Deirdré Dix Hunt is changing the game for women, women of color, and the next generation. She is fearless, confident, and not defined by her height.
Deirdré came to California from Howard University, an historically black college, to work at CBS because they needed someone black in the program. She had done four internships in production to learn everything about the industry. Everyone else came from Ivy Leagues.
She was sent to the local CBS station to work the late shift while everyone else worked at the corporate office and had access to the key executives. The odds seemed stacked against her except that her first role was as the PA for news anchor Connie Chung. “Connie taught me everything I needed to survive,” Deirdré said. “I didn’t know the culture. She taught me about sushi, bar mitzvahs, everything.”
Deirdré quit CBS a year later and joined the page program at NBC where she met Johnny Carson. He believed in empowering women and made sure she got the right training. That was just the beginning.
This is Deirdré Dix Hunt: A day in the life of a game changer.
What currently keeps you busy? (1) My work is divided into two categories. I do work that motivates people and I do work that I think can change lives. I am constantly trying to give a voice or attention to things that sometimes don’t get it. (2) My personal life. I’ve been married for 25 years and I make time for my husband and my friends.
Today I woke up at 10 am because I just got back from New York City and I’m still on east coast time.
The first thing I did was spend some quality time with my husband. Then I walked my dog, had coffee, and caught up on everything I missed – messages, email, sitting at the computer and relaxing to get my head back from meetings, meetings, meetings.
My morning ritual includes… brush my teeth, walk my dog, have coffee, turn on my TV (I’m a pop culture news junkie and it’s important for my work to know what the headlines are) – I’m watching TV and reading three papers at the same time before I leave home – get showered, get dressed, and then I’m on the phone while driving. I don’t eat breakfast; coffee is my breakfast.
I start working at 6:30/7 am on weekdays.
My biggest challenge was being taken seriously. I’m small and black and people talk to me like I’m young. I make sure that I am given the respect equal to the amount of time, energy, and effort I’ve put into this career. I’ve learned how to be very comfortable with who I am and what I know.
I celebrate… every day. I wake up and I say thank you. I celebrate being able to still call my mother and father each morning. I celebrate the joy that I still have parents who are healthy, who guide me, listen to me, and love me – and my husband (Luther) who does the same.
I’m still enjoying learning, giving, receiving – I celebrate all of that. I’m a home owner in L.A. There are so many things I celebrate. I celebrate love.
What I love most about my work is that I’m creating content and opportunities that make a difference in peoples' lives.
My favorite part of the day is the morning when I’m walking the dog before all the traffic. I get to see the neighbors and smell the fresh air. I like the quiet of walking with my dog, Sammy, named after Sammy Davis Jr.
Least favorite… Toward the end of the day because I haven’t gotten everything done and have to take work home or be in traffic on the phone still trying to get things done.
I am so glad that I get to travel and meet unique and extraordinary people who are changing the world.
I wish I had the opportunity to know the things that I know now back when I first got out of college; I probably could have saved myself some energy and time. I spent too much time worrying about what other people thought. If I could talk to Deirdre all those years ago I would say, “Everything is going to be all right. You’ve got this. Don’t doubt yourself.” I wish I had the confidence I have now back then.
Something that surprised me was that I wasn’t afraid to speak up even when it made other people uncomfortable in the room. I let my voice be heard.
Did you have a plan for your day? Did it go as planned? Of course I have plans. My day never goes as planned. There’s an expression, “Life happens as you’re making plans.” I try to stick to my meetings that are planned however it is always evolving and changing – an actress who doesn’t like her script; the studio changes the budget. I’ve learned to go with the flow and still get things done.
I want to recognize Connie Chung. I was straight out of college and she took time with me.
How do you commute? I drive. In New York, I walk everywhere. Those women have the cutest flat shoes. In L.A., everyone is in their cars and wearing stilettos.
For lunch I usually eat my biggest meal of the day and it’s usually a good lunch. I’ll either have a great lunch or I don’t eat at all; that’s my relaxation time. My favorite place to eat lunch in L.A. is Parkway Grill in Pasadena (my office is in Hollywood) or Off Vine – it’s farm-to-table fresh. If my husband can get away, he’ll meet me.
A personal activity I do just for myself is… I schedule stay-cations as often as I can with the ultimate spa treatment.
I most enjoy spending time with my husband.
For dinner I love to cook a good meal when I can. It’s not every night – usually the weekends. We are excellent cooks and love to watch the Food Channel. When I cook a dinner, I cook dinner.
My favorite technology that I used today is Twitter.
I am inspired by women like Monica Phillips and the women featured in this blog series who are working to motivate and bring women together and who are doing great things. These aren’t always the people you read about or the ones who are walking the red carpet. They can brighten and change someone’s day.
One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The women I meet make me feel like I can do anything.
Did you meditate? Did you exercise? I walk my dog – that’s my exercise. I do sit still and read things that motivate and inspire me including certain scriptures. My favorite is “With God all things are possible.” I have a sign on my door that says, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.” Corinthians is my favorite set of scriptures. My form of meditation is relaxation, sitting still, praying, and saying prayers for other people.
One strategy I use to make my time more effective is… I use my time as if I’m on a set; always focused on a schedule where every minute counts. I’ve learned how to do a lot in a short amount of time.
I am passionate about creating a level playing field so much so that I’ve taken leadership roles to be in the room when decisions are made. I am passionate about making sure that everyone has access to information that can make a difference. If I am the only woman in the room I ask why.
Something I wanted to get done but didn’t get to do was have children and not because the career got in the way. I didn’t realize that I needed to have kids when I was 25-30; when I was still focused on building my career. I went through fertility treatments before it was covered by insurance.
I can’t live without my cell phone
Today I felt happy to be home after traveling. I felt blessed to be back in the chaos – dog toys on the floor, messy refrigerator. I'll take that over the luxury of the St. Regis any day.
I went to sleep at 9 pm.
Tomorrow I am looking forward to celebrating my husband’s birthday.
Since her first entrée in Hollywood as a PA for CBS News Anchor Connie Chung, Deirdré Dix Hunt has solidified herself as a game-changer in the industry. As the head of Edge of a Dream Company, her business is expanding to elevate established brands by creating new strategic alliances, entertainment /digital partnerships and developing diverse and inclusive opportunities.
She got her DGA (Directors Guild) Card while working with the late Johnny Carson’s production company. Johnny Carson believed in empowering women.
She is a rescue dog Mom and she lives and works in Hollywood, but her heart is in Missouri. “There’s no place like home,” which is why her hashtag is #showmegirl.