Raised in the movie theaters of of Detroit, Dejuan Ford has always loved film and acting, and he is no stranger to the inner workings of both on and off-camera duties. While he started off in the film industry as an actor, he quickly began to realize his calling as a producer, and how his love for bringing stories to life and giving others opportunities could be layered into that role. It’s hardly a surprise that DeJuan Ford’s work as an executive producer is catching fire. The “First Lady” series is a prime example of his work, starring Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander in her role as Maria. Riding the momentum of the the release of “First Lady 3” back in June, Dejuan Ford caught up with One West Magazine and talked about his visions, career, craft, and transition into production. Read our conversation below!
Who or what inspired your interest in film?
My mother worked at the movie theater when I was growing up. My sibling and I basically grew up in the movie theater. We pretty much lived there. We would spend days bouncing from theater to theater, watching movies. I [also] have several inspirations— two of my elementary school teachers, Mrs. Swain and Ms. Ryan. They introduced me to acting and gave me lead roles in school plays. [I’d also include] Ice Cube, and most recently, Mula Films.
In your opinion, what makes you stand out from other filmmakers out there?
What makes me stand out is that I know this is not about me. It’s bigger than me. I am blessed with the opportunity to inspire others through this art form. My goal is to not only produce great films, but provide inspiration to others. I want them to use me as fuel to pursue their dreams. If I can do it, they can!
When did you film your first film?
Back in 2016. The film was called “True Story”. It was never released; I was highly dissatisfied with the outcome of the film. I learned a lot from that experience, and plan on shooting that film again. It’s arguably still my favorite script.
Any life-changing stories that impacted your film career and decision to do film?
I have always been a leader and role model to others, and with that comes a great deal of responsibility— making sure I do things the right way, knowing the impact of my decisions. The film industry gave me an outlet to express myself and display different pieces of myself. If you ask 7 different people “who is DeJuan Ford?”, you will probably get 7 different answers. Acting allows me to tap into those 7 different personalities— I’m a Gemini!
The event that led me to produce my own films occurred several years back. I auditioned and won a huge role with Mula Films (known for Plug Love & McGraw Ave). I was cut after the first table read. Initially, I was pissed about it. I’d never been cut at any level. I couldn’t understand why. After speaking with a few people within their organization, the message became clear: my purpose in this industry is bigger than just being an actor. The Detroit independent film culture needed more executive producers, more people willing to invest their resources into bringing these projects to life. We have a very talented culture here in the city of Detroit. I want to continue to share my resources and make dreams come true!
Who have you been most excited to work with so far? Who would you want to work with?
Jennifer Williams and Nikki “Hoopz” Alexander [in “First Lady 3”]. I really want to work with a lot of actors in roles that I watched growing up, your OG Bobby Johnson (Glenn Plummer) and Cain (Tyrin Turner). The women range from Lauryn McClain to my all-time favorite, Nia Long.
What impact are you looking to make with your films? Who do you want to impact?
I want to share my stories and blessings with others. Each film has a different message. For every action, there is a consequence following that action.
My plan is to impact everyone. I have some really provocative and controversial scripts that I am working on as we speak.
What are some things you enjoy doing besides film?
I enjoy traveling with my family and watching my 8 year old son DeJuan Ford Jr. play sports. He is a really special and talented kid. I enjoy every second— definitely not taking these classic moments for granted.
Is the life of a film maker difficult?
I wouldn’t say that it is difficult. It has its challenges, but when you genuinely have a passion for it, the process is fun, and the end result is rewarding.
What message do you want to leave the audience with when reading the article?
Collaboration over competition. The only way for us to make a difference in our community is by working together. [Second], be the energy that you want to attract. I am living proof of this.
If you haven’t already seen “First Lady 3” since it premiered in June, now’s your chance! Watch “First Lady 3” on Tubi TV, and be sure to keep up with DeJuan Ford’s work by following him on Instagram @DeJuanFord and Facebook— you won’t want to miss what he has coming!