Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’— Clare Boothe Luce
The entertainment industry is no place for callow girls — fear-proof females only. For years, men have consecutively dominated just about every career field of their choosing, posting penile flags at the top of each hill. If you owned a vulva and a set of twins, your chances at replicating male success were slim and chafed with incomparable struggle. Yet these days more heels are digging into the toes of timbs as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2009 49.1% of the US workforce is made up of badass bees. And silly misogynists beware: the numbers are only rising.
From our darling (and daring) Nicki Minaj, irrefutably one of the most attention-hooking MCs of today’s generation to Stacey Kutz, a scissor-happy celebrity barber, Honey chose 12 sheroes who are not only gallant, but unshakably great. And please believe they don’t need to stand behind a man to prove it…
The Dome-Spinnin’ Breakers: We Are Heroes
1st female champs of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew
These 5-chick action figures don’t come packaged in a box. Solely bounded by capered creativity, Ali, Hiroka, Mami, Nichelle, and Riquel brought multi-faceted flair to Season 4 of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, challenging the show’s reigning B-Boy bravado. The girls showcased a hermaphroditic blend of hard-hitting hip-hop with coquettish tease, rejecting the clichéd expectations of pretty chicks in leotards and more importantly, becoming ABDC’s first-ever, all-female winners.
The force united when group leader Hero, made a ticking decision to replace two former members (who had to leave due to expired visas) with last minute newbies, Nichelle and Ali, just weeks prior to airing. Impressively, the 3 week-old team evolved into a dynamic no man could penetrate. Tutus not included.
Riquel’s Chick Tip: “Know as many styles of dance as possible. The more you know, the more creative you can be. A lot of girls get stuck in being girly or trying to be tomboys. We wanted a happy medium and to be able to do it all. We never looked at [ABDC] like, “It’s all guys.” It’s actually easier when it’s all girls! Guys in general are amazing and built stronger, but it was an awesome opportunity to show that we could shine through as well. We had an advantage because we were well rounded. Girls should make the most out of being a female.”
The Rapper Eater: Nicki Minaj
MC, Young Money’s leading lady
Get with it or get over it — Nicki Minaj is the perfect female rapper for today’s music industry. Her rising success rests on three main factors: an androgynous delivery, KING-ready look, and a batch of heavy male cosigns. The gully & girly 25-year-old pouts a witty lip teamed with cartoon charm and an eye for pink. But don’t be fooled by her fondness for spandex and Barbies, Young Money’s leading lady can play with hip hop’s big boys and even beat ‘em at their own game (cypha anyone?).
Since 2006 we watched Nicki transform her puffs of potential (Hit up track 6 on Weezy’s Da Drought 3) into a now ever-growing cloud of attainment. With Nick currently being pulled for collabos including everyone from Usher to Robin Thicke to now Mariah Carey and Sean Garrett, it appears she’s giving her label-mate superstar, Drake, a run for his features money. And we’d dare you to be against that.
Nicki’s Chick Tip: “The problem with female rappers is they allow themselves to be boxed in. Don’t allow the industry to box you in. Make your own terms. A lot of record companies were like, ‘Why is she rapping and singing? Is she the bad girl or is she the good girl?’ I do what I want to do and that’s the only way I feel free. This is about a new culture of girls being smart, but being sexy. Stay true to yourself no matter how hard it is. Whatever you do, you don’t need a guy to do it for you. You don’t need someone thinking for you. [And] definitely stay in college. I’m the biggest supporter of [that]. It’s all about girl power in 2010. We are taking over the world. I promise.”
Photo by Angela Boatwright
The HB of HD: Melina Matsoukas
Music Video Director
Some chicks have ambitions of directing more than just pouty Facebook vlogs. See music video director, Melina Matsoukas, a Greek-Cuban visionary with a trigger-finger for shots abstract and iconic.
Although soaking in shine from her recent work for Rihanna’s “Hard,” this isn’t Melina’s first trophy; you’ve applauded her way before. The 28-year-old directress has exchanged brilliance with 5 star chicks such as Lady Gaga (“Just Dance”, “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich”), Keri Hilson (“Energy”, “Return The Favor”), and regular client, Beyonce (“Kitty Kat,” “Suga Mama,” “Upgrade U,” “Diva”). In just four years Melina has managed to garner a rivaled resume of close to 40 music videos, all of which could make her male peers pace in anxiety — a far cry from the college girl who used to come out of pocket to produce amateur videos of friends.
With a gamut of commercials, film projects, and of course, music videos locked down for 2010, it doesn’t look like Mel’s career is even close to receiving a cut call.
Melina’s Chick Tip: “You have to get rid of your ego and educate yourself. Work harder than any man would and get noticed, because when you’re good at something, opportunities arise. Stay focused and don’t try to put your hands in 20 million things, focus on what you want first and go for that. Make a goal and set deadlines, and try to achieve those things within that time. Humble yourself, work for free, and ask people for whatever help they can give, use your resources, and create your own resources too. It worked for me.”
The Sneaker Pimp: Rosemary Frazier
Owner of Harlem’s chief sneaker boutique, Goliath RF
As the owner of 6-year-old Goliath RF, Harlem’s first sneaker boutique, you’d expect Rosemary Frazier to be the ultimate kicks-aholic. But she doesn’t let her love of sneaks run her life; she lets it run her business.
After standing stagnantly on a Finance degree and enduring a series of unfortunate retail gigs, the former Macy’s sales rep realized she’d rather pump her energy into a personal interest than an everyday 9-5. While the idea of Goliath was certain, its execution was suspect: The entrepreneurial aches of finding a location, the perfect product mix, and strong-arming a heavily sought after account with Nike, initially wilted the Brooklynite’s progress. But she knew only restless persistence would yield the launch of her shoe fetish. So, in 2004 she laced up her kicks and chased her goals full speed.
Rose’s Chick Tip: “A lot of people sleep on a college degree, but it applies to so much in life that you’re going to need. It gives you a base of knowledge to start from so you can know how to formulate your thoughts and how a plan should be put in place. It teaches you a thinking process that is very much needed when going into business, whether its for yourself or someone else. If you can’t afford to go and finish [college], at least try to get 2 or 3 years under your belt. Because once you start you can easily figure out how you’re going to finish.”
The Tenacious Manager: Debra Antney
CEO of Mizay Entertainment
Turned on a radio lately? Fed your browser a music blog recently? Then you’re more than aware of the rapidly eclipsing presence of Nicki Minaj and Gucci Mane. But who you may not be acquainted with is their whip smart manager, Debra Antney.
The founder of Atlanta-based talent management house, Mizay Entertainment, Ms. D leads an ambitious 95% all-female staff, a percentage we’ve usually only found at strip joints. But Deb doesn’t believe camaraderie only exists within fraternal men, her and her team managed to own most of 2009, elevating the ubiquity of her artists at the speed of a snapshot. Even with Guc’ behind bars, don’t expect the opposite in 2010.
Deb’s Chick Tip: “If you go to an industry event, anyone with a flashy dress is probably someone who just cashed in their food stamps to go buy that outfit. Real people with money don’t dress like that. Be confident and comfortable. Who gets dressed up in the industry? Brokeass people.”
Photo courtesy of Complex Magazine
The Voice of Reason: K. Foxx
Radio host for Hot 97’s Cipha Sounds & Rosenberg Morning Show
Seated at a roundtable of testosterone, K. Foxx exhibits no qualms about pushing her female agenda during Hot 97’s Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg Morning Show.
The native New Yorker is mildly fazed by the barks of her co-hosts or the summoning winks of cozy, guest rappers. As the former “Peanut” of 3 older brothers, the young fox was well-versed in maintaining respect among men early in the game. Her heavy experience in radio, reared from interning and graveyard gigging at North Carolina’s WPOK to a stint co-hosting Miami’s “The Takeover” with loudmouth DJ Khaled, helped the smooth-voiced maven develop her savoir. Just try and talk on-air shit to her. We dare you.
K’s Chick Tip: “Being a black woman in radio and having a lot of odds against me, I need to know what I’m talking about. I need to check my facts. I need to be poised. You also have to have a [female] likeability factor. Men are easy! It’s really about relating with women, talking about their issues and being real. If I’m having a bad day [with] cramps I say, ‘Listen guys, I’m having bad day, I am going through it.’ Women can relate to things like that. Genuinely, I’m a happy person, but it’s not going to be peaches and cream every single day. Really be true to that.”
Photo by Amy Rollo
The Boss Lady: Vanessa Satten
Editor-In-Chief of XXL Magazine
Hip-hop may be glutted with hyper-masculinity, but if any rapper wants to see their face in an issue of XXL, they’ll have to get the approval of a lady first. MCs, say what’s good to Vanessa Satten.
The 30-year-old is XXL’s first-ever female EIC and the longest-working staff member on edit. In 1998, V began her career as a young, go-getter intern, then quickly moved on to receive her first salary check at 19 — the same age she wrote her first feature and the same age most of us were living on focus group dough. Bouncing from unpaid rookie to Associate Editor to Deputy Editor to Executive Editor and now Editor-in-Chief, go on and call V, Miss XXL.“I was always a plus-sized girl, so of course I’m at XXL … that’s all me.”
V’s Chick Tip: “There’s always a white factor at a hip-hop magazine and on top of that, I’m a girl too. The best thing you can do with that is try to prove as much as you can that you know your music. If you don’t, go educate yourself on the music and be a genuine fan, that’s what you need to be most careful about. As far as getting respect for it; you get respect for what you deserve respect for. Document hip-hop the best way you can and people cannot knock you for that.”
The Graphic Gangstress: Karla “hustleGRL” Moy
Graphic & Web Designer
She may have the portfolio of a post-grad, but a high school diploma is the next accreditation on Karla Moy’s agenda. The 17-year-old graphic and web designer, better known as hustleGRL, graduated from daydreams (designing at age 10) to career checks (invoicing at age 12) when she started turning her self-taught, tech-hobby, hustleGRL Entertainment into a tax write-off. In early 2008, the German born, Toronto-bred teen nurtured her skills through a local non-profit organization, The Remix Project, and within a year-and-a-half recruited a star-studded clientele including: FCUK (branded their 2007 Toronto fashion show), Lil Wayne (designed the cover art for October’s No Ceilings mixtape), and Drake (designed his official fan website, AllThings-Fresh.net). Talk about a hustler’s spirit.
Karla’s Chick Tip: “You know how some guys are outspoken and don’t care what people say or think of them? Some girls may be too shy to do that because they’re working in an industry full of men. Honestly, as a female you really should be thinking like a boss, you shouldn’t be scared of sharing your ideas. Go on with them and don’t be shy. Think like a man!”
The Taboo Talker: Angela Yee
Radio Host of Shade 45’s Lip Service & The Morning After
Know any inhibited prudes? Bring ‘em to Angela Yee’s Sirius studio and she’ll be sure to turn ‘em out. As the host of Shade 45’s sole female-led radio show, Lip Service, (co-hosted by Leah Rose) A. Yee has a single, slippery mission: to get any A-Z celebrity to talk about any A-Z topic — preferably sex.
Starting off her industry career as an assistant to the CEO of Wu-Tang Corp., Angela’s used to working with men, but not in a fuck-your-way-to-the-top sort of way as a male superior once whispered to co-workers during her first month as a sidekick to Cipha Sounds on The Cipha Sounds Effect. It was a pitiful, false remark that Ang easily smacked aside with proven talent, resilience, and a light-hearted public confrontation — gifts that eventually pedaled her to gaining Lip Service and her coveted AM spot, The Morning After. Now on to her 6th year at Shade 45, trust (and be wary) that Angela’s not sealing her lips for anyone.
Angela’s Chick Tip: “As a female it’s always better to build a team, then to have a really competitive spirit. You can learn from everybody, and it’s better to have people supporting you, rather then wanting to see you fail. You never know who might be able to help you out down the line. There are people who feel like they have to destroy their competition, but it’s not like that to me. As long as you feel like you’re doing a good job, representing yourself well, and working hard, then that should be enough for you to be secure in what you’re doing.”
The Globetrotting Spinner: Roxy Cottontail
International DJ & Club Promoter
For most folks, consecutive clubbing is the easiest way to run through a two-week paycheck, but for Roxy Summers aka Roxy Cottontail, it’s her go-to way for stacking up cake — just don’t bet on catching her at the pole.
In case you didn’t know so, the restless DJ and club promoter is a NYC legend. Describing her femininity as “instinctually rebellious,” (she refused to wear her Brownie Girl Scouts uniform to meetings as a tot) Roxy is one of the few women who have managed to infiltrate and influence club/scratch culture on an international plane. And she’s been doing it for over a decade.
In 1999, Rox’s then roommate, Justine D — of Motherfucker/Studio B/Le Poisson Rouge infamy — introduced her to the nightlife scene, inspiring her to turn an ear for aural pleasure into a global living. Primarily influenced by electro, hip-hop, house and reggae, Roxy has taken her talent through countless continents, touring everywhere from Japan to Manilla and side-by-side the likes of the late DJ AM, Steve Aoki, Afrika Bambaataa, Nina Sky and A-Trak.
The only thing Roxy can’t do when it comes to building nightclub notoriety? Stop.
Roxy’s Chick Tip: “At the end of the day, if you’re doing what you have to do: playing new records, discovering new artists and showing a real diehard love for music, then you’ll be good as a female. Sometimes you do have to put guys in their place because they have so much ego. Even dudes you know the longest wIll try and say some inappropriate shit. For a while I was ignoring it, but holding that in is unhealthy, I honestly feel that if you don’t speak your mind, you get cancer. Always tell people how you feel.”
Photo by Brooke Nipar
The Other Female Blogger: Karen Civil
Entrepreneur & CEO of www.KarenCivil.com
Karen Civil never wanted to blog for the sake of pinning the tail on black entertainment scandals. Gossip dishing over music dishing? Keep the invitation. “I don’t care who you were sleeping with, I don’t care who you were seen with,” the 25-year-old says earnestly on the month of her self-titled blog’s one year anniversary. “Just send me the damn mp3.”
But there’s more to the self-proclaimed “hip-hip blossom” than just speedy zShare links. During her college years, Karen took a wild chance at auditioning for Hot 97’s second version of “The Apprentice” where she made it to the final three up for grabs as Angie Martinez’s assistant. Turns out K. Civ wasn’t the last woman standing, but her pronounced ambition and work ethic caught the attention of Funkmaster Flex who immediately hired her as his show’s right-hand. After a year and a half stint, the then 22-year-old went on to handle all the online branding and marketing for The Diplomats, leading her to eventually launch her own company, Civil Service Marketing.
So where’s the blogging come through? In November 2008, KC realized she could braid her industry relationships with a pure ardor for hip-hop to create a site strong enough to rival the best of the dudes. 365 days later, she’s still proving herself right.
Karen’s Chick Tip: “When you own ideas no one else has and you know you gave 150%, there’s no denying you. You have to have this confidence, like me I’m always like: ‘Karen doesn’t care, Karen didn’t ask you.’ When I first started no one took me seriously, but you have to make them take you seriously. Step your interview game up. Step your timing up. And even after all that you’ll still have people who won’t acknowledge you. So if someone wants to continue being small-minded and brush you off, you can’t let it get to you. Just think of it as ‘You’re an asshole who’s stuck in your little ways, and guess what? I’m still going to have that record before you…’”
The Clippers Chick: Stacey Kutz
Remember when your pops cackled at the sweet request to snip his hair? Stacey Kutz doesn’t. With 20+ years of dome dominance (II!) the renowned celebrity barber believes her keen care for a man’s cut is an intrinsic flair not many women seem to possess. “I remember when everyone was telling Eddie Murphy to let me do his hair,” she reminisces. “He was like, ‘A woman do my hair? Never.’ But years later he’s still never left my chair.”
Spoiling sexism with each incoming clip? Yep, Stace is just that good. Growing up in a Manhattan household of men, Stacey began her exploits in male grooming at age 12, experimenting with designs on her younger brothers and taking small jobs at local salons. At 18 she cleaned up her first professional clients, Kid ‘n Play and by 21 she had Eddie eating his words. Taking advantage of her industry environment (Stacey’s father & stepfather were both prominent in the record business) and realizing just how immensely hip-hop was influencing street style, Stacey churned both conditions into a winning combo.
With a current clientele that includes: Columbus Short, Brian White, Will Smith, Dwayne Wade and Anthony Anderson, all of whom publicly praise her, Ms. Kutz could turn any wary father into a believer.
Stacey’s Chick Tip: “Maintain the integrity of who you are. You get respect just how you give it, male or female. Always fine-tune your level of excellence to supersede what’s out there or what’s coming up under you. As far as being a woman, you’re under scrutiny already because it’s a man’s world. So you have to automatically strive harder to maintain your craft. Work ethic, hygiene, consistency, dependability, appearance, all those things combined make people receptive to you. And be resilient, but not unreachable. This job is not an emotional position so keep it practical, keep it logical, and not personal.”
— Tracy Garraud & Guerdley Cajus