She's a successful lawyer who is paving the way for other entrepreneurs.
Meet Dayna Thomas, Esq., an Atlanta-based entertainment and entrepreneurship attorney, and author who is at the top of her game. Dayna has had much success when it comes to assisting entertainers and entrepreneurs reach their goals of building and maintaining their careers. As the founder of her own law firm, she has worked with many television networks, Grammy award-winning recording artists, screen-play writers...you name it!
I had the opportunity to chat with Dayna about her career and accomplishments, so keep reading to see why she is our June Woman of the Month!
ADOM: Tell me a little bit about yourself – what’s Dayna’s story?
Dayna Thomas: My story pretty much starts when I was younger because that’s when I got that urge about being a lawyer. So, when I was younger, maybe about 5 or 6, family friends and family members would always say, “Dayna’s going to be a lawyer when she grows up!” I guess that was because of my personality; I was a little sassy when I was younger. I always asked what or why I had to do something, I was very inquisitive. So, when I got old enough to figure out what that actually was, which was around middle school when I really go to dig deep into it and take my first law classes, I really fell in love with it. So, at the end of high school is when I solidified that I was actually going to go to law school and become a lawyer. Since then, nothing else has sparked my interest.
So, when I was younger I was heavily involved in the arts. I was a professional dancer, I sang in church choirs, I participated in school plays, I auditioned for Broadway…but as I got older, it seemed like those artsy things didn’t interested me as much. I got more interested in law and business, but I didn’t want abandon entertainment. That is how I came up with pursuing Entertainment Law. I was very passionate about entertainment and the arts, but I wanted to be a lawyer.
At the time when I was graduating high school, I moved from New York (that’s where I am from) and the culture in Atlanta seemed to be booming at that time. So, I decided that I wanted to go to school in Atlanta and pursue Entertainment Law because it seemed like a great place to be. I went to Georgia State and undergrad, I focused on Marketing. Then, I went straight to law school. I got into Emory, and during my time at Emory I was solely focused on Entertainment Law. In my second year of law school, I began to learn more about entrepreneurship and decided to tag along entrepreneurship to Entertainment Law services as well.
ADOM: Who or what has inspired you to follow the path that you have chosen?
DT: You know, I don’t think it was a particular person; I really think that is God because I was never really exposed to entrepreneurship when I was younger. I never had any lawyers in the family, no one who went to law school, no entrepreneurs. So, this is something that is really a first-timer for my family. What really inspired me was my passion from God. Every time I pursued that passion that was put into me, whether it was for law or marketing or being an entrepreneur; that feeling is what inspired me to keep going.
I wouldn’t say that there are particular people that inspired my path, but there are people that inspire me in general. Oprah is one; she inspires me when she talks about there not being mistakes in your life. A lot of times we think that something bad happens, it’s all over or whatever that may be. There’s a video where she says that there are no mistakes, it’s just directing you into a different path. That really keeps me motivated because when things don’t go your way, that doesn’t mean to quit. It’s just, what’s a different way to go about the same goal.
Steve Harvey as well because he speaks about “jumping,” which essentially is just taking a leap of faith and doing whatever your heart desires. Then Jim Carey as well because he talks about being fearless and pursing your goals. You can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well take a chance at what you do love. Those people inspire me in general, but definitely God has inspired me to pursue this particular path.
ADOM: You mentioned entrepreneurship before, so what motivates you as an entrepreneur?
DT: A few things. One is control over my time. I really don’t like anyone else having control over my time. I really value making my own schedule; I value the flexibility of being an entrepreneur. Being able to have that flexibility with the type of people that I work with, the type of law that I practice, the days of week that I want to work; just the type of lawyer that I want to be or the way that I want to market…having that flexibility really motivates me to continue entrepreneurship.
Also, the fact that I am an entrepreneur and going through the trial and errors myself as well as the success and happiness that I get from being an entrepreneur really motivates me to want to work with other entrepreneurs. The fact that I know that there are so many people out there that have these great ideas for businesses and want to be entrepreneurs and there is something that’s just holding them back or they don’t know how to go about doing it; there’s a lot of things that can contribute to the fears of being an entrepreneur and I’ve been in those shoes before. It really motivates me to want to help more people to become entrepreneurs because I found so much happiness from being one myself.
ADOM: So, what are some projects and/or ventures that you’re working on?
DT: I just released a book in November of 2016 and the book is called Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building a Solid Legal Foundation. It gives you basically a foundation of what you need to know as a new entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur when it comes to having your business set up the right way legally. I know that aspiring entrepreneur might be intimidated to work with lawyers or think that it’s too expensive or whatever the case may be, but I know that they cannot afford not to understand the legal aspects of the business.
So, what I did was put it in a book, that way it is more accessible to everyone and that there is really no excuse to not setting up your business the right way. That can really be the difference between making a lot of money or having so much liability in your business. That’s one thing that I am really excited about. If anyone wants to grab a copy of that, you can go to www.daynathomaslaw.com/guide.
I recently launched a master class series called Step Into Entrepreneurship. It’s a 6-week course where I am teaching aspiring entrepreneurs the things that they need to know in order to start their business. We talk about anything from mindsets to developing your plan to funding to the online branding. We also talk about getting and keeping clients, and then we’ll conclude with the legal aspects of business. So, we’re actually about in half way right now.
The purpose of that is to really help entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs be more confident when it comes to starting their business because there are so many that feel so lost. So, I want them to understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur and really have some solid work done before they decide to take that leap. After the course, I’ll be offering video bundle replays to those who weren’t able to attend the live sessions and you can get those at virtualbusinesscounsel.com/step. Over the summer, I’ll be releasing some more courses and tools for people to understand more aspects of law and business so that they can feel more confident pursuing their dreams.
ADOM: In the years to come what do you want to be remembered for?
DT: I want to be remembered for being a strong advocate for entrepreneurship despite your circumstances. I feel like there are so many things that can hold people back, but I didn’t start out with a bunch of money or 10-20 years of experience in the field. I made sure that I worked very hard to make sure that I would be successful in the beginning with starting my business. I feel like I really have a formula for doing that as well as having the right mindset and work ethic. I want to be remembered for really loving entrepreneurship, helping more people become entrepreneurs and just being the person who educates them and inspires them when it comes to being entrepreneurs or going into the entertainment field.
ADOM: What advice would you give to a young woman who is interested in following a similar path as you?
DT: I would remind her that she is in control of her life and her destiny. Of course God has a plan for her, but it’s up to her to unleash those talents and gifts that He has given her. It doesn’t matter what type of challenges you go through or what other people say or what it seems like is impossible; you really have to expand your mind and know that you have everything that it takes to be successful at whatever was put into your heart.
So, it seems very difficult when you think about it, but just take it little by little and figure out what’s the next move is. Just remember that you have everything that it takes to fulfill that passion in your heart and have the courage to actually go after it despite whatever may feel impossible. It is possible, whatever that desire is in your heart.