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Dorly Roy, shines light on women leaders and the importance of racial equity

Dorly Roy’s grandfather introduced her to her first “real” camera in the 1990s. After that, she could always be found behind the lens. She has 10,000 photographs from her teenage years to prove it, though only a few are what we call selfies today.
D_0192 Dorly Roy for Local Profile Collin County 2020
Courtesy of Dorly Roy

Dorly Roy’s grandfather introduced her to her first “real” camera in the 1990s. After that, she could always be found behind the lens. She has 10,000 photographs from her teenage years to prove it, though only a few are what we call selfies today. “And you know what?” she writes on her website. “I wish someone had told me back then: ‘You are beautiful! You aren't going to look like this forever! Get your shy, nerdy butt in front of a camera and bring your inner sexy out!’

“That is what I do,” she continues. “Together, you and I are going to find the things that thrill you, that excite you, that make you happy. We are going to create some art and some magic in front of the camera.”

Goldenlight Creative Studio by Dorly Roy

Today, Dorly Roy has turned her passion into the Goldenlight Creative studio in Plano where she takes portraits of business leaders, philanthropic leaders, family leaders and local leaders. 

“Women who are nurturing, a partner going out and doing amazing things or raising children or, you know, running the world,” she tells Local Profile as part of the Local Leaders Live series in late August. “I was really picky and I was really lucky that I got to do it slowly and only take clients that I wanted to take.”

By slowly she means she spent years working on her art part-time while working a full-time job and raising her own family. 

“I didn't leave my day job, which a lot of people will say, ‘Go pursue your passion, burn the boats and just go for it,” Dorly says. “That didn't work for me, I needed to have like a fifth income. I needed to make sure I had groceries, and I like to shop so I needed shopping money and … I needed stuff for my family; so I didn't leave my day job. I sort of did it in conjunction for a long, long time.”

Like other business owners in Collin County, Dorly Roy has had to adapt to the COVID-19 outbreak. She had just come back from a fashion show in New York when it struck in the spring. “In March when, you know, it hit the fan, I made the conscious decision with some other business owner friends of mine that we were going to be an example,” she says, “and we were going to close before we were asked to close, which is really hard when you need your business to survive, when employees depend on you, and we have vendors that are freelancers so a lot of our freelancers depend on us.” 

They shut down for two months. It wasn’t great, she says. It was isolating, but she was able to focus on some other passions. She found herself spending more time volunteering and reaching out to former clients and mentoring other business owners on Zoom. 

Along with photography portraits, Dorly Roy also paints portraits. She started meeting clients she couldn’t visit due to COVID on Zoom. They would send her photographs, and she would do a live interview to get to know them. Then, she would paint a beautiful portrait of them. She says she has enjoyed adapting her business model. 

Dorly Roy is particularly drawn to photographing women in nontraditional roles like in male-dominated industries. She has photographed a lot of female police officers. “I'm talking to women police officers about their take about what's going on, and it has been really eye-opening for me,” she says.

“You see people from every part of the spectrum. … You see people who, like me, are like, ‘Let's go. Let's clean it up. Let's roll up our sleeves and let's work.’ You see people who are in the middle who are like, ‘I had no idea this is an issue. I'm not really sure how I feel about it, but I'm open to talk about it and that's it, that's all I can commit to.’ And then you see other people, and I don't personally agree with this, but … I see people who hide their head in the sand and like an ostrich say, ‘It's the way it's always been and if you don't like it, you can leave.’ And that's, that's tough. That's really tough. Where should people leave to exactly?”

Dorly Roy has reopened her business and is practicing CDC guidelines and using face shields. She tells Local Profile, “And because we've always dealt with hair and makeup and touching people's faces and being in their space, we've always sort of been really careful about sanitation and using only disposable things and mix and making sure that we're certified on that. But now we are closed a lot of the week during the week [so] that the studio has time to air out. 

“So it is a little bit slower, and it's okay, I still think that it's the right thing to do for me because I'm in a position where if I slow down, I'm still okay. I have other income avenues. It's just really, really tough, you know. Part of me does wish that we had, as a state, just shut it down completely. So we could have really flattened the curve and we would be able to reopen fully now and not have to worry.”

Photographer Dorly Roy, Goldenlight Creative Studio
Courtesy of Dorly Roy

During her conversation with the Local Leaders Live series, Dorly Roy also discussed how her life has changed since George Floyd’s death and the protests against police brutality, which are still occurring around the country. She says as a Latina woman, she didn’t see Black Lives Matter as being an issue for her until she heard Floyd cry out for his mother. Then she thought, what if it had been a person of her heritage?  

“I did not really stop to ask questions until after George Floyd and say, ‘Is this something where maybe there is a bias in our community?’” Dorly Roy says. 

She started researching laws that could be fixed to keep people like George Floyd from slipping through the cracks. She also took part in the Junior League of Collin County’s 21-day racial equity challenge

“So for 21 days, I would read, and then I would join a group of thousands of women all over the U.S., many of us white or white passing and some women of color. We all joined together and sort of talked about these issues and said, ‘What can we do?’”

To help educate people on issues of racial equity, Dorly Roy recommends people checking out organizations who are already doing the work to raise awareness such as the Equal Justice Initiative and the ACLU of Texas. She also mentions Chip and Joanna Gaines’ “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” 

She also highlights some local advocates who are working to raise awareness and make a change: Bree Clarke of the Iman Project and the Junior League of Collin County

Some other highlights of Dorly’s conversation regarding racial equity includes: 

“I've seen more and I've met more black people here in the Dallas/Plano area than I had in El Paso, just the population is just different. And it's been great, but I noticed I didn't really fit in with the Mexican kids. I didn't listen to the Spanish music all day every day. I didn't speak Spanish at school or at home with my parents. … It's been interesting. I feel like when I walk into a boardroom, or I'm speaking to a group of leaders, I don't feel like the token minority. Yet, I've had my Latin American friends who do look, you know, more Hispanic and have those darker features, and they'll say, ‘You go in and you give this presentation, and they're very interested about your Latino point of view, but not your point of view. Full stop.’ That's interesting to me because I've been doing this racial equity work, and I've connected with a lot of people who are biracial and who sometimes don't look black and are dealing with black issues.

“But also if I go and speak on a panel for Latina people, I do wonder … if I’m brown enough to be doing this, and would they have preferred that I'd be more brown. At the same token, I've heard some of my Black friends say, ‘if I go somewhere, they want a face that more white people can relate to.’ ... Sometimes I feel like you really can't win. So a lot of it's going to come from all of us raising our collective unconscious and becoming more inclusive. 

“It also has to come from our own selves sort of doing the work and realising that I don't have to love spicy food or know where my big Selena hangs all the time. It's okay for me to love country music and to have mainly friends who also love why that's okay. … Most people don't know that I'm Latina. I also wonder if I tell my client, if I walk in wearing my Mexican smart and proudly if that would affect some of my client networking relationships. I just don't really know the answer. I wish I knew that the answer was no, that It wouldn't affect it at all but I don't know that.”

As for implementing and practicing COVID-19 safeguards, she points out:

“I think if you really care about your community you err on the side of over cautious. I mean, if this whole thing (COVID-19) is blown out of proportion, it's not that big a deal. The worst thing you're going to do is be a little bit uncomfortable. I think most people are in that position, and, of course, I've heard the arguments of ‘I get a lot of anxiety under my mask’ and ‘you don't know what it's like to not be able to breathe. … I understand that there are specific challenges for specific people but for the most part, and certainly in my case, while I don't love wearing a mask because you can't see my beautiful lipstick, when I wear a mask, it is something that is helpful.

“Texas just gives us a lot of leeway, so I would say, ‘Make the decisions with your heart, not just with your wallet. You may hurt a little bit to lose a little bit of money or to be spending more on cleaning supplies, but in the long run, if your clients are dead, your business is going to suffer.”

Goldenlight Creative by Dorly Roy | 1209 E. 15th St., Plano | 214.718.8322

Local Leaders by Local Profile is an ongoing video series featuring incredible local leaders sharing their best leadership insights. Going beyond business, Local Leaders aims to inspire and motivate you to become the best version of yourself. It broadcasts LIVE via the Local Profile Facebook page (click here.)