Sunday Reads: One-On-One With Donny Deutsch, Star of USA Network’s Donny!


AS YOU WALK INTO DONNY DEUTSCH’S UPPER EAST SIDE TOWNHOUSE, THROUGH THE IRON-SCROLL GATE AND DOWN travertine stairs, you enter a room with pristine white undulating sofas that run the length of the narrow gallery space. Along the walls are monoliths to Donny’s success — artworks worth millions: Damien Hirst, Basquiat and Warhol. But Deutsch, motivational speaker, author, advertising mogul turned creative, executive producer and now actor, is not one to indulge in the trappings of success. He thrives on challenge and risk-taking. His latest venture is a hysterically funny TV show that he stars in while also playing the part of executive producer and creative director. He plays a fictionalized version of himself in the USA Network show named Donny! It is proof he can laugh at himself. “I play a complete idiot,” he says casually. “I play a talk show host/Dr. Phil-type character, and I am supposed to be giving advice out to people when in reality I am a hypocrite — I do the same things I advise my audience not to do. It’s a ‘takedown’ on New York and its wealth, and I’m the joke. I make a lot of fun of myself.”

Although he resides in a sleek five-floor home, purchased in 2006 when he embarked on a four-year renovation, the native of Hollis Hills, Queens, still visits his childhood house and talks fondly of his youth. He shines as he takes out an iPhone photograph of the house in the New York borough for all to see. “I love this house, but I’m not happier today then I was then. The house felt big, and I grew up beautifully,” he says. “I’m very fortunate, but ‘stuff ’ doesn’t make you happy — it’s accomplishment that does and stuff comes after. I never aspired to this,” he adds as he gestures from his ground-floor office. “I was never driven by wealth. I was driven to accomplish — and to win — so when I give my motivational talks I always say the same thing: ‘Do something you are passionate about’ — something you love and the rest will follow. It’s not about money, it’s about following your heart,” Deutsch continues. “If you love something you will become great at it and the rewards follow.”

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