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Behind the Seams with Digital Creator Donalee Curtis

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Photo by Chämpagne
Donalee Curtis remembers her entire childhood as being painted on her grandmother's veranda around age 4 in Jamaica up until her migration to the United States at age 7. She was able to use her creative talents and hunger for success to land a job at one the fastest growing and award winning digital networks of 2014, Endemol Beyond working with Digital Pioneer Michelle Phan while simultaneously making YouTube Videos and being a stylist. You might remember her from the popular video "American learns to speak Jamaican Patois". Just a few months ago, she decided to pack "essential items of her life" in a carry-on suitcase and backpack to go on a solo Female Journey to travel the world. The Haute Lifestyle was able to catch up with her to get an insight of this new venture.

Mimosa' anyone? Photo by Flannery Underwood
THP:  How did you land a job at Endemol Beyond?
D.C:   After working in production in Jamaica for about two years, I decided I wanted to continue my work in digital media but on a bigger level. I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn from the best and eventually bring my knowledge back to the Caribbean. While figuring out how to do it, I used social media as my weapon. I followed all the producers, writers and creators in digital media that I admired. I subscribed to all industry news and made it a priority to be up to date on what’s going on and who is making big moves. Because of my wealth of knowledge, I used social media to interact with those people I respected and solidified bonds. By the time I moved to LA, I had meetings with a respected TV writer and the former president of Endemol Beyond, Will Keenan. I sought out Will for mentor-ship and guidance, and seeing my hustle he would carve out time for us to meet, asking his assistant to add me to any event he was going to because that was the only free time he had. When positions opened up at his company he urged me to apply. Granted even though I knew the President, I did not think I had a chance of landing any of the jobs listed. But Will believed in me and set up a meeting with the person who would then become my direct supervisor. Before going into the meeting, he made it very clear that even though he helped to get me this far, I need to shine in the interview and convince them that I deserved to be there. And I did! 

THP: What was it like “making a name” for yourself in another country with another culture?
D.C: I don’t think of it as “making a name” for myself. I just do what I do best; when I see something I want, I go after it relentlessly. I’ve lived in the United States for a long time before moving back to Jamaica, so there was no real culture shock. If anything, working in Jamaica as a returning resident had more cultural obstacles. But that’s a different story, back to the question. I think when you are trying to achieve a goal, the best thing you can do is put on blinders and go full steam ahead. Be flexible and open to change but just keep going. When moving to LA, I think I had $200 in my pocket and a prayer. I just knew I could do it. Even when I felt alone and not sure what’s going to happen next, I kept grinding. And it’s through my continuous actions that God/Universe reciprocated with the opportunities and people I needed to aid me on that journey. What can I say? Mi likkle but me tallawah! 

Donalee leading one of her Brunches | Photo by Flannery Underwood
THP: How do you grow your creative talent? (books, seminars, degrees etc.)
D.C:   Most of the time I read. When I wanted to learn how to be a producer, I read. Whether it’s books, articles or social media posts, it doesn’t matter. When I am interested in a field I consume as much as I can then I reach out to people in those areas and try to meet with them or ask for advice.
As I am nurturing my old love for writing and moving into another creative direction in my life, reading plays a huge role but listening is becoming more important. I spend a lot of time listening to my inner voice, reflecting on how I react to the world and what I want to share with everyone.  

A smile a day keeps negativity away | Photo by Flannery Underwood
THP: You have a job many people dream about … why did you “up” and leave?
D.C: I left Endemol because my spirit knew it was the right time. Being there no longer aligned with who I was or wanted to be. I didn’t know it at the time but an internal shift was happening and is still happening over a year later. Even after I left Endemol, freelanced and later started working at a boutique hotel in DTLA, nothing felt right. EVERYTHING was uncomfortable. It’s a restless feeling and hard to describe but I just knew something was off. 

Green is Serene ..Donalee strikes a pose in the street | Photo by Chämpagne
THP: What are some of the places you’ll be travelling to?
D.CI am open to travelling anywhere and everywhere. I have no itinerary, I’m just letting the spirit lead me. Some of my bucket list places are Croatia, Kenya, Chile, Israel,  Morocco and jumping in Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival next year. 

THP: What do you expect to gain from travelling the world?
D.C I want to gain a deeper connection with myself. This trip is all about my relationship with myself and God. I want to experience amazing things and meet people (specifically women) who are doing incredible things. In the end, anything I learn I will be bringing it back to Jamaica so I can create something magical for my community. The end game is always Jamaica. 

Life is a beach ... literally
THP: Any advice for others planning to take “that leap” to pack up to see the world?”
D.C: Just do it. But do it for the right reasons. If you are trying to escape your life and problems, then don’t go. If you want to be challenged and get to know yourself better and change your perspective then GO. GO NOW. Also, I think there is a version of this for everyone. You don’t have to take a trip around the world to get to know you better, sometimes all you need to do is leave the toxic situations and people behind that are clouding your vision. My advice is to choose you. 

Keep up with Donalee on her journey at the places below

1 comment on "Behind the Seams with Digital Creator Donalee Curtis"
  1. Thank you very much for sharing the idea that will make us able to have something good ralted with digital creation.
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    ReplyDelete