Rodmy “Johnny” Dorcil has been named the 2020–21 recipient of the Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Fellowship in Entertainment Journalism & Criticism. Dorcil, who started taking online classes through USC Annenberg this summer, is working toward his master’s degree in specialized journalism (the arts).
The fellowship, a joint venture by USC Annenberg and SPE, launched in 2015 and is designed to support creative and digitally innovative entertainment journalists. Dorcil, who works full-time for Voice of America, will move to part-time as he continues his USC studies remotely from his hometown of Silver Spring, Maryland.
“This program at USC is the only one that I’ve found that offers me an opportunity to explore the stories of different voices around the world — stories that I can hopefully help share so that many people can be informed and moved at the same time,” Dorcil said.
“Johnny tells stories, both written and in video, that latch onto the imagination,” said Sasha Anawalt, professor of professional practice and director of the specialized journalism (the arts) program. “In addition, he’s an accomplished musician with a solid early career in journalism media. He’s perfect for this program and the Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellowship because he yearns to learn more about the industry — in music, film and TV.”
Dorcil says that his two lifelong passions have been music and storytelling. A classically trained pianist, he has played in many styles, including gospel music at several churches. But professionally, he has always focused on journalism.
“When I was a kid, I used to read the sports section of the Washington Post every day,” he said. “I was particularly interested in feature stories — especially by writers like Michael Wilbon and Sally Jenkins — on the lives of the athletes. The storytelling in these articles was masterful and displayed another side to these players that I never considered before.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, Dorcil was hired as a video technician and technical director for Voice of America. He has also done similar studio work for MSNBC and Bloomberg News. Though he’s been successful, he hopes his studies at USC Annenberg take his career in a different direction.
“I’ve really enjoyed the technical side of things, but it wasn't really in line with what I studied in school,” he said. “After seven years of doing broadcast television, I realized that I want to do something more content-based. I want to create stories.”
Dorcil says he’s particularly proud of “In Tune,” a piece he filmed in January with a local musician in the D.C. area. The three-and-a-half-minute video includes footage of him and his subject playing music together intercut with sit-down interview clips. With an eye toward that kind of video-driven journalism, Dorcil says he wants to continue to tell stories about music, while also exploring issues of racial justice.
“I grew up the son of Haitian immigrants in a truly diverse community,” Dorcil said. “Then, I went to a historically Black university in the South. Now, I work at an international news organization. I've been around so many kinds of people — and it's so fascinating to me to find out that a lot of these people have never come into contact with each other. I think that someone like me could help be a bridge between different communities. I want to tell stories that bring different kinds of people together.”