On a Sunday night when most people are turning in, HYDE Sunset is just turning up.
I walk in just shy of midnight and already the swanky nightclub is packed. Partygoers flank to the VIP sections where bottles of champagne and various liquors are popped, followed by an influx of beautiful women in taut dresses hoping to cop free libations for the night. The DJ announces the arrival of Chris Brown, just a few minutes after I spot Marlon Wayans and King Bach strolling by. Forty-five minutes in I look up from my phone just in time to lock eyes with the woman responsible for bringing the party to life. Miss Diddy rushes up to me in her six-inch heels and a tan-colored dress, pulling me by the hand as she rushes back out the door to meet with one of her many celebrity guests for the evening before escorting us to her designated section across from the DJ booth.
“It’s crazy, girl!” Miss Diddy says to me before checking her phone and dashing off again.
Though she’s known for her Rolodex of celebrity friends and clients, if you ask Miss Diddy, she’s a superstar in her own right. “Anyone knows when I walk in the room I kind of light it up,” she says. “Everything kind of gravitates to me and it’s always if they don’t know they’ll be like who is she? I’ve always had a star power.”
“Anyone knows when I walk in the room I kind of light it up. I’ve always had a star power.”
What can easily be considered cockiness is really an air of confidence. When Miss Diddy speaks, it’s with a certain assuredness that indicates that she knows who she is, and she’ll be damned if you don’t know it, too. She gets it from her mama, she tells me, a woman who could command a room as soon as she walked in the door.
Despite being a self-proclaimed shy gal, Miss Diddy says that ironically she always thrived in social environments, and soon learned to embrace her strong personality and hustler mentality that would eventually lead her to becoming Hollywood’s only female promoter. But before she could assume the role of becoming the “It Girl” of urban nightlife, she first had to figure out what it was that she was actually purposed to do. “I begged God for my purpose actually,” she says. “I begged him to release it to me. And I remember the first time I understood the importance of what I was seeking for, he told me that it was too big; I can’t show you that.”
As a kid growing up in Compton, Miss Diddy was free to explore anything that captured her interest, from hair and makeup to sewing. “In my house, we weren’t booked bashed, and it freed me to be able to really explore things that I was great at.”
But being born into a family of creatives (her dad was a musician and her great grandmother wrote songs with Mahalia Jackson), Diddy—a nickname gifted to her by her high school buddies—naturally gravitated to entertainment. During her second year of college, she found more value in street smarts than book smarts and decided to drop out in pursuit of real-world experiences. Her first taste of working in the industry came soon after when John Monopoly, former manager for Kanye West, offered her a job doing the west coast promotions for the G.O.O.D. Music label.
Miss Diddy excelled by doing what she does best—connecting people. She gathered a group of 20 beautiful women who deemed themselves as the “G.O.O.D. Girls” and took over street team marketing and promotions for the label. Simultaneously she was still working in insurance, but the money didn’t make up for her lack of fulfillment. When she had a sudden revelation that she no longer belonged with that company, she walked out of her job the same day and never looked back.
“I remember sitting in my office and he was like this is your last day here,” she discloses in an interview with Jocelyn Vega. “I started picking up stuff from my office in my office and taking it slowly down to my car that day.”
Thank to her industry connections and mentors such as Kenny Burns, she was able to transition into being a full-time promoter. “A lot of times you start as a promoter and then you go to a higher level and then you’re lucky if you’re able to get a music industry job, but I came in with a Rolodex of really great connections. I also sat under Kanye and John—guys whose vision were so crazy and phenomenal in how they view things.”
Her years of learning under her mentors paid off, and true to the Diddy moniker, she went above and beyond to make her name a staple in lifestyle marketing. While most promoters were busy being the life of the party, Miss Diddy was creating the party and married together nightlife and entertainment through star-studded events.
“I was able to look almost from a third eye and really see what was missing and what I can bring to the table because I’m a very business-minded by nature, and a lot of promoters aren’t. I don’t care about sitting here and partying and drinking. I’m not doing any of that. How do we maximize it to make the most of it? What’s going to make this party bigger? What’s going to make it greater? What’s going to make this moment last longer than Usher’s having a party? And we did it every week. It was also important for me to be able to put my artist friends in positions to win.”
"It was also important for me to be able to put my artist friends in positions to win.”
But Diddy wasn’t just satisfied with the applause, she wanted the recognition, too, and to take control of her success by being her own boss. “I was a tour manager with an artist that was a close friend of mine since I was a kid, and we parted ways and I said I never want to be in the position again where someone is able to dictate my livelihood, and I went to go start The Brand Group, and it just went crazy.”
The full-service marketing and PR firm, which currently has a staff of ten employees, solidified Diddy as a branding connoisseur, and soon she was getting calls from clients such as Russell Simmons for re-branding of All Def Comedy Live and celebrity and lifestyle brands looking to get her Midas touch.
On any given day the culture queen has her plate filled with creative meetings to overseeing event production. Having a consistent prayer life keeps her calm in the midst of the daily storms. “It takes a tough and graceful person to be in the position that I’m in. It’s not something that’s easy for anyone. You have to be very levelheaded if you want to be successful, “ Diddy says.
Of course, being the only female in a male-dominated industry isn’t easy; however, being one who can hold her own without getting caught up in the he say she say enables her to strut in her six-inch Louboutins while still getting things done. “In this business the way you’re perceived and viewed is everything,” says Diddy. “I’ve been lucky and blessed to be a very, very respected woman. And I’ve also been blessed to have great work ethic and to have results. I understood that the details don’t matter, they want results. And that’s what I was always able to provide so no one could negate my work, no one could act as if my work didn’t speak for itself, and I think that’s really what it was for me.”
"In this business the way you’re perceived and viewed is everything."
As much as she enjoys living life amongst the rich and the famous, Diddy believes that this is only just the beginning of what she is destined to do. Although she still has a goal of creating a positive impact on the same inner cities that she came from, she’s no longer putting herself on a set timeline to achieve certain goals. “By the time I was 25, I thought I would have bought my mom a Jaguar and I’d have a kid, but life happens. Life evolves, and as long as you’re on track, that’s all that matters.”
But by no means does that mean that this girl boss is going to sit idly by while pursuing a path of purpose, nor is she limiting herself to just being the only woman promoter in L.A. “I’m still a work in progress following God’s dream. Whatever God leads me to do and opens doors for, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Featured image by Prince Williams/WireImage