Suzanne De Passe
2006 Black Movie Awards - A Celebration of Black Cinema: Past, Present & Future 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)
Perhaps second only to Oprah Winfrey, Suzanne de Passe ranks as one of the most prominent and important African-American women working in television. Her background reads like the history of Motown, the company where she rose through the ranks. Dropping out of college in 1967, she shocked her parents by becoming the talent coordinator at the Cheetah Club on Manhattan's East Side, a club that would later become a prime purveyor of the Latin Hustle. The next year, 1968, she met Berry Gordy, the founder and president of then Detroit-based record label Motown who hired her as his creative assistant. Over the course of the next decade, de Passe was instrumental in numerous recording careers, guiding Lionel Richie to a solo career after he left the Commodores, launching Rick James and the funk era, and perhaps most importantly, shaping a group of singing brothers from Gary, Indiana into The Jackson Five, one of the most heralded singing groups of all time.