Datari Turner – Master of Both Sides of the Camera


Acting, hosting or any other gig posturing for the camera is usually the ideal career transition for high-profile models, like Datari Turner.  If you’re fortunate enough to compliment your money-making physique with considerable experience in front of the camera, why not let your notoriety lead to another lucrative career?

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Odds are such transitions would’ve prevailed for former model Datari Turner as well, but instead, he chose to roll the dice and he’s cashing in on his risky endeavors.  Turner practically stumbled into modeling and fortunately it worked out great, but this time he followed his passion behind the scenes of show business, and all you TV One lovers and LisaRaye fans ought to thank him for his civic services, particularly during this great recession when we could all use some amusement.

Yes, it was Turner who created TV One’s highest rated show ever, LisaRaye: The Real McCoy in case you were wondering.  The reality show depicts actress LisaRaye McCoy, first known for her role as Diamond in The Players Club, as she deals with everyday life on her quest back into the Hollywood scene after her divorce from Michael Misick.  “LisaRaye is like a big sister to me, and after everything she was going through with her divorce, I told her it’s time to get back out there and re-introduce yourself to Hollywood and turn over a new leaf,” Turner said in our interview.   “She has a really compelling life, and I thought it would be great to let the world see that.”  Seems he was right on point because TV One viewers have responded accordingly.


Turner’s showbiz success is no surprise to those who knew his work ethic as a model.  Many of us have heard of all the pitfalls within such an extravagant industry like modeling.  “It’s sex, drugs and rock’n roll,” Turner said.  It is easy to get caught up in all the glamour, money and fame, and everything that comes with that, including the hazards, but first and foremost, it is a business and you have to stay focused, according to Turner.  Turner was well aware of all the hazards, thus stayed away from the party scene.  “If you are not careful, you could burn out in the business,” Turner said.  “I’ve seen people come in the business and be gone in a year.”

That business-savvy attitude he espouses came in handy as he progressed into a writer and executive producer.  Under any circumstance, input dictates outcome. So like a school kid, Turner did his homework and research before embarking on his new career, and he had a lot to learn.  “I just wanted to make sure that I knew the history of film, who the pioneers were and who today’s power players are,” Turner said.  “I try to watch about 30 movies a month. When I go to the movies, it turns into an all day thing because I will end up seeing three to four movies. I just want to be in the know. See what people are making and what’s getting green lit.”

Datari Turner, Jay-Z and Rich Paul (Lebron James manager) in South Africa for Rocawear Shoot

Turner’s determination though was his greatest asset, while moving forward with his projects, which include reality shows, The Ultimate Hustler and I Married a Baller.  As an ambitious model, he endured his share of ridicule while trying to break into the entertainment industry.  “Most models have a stigma for not being too intelligent,” Turner stated.  “I worked really hard to get people to take me seriously.  They thought it was laughable that I wanted to be a writer/producer.”

His discontent with the thought of just branding himself as a celebrity model for the rest of his life was enough to make him ignore the ridicule and stay focused.  “It was a hard transition,” Turner said.   “Most people think just because you make a name for yourself in one field that it is just going to translate over.” That is not always the case.

Turner is relying on his money-making talent/skill, rather than his modeling credentials to make a name for himself in show business, and he is off to a great start.  “I got a long ways to go,” Turner said.  “I want to produce film and TV until I’m 60 or 70-years-old.”   Look out for his latest project, Video Girl starring Meagan Good, Ruby Dee and Haylie Duff, due to hit theaters in the fall.

Written by Bryson Alford


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