2:20pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Beverly Hills Bar Association Honors Darrell Miller at Star-Studded Event
Don't underestimate Darrell D. Miller.
While the entertainment dealmaker is soft-spoken and known for keeping his cool, his celebrity clients make it clear he gets the job done and expecting anything else would be a mistake.
"He can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually enjoy the trip," actor Blair Underwood said, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, in a video tribute during an event in Miller's honor.
The Beverly Hills Bar Association named Miller the 2016 Entertainment Lawyer of the Year and gave him the award Tuesday night during a star-studded dinner at the Beverly Hilton.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter before the event, Miller said he was humbled and surprised by the honor.
"When you think about the people who have been Entertainment Lawyer of the Year from a practical standpoint, most of them have been more senior than me in terms of their body of work," he said. "I still feel like I'm a quarter of the way finished. I really have so much more I want to accomplish."
Miller is the managing partner of Fox Rothschild's Los Angeles office and chair of its entertainment law group. He represents Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony winners and prides himself on his ability to help his clients leverage their fame to diversify their sources of income.
BHBA entertainment law section chair Leigh Leshner told THR that's part of the reason Miller was chosen as this year's honoree.
"He really knows how to look at these multiple streams of revenue across platforms in the entertainment business and create a brand for his clients," she said. “Look at Ludacris, who primarily at first was a musician. Now he’s an actor. He’s an entrepreneur."
Leshner said Miller's personality is equally impressive.
“He is what other people should aspire to be, not just as an attorney but as a human being,” she said. “Not only is he smart and forward-thinking, but he’s creative. He’s tough, but he’s nice. He really cares about his clients.”
During the event, last year's honoree Ivy Kagan Bierman gave a funny and heartfelt speech, including a playful jab at Miller for starting his reign in May and cutting hers short. After all, her celebration was in September — just eight months ago.
She played up how much work goes into planning these events and the stress that's caused by rounding up a celebrity emcee, performers and guest speakers. But Bierman said her son gave her a reality check, telling her, "Mom, I don't think it was as daunting for Darrell as it was for you. He actually represents celebrities."
He certainly does, and they came out in droves to support him Tuesday night. Shaun Robinson emceed, and other clients and friends who spoke during the event included multihyphenate Angela Bassett, reality star turned Broadway actress NeNe Leakes, televangelist Paula White and actor Rocky Carroll, who has known Miller since they were kids.
"I am so glad that I preceded you and don't have to follow you," said Bierman.
Before becoming an attorney, Miller was a performer — a recurring theme throughout the night, with several friends hinting that he should sing for the crowd. He earned a musical theater degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. One of his classmates, gospel singer Donald Lawrence, gave the first performance of the night.
Later, multi-platinum recording artist Brandy took the stage to sing "Almost Doesn't Count" and thank Miller for his support. "I know my worth. I know my value because you helped me find it," she said.
A who's who of Hollywood A-listers, family and friends appeared in the video tribute, which ended with actor Courtney Vance saying, "The world finally knows what we know, D: You da bomb."
Celebrity pastor T.D. Jakes formally presented Miller with his award, describing him as "creative in a way that's absolutely mind-boggling."
Said Jakes: "You propel our voices into places where they never would have been able to go without you."
Before giving his acceptance speech, Miller gave his friends what they had been asking for all night: a song. He belted out an impressive bit of opera and the room went nuts.
Now that he's succeeded as a performer and a lawyer, Miller joked that medical school is next. "Laugh now," he said. "Come see me later."
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges closed the ceremony with a performance of "All I Do Is Win" peppered with Miller's name. Despite suffering from a cold, Bridges said he wouldn't have missed the event, even if they had to roll him in on a gurney.
"I walk with a confidence I never had because Darrell D. Miller is in my corner," he said.
Miller's clients had a big year in 2015, with help from the THR Power Lawyer: Bassett nabbed a DGA nomination for her directorial debut; Vance is an Emmy contender for his role as Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O.J. Simpson; and Jakes is launching a nationally syndicated television show this fall.
Looking forward, Miller doesn't really plan to take the medical world by storm, but rather the digital world.
“I’m looking to get more into the digital space, with either YouTubers or digital content in general,” he said, adding that he’d like to discover a digital medium akin to what ringtones were in the 2000s. “Globally that’s going to be the content of the future. Audio-visual content that’s monetizeable in that way would be extraordinary.”