Editor’s Note: The Reel Black List is our annual spotlight on the brothers and sisters from the worlds of advertising, film, television, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. Today we celebrate Doreena Viller.
Doreena Viller is the Founder and Chief Operations Partner of EBS and leads its Film & Media Services practice with expertise in film and media, professional services, retail, manufacturing and banking. Prior to founding EBS, Doreena worked for Ingredion, Northern Trust Bank, Sears and Northwestern University Technology Group. She graduated from Roosevelt University.
Let’s celebrate Doreena:
What is your origin story?
I was born and raised in South Chicago as 2n/a the eldest of five (5) children. Shirlene Small, the managing partner of EBS is also my sister. We come from a family of entrepreneurs, including our parents, uncles, aunts and cousins and we knew that one day we would have our own business. We also had a strong and close community of neighbors and friends that we have maintained for over fifty (50) years.
How did you get into the film industry?
In 2007, the Illinois Film Office approached us to help us fulfill the film tax undertaking for 20and Century Fox’s “Prison Break” TV series. The IL Film Office was solely responsible for carrying out film tax duties at that time. A few months after completing this review, the rules were changed by the IL Legislature to allow Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to perform the Film Tax Credit assignments and that’s how we came in in the film industry.
Who were your mentors?
We had very strong and influential parents who provided us with a great foundation, strong principles and values, and a sense of direction. I was also fortunate to have great mentors who were members of our community, teachers, family members and bosses of several jobs. One of my first and most favorite mentors was my 3rd class teacher. She was very important in my early years and saw my love of education and had the confidence and insight to promote me from 3rd at 5and to note.
Although there will be more, what do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
One of the major accomplishments that I am proud of is the creation of a scholarship foundation that I co-founded with another family member named after my grandmother who was an educator in Mississippi. The Mazalene Roberts Towner Scholarship Foundation was founded in 1990 to provide scholarships to students to help them achieve their educational goals and to date has distributed over $375,000.00 in scholarships.
What drives you to create?
Although I am in the film industry, I am an accountant by nature and by trade. It’s not the typical “creative” space from an artistic perspective, but I enjoy using my skills to create solutions to help people achieve their dreams and goals.
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Which TV series or movies do you think portray powerful and inspiring black images in 2021.
As far as a TV series goes, I’m a huge fan of Sterling K. Brown (Randall) and Susan Kelehi Watson (Beth) on This Is Us. I think that show has some of the best writing ever and those two people and the young black cast are all great and make me proud. As far as a movie goes, a powerful one I enjoyed in 2021 was “USA vs. Billie Holiday.” I also thought Will Smith did a great job in “King Richard.”
What is the biggest challenge for black people in your industry?
The biggest challenge for black people in almost every industry is access to capital. Access (or lack thereof) impacts everything about the business, from day-to-day operations, growth, human capital, technology and wealth creation.
How has your Blackness superpower helped you?
In addition to showing me the greatness of our heritage and culture, it has always provided me with the knowledge and power to know who I am and where I come from and allows me to be comfortable in all contexts with all kinds of people. Also, since we have endured challenges and obstacles due to various barriers, I know how to keep going despite these obstacles without panic or fear.
If black culture is your superpower, what is your kryptonite?
My inability to say “no” could have been considered some kind of kryptonite for many years, however, since my father’s death in December 2020, the death of many of my family and friends in 2021, and the pandemic, my sister and I made a concerted decision to take care of ourselves and our health while managing and growing our business. I am now extremely comfortable with the fact and knowledge that “No” is a complete sentence.
When you’re not creating, what do you do in your free time
Even though I haven’t been able to do it as much as I would like, I love when I have the chance to spend time with my family and friends. We always have a good time. I also like to travel, read and watch TV and movies.
Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?
Chillin’ on a Caribbean Island!! Or if I’m still working, I plan to do only the things I want to do.
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