It’s an incredible joy to see and be inspired by strong women who serve as boss babes and have well-rounded skills in every aspect of their lives. It’s even more inspiring to see them overcome adversities out in the field. We look forward to the opportunities where we can meet such women, and that’s what we found with Donna Perkins. Donna Perkins is a Co-CEO, Vice President, Co-Artistic Director, Co-Choreographer, President, Producer, Director, Talent, and Writer all-in-one. She is incredibly well-rounded and experienced in all aspects of the entertainment industry, and she is someone that we look up to here at VIVA GLAM Magazine. We sat down with Donna to discuss her successful career.
Donna, you are the Co-CEO and Vice President of Production and Programming for 3 Alliance Media, LLC. Can you give us a summary of your journey becoming a CEO?
As I started my career as a choreographer and actress, my dream and my goal was to always have my own production company. I wanted to have the opportunity to create content that was positive, was empowering and have the freedom to make choices. I met Jason Gordon while working at Fox. He mentioned that he needed a director/producer for a show that he was launching. I knew that I could be a larger asset to the company and sent him my resume and bio. He was impressed with my experience and offered me a larger role in the company. Eventually, we became partners and Co-CEO’s of 3 Alliance.
Do you think it was harder for you than some to achieve a strong leadership position because you are a woman?
It wasn’t hard in terms of partnering with Jason, my business partner, but it has been challenging in terms of being a woman “in the room”. I have encountered blatant sexism and racism in meetings when I was the only woman in the room. On email chains, my name is often dropped as men will minimize my role in the decision-making process. My perseverance and ability to stay strong and focused on the job at hand has gotten me through those difficult times.
You are a busy woman! You are a Co-Artistic Director, Co-Choreographer, and President of the Redondo Ballet. How do you find the time to work with the Redondo Ballet, help run a company, and still direct, write, and produce content for 3 Alliance Media?
Sometimes I have no idea (laughs). I have to dedicate certain hours of the day to each job based on the needs at the time. My calendar is full of reminders that keep me on task. And it’s good that I’m a night owl because I find that after I spend time with my family in the evening, I’m up late working to get either 3 Alliance or Redondo Ballet work completed. My workday can sometimes be very long.
How long have you been dancing?
I’ve been dancing, on and off, for most of my life. My mother put me in dance classes when I was young because I loved athletics and was such a tomboy. I danced through my school years and was a songleader at UCLA. I went onto a professional dance and choreography career. Once I transitioned to acting, producing, directing and being an Executive, I took a bit of a break from dance as my focus changed to learn my new crafts. Once my daughter started taking dance as a four-year old, my passion for dance was reignited.
You were nominated for a Fosse Award in excellence for commercial choreography. What’s your favorite memory you have choreographing a commercial?
I enjoy the choreography process very much. Two commercials stand out: The Fila commercial is the one that I was nominated for and I had the pleasure of working with several different sports stars on, including basketball great Grant Hill. I was even the person inside the “punch-dummy-come-to-life-suit” that no one knew about. My other favorite memory was working with comedy legend Jonathan Winters and Chris Elliott for a Tostitos commercial. There was a lot of laughter on that set.
You have done your fair share of music videos. Can you tell us about your experience appearing in Janet Jackson’s music video for “What Have You Done for Me Lately”?
That was the first music video I appeared in. This was before there was a dance union that regulated time spent on set. It was nearly a 24-hour shoot! We all had a ball though! Janet kept the set light and fun and we all laughed so much and felt great dancing in this video.
You have worked in film and television for over 20+ years. What are your favorite jobs that you have worked on and why they are your favorite?
My very first job in a film was ‘Perfect’ with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. I was considered “B” cast, but I ended up having my own trailer and working on the film for over 8 weeks. I got my SAG card working that job. It’s a very fond memory for me. I’ve had some wonderful, varied jobs from a prostitute in ‘Strong Medicine’ with Jenifer Lewis to working with John Stamos in the TV show ‘Thieves’, to even playing a French Spy on ‘General Hospital’ – Claudine. She was a fun character.
Tell us about your experience as a travel host. What is your favorite country to visit and why?
I love traveling the world and sharing my experiences with others. When we started the show, the intent was not for me to be the host. I wanted to stay behind the camera, but Jason and my husband, Jim, convinced me to be the host. I only had one condition, that I could add in my love of sports and adventure – and ‘andiamo!’ was born. I take very seriously my role as a woman, and a black woman, who is out there doing things that mostly men do. I hear from young girls who are so appreciative of seeing me be myself and take on challenges. You don’t often see women [of a certain age – smiles] who are jumping off of 50-foot cliffs in Jamaica, rappelling down a 134-foot frozen waterfall in Quebec, river-rafting down class 4 rapids in Thailand, traversing and jumping through very cold rivers in Switzerland and trying to learn how to surf in California, among many other amazing adventures. I have many countries that I love to visit, but the country that holds a special place in my heart and always stands out to me is Thailand. I visited Thailand many times before visiting with ‘andiamo! UPTOWN‘, even going with my husband on our honeymoon. I instantly loved the kindness and generosity of the people, appreciated the beautiful vistas and I adore Thai food.
It is very important here at VIVA GLAM for young women to get inspired by strong women who have lived their dreams. And it is very important to you to empower young women and give back. What would you like to say to all the young women out there reaching for their dreams?
Yes! Empowering young women is very, very important to me. Young women endure a barrage of negativity each and every day. I am always telling my daughter, as well as the young women that I teach, positivity is much stronger, but often harder, to choose. In addition to speaking about the power of positivity, I tell young women to dream big and boldly, that they can achieve any and all that they can see for themselves. I also share that attaining their dreams can often be a long process. For most of us, it is not an overnight process. It takes vision, dedication, perseverance and hard work. But the path to attaining ones’ dreams can be rewarding and fun. Enjoy the process and the work of “getting there”. I challenge them to do something every week to “build” their dreams: whether it’s creating a vision board, keeping their thoughts and feelings in a journal or posting a step-by-step how-to or list to check off – keeping their dreams prevalent is key. And most importantly, I tell young women that they have the power to make their dreams come true. They are worthy of their dreams and no one can diminish their dream unless they let them. Dream big, young ladies!!
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