Please tell us who is Des Gray?
I am the Haitian golden child who immigrated to Miami, Florida, at the age of 11. I taught myself how to speak, read and write English so that I could graduate from high school and college at Alabama State University and Full Sail. I am also a visionary living in this universe to create the visions God is always bringing into my subconscious mind so that I can share them with the world.
Have you always had a desire to become a film and television director and producer?
I am amazed at what God has done thus far in my life and where He’s taking me. I have had different visions about creating stories since I was a little girl growing up in Haiti. I used to create stories and tell them to the children in my Haitian neighborhood. I had never been anywhere outside Haiti, so these stories were based on the visions that I had in my dreams. I always knew I would be the person in front of or behind the camera. Where I am at and where I am going was already God’s plan.
Can you tell us about your company Foreign Made Films, and some of the services/programs/opportunities offered?
In 2017, I established Foreign Made Films after receiving opportunities to produce several music videos for various music video directors. Before then, it was challenging because no one would give me an opportunity as a new director, so I created my seat at the table. I named my company “Foreign Made Films” because I want people to know that a foreigner produced the project. We provide music video, commercials, content, and short film directing and production services.
In honor of August being Black Business Month, you are noted for being the leading Haitian American female visual content creator for film, music video, and television projects. Can you tell us a little about what that experience feels like?
Being a Haitian American director is a dream come true. The experience feels great, and it means a lot to me. Thinking back on where I come from in Haiti, many children in third-world countries don’t have access to a phone, camera, or education. Being a child who didn’t have access to these things and see where I am now – all the opportunities I have had to work with megastars and to give back to others. I want to be the change for kids around the world. I also want to help shape the creative culture, inspire hope, and let people know that if you follow your dream and have faith in God, He will continue to open doors for you and bring you to where you’re supposed to be.
Do you feel you receive the same opportunities, and acknowledgment as your counterparts?
I don’t believe I get the same opportunities as my counterparts because I’m a woman working in a male-dominated industry. People think you don’t know what you’re doing, and sometimes men think women are very emotional just because we want to conduct our business the right way. As a director, oftentimes I am overshadowed, especially when I ask for what I want financially. People say, “Oh, Des is charging too much.” But if I produce a video for a male director, he gets exactly what he wants without a struggle. Black female directors don’t get as many opportunities as we should. I am very happy for the Black women who are directing now. It gives me hope and faith that I will be exactly where I need to be.
Recently, you released your short film, “Mixed Girl” which expanded your writing, directing, and production credits, produced by media mogul Yandy Smith-Harris. Can you tell us about this short film?
I wanted to go into the television industry with a new and fresh perspective as a director talking about a topic that many people don’t talk about, and that’s a mixed girl. A bi-racial woman being categorized as not being “white enough” or not being “black enough” can leave her stuck in the middle and not knowing who she is, leading to low self-esteem. I created “Mixed Girl” to highlight that culture and show what mixed girls go through as they battle with their identity issues.
What advice could you provide to someone, especially our teens and young adults that are interested in getting into the film and television industry?
Be true to yourself and your vision and trust the process. Don’t think you have to move fast to get where you want – take your time and learn your craft. I am a director and a student because I am still learning. In addition to listening to your heart, listening to your mind, and following your vision, be open to learning from others. That’s the only way you’re going to be great. Just know that you’re going to get there, and you’re going to be on top.
Where would you like to see Foreign Made Films in the next 3 to 5 years?
In the next five years, I see Foreign Made Films partnering with a network for a production deal to produce global content, particularly with OWN Network, because I love Oprah Winfrey. Also, whatever other networks that God may have along the path. As a director, I see myself walking across the stage to receive my first Oscar for best international film.
What would you like our views to gain from this interview?
I’m just a girl trying to find my way, and I know that everything will be OK by having faith. I want people to know who I am and how important it is to work hard for what you want. Also, remember that it’s OK not to be perfect, it’s OK to take your time, it’s OK to start over, and it’s OK to be you. When you’re OK with who you are, life is limitless, and you control everything around you. Being a visionary is about having an open mind to see things beyond the star.
How can people connect with you?
People can connect with me on all social media platforms with the handle @TheDesGray.
Photo Credits: Shaquille Kokumo