I'm introducing these films. And I just rested on the fact that I know how to do an introduction on how to host a show. And as I was saying with sort of the books and the references. there's a thing that some artists do that they make their process weird that they don't replicate it so they can go off the cuff and improvise. I was like, I've done things in a guerrilla style. I've done things without having notes, without preparing. No one noticed the thing. My partner was there and she was like, you crushed it. I don't know why you're all nervous. I was like, I'm always nervous. I was like, I'm going to bathroom for real quick. But it is one of those things and after The film's finished. It was 10 films. And I'm going to talk to the filmmakers. And usually I don't do a panel discussion like that. We're standing up. It's like 15 filmmakers. And I'm asking them like technical questions about their films. I'm like, we're not sitting down. This is very off the cuff. And then I was just able to just get to that thing that I'm observing and just resting on those skills as an interviewer, those skills as an emcee. And, you know, so definitely again, you know, feeling seen, feeling heard, you know, and what you were describing there with having those skill sets.

Lisa Durden: No, and I will say this as well, two quick points. Those things happen, you know. For example, now when I got the opportunity to speak in front of the camera on this special at ABC News 2020, A Diary of a Killer, you know, we had already finished producing it, that was like back in May, rolled around, now they booked me on October 12th to be in front of the camera to now sit there and be in front of the camera to talk about the trial and, you know, the decedent and the murderer and talk about, you know, the elements around the trial and be the journalist. So I'm now down in Georgia the week of October 1st, Uh the first week of october and then that friday I was on a panel. I was on a panel on saturday Then my throat started feeling a little funny. I'm getting you know, get a little you know allergy Then the next day I came back, you know the sunday. I couldn't even talk now That thursday was the interview with 2020 I don't know what their timeline is. I could have called and say I couldn't talk. I can't talk. I gotta you know reschedule Lisa, don't play that I went to my doctor that Monday morning, and I said, I need prescriptions. And whatever was going on, I didn't know I had bronchitis. I had a nasal spray prescription. I had some cough syrup prescription. I had a amoxicillin prescription. And I had some doggone prednisone prescription, steroids. I don't know what they were. I took all the prescriptions. Monday, I got home, took the drugs. Tuesday, took the drugs. Sounded a little bit better. Wednesday, sounded better. I was in that seat on Thursday because I knew Instinctively, this was a huge opportunity and I wanted to try my best to see if I could make it. Now, if I got to Wednesday and my voice wasn't back, I would have had to cancel. But I said, let me put my best effort in to see if I can make this happen. So I made it happen. And now, fast forward, it's aired in December. So, you know, sometimes you got to really, like, grind and you're not feeling great and all those things. And That was also a lesson as well. And last but not least, I will say that if I hadn't gone to get my master's when I did, I would never have gotten that job as a supervising story producer for the Hulu series, Conversations Project. Because when you go to get your master's in film, you have to edit. I was not an editor, I was a producer. So in the skill to do the job as a supervising story producer, story producers have to have some editing skills, you have to edit. So that got me there. So all of these hardships and these moments when you question yourself and, oh, I just can't go another day, sometimes lands on winner. And sometimes you land on loser, but I just kind of wanted to tell a couple of winner stories too, so just throwing that in the mix as well.

Rob Lee: I appreciate that. And it's funny, again, as I was touching on earlier, I like when people make my job easier. So that two questions is now one, because you knocked one of them out. So thank you for that. So this is sort of the last real question that I have. And it kind of touches back on it. I think I have an answer to it, because you're you, and I like that. And I think When we're asked to, you know, do certain, you know, be a be a presenter, be a commentator, being sought after for a perspective. How do you sort of look through like, all right, what's the opportunity that that fits, you know, as far as who you are? you know, as an individual, what are you interested in talking about? And how do you kind of like go through that process? Like, I take it that you're a very, you know, straight, no chaser sort of person. It is what it is. So, you know, how do you kind of go through that process of, you know, going on, taking a gig, being brought on as a presenter, as a person, as a commentator, as perspective and stuff? How do you go through that process?

Lisa Durden: Well, I've had many ways that it has happened. People have seen me in places and spaces and contacted me through social media. And I, as you did, right, I read my DMs, my inboxes, my messenger. I treat those like they're emails, although they're not emails. So I will read them and then I will try to contact you if I can. So I've had those scenarios. I've had a couple of scenarios where over the course of my career, I've actually paid and hired a publicist who might have relationships with media, and they go, my relationships are with this media, that media, the other media, and then they book me for speaking engagements, whether they be on television, not so much in-person panels, but that's been just kind of people see me in places and ask. But I've had that happen before. And then I've done that myself. I've kind of like done the same thing you've done. I've kind of like looked through people's social media, like, oh, that's the booker for this show, or, oh, that's the person that produced that. And I'll inbox them, hey, listen, here's what I do. You know, are you looking for this or that? Here's my resume. Or, oh, are you looking to have somebody on a panel for this and that? And blah, blah, blah. I'll give you a perfect example of something that happened that was really weird. Glad you asked that question. This will be an upbeat story as well. Maybe just 2023 was a little bit lucky for me. So same thing. So I've had all those ways in which I've gotten to speak in situations. So I saw a lady, and sometimes I look and see things and go, oh, they said this. I'm going to hit them up then. And sometimes it's been a referral. So this lady, Sheila Eldridge, she owns Cafe Mocha Radio. I am friends with, I'm LinkedIn with her on LinkedIn. I don't know her from a can of paint. So I'm looking through the timeline. I'm seeing her saying, oh, we're doing the first annual HBCU, first look film festivals for students. And I'm looking at, oh, that's interesting, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we're looking for, we're looking for partners with, you know, partners, what does she mean? She didn't say anything specific. you know, collaborators is what the word she said, collaborators. I'm thinking, okay, okay, well, I want to get to know her because she's got a radio network and I don't know, let me just see, you know, it wasn't even something about radio. I just wanted to, you know, I'm a filmmaker, what the hell. So I inboxed and said, hey, I saw what you posted on LinkedIn. You know, I think I can be helpful. I can be a partner. I don't know what you're looking for, but here's my resume. I have lots of skills. It was a generic, you know, inbox. She didn't get back to me right away. Took a couple of days. She got back and said, oh, let's meet. Then she didn't get back right away. And then she said, email me this. I emailed it to her. She didn't get back right away. Then she finally got back and said, let's talk on the phone. She didn't get back right away. I'm still doing this crazy hamster wheel follow up. And literally from the time I sent her the first inbox or message on LinkedIn to the actual phone call was three weeks of me following up the chase. Got on the phone. Talked about it. She liked my background. She said, I said, yes. So, you know, I was looking at this. I said, so I can come on as maybe a curator and curate some films or help you, you know, With some, you know, maybe I can moderate some panels. I just kind of wrote the things I might be able to show. Yeah, so she's listening. Sounds great. that happened there was no there was no she gave me no she didn't say okay start doing these things so it's kind of an odd thing so then i was like well is she gonna am i in or not and it was she said collaborated so i didn't ask her for any money because sometimes it's not always about money so collaborate. So I just wanted to offer her my skills. But then eventually, over time, I just started to do something. I started to plug myself in just to do it. She didn't give me any directives. So I sent her an email one day and said, hey, listen, I've been curating some short films that we can have in the short films block. I sent the spreadsheet to you. Let me know what you think. The links are there. I did it. And then the next thing, oh, this. And I started doing things, and she began to see, oh. And then she began to give me things. Then she said, Lisa, listen, we're doing this tour down in Atlanta, Georgia, where we need panelists. Would you like to be on the panel? That had nothing to do with what I said over there. Right? And that was the panel I was on in Georgia in October. I said, oh, I was on the panel. Okay, that's what I like to do. I was on two panels. And she said, well, do you know any other panelists? And I got some other panelists. So that happened. And so on and so forth. And then, you know, she said, listen, for the DC Film Festival, did you want to do a workshop? Yeah. So I gave her an offering of A, and then B happened. So it was just a weird thing. So once again, that was the second thing that all my skill sets weren't there, but at least 80% of them were there. I brought her films, my filmmaker, I curated films. I brought her opening night film, Rustin. And we did a panel discussion. I curated the Closing Night film, the crossover about how hip hop intersects music from the ESPN. It was a special. I curated that. Those are my relationships. Brought to the film festival. I did a workshop for her. So that was an example of that kind of thing that you're asking. Sometimes your job might come from another job. So my speaking engagement here didn't come from a direct speaking and engagement ask. So my speaking engagement came from working within the system and then the speaking, I was asked to speak down the road in the system. Then I get speaking engagements that are just people call and ask. And sometimes I hire, if I have the money, I hire publicists. And sometimes people inbox me. It's all those ways I've gotten opportunities to speak in front of the camera and or actually produce. So I've had all those things happen.

Rob Lee: Thank you. Thank you. That's, you know, it's great to hear that. And I think that folks listening to this, I know myself being one, you know, receiving, can take from that, can take from that to apply to kind of how they go about their stuff.

Lisa Durden: I meanā€¦ Let me say this real quick before you finish that point. Sure. Is anybody out there watching? As the saying goes, be ready so you don't have to get ready. I will say this. Every single time Someone called me, referred me. emailed me or if I had a publicist and they said, can Lisa come on here? Even if it's somebody I'm hiring to get me speaking engagements or even to get a teaching job in a college or whether it be being a producer. Every time I was asked or I wanted something, I was able to pull the trigger on what you needed for me to get it. If you said, okay, send me your resume, that's the same day, not next week. If you say, can you send me a portfolio? That's the same day, not next week. If you say, can you send me some links to your stuff? That's the same day. You should have all of your tools in that toolbox because people are also wondering how they're testing you to see, do you have what you say? Are you what you say you are? And all my stuff is out there. I have it on the ready. If I have a concept, they say you have a pitch deck, I send you the pitch deck. If they say, oh, you have a sizzle reel, if I say I got this idea, I'm going to send you the sizzle reel. I am ready. Once my mouth opens and says I can do something, it's already packaged. Just want to throw that out there.

Rob Lee: Thank you. That's definitely something that I've, you know, made sure that I have on point, you know, you know, it's like the podcast is here. Like, here's the links. These are some of my favorites. It's a curated thing. You don't have to go through the whole thing. Here's the updated resume. Here's the professional one. And the, you know, creative one, if you want to see both, you know, Miss Jackson, if you're nasty, all of that stuff is kind of like and available. And even like what the rates are, you know, for for what I can do and then always like sort of updating it. I don't want to have something that's stale. Oh, let me send you to the new one, bro. No, no, no, no. The new one is already done. Here you go. You know, you're supposed to check in and tap in on that every few months, I think. Yeah. Yeah. Opportunities come up, you know, as far as what the cost might be to do a particular thing. It's just like it's funny. You touched on it earlier as far as like certain opportunities. You're like, oh, well, the next step should be this. I did these series of interviews. Well, these next group should be easy. That doesn't mean that's actually going to happen. Actually, it's not. So what I need to do as I do it, you know, it's like, look, well, this is my right now based on this, based on X amount of years of experience, based on this caliber of interview, based on these partnerships, based on these grants, all of these different things that I've done. So this is the criterion methodology and being able to explain it because I'm a data analyst.

Lisa Durden: Yep. You got the numbers. Yep.

Rob Lee: Um, so let me, let me, let me move into the, uh, the rapid fire portion.

Lisa Durden: All right. We I'm ready. I like, you know, I'm an ex track runner, so I like to, I like to win. I'll be playing the win.

Rob Lee: I mean, you know, I got everything. I got everything for me so far.

Lisa Durden: Okay. All right.

Rob Lee: So as I tell everybody, don't overthink these. Um, so the first one is simple one. What was the last book you read?

Lisa Durden: The 1619 project by, um, Oh, I keep forgetting her name. 1619 Project, look it up. I love the book.

Rob Lee: Yes. You said something earlier that definitely perked my ears up when it comes to as many things, but definitely the metaphysics thing came up. And that's something that's been, you know, just diving has been super helpful for me, just navigating, navigating life, you know. And so there's that.

Lisa Durden: Oh, Nicole Hannah-Jones. I'll keep on calling Nicole and just leave out the Hannah-Jones. Nicole Hannah-Jones, 1619 Projects.

Rob Lee: I'm sorry, go ahead. So obviously, metaphysics is there. What is something for you on a day-to-day that you have to do from a mindfulness, from a self-care, however you deem it, but from that perspective? For some folks, it's getting up. They have to run every day. They have to lift weights every day. They have to get their favorite coffee. What is something for you that you have to do every day?

Lisa Durden: Well, I used to be a former track runner, and you would think I would run, but I don't run a damn. I run from cops, dogs, and men. So I don't run anymore. And I'm in the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame, so I have nothing else to prove. So what I love to do is literally watch talk. I'm a talk girl. I watch all the talk. I watch talk shows. If I'm in the car driving, so I put my little ear pods in and I might listen to something. It's not always a podcast, but I could have on something that's a visual thing, but I'm just listening to it as I'm driving. And I like talk a lot. So I love talk. so i'll watch the view if i can i'll watch um something on you know uh youtube that i like it could be like you know comedy hype news which i'm getting a little you know they're starting to piss me off a little bit because they're not doing the journalism right but i love comedy hype news and just different kind of talks i love fox soul shows tg tgi tgif i watch that you know, Crown, which is new on the Black Network. I love just, I just love talk. So if I got my talk on and I'm drinking my little coffee, I'm so, it's so good. I don't necessarily meditate because I live alone. So I'm always in a meditative state. So I don't have any, I don't have to talk, but I'm probably talking. So when I'm home, I'm not always talking. I'm in silence a lot. So I'm not officially home-kay-rang-yong-yong-yong. So I'm not doing like an official meditation, but I'm always kind of in a meditative state because I live alone and I like the silence of being alone. I like the quiet. So the TV could be on in the background, but I'm not watching, but I'm kind of like just here. Sometimes I'll scroll through, you know, my timeline and look and see something. But for the most part, that's kind of my meditation, just kind of like, you know, being by myself and being okay with that. But when I'm interacting, I like the whole talk show thing. It's kind of weird. So I'm weird.

Rob Lee: This is the last one I got for you. All right. And you're winning, so shout out to you. I had someone make a reference to, for this question actually, someone made a reference to it last week, which I thought was really funny. He mentioned a food I wasn't expecting. I asked him what his favorite meal was, and he was like, yeah, you know, Baltimore's got some fire lake trout. I was like, is that a throwaway? I was like, what, you just threw lake trout out there? That's just what we do? I was like, but is that your favorite meal? He said, no, no, no. I love noodles, like Asian noodles, but to a lake trout, it's good. I was like, you're just talking about food right now at this point. So I'll frame the question for you. That was just his response, which was really funny to me. And that was the last time I asked it. But for you, what is your favorite meal? We like what we like. We have our comfort meal. What is your favorite meal?

Lisa Durden: Well, I don't have a favorite meal, but I have a favorite item. I can eat salad every day. in three ways. I can either eat it before my meal. You know, you go to a restaurant, have a salad first, and then you eat it before your meal. So I can do it that way. I can eat it as my meal. So you can go and have like, you know, salad for lunch or you make it at home and you put a little grilled chicken on top and it's a little bit of a heavier salad as your meal. And I can eat it with my meal. So I can have some grilled salmon with a salad on the plate, and all is my meal. So before the meal, as the meal, and with the meal, I can eat salad every day. So I don't have a particular meal, but I'll have an item. So salad's my favorite item. I can eat every day.

Rob Lee: I actually had salad for dinner. So salad was on my mind.

Lisa Durden: As a meal. So what, did you put shrimp on top, or chicken, or what did you do with the salad?

Rob Lee: Um, I, it's, it's a little bit of, it's a little bit of an odd one. I tried to, you know, definitely get as many calories in it. Cause you know, but I'm using like the Swiss chard and I had like some crab. I had the good crab meat and it gets weirder. I had some beans in there because I really wanted some beans to have that extra weight there. But it was definitely good, nice little vinaigrette with it. Nothing too intense, but definitely heavy on the crab because I'm in Maryland and you got to throw that in there. But yeah, do you have a favorite ingredient you add in your salad? You mentioned the salmon, you mentioned the grilled chicken.

Lisa Durden: No, it could be grilled chicken, it could be, I don't do grilled chicken mostly, because I don't really like, I don't like chicken breasts that's so dry, but usually like grilled shrimp or, you know, salmon, grilled salmon, if I'm using it as a meal. But if it's just, not as a meal, I just like a, you know, a leafy green salad or, you know, a house salad. You know, I just, I like salad. If it's just like before the meal, I'll do it like that. But I don't usually do it heavy, if it's before the meal.

Rob Lee: Love it. So that's actually it. We wrapped up with some.

Lisa Durden: People always get scared. No, you know I ain't scared. Never scared. If you've been on Fox News, you can't be scared on any of the network. This is true. Because I done gotten there and slayed the dragon a couple of times.

Rob Lee: So, you know, in these final moments, one, I want to thank you so much for coming on.

Lisa Durden: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

Rob Lee: And, um, and secondly, um, I want to invite and encourage you, this is the shameless plug portion of the pod, you know, to share, you know, websites, social media projects, all of that good stuff. The floor is yours.

Lisa Durden: Oh, now, oh, okay, well. Oh, shameless plug, yes. Well, if you need something to watch between now and 2024, and you like some crime shows, y'all go to Hulu and check out Diary of a Killer. That's a crime show that I was a producer on, and I'm in front of the camera as an ABC News contributor. I mean, I'm saying it like that, but it really is a sad story about a person that murdered his baby's mother. And then if you need something, if you like talk, I love talk, watch. On Hulu again, it's a series called The Conversations Project where we have six short 30-minute episodes where Black folks get around a kitchen table and have break bread and talk about the important topics we need to talk about. That's a great project. And listen, although I was not a part of this project, but I say go and watch Color Purple. I just saw it on the 25th of December. It's a great thing. I also want to leave something with you guys. Let's we talk about it, but let's be about it. Let's try to support each other by at least, you can't do it all, you can't be everywhere, but wherever you have a little bit of power, if you have the power to help a black business, not every week, but make it your business to buy something from a black business once or twice a month. or whatever. Or if you're in the media, you know, kind of interact with each other and help each other out and collaborate with each other so we can kind of move forward. We keep complaining about we're not in the power positions and we're not getting paid, but we can't keep doing this in silos and in our own lanes and in vacuums. We have to really kind of like collaborate. And the best thing that I can say that proved that to me, although I didn't need to prove, was when I collaborated with the lady from the HBCU First Look Film Festival. I'm having a meeting with her tomorrow to see what more things we can do. I just offered myself up and it worked out to be more. I feel good about myself, not because I got to be on a panel in Georgia. That was good. Not because I got to do a workshop. in D.C. at Howard when they had the film festival itself in November, the middle of the month, but because I was able to impact somebody just from what I thought I had to share, and somebody agreed. If I didn't say, hey, hey girl, I have this to share, she would never have known that I have value. So why don't you just offer it up and somebody might see your value. Give it a shot. And then we all win. And sing.

Rob Lee: And there you have it, folks. I want to again thank Lisa Durden for coming on and sharing a bit of her journey with us. And I'm Rob Lee saying that there's art, culture and community in and around your neck of the woods. You've just got to look for it.

Creators and Guests

Rob Lee
Rob Lee
The Truth In This Art is an interview series featuring artists, entrepreneurs and tastemakers in & around Baltimore.
Lisa Durden
Lisa Durden
šŸŽ¤Former @chasingnews #APlusPanel Contributor, TV Personality, Pop-Culture Expert, Content Creator, Filmmaker.
Lisa Durden: Challenges as a Black Female Producer in Media and Entertainment
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