Suzanne de Passe

Suzanna Celeste de Passe, known professionally as Suzanne de Passe, (born July 19, 1946,[1][2] 1947[7][8] or 1948[5][9][10]) (sources differ) is an American businesswoman, television, music and film producer. De Passe serves as the co-chairwoman of de Passe Jones Entertainment Group.

Suzanne de Passe
Suzanna Celeste DePasse

(1946-07-19) July 19, 1946 (age 74)[1][2]
or (1947-07-19) July 19, 1947 (age 73)[3][4]
or (1948-07-19) July 19, 1948 (age 72)[5][6]
(sources differ)
  • Executive producer
  • chairwoman
  • television producer
  • businesswoman
Years active1966–present[2]
Notable work
Spouse(s)Paul Le Mat
(m. 1978; divorced)


Early life and educationEdit

De Passe was born in New York City to a father of Haitian and French descent, and a mother of Caribbean descent.[11] Raised in Harlem, De Passe attended Manhattan High School and later Syracuse University.


De Passe began her career in show business at the Cheetah nightclub in New York City. Through her friendship with Cindy Birdsong, who replaced Florence Ballard as a member of The Supremes in 1967, she began working at Motown as Creative Assistant to company founder, Berry Gordy.[12] Early in her career, de Passe developed Michael Jackson and his brothers (The Jackson 5)'s wardrobe and the act they took on the road. She was instrumental in taking the record label to television with a host of critically acclaimed and highly rated specials, including the multiple award-winning Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever produced while she was President of Motown Productions.[13] When Motown was sold, she partnered with her mentor in Gordy/de Passe Productions and subsequently established de Passe Entertainment in 1992. De Passe's long association with Mr. Gordy was featured in the December 2008 issue of Vanity Fair: Motown the Untold Story, The Labels Greatest Legends, In Their Own Words with photography by Annie Leibovitz.

The subject of two Harvard Business School case studies: "Suzanne de Passe and Motown Productions" and "de Passe Entertainment", de Passe has lectured at the Harvard Business School on several occasions. In 2002, de Passe was named Time Warner Visiting Professor to the Department of Radio, Television and Film at Howard University's John H. Johnson School of Communications, a post she held for the requisite 3 years. During Howard University's 138th Charter Day celebration in March 2006, de Passe received an honorary doctorate degree of Doctor of Humanities. De Passe is currently serving as the Producer-in-Residence at Emerson College, School of the Arts in Boston. She also served as the Emerson College 2007 Balfour Distinguished Lecturer. De Passe served as Executive Producer of the half-hour situation comedies Sister, Sister and Smart Guy, both of which aired on The WB and were produced in association with Paramount and Disney Television, respectively.

From 2002 until 2008 served as Executive Producer of Showtime at the Apollo, a weekly variety program nationally syndicated by Warner Brother/Telepictures. In 2005 and 2006 she co-created, wrote, and executive produced the Black Movie Awards for TNT. Currently, she is developing King, a film on the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.[14] In 2009, De Passe was featured in HBO's The Black List: Vol. 2. This is the second installment of the documentary including other prominent African Americans such as filmmaker Tyler Perry, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Pastor T.D. Jakes.



  • The Temptations, NBC, four hours, 1998, de Passe Entertainment. NAACP Image Award Winner for Best Miniseries. (Nominated for six Emmy Awards, including Best Mini-Series and won an Emmy for Best Director.) Also nominated for a Golden Globe and won the Producers Guild Award; Directors Guild Award; and Prism Award. Starring: Leon, Charles Malik Whitfield, DB Woodside, Terron Brooks and Christian Payton.
  • Dead Man's Walk (miniseries), ABC, five hours, 1996, de Passe Entertainment. Starring: Edward James Olmos, Keith Carradine, Brian Dennehy and F. Murray Abraham.
  • Buffalo Girls, CBS, four hours, 1995, de Passe Entertainment. Nominated for eleven Emmy Awards, including Best Miniseries and Best Actress. Starring Anjelica Huston, Melanie Griffith, Reba McEntire, Sam Elliott and Jack Palance.
  • Streets of Laredo (miniseries), CBS, five hours, 1995, de Passe Entertainment. Starring: James Garner, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard and Sonia Braga.
  • Return to Lonesome Dove, CBS, four hours, 1993, Motown Productions. Starring: Jon Voight, Barbara Hershey, Rick Schroder and Louis Gossett Jr. and William Petersen.
  • The Jacksons: An American Dream, ABC, five hours, 1992, Motown Productions. Nominated for multiple Emmy Awards, including Best Miniseries. Starring: Angela Bassett, Billy Dee Williams, and Vanessa Williams as Suzanne.
  • Lonesome Dove (miniseries), CBS, eight hours, 1989, Motown Productions. Emmy, Golden Globe, Peabody Award-winning miniseries. Named “Outstanding Program of the Year” by Television Critics Association, Best Miniseries in TV Guide Annual Readers Choice Awards, D.W. Griffith Award by National Board of Review. Among other honors, the success of this landmark western resulted in de Passe's induction into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. “Lonesome Dove” was based on Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Starring: Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones and Anjelica Huston.
  • Small Sacrifices, ABC, four hours, 1989, Motown Productions. Nominated for three Emmy Awards, including Best Miniseries and two Golden Globe Awards. Winner of the Peabody Award. Based on Ann Rule's best-selling book. Starring: Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O’Neal and John Shea.


  • Producer King: The upcoming DreamWorks motion picture on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with Steven Spielberg and Madison Jones.
  • Executive Producer, the upcoming series, Becoming KK Jones, Fox Television Network
  • Executive Producer, Life Changers television series with superstar music producer, Rodney Jerkins (Lady Gaga, Beyoncé)
  • Producer, Humpty Dumpty

Television moviesEdit


  • The Loretta Claiborne Story – Two-hour, 2000, Disney/ABC Sunday Night, de Passe Entertainment.
  • Someone Else's Child – Two-hour, 1998, ABC, de Passe Entertainment.
  • The Last Electric Knight – (AKA Sidekicks) – Two-hour, 1989, ABC, Motown Productions.
  • Bridemaids – Two-hour, 1989, CBS, Motown Productions.
  • Happy Endings – Two-hour, 1983, CBS, King Entertainment, Motown Productions.


  • Zenon: Z3 – Two-hour, 2004, The Disney Channel, de Passe Entertainment.
  • Zenon: The Zequel – Two-hour, 2001, The Disney Channel, de Passe Entertainment. When it aired, the movie had the highest-ever rating for a Disney Channel original movie. Premiered January 2001 with 3.3 rating/6 share.
  • Cheaters – Two-hour, 2000, HBO Films, de Passe Entertainment.
  • Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century – Two-hour, 1999, The Disney Channel, de Passe Entertainment.


  • Executive Producer, Commander In Chief's Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama.
  • 70th Anniversary Tribute to the Apollo Theatre: Two-hour, 2004, NBC, de Passe Entertainment.
  • Motown 40: The'
  • ' Music is Forever, Four-hour documentary 1998, ABC, de Passe Entertainment. Executive Producer & Writer.
  • Motown 30: What's Goin' On, Two-hour, 1990, CBS, Motown Productions, and Emmy Award Nominee. Executive Producer & Writer.
  • Motown: Merri X-Mas, One-hour, 1987, ABC, Motown Productions.
  • Motown Returns to the Apollo, Three-hour, 1985, NBC, Motown Productions. Emmy Award winner for best variety Program. NAACP Image Award winner. Executive Producer & Writer.
  • Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, Two-hour, 1983, NBC, Motown Productions, Emmy Award winner for best variety program. Winner of NAACP Image Award and Peabody Award. Executive Producer & Writer.
  • Motown on Showtime: – Smokey Robinson – One-hour, 1990, Showtime, Motown Productions. – Comedy on Campus – One-hour, 990, Showtime, Motown Productions. – Michael Jackson – One-hour, 1988, Showtime, Motown Productions. – Marvin Gaye – One-hour, 1987, Showtime, Motown Productions. – Temptations and Four Tops – One-hour, 1986, Showtime, Motown Productions


  • Sister, Sister: Half-hour sitcom – 122 episodes completed, 1995–1999, ABC/The WB, de Passe Entertainment. Starring: Tia and Tamera Mowry, Tim Reid and Jackee Harry.
  • Smart Guy: Half-hour sitcom – 51 episodes completed, 1996–1999, The WB, de Passe Entertainment. Starring: Tahj Mowry, John Marshall Jones, Jason Weaver, Omar Gooding and Essence Atkins.
  • On Our Own: Half-hour sitcom – 19 episodes completed, 1994–1995, ABC, de Passe Entertainment. Starring: The Smollet Family.
  • The Motown Revue starring Smokey Robinson: Six one-hour episodes, 1986, NBC, Motown Productions. Starring: Smokey Robinson.

First-run syndicationEdit

  • Showtime at the Apollo: 130 one-hour episodes completed, variety program format. 2002–Present. Syndicated through Warner Brothers/Telepictures.
  • Lonesome Dove, The Outlaw Years: 44 one-hour episodes completed, western drama, 1994-1996. Starring: Eric McCormack, Scott Bairstow and Paul Le Mat.
  • Night Life: (195) half-hour episodes, talk show. 1986-87. Hosted by David Brenner.

Award programsEdit

  • 2006 Black Movie Awards: A Celebration of Black Cinema: Past, Present, & Future. A 90-minute special which aired nationally on Turner Network Television (TNT) October 18, 2006. Hosted by Tyler Perry
  • 2005 Black Movie Awards: A Celebration of Black Cinema: Past, Present, & Future. A 90-minute special which aired nationally on Turner Network Television (TNT) October 19, 2005. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer
  • 34th NAACP Image Awards, Two-hour special, 2003 FOX, de Passe Entertainment. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer.
  • 2003 Essence Awards, Two-hour special, FOX, de Passe Entertainment.
  • 2002 Essence Awards, Two-hour special, FOX, de Passe Entertainment. Hosted by Steve Harvey
  • 33rd NAACP Image Awards, Two-hour special, 2002, FOX, de Passe Entertainment. Hosted by Chris Tucker
  • 32nd NAACP Image Awards, Two-hour special, 2001, FOX, de Passe Entertainment. Hosted by Chris Tucker
  • MUSIC and MORE...Image Awards, One-hour special, 2001, WB, de Passe Entertainment. Hosted by Sinbad and Brandy.[15]


The recipient of an Academy Award nomination for co-writing the screenplay Lady Sings the Blues making her the first person of color to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay, as well as the first black woman nominated in any category besides an acting category.[2] De Passe also won two Emmy Awards and NAACP Image Awards as executive producer of Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever and Motown Returns to the Apollo. De Passe served as executive producer for the highly acclaimed and multiple award-winning, CBS western miniseries Lonesome Dove, that won both Golden Globe and Peabody Awards and was voted "Outstanding Program of the Year" by the Television Critics Association.

As executive producer of the benchmark NBC miniseries The Temptations, de Passe won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Miniseries and was nominated for both the Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award for Best Miniseries. She also served as Executive Producer for Small Sacrifices, The Jacksons: An American Dream and Buffalo Girls, all of which were nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Miniseries.[16]

A veteran of over three decades in Hollywood, generating over a billion dollars in revenue in the entertainment industry, and dividing her time and talent between Los Angeles and New York, de Passe has also received countless awards for her contributions to the television, movie and music industries including:

  • Essence: Hollywood Women of Power Visionary Award (2008)
  • Savannah Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)
  • Black Enterprise Top 50 Hollywood Power Brokers (2007)
  • The AWRT (American Women in Radio and Television) Silver Satellite Award (1999);
  • Revlon Business Woman of the Year Award (1994);
  • Inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (1990);
  • Essence Award (1989); and
  • Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[17] (1988).
  • Candace Award, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, 1983 and 1989[18]

Recent community honors include:

  • 2010 Recipient The George Arents Award is Syracuse University's highest alumni honor, presented annually to alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their chosen fields.
  • Center for The Advancement of Women: 2007 Changing the Landscape for Women Honoree
  • Jackie Robinson Foundation 2006 Trailblazer Award
  • Ebony Magazine selected de Passe for its highest honor, presenting her with the 2004 Madame C. J. Walker Award
  • 2003 Whitney M. Young Award; Los Angeles Urban League's highest accolade. (In keeping with tradition, de Passe presented the 2004 award to Magic Johnson.)

Personal lifeEdit

In 1978, De Passe married to actor Paul Le Mat and they had no children together. They have since divorced.

Boards, trade associations and affiliationsEdit

  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Member
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Honorary Member
  • American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Member
  • American Film Institute, Trustee
  • American Society of Composers and Publishers, Member
  • Caucus of Writers, Producers and Directors, Executive Committee
  • Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Board Member
  • Humanities Prize, Board Member
  • Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Former Board Member
  • Los Angeles Opera, Board Member
  • National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, Member
  • National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, Member
  • New York City Ballet, Former Board Member
  • Producers Guild of America, Member
  • Writers Guild of America, Member

Additionally, she has appeared as a speaker before numerous businesses and industry trade groups, including:

  • Miller Brewing Company; Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association;
  • Burger King Franchise Owners Association
  • Chicago Minority Business Development Council.


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2010-12-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Lecocq, Richard; Allard, François (2018). "Bad". Michael Jackson All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. London, England: Cassell. pp. 461–63. ISBN 9781788400572.
  3. ^ Lady Sings The Blues, 1972.Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of African American Business: Updated and Revised Edition, 2nd ... edited by Jessie Smith.Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Notable Black American Women, Book 2, By Jessie Carney Smith · 1992.Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  6. ^ Black Women in America: A-G, By Darlene Clark Hine · 2005.Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  7. ^ African-American Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs, By Rachel Kranz.Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  8. ^ National Portrait Gallery, Suzanne De Passe
  9. ^ Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema, By S. Torriano Berry, Venise T. Berry · 2015.Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  10. ^ Great Negroes, Past and Present. Volume Two, By Jawanza Kunjufu, Erica Myles, Nichelle Wilson · 1999.Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  11. ^ Bernard, Aubrey J., ed. (1 February 2011). "Audrey's Society Whirl: Suzanne de Passe first woman to Receive AFUWI Bob Marley Award". EurWeb. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-09. Retrieved 2010-12-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2010-12-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2011-07-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "CANDACE AWARD RECIPIENTS 1982-1990, Page 2". National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Archived from the original on March 14, 2003.

External linksEdit