There’s a new girl or secretary on the block on AMC’s Mad Men. Teyonah Parris plays Dawn Chambers, secretary to ad executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm). And for the first time, the series has a recurring African American character.
Dawn’s character may give Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner a chance to redeem himself among critics who believe that previous seasons of the series largely ignored blacks’ presence in New York. The opening episodes of the fifth season have already begun to explore the civil unrest among racial groups in the 1960s.
Ironically, Dawn’s hiring was completely accidental. The Madison Avenue ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ran an equal-opportunity employer ad in The New York Times to mock a rival company Young & Rubicam. However, the real joke was on SCDP when much to their surprise, their lobby was filled the next morning with twenty or so Negroes looking to fill the open position.
Don Draper is known to change secretaries quite a bit, so there’s no telling exactly how long Dawn (Parris) will be on the show or in what capacity — remaining as a secretary or if she will gain a promotion and take on a new role.
Before Mad Men, Teyonah Parris appeared on the CBS television drama The Good Wife and in the 2010 movie How Do You Know, which starred Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson.