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Dawn Chambers

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Dawn Chambers
DawnChambers
Portrayed by Teyonah Parris
First appearance A Little Kiss, Part 2 (uncredited)
Final appearance Recurring
Details
Gender Female
Employer Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (former)

Sterling Cooper & Partners

Occupation Secretary (former)

Office Manager at SC&P

Residence Near 69th Street, Brooklyn
Relations
Sibling(s) A brother

Dawn Chambers is currently Don's secretary at the Sterling Cooper & Partners advertising agency.

She was the first and only African American to work for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. After the merger (with Cutler, Gleason and Chaough) she is, along with CGC employee Phyllis, one of two African Americans working for Sterling Cooper & Partners.

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce

After the executives at Young & Rubicam throw water bombs on African American protesters, Roger Sterling and Don Draper print an ad that promotes Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce as an equal opportunity employer. While it was intended only as a dig at Y&R, several dozen African American job seekers arrive in the lobby in response to the ad. The company decides to hire a secretary, and after the male jobseekers are dismissed, the women, including Dawn, submit their resumes. Dawn is hired and assigned to Don Draper as his new secretary. [1]

During a late night at the office, Peggy Olson finds Dawn sleeping there and she reveals that she has been sleeping there some nights because of the riots occurring in the city. Peggy invites her to sleep at her apartment, but after a moment at Peggy's where Peggy appears to have misgivings about leaving Dawn in the same room with her purse, Dawn leaves. [2]

In To Have and To Hold, Dawn serves as her friend Nikki's maid of honor. Dawn talks about wanting to get married, but says it's impossible to find a husband at her job. Later, Scarlett asks her to punch her time card out so she can leave early. Joan finds out and attempts to fires Scarlett but leaves Dawn's fate up in the air, that night she vents to Nikki about how stressful the office is. The next day she apologies to Joan and asks Joan to dock her pay to cover any hours Scarlett did not work. Instead, Joan gives her the responsibility of monitoring the time cards and the supply closet.

When Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated Joan is concerned that she cannot reach Dawn. The next day she shows up to work informing a surprised Don and Joan that her phone went out the night before. After an awkward attempt by Joan to console her, Dawn tells Don that she wishes to remain at work. [3]

Sterling Cooper & Partners

As Don Draper's secretary, Dawn survives the merger with Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough. [4]

After Don decides to head to California he dictates the memo to Dawn, without realizing that it would directly effect her. With Don's temporary suspension from the company, Dawn's future is left uncertain.[5] However, we soon learn that Dawn remains at SC&P, as secretary to both Don and Lou Avery, who has been promoted to Creative Director.

In A Day's Work, Dawn and Shirley (Peggy's secretary and the only other African-American SC&P employee) meet while getting coffee, and in an exchange that reveals quite a bit about what it is like to be African-American and work at SC&P, they call each other by the wrong name. "Hello, Dawn," says Dawn to Shirley. "Hello, Shirley," says Shirley to Dawn. When Dawn is away from her desk, Sally arrives, looking for Don. Lou is extremely put out that Dawn was not there to keep him from having to deal with Sally, and he calls Joan to his office. He says that he knows Dawn "can't be fired," but he demands that Joan reassign Dawn. Dawn stands up for herself, telling Lou that it is his own fault she was not at her desk when Sally arrived, since she had to go shopping to buy his wife some perfume because he didn't do it himself – despite Dawn's reminders of his wife's upcoming birthday. Joan, highly annoyed by Lou's intransigence, reassigns Shirley (whom Peggy had asked to be reassigned) to Lou, and puts Dawn at the reception desk. This solution doesn't quite work out, as Bert Cooper tells Joan that he's “all for the national advancement of colored people, but [does] not believe they should advance all the way to the front of this office". When Joan is encouraged by Jim Cutler to leave her position as personnel director and move up to her own office, befits a partner who handles her own accounts, Joan finds the perfect solution and promotes Dawn to personnel director, satisfying Lou and Bert while also rewarding Dawn for her dedication.

Dawn continues to handle Don's correspondence in her new role, although she doesn't have time for some of his more unusual requests. She is later present when Don finally returns to work; he has difficulty remembering her new role, instinctively asking her to get him coffee and handing of his coat to her.

Quotes

Dawn: "Everybody's scared there! Women crying in the ladies room... Men crying in the elevator... It sounds like New Years Eve when they're emptying the garbage, there's so many bottles. And I told you about that poor man hanging himself in his office."
- Dawn venting to Nikki about the atmosphere at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in To Have and To Hold

"Hello, Dawn." To Shirley, in A Day's Work.

References

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