Source Article: Shoutout LA
We had the good fortune of connecting with Lesley Diana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lesley, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have been an entrepreneur starting in my twenties. My first business came unexpectedly as I was a high school physical education teacher. I attended a conference on the lack of physical fitness in women. I was asked what would be beneficial to help women I suggested a TV show for women at home. A gentleman at the conference said, “I think that I can get you a fitness show on TV if you are serious”. I was, auditioned, and got the job. My TV show entitled “Fitness Fun with Lesley” led to me opening a fitness studio with aerobic classes. I then leased a 5,000-square-foot downtown location and expanded the services offered with a ladieswear boutique, massage therapist, jewelry designer, seamstress, and esthetician to offer a spa-like atmosphere and services for all the women attending.
I also organized a trade show/fashion show day for women entitled Feminine Focus that focused on all areas of a women’s life. The show was such a success that it expanded into a weekly talk showon CTV also entitled “Feminine Focus” with guests who were experts in their fields of beauty, fashion, lifestyle, careers, childcare, hobbies outdoor activities, chefs, on and on. The show aired for 9 years and I learned so much from my guests.
After a decade I sold the fitness studio and opened 4 ladieswear boutiques called “Lesley’s” across Western Canada. I garnered so much press for my shops in newspapers, TV, and magazines. After selling and closing the boutiques I didn’t know what was next for me. I sent a package of my press clippings and marketing materials to designers I worked with and some of my competition and within a month I had one of Canada’s top fashion designers, Timberland stores, and shopping malls as clients.
A film producer/director was looking for a publicist for the premiere of his feature film “Stag” starring Mario Van Peebles, Andrew McCarthy, Kevin Dillon, Taylor Dayne, and more. This launched my career as an entertainment publicist.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have been so blessed that every career I have had has been perfect for me at the time and I can honestly say I have been very enthusiastic at each stage of my work. My first career as a high school physical education teacher brought me joy as I was able to introduce many new programs to the curriculum. I wanted to introduce lifetime sports to our students. My years as a fitness instructor both on TV and in my fitness studio were enlightening and established many lifetime friends and associates and gave me the confidence to expand my business. I also wrote a fitness book and expanded into opening 4 fashion boutiques which was very exciting.
Being an entertainment publicist has taken me to places I could have never imagined going. I have been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with my client David Sancious when he was inducted with the E Street Band, I have been on press junkets in New York and the Toronto Film Festival with clients in movie premiering. I have worked with Oscar-winning actors and coordinated Red Carpets with hundreds of actors walking the carpet.
Most of my journey as an entrepreneur wasn’t planned, many of the opportunities were presented to me and I took on the challenge. If there is one message I would like to pass on to your readers is to be open, and adventurous. If someone presents an idea to you and you think that it is something that you would like to do – Go for it! I am so grateful for all the stages of my career. Was it easy? Not always but that is what helps you grow as a person and an entrepreneur. I often pinch myself for all the wonderful opportunities that have come my way, ones that I never expected or envisioned when I graduated from University thinking that I would be a teacher for the rest of my life.
The Promotion People has been well respected over the years which I am so grateful for. Most of our clients come to us by being referred by and recommended by other clients who have been happy with our work.
Another suggestion or recommendation I would like to share is it is so important to take care of yourself, and your health, both physically and mentally. A few years ago when Covid hit and work slowed down I decided to become one of my clients. What I mean by that, is I can spend several hours a day on a client but not on myself. I made the decision to slot in at least an hour a day working out and also changing my eating habits as well as daily meditation and tapping. I am a positive person but these changes have helped me in so many ways. I seldom get stressed anymore and I have a better body image as the healthy habits have helped me lose weight. I strongly recommend that entrepreneurs don’t forget about themselves.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Vancouver is a fantastic city with beaches, ocean, mountains, parks shopping so there is no end to places to take visitors. I am lucky to live in the heart of the city close to Granville Island which has a wonderful market selling almost any food you can imagine. Along with a fabulous view of the city and great restaurants that is a great start to an exciting adventure. False Creek adjacent to Granville Island has ferries that go from Science World to Olympic Village (Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympics) to English Bay and a wonderful way to see Vancouver from the water. I would then take them to Stanley Park, West Vancouver, up Grouse Mountain to view Vancouver from a mountaintop. Van Dusen Gardens is a wonderful place to walk and see flowers throughout the year as well as walking the seawall for those who love scenic walks.
Whistler is one of the world’s top resorts known for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. The mountains, lakes, golf, and scenery are second to none so a 90-minute drive has us in a magical and unforgettable place.
I feel blessed daily to live in such a special place in the world. And if there is any time left a ferry trip to Vancouver Island is another adventure that will please any visitor.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have several people to credit for my success as an entertainment publicist. Firstly, Gavin Wilding the producer/director trusted me to promote his film to the press at the premiere. As I had connections with the press we had a great turnout out and articles written. From there Rampage Entertainment hired me for Gavin’s next film “Christina’s House” and then my big break came with Rodney Dangerfield’s “My Five Wives” also co-starring Gerry Stiller and Andrew Dice Clay. I was then hired by Keystone Entertainment the production company behind the “Air Bud” movies for several films. I have since worked on close to 100 films as a unit publicist (when films and TV series are in production) and a publicist for films and TV series when they are being released. I credit actress Emmanuelle Vaugier for starting the division of personal publicists for actors when their films and TV series are being released. Emmanuelle had been co-starring in 3 films I had worked on and came to my office to ask if I would be her personal publicist and I said ‘Of course!’. We have been working on and off for over 20 years. Emmanuelle went on to work on ‘”Two and A Half Men”, “CSI NY”, and “Saw !!”. My company The Promotion People has since worked with over 200 actors and continues to grow.
Jasmyn Rowley has been working with me as our other senior publicist for many years and Josephine Grant as our social media strategist rounds out my team. I am so grateful for their support and talent to help our company grow.
I of course have to thank all the producers, directors, actors, musicians, and the entertainment press that have been so supportive over the years. Many of our clients keep coming back when they have another role to promote. We also work with UBCP/ACTRA in British Columbia to promote their members.
The Promotion People has coordinated Red Carpets for the Vancouver International Film Festival, The Leo Awards, The Canadian Country Music Awards, and UBCP/ACTRA Awards which has been very exciting. Lighthouse Pictures, Brightlight Pictures and others have been so supportive and trusting us with their big nights, it has been very rewarding.
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/ Lesley Diana and The Promotion People
Courtesy of The Promotion People Counterparts Show – credit Counterparts Show
Headshot – Mitchell Parsons
Fashion photo – Phillip Chin
Fitness photo – Marilyn Kulhmann