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Darrell Miller of Fox Rothschild: “Don’t Quit”

Add more diverse voices to boards of directors and C-suites at the major entertainment companies that effectively have a monopoly on mass entertainment. Base CEOs’ and senior management’s salaries and bonuses on a scorecard of achieving diversity goals. Measure success in achieving diversity goals by the “results,” not the process. For example, good intentions count […]

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Add more diverse voices to boards of directors and C-suites at the major entertainment companies that effectively have a monopoly on mass entertainment.

Base CEOs’ and senior management’s salaries and bonuses on a scorecard of achieving diversity goals.

Measure success in achieving diversity goals by the “results,” not the process. For example, good intentions count for nothing if the bottom line does not change.


As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Darrell Miller of Fox Rothschild.

Darrell is the Founding Chair of the Entertainment & Sports Law Department at Fox Rothschild LLP. A prominent entertainment lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience in entertainment law, Darrell focuses his practice on transactional law with an emphasis on the motion picture, television, music, theater and multimedia industries. As a former singer and performer, Darrell has a deep understanding of the creative talent he represents, as well as the knowledge and savvy of a seasoned entertainment attorney. As a testament to his effective brand-building strategies, Darrell is consistently listed among Hollywood’s top dealmakers by national industry publications such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.


Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

I started practicing law as a commercial litigator for a big national firm. I went to a prominent national law school (Georgetown) and I sat, by choice, for the California Bar, often considered the hardest exam in the country. I was confident in my ability to tackle basic legal issues and be a productive lawyer from day one. At least, I thought so. Then, the senior attorneys in a litigation case I was assigned to gave me what I thought was a simple assignment: Go to the courthouse and come back with the judge’s “tentative ruling.”

In a series of scenes that could not have been better scripted for a movie, I spent the day (literally) scrambling around eight floors of the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse, going in and out of the judge’s courtroom and even doing research in the downtown public law library. I returned to the office defeated, frustrated and very annoyed that all of my training didn’t prepare me to find a simple tentative ruling.

Later, at the end of the workday, I was told that a tentative ruling is simply the one-page document taped to the wall outside of the courtroom that gives the judge’s preliminary ruling on a pending motion. It’s that simple.

I later discovered that sending the young attorney from the top-tier law school to the courthouse to seek out a tentative opinion was an initiation to the club. Apparently, they had done this many times and I was just the latest victim of their legal prank.

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I learned that that smartest people know what they don’t know, and they are not afraid to ask for help no matter simple the matter might appear to be.

Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?

From the class and savvy of Angela Bassett in film and television, to social media influencers such as DC Young Fly and Draya Michelle who attract millions of followers, I help make popular culture more representative every day by working with high-profile influencers in film, television, music and new media from diverse communities who drive culture, style and entertainment that impacts the large majority of Americans. Beyond that, I have spoken out to hold the industry accountable when it fails to live up to its stated goals of promoting diversity within its ranks and engaged in innovative deal-making to help make the business more inclusive. One example is the unprecedented multiyear agreement I recently negotiated between CBS TV and the NAACP to produce dedicated content showcasing diverse voices.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?

Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is a good example. Chris was originally known simply as an accomplished Hip Hop music artist. In the last 16 years, I have worked with Chris to expand his brand across multiple areas of the entertainment industry, including, film, TV, merchandising, digital media and soon to be children’s programming.

Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?

First, it makes good business sense. As widely reported, people of color (especially African Americans and Latinos) consume disproportionate percentages of entertainment products and services compared to non-diverse communities. Providing content that appeals to those groups would result in more consumption by these communities and bigger profits for the distributors.

Second, diversity in entertainment is important to increase the prevalence and volume of positive images of people of color. Creating more multidimensional characters who are people of color can help move the culture beyond the one-dimensional stereotypes that currently dominate mainstream entertainment.

The third reason is education. Whether you acknowledge it or not, most people learn about other people and cultures through the images represented in entertainment. Understanding this truth and seeing the value of diversity in entertainment has the potential effect of helping people to realize how much more we all have in common, compared to our differences.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do to help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

Add more diverse voices to boards of directors and C-suites at the major entertainment companies that effectively have a monopoly on mass entertainment.

Base CEOs’ and senior management’s salaries and bonuses on a scorecard of achieving diversity goals.

Measure success in achieving diversity goals by the “results,” not the process. For example, good intentions count for nothing if the bottom line does not change.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is the inherent or trained ability to stay calm and focused in the middle of a crisis and exercise good judgment during difficult or tough times. One example that we are still in the midst of is the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on everyone in entertainment. Never in the history of Hollywood has 100% of all production work been shut down. In these difficult times, many leaders have been called upon to lead our community out of this crisis and find ways to continue to stay connected with audiences. Innovative leaders have found ways to continue producing worthwhile content and reach audiences in their homes, while protecting the health and safety of those who labor to create it. One example is the shift of studio movie releases from large public theaters to the small screen on digital streaming platforms, like what Disney+ did with the release of “Mulan”. Another example is how many awards shows have moved from large live-person venues to creative virtual shows in an effort to keep the industry employed and the audiences engaged.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Think differently and embrace change. Why? When I arrived in the industry practically everybody in the business engaged in “group thinking.” If you want to stand out, you have to break from the crowd.
  2. Where to find a tentative ruling at the courthouse. Why? So I would not have spent an entire day searching for one sheet of paper taped to the outside of the judge’s courtroom door that included a statement from the judge on how he or she intended to rule in a pending matter.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Think differently and embrace change. Change the mentality of many people who are stuck in the 20th Century and who either, by design or default, cannot embrace the changes that have and will consume our lives for the foreseeable future.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson quote is: “Don’t Quit.” As an African American — a blue-collar kid from Cincinnati, Ohio — most of the people I knew lived and died within a three-mile radius. People rarely left town, and when they did, they often came back after relocating to another geographic area. Since I left, I have only gone back to visit family and join the Board of Trustees of my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Cincinnati. “Don’t Quit” was, and continues to be, a mantra that I have lived by for many years. While I know that I am not the smartest person to escape my neighborhood, I am definitely one of the hardest working people to ever leave. In my unyielding commitment to hard work, never quitting keeps me motivated and inspired to keep building.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.

I would love to sit down with businessman and political powerbroker Vernon Jordan Jr. Why? Mr. Jordan is an iconic influencer who navigated the halls of business, politics and civil rights long before diversity and inclusion were accepted by mainstream society. In my opinion, he is one of the last great giants upon whose shoulders I (and many like me) stand in the fight for the next level of equality — economic empowerment.

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