Black Oregon Entrepreneur Docuseries To Debut in Portland Sept. 1

The premier of “Where We Goin?” at The Hollywood Theatre will be followed by a panel discussion about Black entrepreneurship.

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Two episodes of a Portland-produced docuseries about Black Oregon entrepreneurs will debut Friday at the Hollywood Theatre. The premiere will be part of a larger event called “Black Friday,” hosted by Microenterprise Services of Oregon director Cobi Lewis. The night will include a panel of business leaders including Pitch Black PDX founder Stephen Green, All Raise CEO Paige Hendrix Buckner, and Black Founders Matter Fund principal Marquita Jaramillo.

The first episode, only five minutes in length, centers around North Portland businessman Paul Knauls, and documents his journey from purchasing and owning the historic jazz venue The Cotton Club, to becoming co-owner of his wife’s barbershop after her death. The other episode, 20 minutes in length, features DJ OG One and path to becoming the official DJ of the Portland Trailblazers, as well as the BIPOC enterprise hub Creative Homies.

The series is a collaboration between film company Devin Boss, the owner of North East Production’s docuseries “Where We Going,” and art producer Zoe Piliafas. Boss and Piliafas previously worked together on the short documentary “Never Look Away” about Piliafas’ work producing a multi-story Portland mural dedicated to the LGBTQ community.

Paul Knauls, who purchased historic Portland jazz venue The Cotton Club in 1963, and the subject of Boss’s first short. Photo: Devin Boss

Boss says he had an idea for a film project on Black entrepreneurs for two years. He produced the series on a $20,000 budget.

“What we wanted to do was pay homage to the trailblazers of the Black business world. We’re going to open this up so that we can’t we can’t forget how we got here,” says Boss. “DJ OG One is an extremely busy person, but he was also so accessible. He had every reason to set me aside or do something more peripheral, but he really gave me room and space to tell the story. I think it was just one of those things making sure that the story I was telling has a line to something meaningful about Portland’s Black evolution and revolution.”

Piliafas is currently working on securing funds for the third episode of the series. She s ys when Boss came to her with the idea for the series, she thought such a series would lend itself well to a larger conversation.

Devin Boss (left) and DJ OG ONE (right). Photo: Martin Van Londen

“It felt so story-driven, so emotional, and human-driven, and woven into it was the politics of Black Portland, which is essentially the politics of the city and the ways and places in which we need to do better. But in it there is a thriving genius that is still there and still moving around Portland within Black community,” says Piliafas. “I think the more we got into what he was building and the story, the more we realized that this could also be a place to have conversation around Black economics and to have continued conversation so we kind of built from there.”

Piliafas called the two episodes “prototypes” and says the future of the series depends on the production company’s ability to generate more financial support from the community.

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