I wrote out my explanation below the video if you would rather read than watch:
I know it’s been a minute, but I just wanted to make sure that I made this post before I jump into anything else. Someone reminded me recently that I haven’t officially acknowledged or explained my name changing from Anton to DeAndré, or for some people, back to DeAndré. That’s my bad.
DeAndré is my first name. Anton is my middle name. Back in 2014 I started going by Anton after being head hunted by a recruiter for a creative staffing agency. I had a great interview with her, and then I noticed she struggled with my name, DeAndré. She was white. This was when I started to think I need to consider how to create the easiest marketing for myself transitioning from the predominantly Black marketplace of the DC area, to the predominantly white TV and Film market of Los Angeles. I’ve watched enough white people struggle with saying and spelling DeAndré properly, and I didn’t have time for that when I was building my network out here. I needed people to find me when they googled me. As a freelancer, I need to connect with someone in order for them to to feel drawn to work with me over someone else who may have a similar set of skills. I never considered my name and what people call me, what they remember when they’re calling me, to affect their confidence connecting with me.
At first I thought I could get by using Anton as a “brand name,” if you will. Tagging my videos, social media, etc with Anton Vidale, but then still introducing myself as DeAndré, the artist behind the brand. Once I got to LA and started introducing myself that way, I realized my LA networks were showing me that same sense of unease and confusion when they found me online.
For those of you who know or or maybe didn’t know, I worked at Apple my first three years in L.A., and ease of use, user experience and all that stuff was always at the top of mind.
So what’s going to be the easiest way to get people to say yes when it comes to connecting with me, with bringing me on for whatever they wanted to do? For me it was being able to first know my name, find it online and find my work. I can tell you without a doubt… I got several people who can testify to it that it was the work they were able to find online, or these blogs that they were able to find online, that made them decide to originally connect with me beyond that very first impression and introduction. So making those steps as easy as possible was my top priority.
I did recognize once I was starting to make my way into the studio systems of Hollywood, how small, how minoritized the number of Black creatives were in the circles that I was walking in. Then I started to definitely consider the possible respectability politics that come with even considering adjusting my name for ease of connection in predominantly white spaces.
But what I always said and always knew for myself was that it was temporary, whatever the reasoning was behind it originally, that it was always a plan that was going to be temporary. The main thing being that I wanted to make sure that once my name started to reach a certain level of recognizability, recognition, I wanted to make sure that the other DeAndre’s of the world who may find themselves entering into this market, or curious about this market would be able to see their name in this space and know that there is space for them here.
And I’ll tell you… the very, very first show that I worked on where I changed my name, the very first day on the call sheet — the call sheet for those who are outside of the outside of business is the schedule that gets distributed for what’s being shot for that particular day of production — I looked on the call sheet, found my name, and it was misspelled.
Representation matters. It’s important for someone who is coming into this space to see their name the same way a lot of other names have already become familiar in these spaces.
For those of you who met me as Anton, please join us in making the transition to DeAndré. Of course I know it’s gonna take time. You know, I’m not trippin about that.
Thank you in advance for your patience and for rolling with me up to this point. We’re here now!
So yeah, much to catch up on, much in store to talk about. So I hope you all are well, and looking forward to hearing your reactions, comments and all that good stuff. Peace.