…remain sharply focused, and to run your own race. It’s often so easy to be distracted and feel in competition with what we see others are doing. Don’t. The only path you should walk is your own.

As part of my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dorothy Toran who is the Executive In Charge of Production and Executive Producer of Bravo TV’s popular female ensemble docu-series, The Real Housewives of New Jersey. RHONJ is produced by Sirens Media, a division of ITV America. Prior to coming to Sirens, Dorothy served as Executive In Charge of Production at True Entertainment, a division of Endemol. Dorothy is also an award winning producer, whose work has been nominated for both an Emmy and the prestigious Palm D’or Award at The Cannes Film Festival. She has built measured success at a wide array of media companies, including NBC Universal, Viacom, and Discovery Communications. She has produced short form content for many brands, including The United Nations, Johnson and Johnson’s Clean and Clear, Nike, and The Washington Post. Dorothy excels at making content from a business perspective, seamlessly integrating creative storytelling, talent management and production logistics, to drive sustainable, compelling and highly rated programming.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always been fascinated with the process of creating, even as a young child. I did not know then that this sensibility was producing. As a teenager, I began to make that connection and as time went on, found a way to give it voice.

Can you share the most interesting thing/experience you have had since you started your career?

I have been tremendously blessed to have many interesting moments in my career. The ones that have been most special include those that have given me the opportunity to sit at the feet of greatness. Being blessed with the honor of producing interviews for Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll and Dr. Maya Angelou are among them.

What advice would you give other women who want to take that next step and follow their dreams to either run or start their own company?

The advice I would share with women ready to achieve their dreams, is to remain sharply focused, and to run your own race. It’s often so easy to be distracted and feel in competition with what we see others are doing. Don’t. The only path you should walk is your own.

If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you tell her and why? What message(s) would you like for her to know?

If I could say anything of comfort to my younger self, it would be that I am enough. That I am not an imposter. That in time, I would see and understand my own super power.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

When spending the day producing and conducting an interview with Dr. Maya Angelou, at the end of that shoot, the crew and I took a photo with her. Before the picture was taken I lowered myself so that I could be at eye level with Dr. Angelou, who was sitting in a wheel chair. No sooner had I done so, our Queen quickly turned her head to me and sharply said ‘Get up child. Get up. Get low for no one’. I strive every day since to stand up tall.

-After producing my very first commercial, my boss was sharing his pride in my work and as a result, the project’s success. He said to me ‘When you plan the perfect dinner party, all of your guests will enjoy themselves to the fullest’. I have been trying to create the best dinner parties of my work as a producer ever since.

-After leading a very aggressive financial negotiation in regards to a commercial project I was overseeing, the vendor that I was negotiating with called my boss and said ‘She is a barracuda!’. By boss responded ‘Thank you so much’. Being referred to as creature of great strength and fortitude is a characteristic that I proudly carry with me every day.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share how they made an impact?

My journey as a producer would not have happened without the people that could see in me power that I absolutely, unequivocally could not see in myself. They include three of the first executive producers that I ever worked for. Paula Pevzner, Robin Horlick and Joe Mantegna.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement that will always be closest to my heart, is serving as The National Ambassador of The Lupus Foundation of America, in honor of my baby sister Weade, who died suddenly from lupus two and a half years ago. We started a stem cell research initiative called The Color Me Happy Campaign. Our mission is to raise $100,000 for stem cell research, as medical studies have found the possibility of great promise in advancing better treatment options and ultimately a cure for the millions of people, mostly women, that suffer from lupus.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite life lesson quotes is based on a Biblical passage. ‘You have not because you ask not’. That verse has taught me to always have the courage to ask for exactly what it is that I want.

If you could meet anyone either living or no longer with us for lunch, who would it be and why? He or she may be reading this right now, you never know =)

If I could meet anyone, it would be to sit with my baby sister Weade. I want to tell her how much we miss her, to giggle with her the way we did together as little girls, and to tell her that I will never stop fighting for her.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow my journey on Instagram @dorothytoran