The Reel Black List: Jonathan Desir, Executive Producer

Jonathan Desir

Jonathan Desir

Jonathan Desir is an Executive Producer at Optimus. He has been involved in post production for over a decade and is president of the board for Free Spirit Media as well.

Jon achieved his B.A. in Psychology and minored in Business and Communication at Eastern Michigan University. Aside from studying, he was also involved with the Poetry Society at EMU, helping it achieve 3rd place in the collegiate National Poetry Slam in 2004.

Since then, he has continued performing poetry and hip-hop at various levels to this day.

He is a fan of theater both on and off stage as well as music, allowing several fun opportunities in his endeavors. In recent years he has been able to grace the cover of the Red Eye, do a couple radio commercials for Coors Light, and make a vocal cameo as the DJ in R Kelly’s “Radio Message,” to name a few.

In his off time he is a giant video gamer, obsessed with podcasts, and NBA / basketball fan. You can find him playing hoops a few times a week in various neighborhoods across Chicago.

What was your first break?

I was very lucky, my big brother Julio Desir (Creative Director) helped me get an internship at Red Car. I had no idea what I wanted to do. But eventually, before they closed down in 2013, I had worked my way up to EP!


Worst thing that ever happened to you to remind you that you are Black?

Overall I just tend to ignore any negative reminders, I am never one to give power to hate.

However, growing up, I did struggle a bit with being “different” because I was Haitian American and not African American. To everyone outside of these circles, I was black. But within them, I always heard, “you talk different,” or “where are you from?” Took some time before I was comfortable and embraced it.


Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are Black?

Sitting on various boards in this industry has been a constant reminder. Typically, I am the only black man, which is something I try to help change in numerous ways. We need more diversity desperately, in all facets of the word.


Work you are most proud of?

As of last year, I was able to become board president of Free Spirit Media. A not-for-profit that helps minority youth learn about production and media arts. FSM is an amazing organization with a great staff, youth and board members alike. I am beyond proud and honored to be a part of their mission.


How has the business changed since you broke in?

I’ve seen this answer before, but technological advancements and budgets shrinking have caused significant change. We do way more faster and for less than we ever have. And there are more people doing it than ever before making the competition that much stronger.


Trapped on an island, what are the creative essentials you must have?

My phone (and a working xfinity hot spot). It can pretty much do anything, I’m addicted, I’m on it all the time. It being the Samsung S8.

Never owned an iPhone, crazy I know…


If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self?

Stop procrastinating. Follow your dreams. Take more risks.

Keep laughing, keep loving, life is sooooooo short, enjoy it!


If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why?

This is easily the toughest question!

I would contemplate Obama or LeBron, both personal heroes. But would go with my brother Christian, who passed away much too young. I was barely 22 at the time, so it would be nice to have a conversation with him as a man.

Although I really want to ask Obama if aliens exist ☺

To read about others on The Reel Black List, click here.