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John Dorsey: Managing And Parenting Justine Dorsey

John Dorsey, founder of Lilla Rose, also serves as manager to his daughter, singer/actor Justine Dorsey.

Interview with John Dorsey Of Lilla Rose

Q: How did you help drive Justine’s career?

Dorsey: My wife has been the driving force for my kids, while my job has been to provide the income. My wife finds the best-of-the-best people in this industry. I provide enough income for my kids to get training from them. My wife and I both believe that life has no limits, only barriers to be overcome. We try to instill this philosophy in our children.

Q: Why did you become Justine’s manager?

Dorsey: After some time with a wonderful team, Justine refined what type of artist she wanted to be, and she wanted to go in a different direction as a singer/songwriter. For valid reasons, her team began to lose interest; they weren’t connected into the singer/songwriter world. We got frustrated and decided that I should jump in. Justine performs a lot and every time she performed, someone showed an interest and would connect her with more people. Even though I have been able to get her an audience with some significant people in the industry, I am woefully unprepared to be an honest-to-gosh manager.

She’s so grounded and such a good kid, so I know that a lot of our parents would love to know how you raised her that way. How do you balance the parent-teen relationship with being her manager?

My wife has inculcated our kids with our values; she is a really amazing coach. We agreed that we were not going to be our kids’ friends, ever. Instead, we act as their guides until they can steward their own ship. So, from that point of view, it’s a lot easier to really give them point-blank truth. My wife helps the girls discern what is important from what is “fluff.” What they wear, what they sing – those things are nice, but they aren’t as important as the core of who they are. Our goal has always been, as husband and wife, to help our kids be the best human beings when they’re out on their own. In our opinion, the world needs a lot more good people.

Q: Some people struggle with being their kids’ friends. How did you both agree on this when they were little?

Dorsey: My childhood was complicated. My family of seven is left with two. Both my mom and my siblings struggled with addiction. I was on my own, emotionally and a lot of times physically, as a kid. But, there’s this saying that Missy and I both love: You have two opportunities to have a parent-child relationship. This is our second one. My goal is to provide for my kids what I lacked: a firm hand and a lot more discipline.

Q: How did you come out with that strength of character? Was there an adult that took you under their wings?

Dorsey: There was a point where, emotionally, I was so far down that I couldn’t go any further. I had two choices: stay down or go up. I decided to go up, and that’s when I finally realized that life was just amazing. It was like a light had finally shined on me, and I knew what the answer was. The answer was that the life I had led up to that point didn’t work, and I needed to change it.

Q: What helps you “succeed” at your parenting? In your case, it seems you did not let your past define your future, would you say this is one of your “magic silver bullets”?

Dorsey: My oldest brother died; he’d overdosed on heroin and cocaine. He was fully prepared to meet his buddies on Sunday, then go to work on Monday. He was fully prepared to do all of these things. His, I guess you could say, was negative luck. He injected black tar heroin, which is twice as strong as the regular stuff, and he was gone. His passing was the second most important moment in my life because it completely changed my direction. I realized I couldn’t take risks like that and be immune to the consequences.

Q: We have one last question for you. Which was scarier – watching her perform in front of a crowd or watching her get behind the wheel of a car?

Dorsey: Oh, the car. That is the hardest thing on earth. I want to send every parent that goes through that a gift card so that they can take a vacation afterwards. It’s just nerve-wracking. The car. 100%.

Samantha Zabell

Samantha Zabell just graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism.