The producer’s chair in Hollywood is rarely occupied by African Americans, but things are changing. DeVon Franklin, a Bay Area native who attended Albany High School and earned Business Administration degree from USC, has been recently named vice president of production at Columbia Pictures.
The dynamic Franklin has already become a major player in the industry having worked on box office hits such as “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Hancock,” both starring Will Smith, which grossed $305 million and $550 million, respectively.
Franklin began his career as an intern for Handprint Entertainment, and went on to work as a production assistant to James Lassiter at Overbrook Entertainment.. He then became an executive at Tracy Edmond’s, Edmonds Entertainment.
In addition to his entertainment industry pursuits, Franklin is a Christian minister and motivational speaker. He travels from Los Angeles to Oakland at least one weekend a month to preach at Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries, where he is an ordained Elder. He has also spoken at numerous churches and organizations across North America, including giving the keynote address at the 2006 USC African-American Commencement Celebration.
He is presently working on several projects, including Will Smith’s soon-to-be released “Seven Pounds,” the next installment of “The Pink Panther” franchise starring Steve Martin, “Not Easily Broken,” produced by Bishop T.D. Jakes and “The Ugly Truth,” starring Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl.
Franklin was just in Oakland with Bishop Jakes hosting an early screening of “Not Easily Broken,” before an enthusiastic crowd that stood and applauded the production, and shared their feedback with Jakes and Franklin.
Franklin is quickly becoming a great source of inspiration for aspiring young people of color who did not believe that becoming a powerful Hollywood executive was possible.