Duane Wells: A Biography
“I do not profess to write about things that are truly important,
I do however profess to write about the things a great many people truly care about.”
If there is one thing to be said about Duane Wells it is that he has made his mark in a number of professional arenas with rapid-fire speed. Never one to proverbially allow the grass to grow under his feet, he has never ceased to dream and create, often times with staggering results. And according to Duane, “The best is yet to come!”
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, where he attended Stanton College Preparatory School, Duane went on to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he studied Finance and International Relations. During his undergraduate years, he spent a year studying European Integration and International Business at Nijenrode University in The Netherlands, an experience he credits with forever broadening his world view.
After graduating from Georgetown with a BSBA degree in Finance, Duane accepted a position in Liz Claiborne Inc.’s executive training program in New York City. Assigned to the retail division, Duane worked directly with the president of the division and the senior management team learning every aspect of Claiborne’s extensive retail business. However, eighteen months after joining the company, Duane headed west to attend UCLA Law School. Simple as it seemed on the surface, this would prove to be a more major decision than he had envisioned.
While at UCLA, Duane stumbled upon a flyer seeking a producer for a student short film. Seeking respite from the tedium of law school, he decided to throw his hat into the ring for consideration and landed the gig. Within weeks, he was learning how to produce short films alongside some of the best and brightest young filmmakers in the country.
Jolted into coming to terms with his passion for the creative process, Duane left law school to co-produce a short-film based on the life of Wall Street wunderkind, Buddy Fletcher, entitled Black, Inc, which was screened around the country and began his affiliation with what would later become Windfall Productions. In that same year, Duane made his first foray into publishing by writing a men’s fashion column titled “MaleBox” for DYSONNA Magazine, a Los Angeles-based urban arts and entertainment magazine.
In just short of two years, Duane rose from contributing writer to Entertainment Editor to Managing Editor at DYSONNA quickly putting his imprimatur on what was already a superior, if struggling, publication. Under Duane’s direction, DYSONNA moved from a quarterly production schedule to a bi-monthly schedule, improved distribution, substantially increased the number and caliber of writing staff, added regular columns on lifestyle issues, grew its subscriber base exponentially and defined its focus on cutting edge personalities and fashion.
Also under Duane’s direction, DYSONNA made much more extensive use of innovative photographers and stylists to enhance the overall look and visual aesthetic of the magazine. In short, Duane’s contributions were substantial. After three years at DYSONNA, Duane left the magazine to pursue other opportunities, but continued to contribute to the magazine as a featured writer for several years thereafter.
In 1999, Duane began a successful creative collaboration with QTMagazine.com, a leading online travel magazine, as a regular travel and fashion correspondent. Following QTMagazine.com’s purchase by Gsociety, Inc., Duane built upon his successful relationship as a contributing writer for QTMagazine.com and became a regular contributor to the Gsociety family of websites, a relationship that thrived through the last quarter of 2002 when the corporation underwent a restructuring.
Over the years, Duane has profiled legions of business titans, creative types and foundation executives as wells as such notable personalities as: Lady Gaga, Eva Longoria-Parker, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Tony Bennett, Jackie Collins, Joan Collins, Armistead Maupin, Chaka Khan, Vanessa Williams, Sigourney Weaver, Patti LaBelle, Eartha Kitt, Denyce Graves, Dan Futterman, Chris Cornell, Darren Hayes, Andy Bell, Dave Koz, Kristine W, Eric Benet, Jody Watley, Fantasia Barrino, Jennifer Hudson, Heather Headley, Mekhi Phifer, Martha Wash, Levi Kreis, Janice Dickinson, James St. James and Nancy Wilson, among others.
From 2005 – 2008, Duane contributed a weekly missive on style entitled “Style Matter”s in addition to music features and regular travel columns for 365gay.com, a subsidiary of the MTV’s LOGO network. Around the same time period, from August 2006 until February 2009, Duane served as Editor-at-Large for GayWired Media in which capacity he oversaw content related to politics, entertainment, travel and style for the site and a bundle of its associated sister properties. In February 2009, he was named Managing Editor of GayWired.com and remained in that role until the site was shuttered in August 2009.
In 2008, Duane also debuted a daily radio program entitled “Here’s The Thing with Duane Wells” on NextTrip.com, which was heard on the web and on some terrestrial radio across the U.S. The hour long travel program became a cornerstone of the fledgling network’s schedule and earned raves from the travel community until it went on hiatus in spring 2009.
Duane is currently a contributing writer for a number of print and online travel and lifestyle publications including Frontiers. Passport, Instinct and Advocate in the U.S., Bent magazine in the United Kingdom, and the Toronto-based Canadian luxury travel and design magazine Homefront, where he debuted his quarterly lifestyle column called “Living Wells” in 2007.
Until March, 2012 Duane also served as the resident luxury travel and lifestyle expert at MoxieQ, a revolutionary new cross-platform destination for modern women that is written entirely and exclusively by gay men. Each month MoxieQ’s nearly 300,000 unique readers logged in to read Duane’s weekly blog entitled “Living Wells: My Life in Luggage”. His blog is now carried weekly at Frontiers LA.
Writing and entertainment aside, Duane has, over the last decade and a half, developed a significant profile as a fundraiser / special events professional and media relations consultant for a number of non-profit organizations in Los Angeles. Collectively he has helped raise millions of dollars for causes ranging from HIV/AIDS to civil liberties and produced events featuring celebrated personalities including Judith Light, Patti Labelle, Babyface, Debbie Allen, Magic Johnson, Kathy Najimy, Samuel L. Jackson, leading constitutional scholar Floyd Abrams and the late columnist Molly Ivins, just to name a few.
From 1998 – 2001, Duane worked as West Coast Director of Development and Entertainment Industry Affairs for Howard University’s Department of Radio Television and Film alongside actor/director/producer Bill Duke, the then AOL-Time Warner Chair of the Department. And in 2002, he completed a one-year stint as Director of Special Projects for L.A. Shanti, an organization which provided emotional support services to people with life-threatening illnesses, with a primary focus on those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Among the other charitable organizations that Duane has worked with are: AIDS Project Los Angeles, The West Angeles Community Development Corporation, The Names Project, The ACLU of Southern California, AIDS Service Center, The Liberty Hill Foundation, The Facing Forward Foundation, The Bill Duke Scholarship Fund, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and Loyola Marymount University.
A resident of Los Angeles, Duane has recently been toiling over a number of projects which include his first novel, Heaven or Hell, Darling?, a collection of his previously published work entitled Why I Hate Ribbons, Wristbands and F*%king Rainbows! as well as a collection of short essays entitled, One Day I Woke Up and Everyone was Wearing Culottes!. Duane is also developing a new hour-long radio program and a travel series based on his Living Wells blog in addition to other travel-related projects.
It’s not hard to see why Duane believes the best is yet to come…it’s clear he’s only just begun.