Donald Dodson “From An Emmy To A Peabody”

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Donald Dodson:

 SKII:  I’ve just interviewed your daughter Amanda.  Tell me, what do you think about her pursuit in acting?

Donald:  Daddy is very proud of his little girl.  I knew she had this ability since she was 8 years old.  She had that bug in her to act at that young age.  I remembered when Amanda was on stage with the grammar school plays.  Although she did not have many speaking parts at first, Amanda always stayed in character.  I watched her blossom and progress in her field of acting.  I always knew it was in her.  

SKII:  I heard she is one half of being a twin.  Her sister Samantha Amanda said, is totally opposite of what she is. How was it raising twins with two different aspects and outlooks in life?

Donald:  It’s double the pleasure.  I remember asking a woman I used to work with – who had 8 children…  How does it feel with raising all those kids?  How do you divide your love around to all of them?  She said…  Your love doesn’t divide.  It multiplies.  They are beautiful kids.  As opposite as they look.  Samantha is teaching high school Spanish. That is what she wanted to do. Amanda has her sight set on Hollywood.  I love them both with all my heart.

SKII:  Tell me something about yourself.  Where were you born and raised?  What schools have you attended?

Donald:  I was born and raised in Clark New Jersey.  I went to Seton Hall University and majored in Communications and broadcasting.  I began working for Eyewitness News 36 years ago and I’ve been there ever since.  I have 3 Emmys and a Peabody award.  I’ve been blessed.  I’ve seen the good and the bad of humanity throughout those 36 years.  It’s a business that’s basically, with every day, there’s something new.  It constantly changes.  It’s an experience.  It’s ever changing.  Everyday is a new story.  Unfortunately, in this business you get to see – things you cannot air.  Like the World Trade Center Stuff.  It changes you and it makes you think about life and kids and what’s most important in your life.  It’s certainly not the million dollar mansions.  It’s about who loves you and who you love. 

SKII:  Before working for Eyewitness News, what type of jobs have you held?

Donald:  When I majored in Communication at Seton Hall, I worked at a radio station as a disc jockey.  I did that for a while until I found out you can make more money doing television.  I was an intern at a cable station.  I was in the right place at the right time when I found out that ABC was hiring.  I got lucky and I got in.  So, 36 years later, here I am.  (Donald and I laughed).  I’m a lifer. 

SKII:  Tell me…  What do you do, other than being on Eyewitness News?  Do you like sports?  Do you go out to parties?  Tell me about Donald Dodson’s entertainment life.

Donald:  I know we are sitting in FLAVORS restaurant in Staten Island, but I’ve been a life long Dallas Cowboy fan.  Yes.  I am.  I’m sorry.   I go back to the 1960’s – Bob Hayes, No. 22 Wide receiver.  That’s how long I’ve been a Dallas Cowboy fan.  And of course, I’m a Mets fan too.  I’m also a 4th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  And I’ve made it my business to help my girls find a job and/or to help lead them in the right direction. Amanda has been coming to the station with me since she was probably 4 or 5 years old.  True story.  Everyone at the station knows her even Sade Baderinwa.  She’s as popular at the station as I am. They are rooting for her as well.  Being in the news business, you’re not really in a position to help.  My other daughter, she majored in Education and in Spanish.  She is now teaching Spanish in High School in Morristown New Jersey.  That’s Samantha’s passion.  She went to Spain for a semester to learn how to speak Spanish fluently.  She also spent a couple weeks as a humanitarian mission in El Salvador.  They were building a school there.  The El Salvadorian kids needed to learn how to speak English.  Since Samantha was fluent in English, she taught them English.  She also got to practice her Spanish with them.  So it worked out all around.  The funniest story for her was…  when she came back home.  I asked her…  What was the best thing that you’ve missed since you came back from El Salvador?  She said frankly, “To Poop in My Own Toilet”.  Because back there, it was just a hole in the ground.  (we both laughed).  So, the United States toilet and real toilet paper is the best thing since she came back home. 

SKII:  Have you travelled outside of the United States?

Donald:  Well, prior to children… I took a 30 day, escorted tour to Fiji, Tahiti, New Zeeland and then to Australia.  It was a blast.  I would go back to Australia in a second.  Fiji & Tahiti was just beautiful.  It was an escorted tour so you really didn’t have to think about your belongings.  When you placed your bags out front, you really did not see your bags until the next country.  The bags were safe and fully escorted.  You didn’t have to think about anything except to enjoy yourself and the beautiful places you were being escorted to.

SKII:  I’m going back a little.  Tell me about Roger Grimsby and your first EMMY award?

Donald:  Roger Grimsby – who WAS Eyewitness News back then, came up to me after I won the award.  I was a young kid.  About 22 years old.  He walked up to me and said…  Hey kid, Emmys are like hemorrhoids, sooner or later, every asshole gets one.  So needless to say, it took the air right out of my balloon.  He then turned around and gave me a hug and pat on my back and said…  congratulations kid and he just walked away.  That was his way of telling you to don’t get too puffed up about it.  Because, you’re not the only guy in town whose won one.  Someone is going to win one next year too.  It was a lesson learned early on and you don’t forget or take it for granted or even look down on someone else.  It was a great lesson learned from the #1 newscaster in New York City for a long time. 

SKII:  I know, Amanda’s passion is acting, but tell me…  Have you ever acted?

Donald:  Well yes, recently A commercial that Amanda did for Honda, I actually had a line in it.  It was with a couple of NY Giants.  It was just one line.  I said to the guy, “Do You Know Where I Can Get some Lunch?”.  That was my entire line.  My second acting gig was as a bartender in Jerry Parisi’s –  The Scrooge Project that he’s working on.  My only job was…  to rub the bar with a towel and nod my head.  I did a little acting but, that’s not my passion.  That’s Amanda’s.   

SKII:  Amanda will be travelling to California soon.  How do you feel about her travelling there?

Donald:  Amanda will be travelling to California really soon.  As a father, I feel scared.  Because I know there’s casting couches out there.  I’m not naive to this business.  She’s a smart girl.  Hopefully she’s smart enough to know when someone tries to pull the wool over her eyes.  Carl Sabatino, who is basically handling her career, is very aware of what’s going on out there and he is doing everything he can do to keep her off the couch.  I’ve known Carl for over 35 years. He was president of New World Television back in the day, and that was just one of his ground breaking jobs in the industry Carl is an industry icon in his own right.  He’s definitely looking out for my little girl. I put the squeeze on him to help and he was happy to do it.

SKII:  What was the quirkiest thing that ever happened to you?

Donald:  Well.  Back in the day, it was live helicopters.  That was basically it.  It was about helicopters.  So, what you had to do was to rip the transmitter out of the truck and stand there into the helicopter as it was hovering, facing the Empire State Building.  You would hold this (which was called a golden rod) between your legs trying to high ball the Empire State building to get on the air live.  And of course back then, you didn’t realize that there were a ton of radiation that you were getting nailed with as you were holding that between your legs.  Fortunately, I was still able to produce 2 beautiful children. 

SKII:  What’s next for you Mr. Donald Dodson?

Donald:  Frankly…  my devotion right now is to my 2 kids.  Samantha is more or less squared away with a great job as a High School Spanish teacher.  Amanda is full-time now.  She’s working hard to get her career settled.  Once daddy is done with ABC, he will put his feet up somewhere and watch his little girl on TV. 

 

Photographer: Hank Pegeron www.marckitimagery.com

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