For author/producer Edwyna Brooks, her dream of working alongside Dame Dash quickly went from dream to nightmare and saw her receive $300,000 in a lawsuit judgement after their collaboration turned sour, resulting in a nasty legal battle. Edwyna officially sued Dame back in 2019 for copyright infringement after their initial plans to turn her four-part “Mafietta” book series into a film never happened—and she alleged that he sold the film without her consent.
Things got so intense in the courtroom, that Dame was openly reprimanded by U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rackoff for his explosive behavior during proceedings—including loudly yelling that one of the attorney’s in the case breath smelled like “doo doo.” Ultimately, Judge Rackoff ruled in Brooks’ favor, writing in his judgement, “The court concludes that defendants infringed Brooks’ copyright by reproducing and distributing the film on iTunes and Dame Dash Studios without her permission.” Fast forward to the present, and Edwyna fills us in how she initially got into business with Dame, where things went wrong and how she feels about him filing a new appeal in the case.
TSR: How did you end up entering into business with Dame Dash?
Edwyna Brooks: “Damon gave a seminar in a small North Carolina town 10 miles from the place I was raised. Up until that point, I’d been doing so much to get my film to the next level that I thought it would happenstance he was so close to my hometown. I had to take the chance. I did not want to look back years later and ask myself, ‘What if?’”
TSR: Given his prior legal issues, were you at all hesitant to work with him?
Edwyna Brooks: “I knew that Damon had a somewhat spotty reputation in business but after his Breakfast Club interview I also gathered he was looking to “Invest in Women.” I even approached DJ Envy after my filming with Damon and told him Damon had stolen my film. I could not have been more shocked by his response. I hoped Damon was indeed turning over a new leaf in business and maybe making a rebound into the industry with the new film “Too Honorable,” so I was willing to at least see if my project sparked his interest.”
TSR: When did you realize that your business relationship with him was not what you hoped or thought it would be?
Edwyna Brooks: “When I arrived to set on the first day and he was filming a music video without telling me. It was not something he ever discussed with me and threw off my entire schedule for the shoot causing rewrites for the two days that followed.”
TSR: Following your recent $300,000 judgement, Dame and his legal team have planned to file an appeal. What is your response to that? Are you prepared to go back to court?
Edwyna Brooks: “At this point, Damon attorney has filed his notice to appeal but winning an appeal at this juncture requires proving some mistake on the part of the presiding judge and we do not believe that type of error exists. In fact, considering Damon’s ridiculous behavior in court, I am surprised he would pursue an appeal, but he must tell the media something to save face. We believe his appeal is meritless and I understand Attorney Chris Brown will be seeking legal fees. We do not see any grounds for the current ruling to be overturned.”
TSR: What have you learned from this situation and what advice would you give other entrepreneurs in order to avoid the issues you encountered with Dame?
Edwyna Brooks: “This process has been quite the learning experience. I have learned to never begin any project based on someone’s word. I don’t care if it’s writing on a project or filming one. Nothing matters if it isn’t on paper. Feelings change and so do motives as you can see in my case and having Damon read my contract and agree to sign it was not enough. I should not have spent one dime until he actually signed it.”
As for what’s next for Edwyna, well she is set to explain all the details of her 14-month legal battle with Dame Dash in her new book tell-all book, “Brooks vs. Dash: The Unauthorized Taking of Mafietta”—which is available on her website.
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