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It’s no secret that the future has always been female. A great majority of success in music, politics, and even social reforms have been successfully birthed and nurtured by women. Sitting on the panel of “Follow Her Lead” at the REVOLT Summit x AT&T hosted by Angie Martinez, women bosses Phylicia Fant, LaTrice Burnette, Tamika Mallory, and Shari Bryant shared the stage to show just how women run the world.
Coined the “Boss Lady” panel, Angie’s conversation with the three history-making women dove into how they got their start in their respective industries, the importance of mentorship, as well as the significance of a woman’s presence in a male-dominated industry. The powerhouses shared their stories of dream-chasing to their executive chairs, while each panelist provided onlookers with visions of promise.
Angie kicked things off with a question that spoke to the benefits of being a woman in prominent places and roles. What is the advantage of being a woman in this business? Mallory knows. She’s been crusading for social justice, and her activism and being the co-president of the 2019 Women’s March is proof of this. She took to the mic, saying, “I think the great thing about being a woman in most industries is that we’re probably the brightest, most strategic individuals in any equation. We’re the ones that get it done.” With nothing but facts backing her statement, Mallory has been known for organizing the largest group of women voices, especially at this year’s Women’s March, which garnered over five million participants across the world.
When attending panels where the mission is to gain insight on how to navigate throughout a specific industry, it’s also motivating to hear where the panelists’ successful journeys ultimately began. Starting out as an intern at Roc-A-Fella Records, Shari Bryant is now the co-president of Roc Nation and has gained a wealth of knowledge in her journey. “It’s been a journey. It’s been exciting. It’s been trying. You go through everything, but I wouldn’t change anything. As I was coming up in this business, I would always say sometimes, I felt like things would take too long. I was like, ‘Why isn’t my path going? Why isn’t it different? Why doesn’t it look like somebody else’s?’ But I realized, especially up until this full-circle moment of me being the co-president of Roc Nation, I realized that everything happened for a reason. All of the ups the downs... It’s taught me so much. It taught me resilience. It taught me to trust myself. And no matter what you know, trust who you are.”
Throughout the different phases of their careers, forming friendships and being able to see one another grow into womanhood has also been rewarding. “We’re still great friends to this day. So, to be able to rise in the ranks and come up in this journey together has been amazing,” Burnette shared. Standing as Island Records Executive VP/General Manager, her journey also began at Roc-A-Fella Records, where she was given a seat at the table to add her perspective. “I think the great thing about it is JAY, Dame, and Biggs really gave us an opportunity to have creative input,” Burnette explained. “To be a part of the conversation as young women from urban communities (Brooklyn, Harlem, etc.). That was the amazing thing about it. Being able to be directly involved in everything and have input... I really think it helped shape our careers and helped shape who we are as women, and it taught us so much.”
Phylicia Fant came up in the game under industry vets Phillana Williams and Yvette Noel-Schure. Now serving as the co-head of Urban Music at Columbia Records, Fant owes a considerable amount of her success to the mentorships she received from women like those previously named. It’s those professionals who have helped to uplift her and keep her motivated. “I think that I would always have to start with my first boss Serena Gallagher. I say this because I think it’s important. But, I bring it up as she was a white woman at Motown [Records] and she was my boss. And she said to me, ‘There [are] experiences that I can’t teach you because we are not the same. You are a black woman, and you’re going to have different entry points that are going to be a little more difficult for you than for me.’ And she admitted that to me,” Fant explained.
“She made it a point to put me with mentors that could help to uplift me... She [showed me a life] that could help me see the lens in that journey — from that perspective that I’d be able to say, ‘You’re a woman, you’re black, but those two strikes are going to help you get a home run.’”
All in all, it was the way that these women saw their paths through a lens of success and healthy camaraderie that helped them come together to get ahead in the industry. It was their willingness to build upon what has been set before them and their ability to pull back and see the “bigger picture” when difficulty presents itself. Their vulnerability and ability to seek guidance when in need has helped, as well. Their hustle, tenacity, aggression, and leadership skills have propelled Shari Bryant, Tamika Mallory, LaTrice Burnette, and Phylicia Fant into their respective roles. It’s those characteristics that will continue to motivate women, who are inspired by their journeys and want to do the same.