Kenya Duke is a successful entrepreneur, TV personality, and podcast host. She is living life by her own rules now that her kids are grown and on their own and her very public divorce is her rear view mirror. She is an unapologetic, unfiltered, strong Black woman who asks the questions we all really want answered.
We asked Kenya about succeeding in Hollywood and what plans she has going forward.
Grit Daily: When did you know you wanted to work in entertainment? What were some of your first opportunities?
Kenya Duke: I honestly, never saw myself in entertainment- behind or in front of the camera. I thought my future was in nonprofit work. I began booking and managing my ex-husband (Gary Owen) which led to producing large comedy shows and live show tapings that we sold to networks. I managed and booked the iconic PHAT Tuesdays at the Comedy Store for a couple of years. We also had a family based reality show on BET, which is still very funny. I realized I was very good at making things happen behind the camera and not so bad in front of it. With all of these opportunities suddenly coming my way, it felt as if this was my confirmation to continue this route of what else I could achieve in this industry.
Grit Daily: You became a successful TV producer- first as a manager/booker for your ex-husband Gary Owen, then producing his TV specials, then producing a reality show for Bunim -Murray? What’s up next for Kenya Duke?
Kenya Duke: I have so many things I am planning to do. The first is getting the Truly Kenya Podcast in the Top 10 podcast. The podcast will focus on sex-positivity, as well as how the dating culture is addressed by women in today’s society. Then I have plans for an online dating show, and to really try my hand at hosting panels, after shows, and 1-on-1 interviews for networks.
Grit Daily: When can we expect your podcast Truly Kenya to launch? What will draw listeners and set it apart from other shows out there?
Kenya Duke: The Truly Kenya Podcast is expected to launch in March. Hopefully, I am the draw! My honesty about everything- me and this new journey I am on- humor, and my curious nature about how others choose to live their lives. If I have an audience that enjoys the time listening, laughing, and learning a lot of stuff (that may not be that useful)… if they are trying to save the planet, but good for a boring cocktail party, so much so that they don’t even care about the guests or topic, then I have done something right and I am winning. That is success!
Grit Daily: What advice do you have for other women, particularly women of color, breaking into such a male-dominated industry?
Kenya Duke: Make your own way! As I said, I always found a way even if there wasn’t a direct path. I hope to be someone who can inspire others and offer my experience and guidance.
Also, be a good listener. I am truly a great listener. It’s served me well in life and in my podcast. The ability to listen to others, absorb the knowledge they are giving you, and also make them feel comfortable and non judgemental will open a lot of doors.
Grit Daily: Outside of entertainment, you’ve also been an entrepreneur in the real estate world? Tell us about your passion for home improvement and side hustle of buying & flipping homes? Do you ever see a merger of the two in the future- TV and Real Estate- for you?
Kenya Duke: Traveling and visiting model homes and land for sale in different cities is a huge hobby of mine. I love investing in real estate and flipping homes. It’s something I’m very passionate about and has brought me financial success and independence.
I’d love to have a real estate/travel show but the podcast and dating show are my first priority. I do see myself having a home improvement product line for renters and middle income homeowners at some point. I never limit myself! I can see all these opportunities coming together!
Grit Daily: Any words of wisdom to our readers on business and investing?
Kenya Duke: Create financial independence for yourself. Follow your passions, and know no dream is too big. You have to be willing to be unapologetically yourself and put in the work but anything is possible.
Also give back. You can invest by investing your time in things that matter to you. I volunteer for both the Boys and Girls Club of Alameda County and Alameda County Foster Care and sometimes I feel like I get more from that experience than I give. It’s truly rewarding.