The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.
We are now one day away from the very first iteration of the REVOLT x AT&T Summit in Los Angeles. The weekend’s programming is set to highlight an all-star lineup of industry leaders, with particular interest in less common narratives. Such an example will be Saturday’s “Follower Her Lead” panel, featuring the voices of Kehlani, Storm Reid, and Lilly Singh; as they describe their ascension as women in entertainment.
But, just before we prepare to dive into that panel and many others like it, we are still visiting the gems delivered to us by the boss women who were in attendance when the Summit touched Atlanta last month. This included one with TV exec Mona Scott-Young, who sat down for a Masterclass in which she broke down her transition of being an artist manager to becoming one of the most powerful and influential women in the television industry.
“I existed way before ‘Love & Hip Hop,’” she would firmly remind the audience who gathered before her. This would mark Scott’s navigation of the years she spent alongside the late Chris Lighty managing acts such as Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent, Mariah Carey, A Tribe Called Quest, and Missy Elliott at Violator Management.
“It was very important to us that they had someone advocating for them, and protecting everything that they were bringing to mainstream media and to mainstream consumers,” Scott-Young recalled of her time at Violator.
However, it was a desire to pursue her own passions that would eventually lead her to the creation of her MonAmi production company.
“Helping my clients make their dreams come true and being there for them is great, and it’s still who I am at my core. But, I also realized that that was doing myself a disservice because there was also so much more that I wanted to accomplish,” she added.
In 2008, Scott-Young would branch out and kickstart MonAmi, french for “my friend,” a nod toward her Haitian heritage. “I stepped out on faith and thin air,” she would note at one point of the conversation.
“That was more about creating [an] environment where I could really invest in myself,” she affirmed. This sentiment would lay down the foundation of the powered mission of her Masterclass, as she would consistently zero in on the power and value of believing oneself.
“That sh-t is rooted in truth,” she would say of the age-old adage. Such beliefs stem from the media magnate’s upbringing by an illiterate mother, who managed to make ends meet and provide for her family at all costs.
“Nothing is beneath us,” she recalled of a lesson she’s learned in her field of work. “When we want to do something and we want to get something done, you should be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that.” Of her mother’s motivation, she would add, “There was a sheer will and an ability to figure it out.”
Here she would usher in the next primary factor of her discussion, underscoring the unbridled dedication that led to her success despite not having gone to college and taking a path that presented its fair share of obstacles. Opening up the floor for questions for a vast majority of her time onstage, Scott-Young would encourage others in the crowd to employ more accountability when paving their own way. One prime way she did this would be through a series of questions that she introduced, as a gauge for measuring your current place in both professional and personal journeys.
“Have I done absolutely everything that I could do? Have I challenged myself to function at my highest level?” she asked.
In her overarching pieces of advice and priceless nuggets, Scott-Young made sure to hammer on the ideas of being realistic with how our interactions with the world around us largely dictate what we receive in return.
“The energy that we have, it’s up to us with how we use it,” she added. “That energy is everything. It’s our attitude, our intellectual property, who we are every single day.”
One specific interaction that she was tasked with outlining was that of women in the male-dominated film and entertainment industries. When asked by an audience member to detail advice she had for young women looking to lead with self-respect, the exec replied that women must set boundaries from the jump.
“It’s up to us to set the parameters with how we’re treated, anyhow we’re responded to, and a lot of that is what we give out,” she advised. “The way you conduct yourself in a roomette way — you operate within your circle [and that] sends a very clear message about what your expectations are and you have to be consistent with that.”
The next question would arrive via an aspiring artist, inquiring about the grind that predated the social media age. His query surrounded the old tactics employed by up-and-coming artists when social media was not a resource. To that question, Scott-young would note that the grind of today and the grind of days past are not unequally matched, noting the abundance of resources that are just more readily available. With the extensive scope of the internet, she concluded that your hustle still matters.
“Are you utilizing it are you educating yourself? Are you learning what you need to learn? Are you putting the grind to make it happen? It don’t matter what tools you have,” she warned. “That grind should never stop.”
As for the young creatives who are stuck and struggling to get their content in front of the right eye or those who are not garnering the amount of traffic that they’d like to see? Figure out your audience.
“Figure out what their interests are, what are the things that resonate with them, and create content that’s gonna resonate with them,” the boss said.
She would later add: “Think your project through. Make sure that it’s unique to whatever that you’re trying to sell and then make sure that it’s articulated clearly.”
As for creators who have yet to have the chance to rise in the ranks, Scott-Young would once more invoke the beauty of accountability. Her general idea centered on the fact that it is up to young creators in entry and mid-level positions to consistently relay their value in their actions in order allow themselves to be seen.
“It starts with you stepping forward and you can only step forward if your sh-t is together. And your sh-t is only together if you’re secure, and you’ve done your homework, and you’ve applied the skills. All of these things work hand in hand,” she closed.