Dina Andrews was recently interviewed by TheCelebrity.Online Magazine and below is the Q&A session we had with her.
Dina Andrews As Cover Story – November 2023 Edition
How do you introduce yourself?
Dina or Dina Andrews depending on the person and setting. In the Music Industry most people know me by Dina. In politics I’m Dina Andrews. I’ve never liked making a fuss over titles, though my friends tell me I need to walk in my Dr. Dina status that was an Honorary gift from God.
Childhood to Adulthood – How was your transition from childhood to adulthood and what are the bad and good things you remember?
I hadn’t really thought about my transition from childhood to adulthood until you asked the question.
Reflecting back, I grew up in the early 60’s. We lived in South Los Angeles when it was still a thriving community. It was a time of excitement and social change that eventually became fearful. The music was amazing. Motown Records was hitting hard, and the brilliant young 33 year old Sam Cooke was murdered not far from where we lived. Dr. King was our Civil Rights leader that was murdered before his time. I can still visualize the riots, and chaos that took place around the corner from our house during the Watts Riots. There were numerous activists at that time. The Black Panthers, The Nation of Islam, and the Black church.
Our family was very social. We had family gatherings at one of three houses for the most part. My mom was very social and liked to entertain. I remember house parties with food, great music, cards, and dominos. My grandmother was an educated woman from the south. She embraced being social and dignified. She was a soror, served her community, church, and was a public servant in government. We had a lot of love, mutual support, and closeness as a family during that time. Unbeknownst to me, political policies were being put in place that divided families. If a woman needed support from the government, she couldn’t have a man in the house. I didn’t understand the impacts then, but working in politics over the past 8 years I’ve learned a lot about the impacts of certain laws and policies that adversely affected Black people.
As Black people protested, things became unsafe in our community, and people were more desperate to survive. I remember my mom always kept a 22 tucked under her mattress, and my grandmother legally carried a 38 for her work as a Deputy Probation Officer after she left teaching. We moved from South LA in 1970/72. Our parents made decisions that were good for their children, though a culture shock moving to the suburbs.
My childhood came with responsibilities that caused me to become very responsible and serious about life from the age of 12. I reflect on my older brother and I helping my mom study for her Postal Workers exam in the late 60’s, and then her sight suddenly being impacted that caused her to become legally blind. As the only girl, I took on more of the responsibilities that were traditionally assigned to women like cooking, cleaning, going to the corner store to pick-up things, and looking out for my younger brother who was 8 years my junior.
I began working at 14 years old. I did not necessarily begin working so young because my mother couldn’t take care of us, or we were lacking anything. Looking back, it was probably more of taking advantage of an opportunity. There was some type of student worker program that I was able to apply for and get approved that gave me work experience. I will never forget that first job working for the department of Recreation and Parks at the local park my siblings, cousins and I played at as a Jr. Recreation Leader. Out of all of the people that influenced my life it was a lady named Ruth Ello that was the park Director who gave me an opportunity to lead the younger kids.
With the cultural shift of leaving South Los Angeles at 12 years old, and moving to the suburbs, I was anxious to explore the world. I worked really hard in high school to complete all of my requirements, and graduated from the 11th grade at 16 years old and started college. That didn’t go quite as well as expected. Living in a college apartment, I had my first experience with a violent person. I immediately called my father and told him what happened, and my college days became a commute rather than the exciting on campus experience that I dreamed of. I eventually transferred from that college to another one in my junior year, and began my career in Hollywood. At 19 years old I was working, had my own apartment, and car.
Because my mom taught me how to be a responsible child, it was something that just carried over for me in everything. During those days I just lived life, worked hard, and believed that my hard work would pay off. I didn’t think about “transitioning” from one thing to the next.
Looking back I lost a lot of childhood experiences growing up too fast. I was taught how to work and take care of the home and be responsible that way, but I really didn’t learn a lot about relationships, boundaries, people outside of my circle, and the world. Now I have to catch myself all the time because doing so much so young, making so many mistakes, and experiencing some awful things makes me want to push my loved ones. I want them to move harder and faster than they want to go, and I want to protect them from everything I experienced.
Struggle – What hardships have you gone through in life?
The answer would be MANY! I always say that I have had as many punches in the stomach as I have had successes. Life has posed many ups and downs, hurts, disappointments, and frustrations, both personally and professionally, but by the grace of God, I keep getting back up again.
Professionally the entertainment business can be a beast. When I became an entrepreneur many years ago, it was not by choice. I was thrown into the deep, really because I was misunderstood. When thrown in the deep waters, I had to learn to swim in an ocean full of sharks or be devoured.
Most of the Black women that worked in the Music Business were employees of the major labels. There were only a handful of us in Hollywood that took the entrepreneurial path. Black men were at the helm of the record companies, and those that were independent and had their own companies were generally the pathway to the senior executives at majors for talent. It was nothing for the more powerful to wage war against you, if they felt you were a threat, were not in agreement with your vision for your clients, or wanted to take control of talent you had under your company. A lot of the time it is contractual disputes where creatives don’t value your work, and you go through unnecessary and costly lawsuits for what rightfully belongs to you.
Personally, I experienced a lifetime of pain and dysfunction from a little secret that the elders in my family were supposed to keep from my birth. In 1983, we had 3 deaths in our immediate family about every 3 months. It didn’t end with the deaths, there were the business hits, and the personal love life hit all in the same year. Research says that most people can barely make it through one of the numerous hits I took in 1983. It didn’t stop there, there was another major hit in 1998 that I can only write about.
What do people usually not know about you?
I would say that I am a Faith Walker.
Professionally, most people don’t know that the core of who I am, who I have always been, and will always be are rooted in biblical values and principles. My mom raised us not to lie, steal, or cheat; and to treat others as we wanted to be treated. With that, I would rather pass on a lot of things that may fast track me, or compromise my values for greater fame, fortune, power, or relationships. I believe that life has far more value than knowingly and intentionally putting your life and freedom in jeopardy for “stuff”, or hurting someone else for your personal gain.
Most people don’t know that I have children and grandchildren. It’s a strange thing that I’m still trying to reconcile in my mind. My mother’s biological mother died from pneumonia when she was 8 days old. Long story short, her mother’s sister became her guardian and only mother she knew after her grandparents died. My grand-aunt, who I’ve always referred to as my grandmother, was 16 years older than my mother. My grand-aunt only had one biological child. She was more like a sister to me, and was murdered in 1983. (Ironically, it was the same day I was preparing Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to fly to Rome to work with the recording artists “Change”). I became her children’s mother, and I am 16 years older than her eldest daughter, who is my Goddaughter.
What sets you apart from your competitors in the industry and in life?
I don’t compete with others, I compete with myself. I’m very hard on myself, and set high standards for myself. However, I understand that those high standards may not equate to what others consider high. My standards are set around delivering my best, being my best, being a life learner, caring about others, treating others how I want to be treated, and advocating for what I know is right even if it does not benefit me. I find that there are universal principles that work globally, and I try to walk in those principles daily. It is not always easy, and I can blow up if pushed far enough … .but I really don’t like that other side of me, so I contain it more than not.
Another thing that just is, is that I have very rarely sought out opportunities. For the most part opportunities have come to me. When an opportunity comes that I feel is a fit, I accept it. Not necessarily because the money is right, location is right, title is right, or any of the many things that people make decisions by. My belief is that wherever God places me that is my assignment for that season, and I give all I have to being the best I can be in that space. I also believe that our professional growth is not always measured by how much money one makes doing a particular thing. I have experienced accepting contracts or projects that one would consider “beneath me”. A lot of those assignments have led to relationships and opportunities that were divine connections by God that I never dreamed of. Sometimes when we think what we are doing is crazy, or things are really hard in that space, we think it is not God…but it is. We just have to walk it out in order to see what is really there for us.
What are your upcoming major events?
When I think of events I think about running from pillar to post with clients to provide excellent entertainment platforms for people to enjoy, or producing the next greatest song, developing the next greatest artist, etc. For the most part major events are no longer a thing for me. I’ve always wanted to be a philanthropist. My dreams of doing that in my younger years were thwarted, but I am working towards fulfilling that dream now. As well, I am working on my legacy projects that consist of writing books and screenplays that tell stories of resilient Black women, that educate and inspire all at the same time. I am a Board Leader in South Los Angeles for the largest Christian Youth Ministry in the world volunteering to provide support, resources, and education for youth in underserved communities. My major event is doing me at this point in my life. I’ve spent more time on other folks’ dreams and desires than fulfilling my dreams and passions. I feel now is as good a time as any to do those things.
Your love life, relationships and family?
- My love life…Time for a real one.
- My relationships…grateful for my family of friends that have been in my life for 3+ decades.
- My family…good and constantly evolving!
What expert advice would you like to give?
My expert advice is simple. Work hard, study hard, love hard, be respectful of yourself and others, and keep going when things don’t fall in line as you planned, like, or anticipate. Always be ready to shift or pivot so when the unexpected happens you don’t lose too much ground trying to figure out your next. Big companies have been reorganizing forever. As an entrepreneur or small business you have to know to do the same. Be open to mentorship, listening to the journeys of those that came before you. Never think that you know everything…no matter how much you know.
Your social media handles and website links?