BBC Political Analyst Drexel Heard‘s political prowess transcends party lines, as he assists Democrats who are seeking election. He’s previously used his political talents to impart bipartisan expertise to campaigns on both sides of the spectrum. Heard also had an impactful role in helping organize the 2004 and 2008 Presidential campaigns. He is the youngest Black Executive Board member to the California Democratic Party, the Executive Director of the LA County Democratic Party, as well as the first Black Community Vice President for Stonewall Democrats Los Angeles. His political commentary can be found on BBC Radio, NPR, Sky News and AfterBuzzTV.
Aside from politics, Heard has an impressive background in the entertainment community as a creative director in Broadway and has worked with public figures such as Judith Light, Angela Lansbury, Kelly Ripa, and many more. In an insightful conversation with QG, Heard shares his story.
What inspired you to become involved in politics?
I was always interested in civic engagement, leadership, and helping people. Politics is very different from civic engagement in my opinion. Politics is the science – a game of chess. If the question is, what inspired me into wanting to help people that’s easy, my mom has always been the inspiration. There was never a time when she did not open our doors to someone in need, and I’ve carried that every day in how I operate. “Politics” on the other hand, well, you can thank The West Wing for that.
How did your career path lead to becoming a political analyst for BBC and BBC Radio?
Right place, right time, I guess. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many different outlets, and this is no different. It’s been a great opportunity to talk about US politics with our partners across the pond.
How did your expertise positively impact President Obama’s Presidential Campaign? Also, what was working with the very first African American president like for you?
There were a lot of folks who volunteered, organized and worked for President Obama during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Like everyone, I was just fortunate enough to be one of the millions. I think working to get the first Black president elected, knocking on doors, making phone calls, and even just having conversations with people is an unforgettable experience that I hope we’ll get to have more of in the years to come.
What spring boarded the shift in your career from politics to entertainment?
It was the opposite. I grew up in the theater, went to theater camp, was a theater camp counselor – and I’ll always love my time being a performer. If Hamilton ever comes knocking, I’ll open the door! Shifting into politics and civic engagement just came a little more naturally to me.
Can you share a few of your most memorable experiences in Broadway as a creative director?
Anytime you’re fortunate enough to work with incredible performers and non-profit organizations that benefit folks is memorable. Working with actors who not only enjoy performing but also want to use their talents to help other people is memorable. I remember moving to NewYork City and seeing The Broadway Boys perform for the first time at their annual Toys for Tots concert, and saying “I’m going to work with them one day.” A couple of years later, I was. I attribute that to folks like Marti Cummings, who’s currently running for city council in NewYork City, and Jesse Warren-Nager, who created the Broadway Boys, who took a chance and gave me an opportunity.
What was the most rewarding aspect of overseeing Broadway benefits like the Ali Forney Center and the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program?
Well, those benefits BENEFITED non-profits like the Ali Forney Center and Toys for Tots. Like I mentioned, what’s rewarding is knowing that you had a small hand in making sure that benefits are doing just that, benefiting. Non-profit work isn’t easy, and if we could all take a moment to step up for others – it’s always going to be rewarding.
How does it feel to be the first black community vice president for Stonewall Democrats Los Angeles?
Being the first anything is scary! There’s no room to fail. From Stonewall to my current job with the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, I’ve been really lucky to be the first – but it also begs the question, why did it take so long?