Try to drop any preconceived notions you have about anyone based on gender or race.
Embrace the knowledge, experience and perspective of others that are different from you as an opportunity. The world is so much more interesting that way. See it as a key to success.
Be an example of the change to others. How you speak about the importance of diversity, how you represent diversity and how you participate in 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 Twila True. She is a successful entrepreneur who currently serves as CEO and Co-Founder of True Family Enterprises, a privately held investment firm with more than 50 companies in her portfolio. On the music front, Twila co-founded 1500 Sound Academy, a state-of-the-art music college in Inglewood, California, and subsidiary of Volume Ventures, with Grammy Award winners James Fauntleroy and Larrance “Rance” Dopson. Other businesses include TrueLane Homes, Twila True Fine Jewelry, Twila True Collaborations, her charitable ventures include an orphanage assistance foundation in China, and a U.S.-based Native American personal development foundation.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I really didn’t know what career path I wanted at the beginning. I just wanted not to be poor. I didn’t want to have to marry for my financial security, and I wanted to be independent. It seemed to me, that as long as I could read a financial statement, understood what I was doing and how it affected the profitability of a company, I could be important to a company.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
It was meeting James Fauntleroy and Larrance Dopson in a very small studio in Inglewood, California. I had been approached by many in the entertainment industry to be involved in various ventures, but, there was something special about the two of them. I was met by their humility in that they helped with genuine intentions, so much the opposite of institutional and wall street values. We instantly bonded on the theory of businesspeople working together, and a real relationship based on trust and mutual respect.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Doing a job interview I should not have…and I did that a few times. The first time was when I was interviewing for a bookkeeper assistant position, thinking I could figure it out and get in on my charm. The CFO of this company asked me what columns I would debit and credit if I was paying a bill. I had no clue what he was talking about. It was so obvious. I was embarrassed enough to not put myself in that situation again, so I signed up at night school and took an accounting class.
Ok thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?
The first thing I had to do was to look up “popular culture” and what that is. The definition is: “culture based on the tastes of ordinary people rather than an educated elite.” I am not formally educated so I guess I am not elite and am ordinary. I worked with what I had to reach my goals. I just had to find a new way to get there and to work my way to the positions and experiences that were necessary. Perhaps that wasn’t a normal track, but I wouldn’t change anything. I am happily ordinary and worked to become exceptional. I was young, a female, of diverse background and not formally educated, so I hope I am a good representative.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?
There was an email I just recently received from the eldest girl in a home of eight kids. I invited her to visit me for a while, and she is so proud that she is now 20, working hard, and owns her own home. Her circumstances were tough, but she made it a point to email me and tell me how happy she was…and that what little time she spent with me, changed her outlook on what was possible.
As an insider, this might be obvious to you, but I think it’s instructive to articulate this for the public who might not have the same inside knowledge. 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?
The more diverse, the better the company…fresher ideas, different ways of thinking and perspectives are the keys to success.
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?
- Try to drop any preconceived notions you have about anyone based on gender or race.
- Embrace the knowledge, experience and perspective of others that are different from you as an opportunity. The world is so much more interesting that way. See it as a key to success.
- Be an example of the change to others. How you speak about the importance of diversity, how you represent diversity and how you participate in change.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I never set out to be a leader — just tried to lead myself out of tough circumstances, and to pave wanted a better way.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- That’s it’s going to be hard; don’t expect instant wins. It doesn’t work like that.
- That failure was definitely part of the journey. I failed enough times at something that I could have almost given up. Also, the tenacity to stay in the right things and get out of anything you knew wasn’t right.
- That friends are important, keep the good ones.
- Don’t sweat the small things.
- Don’t let others get under your skin.
You are a person of enormous influence. 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. 🙂
Humility for those of us who supposedly “made it” — kindness, not because of credit or recognition…just because you can.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Maya Angelou’s entire poem, “Phenomenal Woman” is my favorite. I would read this consistently in my 20s. It helped me to understand my currency, my elegance. It gave me confidence but understanding of the gift of humility. The grace and gentle strength of a woman.
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. 🙂
As strange as it sounds, there aren’t many people that I look at that way. I would rather have lunch with young women and share my experiences and insights. Seeing their lights ignite gives me such joy. I suppose if I really gave it some thought, maybe Alicia Keys? I love how she can move people and is able to touch them with her voice. She understands how to deeply connect like a poet. It’s genuine.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I don’t really post a lot as I stay a bit private in that way. But I do post and I do check my DM’s!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!