With $200 in his bank account and Los Angeles rent due in three weeks, DeVaughn Watts almost called it quits on his dream of being a Hollywood music editor.
After talking to his father about coming back home to Indianapolis, he received a phone call from his agent. Little did he know, this call would change his life.
“My agent asked me if I knew who Jordan Peele was and I said, ‘Of course I know who Jordan Peele is,’” Watts, 29, said.
His agent offered an assistant music editing position for Peele’s film “Us.”
That’s when his music editing career took off. A music editor intensifies the emotional impact of a film by creating the soundtrack. Music editing contributes to the overall mood of a film.
“The music editor is the middle man between the composer and the director,” he said.
The Warren Central High School alum has always had a passion for music. He was percussionist in band from middle school to college and even led the 300-person band his senior year of college.
“Music has just always been my life,” Watts said.
Watts attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), an HBCU, majoring in music and sound recording and went on to receive a master’s degree in sound design for film and television from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
After graduating from Savannah College, he had the opportunity to go back and teach at UAPB, but his desire was to be a music editor.
“If I wanted to do this, then I’ve got to go to LA,” he said.
He packed everything he could into his car and drove out to California to pursue his dream.
When he arrived in LA in 2016, Watts sent hundreds of emails to nearly every music editor in Hollywood and worked at Firestone Auto Care to make ends meet while he worked toward getting into the Motion Picture Editors Guild Union.
Delbert Watts, DeVaughn’s father, said he always encouraged Watts to pursue his dreams.
Delbert told his son he had his whole life ahead of him and there will always be opportunities to teach, so he should take the shot at going to LA to make his dream a reality.
“We’re just so proud of him,” Delbert said. “He just keeps at it.”
With only a couple of Black music editors in Hollywood, Watts said now is the perfect time for African Americans to take advantage of the opportunity of jobs looking for inclusion.
“They are looking for it,” he said. “But you have to have the skills and be dependable.”
Watts has assistant music editor and music editor credits in over 10 films, including “The Invisible Man” and “6 Underground,” and he is working on the upcoming Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
Watts has had the opportunity to work with Childish Gambino, Anderson .Paak, H.E.R. and has gotten to eat lunch with Jordan Peele.
“It comes back to not giving up, having faith and putting your all into it,” Watts said. “God and sending those emails is what got me through.”
Contact staff writer Terrence Lambert at 317-924-5243. Follow him on Twitter @_TerrenceL_.