His wife, who was a feminist and 25 years his junior, encouraged Durand to take part in women’s issues when he ran for the Los Angeles City Council in 1993.
Durand campaigned and gained the attention of women voters, but after his wife became ill, he dropped out of the race.
After her death from cancer, Durand credited Joyce for doing her part to get him involved with his community.
Glendale News-Press news assistant Ani Amirkhanian sat down with Durand and asked him a few questions.
When did you first know that you wanted to be in show business?
I had a good voice. By good voice I mean, the longer the vocal cords, the better you are. I was singing Haitian songs in Haiti, and one day somebody from America was in Haiti and said that he’d like to see me singing in America. When I moved here, I did musical comedies, sang for movies.
Were you able to make a living?
Singing was not enough. When I got remarried, my second wife said I had to do more. I had to drive a truck, lay bricks, do construction so I could bring a paycheck home every Friday.
How did your wife influence you to run for office?
She was a feminist, so I turned my focus to women and children.
She told me what to say and what to do. I talked about affordable housing, amnesty and jobs, especially for women. I didn’t really want to win because once you are elected you become a glorified clerk.
People who bring new ideas never get elected because they are loose cannons.
Suppose you were elected. What would you have changed?
I would make sure people were not evicted and women had enough to give to their children. You got to give people what they want.
A woman played a major role in your life. How do you empower women?
Women have to take the power themselves. They’ve got to take it. Nobody can give power. You take it with your intelligence. All the women have to.