I AM DEBRA LEE A Memoir by Debra Lee

Black Facts.com

“Debra Lee shares her amazing memoir that will have you laughing, crying and cheering for her on every page. It’s an entertaining read loaded with wisdom about topics that many women CEOs have not yet dared to write about. No surprise that Debra has once again taken the lead.” —Robin Roberts, Co-Anchor, ABC’s Good Morning America

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Debra Lee is a force! A trailblazing advocate for Black culture, music, love, business, and financial Independence. In I Am Debra Lee, she honestly recounts her journey that continues to impact the careers of so many artists, including my own. Written like a conversation over tea, it is full of incredible insider stories, tales of triumph and the realities of just how hard she had to work to earn her success. This memoir is a must-read for anyone who not only wants to learn from one of the most powerful women in entertainment, but understand what it took to bring Black creatives to the forefront of the entertainment industry. I love her candor and vulnerability within these pages! I Am Debra Lee is designed to make an impact.” —Alicia Keys

“I was glued to Debra’s every word in this memoir. Her story is powerful and full of unexpected moments. She has topped it off with sharp lessons for Black women, reminding them to take control of their own narrative, and how to not only succeed but to thrive in a white male-dominated world.”

Taraji P. Henson

“Debra has helped, inspired and mentored so many of us over the years, and she provides her unique insights in this exceptional book. When I think of Debra, what comes to mind first and foremost is her strong and powerful voice, and I have witnessed firsthand how she can command a room. That voice is just as clear and distinct in these pages, and while Black women in particular will be able to relate, her lessons and experiences are important for any and all leaders.—Roz Brewer; President & CEO Walgreens Boots Alliance

Heart& Soul Staff – We are so proud to have worked for such a wonderful boss while Heart & Soul was part of the BET family we wish you much success with your new book! 

In 1965, The Supremes released, “Stop in the Name of Love,” and a group of girlfriends in Greensboro, North Carolina would rush home after school to put on the Black radio station and get to work choreographing their newest routine. For young Black women in the South, Ebony and Jet were like bibles and a stop in Greensboro during Ebony’s traveling Fashion Fair show was a moment of celebration. What no one could know at the time is that years later, one of those young ladies will go on to become one of the most legendary leaders whose impact on Black culture has been incalculable. In I AM DEBRA LEE: A Memoir (sale March 7, 2023; 9780306828591; hardcover; $29; 256 pages), former CEO of Black Entertainment Television, Debra Lee, shares how she climbed to the top of the entertainment industry and broke through the glass ceilings of gender and race to become one of the most powerful Black businesspeople in America.

Raised by her caring mother and her father, a career military man with unrealized dreams of becoming a lawyer, Lee was expected early on to be a successful and ambitious student—and she was. After Ivy league educations at Brown and Harvard Law School, Lee landed prestigious law clerking and law firm jobs. But when she finds herself walking into the offices of BET as their first general counsel—a job she initially considered more senior than her experience would warrant—she’s quickly enamored. “People strutted through the glass doors of the Georgetown corporate office at 9 a.m. on the dot dressed to nines. The colors were bold—burgundy, bright yellow, electric blue—and our collective confidence even more so. Bob revved up 31st Street each morning in his black metallic Jaguar, shooting in like a bullet. His suits were custom Italian. His initials ‘RLJ’ engraved on the cuffs of his starched white shirts. All that swagger hung in the air, pumping into our office like oxygen. The rest of us took his lead. We all felt it.”

From gracing major stages and calling President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, personal friends, Lee shares the glitz and glamour of being a high-powered executive in entertainment. But those moments are tempered by the invisibility she felt in rooms where she was the only woman or only Black person. Part memoir and part career advice book, Lee imparts key insights, shares hard- learned lessons, and tells the story of how she came to be the leader of a major enterprise and the “first” in many rooms. I AM DEBRA LEE showcases a multifaceted, modern woman’s prowess at the C- level and in the boardroom while also detailing her personal struggles and triumphs.

There are few people who have achieved the level of success Lee has, and many without nearly the number challenges that face women and Black people in America. Lee doesn’t shy away from provocative topics like motherhood and reproductive choice, the lack of representation and corporate diversification, money and valuing oneself, and encountering racism while on the job. Through her journey topics that many women struggle with in the workplace—Time’s Up, abortion, and fertility—are discussed with frankness not often seen from C-suite executives.

In I AM DEBRA LEE, as Lee has done what she’s done her whole career—opening the door for those to come after her, by sharing her own inspiring story of power, perseverance, and success


Debra Lee served as CEO of Black Entertainment Television Networks from 2005-2018. Her 30+ year tenure at BET also included roles as General Counsel and COO. She is also the founder of Leading Women Defined and the co-founder of Monarch Collective—both organizations wholly dedicated to mentoring, supporting, and empowering both women and the BIPOC community at large. The proud mother of two, she resides in Los Angeles

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NEW YORK CITY, MARCH 7, 2023, 6:30PM

Paley Center for Media presents

The Rise to the Top of the Entertainment Industry: Debra Lee in Conversation with Crystal McCrary


Enoch Pratt Free Library presents

The Brown Lecture Series: Debra Lee in conversation with Glory Edim


Philadelphia Free Library presents

Debra Lee in conversation with Tamala Edwards


National Museum of African American History & Culture presents Historically Speaking: Debra Lee in conversation with Michel Martin

LOS ANGELES, MARCH 14, 2023, Time To Come

Recording Academy Grammy Museum presents Debra Lee

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