“I’ve done everything from sports to commercials to music videos in addition to news” said WKMG Local 6 Director Willie Doby with a huge smile on his face. “My dream has been fulfilled.” But he will always remember that the road to becoming the first African-American TV director in the market was not a swift or easy one.
Born and raised in Orlando on October 5, 1959, Willie Doby is the middle child, and oldest male of 6 siblings. His mother was a homemaker who taught him everything from how to cook to how to do laundry to how to sew. His father was a Navy officer but when Doby was just 4 years old, his father passed. His mother and stepfather was a role model to him and example of how perseverance leads to success. Doby’s parent raised him and his siblings on the principle that the key to life was hard work.
Doby attended Holden Street Elementary School, which at the time was the only school for African-American children in Orlando before desegregation. When the change occurred he was then bused miles away from his home everyday to attend a predominately white school, Cherokee Junior High. The distance was hard for him, but he was able to adapt because of his go with the flow attitude.
After that, Doby attended Jones High School. There he was able to finish his credits and attend a trade program that allowed him to pursue many different paths. Doby has always had a passion for cameras and learning everything about them. This interest led him to enroll in the photography track and graduate in 1977. Luckily, Doby’s older sister Marilyn Harris, who worked at WKMG as a film editor, spoke to her boss, Larry Newton, about Willies love for cameras. Newton shared a love of cameras and allowed Willie to come in, eventually offering him a part-time position.
Doby began as a Production Technician, doing everything from camera work to CG to audio. After a couple of years, he met New Directors Rich Vogen and Mike Krause. Impressed by their leadership skills and production ability, Doby was inspired to become a director and began his quest. With the help of Vogen and Krause, Willie was given the training he needed to reach his goal, though during this time it wasn’t a door open to African-Americans. He shadowed them for two years and after being turned down 3 times for a director's position, his manager finally realized that Willie had done the work and deserved the position. As a result, in March 1982, Willie became the first African-American director in the market.
Today, Doby has been a director at Local 6 for over 35 years. He and his wife, fellow WKMG employee Kathy Doby, have 2 sons and a daughter. When asked why he’s stayed at Local 6 for so long, he simply replied, “The sky was the limit here, the opportunities are plentiful and Orlando is my home. I continue to love what I do and this station has been good to me”.