There's something truly admirable about black women who aren't afraid to break barriers, get their hands dirty, or march towards success to the beautiful rhythm of their goals and ambitions. When a black woman wins, it feels like we all win. And as a black woman whose no stranger to the heart and hustle it takes to be successful, Agent Nicole Lynn is a living testament of that truth.
The sports agent/practicing attorney has recently had booming notoriety due to what she's been able to accomplish in the realm of sports, specifically the NFL. Most notably, Lynn earned the title of first female agent to ever represent a top NFL agency, PlayersRep, which would eventually become acquired by Lil Wayne's Young Money APAA Sports. Since then, Lynn has continued to set trails ablaze. Her clientele varies from coaches of both NCAA and NFL teams, to public figures in the entertainment world with an extensive list boasting names that include players from the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and even a prima ballerina. More recently, she's gained significant recognition as the first black woman to represent a Top 3 draft pick in the NFL with NY Jets Defensive Tackle, Quinnen Williams.
Agent Nicole Lynn pictured with Quinnen WilliamsCourtesy of Nicole Lynn
One thing's for sure, Agent Lynn doesn't believe in playing small. And if her track record isn't any indication, she didn't just come to play, she came to win.
In this xoExclusive, Lynn chats with us about her career journey, her history-making wins, and how she stays on top of her game on and off the football field:
xoNecole: When you were in college at OU [The University of Oklahoma], sports were obviously monumental to you. After that, you went from law school to Wall Street. At what point did you decide this was the career path you wanted to pursue, or did you always know this was something you wanted to do at some point?
Nicole Lynn: I didn't always know the exact title of the role I wanted, but I knew I wanted to help athletes to be successful both on and off the field. Because of this, every single move I made was to reach this goal. Every educational and career decision I made has been extremely calculated with the same endgame in mind. I realize it can be rare for someone to almost always have known what they wanted to do in life, but that was the case for me.
Credit: Farran Manuel with Farran Manuel Photography
"Every educational and career decision I made has been extremely calculated with the same endgame in mind. I realize it can be rare for someone to almost always have known what they wanted to do in life, but that was the case for me."
xoNecole: Speaking of keeping your education and career in alignment with what you ultimately came to do, I had no clue law school was a prerequisite to becoming a sports agent prior to learning about you. Can you explain what your educational path was in pursuit of becoming a sports agent?
NL: I didn't just attend the University of Oklahoma because it was in my home state. OU is a football powerhouse where many of the athletes go on to play in the NFL. After completing a business management degree, I went to law school knowing that it would prepare me for the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) agent exam. I interned with the NFLPA before starting as an agent so I could learn everything I could about life after football. I pursued a career in finance knowing that my purpose there was to soak in everything I could to help athletes retain wealth.
xoNecole: As the first black woman to walk this lane and take on this role in your career, did you know going into this field that you would be the first? And does it add any pressure to your day-to-day?
NL: Simply being a woman in this industry, it puts an enormous amount of pressure on me every day. Now, add the fact that I am black and only 30. All of that together is a recipe for immediate doubt and underestimation from both potential clients and fellow sports agents. It's very important to me that I don't allow that to put me in a place where I begin to doubt my own abilities. I know that I have worked extremely hard to get here and that I am just as capable as my male counterparts. For this reason, I went into this industry knowing that I didn't want to just exist. I made it a goal of mine to break stereotypes and make history. When my client's name was called at the 2019 NFL Draft, two people's dreams came true. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be recognized as the first and I look forward to continuing to shift the perception of women in this industry.
Credit: Farran Manuel with Farran Manuel Photography
"Simply being a woman in this industry, it puts an enormous amount of pressure on me every day. Now, add the fact that I am black and only 30. All of that together is a recipe for immediate doubt and underestimation from both potential clients and fellow sports agents. It's very important to me that I don't allow that to put me in a place where I begin to doubt my own abilities."
xoNecole: Oftentimes when navigating predominantly male spaces, we feel the need to blend instead of embracing the things that make us women. What are some ways you own your identity and what are some ways that being a woman in your field might’ve posed a challenge in your career?
NL: People are always shocked when I say that one of my biggest challenges in the sports business is choosing how to style myself for meetings and events. You'll likely catch me in a 5-inch heel and red lipstick on any given day, but I am always very conscious of the way I look because it is what people will see and judge me on first. It's a struggle to say the least, but I am very lucky to have a team that helps me balance my look and stand out as a respected woman in this industry. I am very adamant about not being "one of the boys". I want to be a woman that receives the same level of opportunity and respect as my male counterparts. The goal is not simply to be accepted. The goal will always be to break stereotypes and shift attitudes towards the presence of women in male-dominated spaces. We are just as knowledgeable, hard-working, and deserving as men with similar qualities.
xoNecole: How are you able to balance keeping up with a busy schedule as a wife without one role superseding the other?
NL: I can't lie, it is very difficult to manage my career and personal life. I often share how crazy it is to have two full-time careers on my social media. I'm at the law office most of the week, working sports when I get home at night, and traveling all over the place for my clients on the weekends. I'm sure you can imagine that it is easy for me to be exhausted a lot of the time. However, I am extremely lucky to have an amazing support system surrounding me. I don't know what I would do without my husband. I am so blessed to share this journey with someone that is so genuinely supportive and makes sure that I keep my head on straight. We are really each other's biggest cheerleaders. Also, my friend circle is unmatched! My girls always make sure I'm straight and hold me accountable for dedicating time to self-care. They literally call or Facetime me on my off-day to make sure I'm actually relaxing. God has truly blessed me with family and friends that have my back just as much as I have theirs.
Credit: Farran Manuel with Farran Manuel Photography
"I am very adamant about not being 'one of the boys'. I want to be a woman that receives the same level of opportunity and respect as my male counterparts. The goal is not simply to be accepted. The goal will always be to break stereotypes and shift attitudes towards the presence of women in male-dominated spaces. We are just as knowledgeable, hard-working, and deserving as men with similar qualities."
xoNecole: It’s been such an honor conversing with you, but before I let you go, I just want to mention that being a woman who is also slowly working her own way into the sports industry and finally having someone to look up to well into my adult life, you really do inspire me. What would be your advice to young women who are looking to get into the sports industry as well?
NL: Be dedicated to gaining as much knowledge as you possibly can, even if there is very little financial gain in the beginning. Sometimes the best payment you can get is not monetary. I would also encourage seeking both a mentor and a sponsor. Someone that can guide you and help you learn how to make the best professional decisions, and then someone who is in a decision-making position and has the influence to actually move your career forward. Lastly, I strongly encourage knowing your worth and being unapologetically confident in your abilities. If you have put in the work and you possess the knowledge and skills necessary to get the job done, then you deserve that seat at the table. Don't allow anyone to tell you differently.
Featured image by Farran Manuel with Farran Manuel Photography
Issa Rae has come a long way since writing, producing, and starring as the awkward black girl in her YouTube webseries aptly titled Awkward Black Girl.
The LA native has made a brand from being herself, from her HBO-produced for the culture series Insecure to her recent modeling gig as one of the newest faces for CoverGirl. And now, instead of gracing the feeds of our YouTube subscriptions, she is stunting on us with that leading lady glow at red carpet events, award shows, and cover after cover of some of the biggest publications – we see you AdWeek!
Issa is the gift that keeps on giving and recently, we learned that her partnership with HBO has deepened. She will have not just one show on premium cable – but three!
As if the conversations that constantly circulate around #TeamIssa vs. #TeamLawrence following every episode of the show Insecure weren't enough, Issa has created two more series to provoke the uncomfortable, often controversial dialogue amid the millennial minds of today.
Ms. Rae will – once again – wear the hat of executive producer of both of the new HBO shows, set to premiere in 2018.
The first series is Him & Her, which is a half-hour sitcom centered on a bisexual man as he maneuvers through the varying challenges of dating, love, and relationships.
The other is an hour-long drama, co-created with Scandal writer, Raamala Mohamed, called Sweet Life. It is said to be coming-of-age story that revolves around the black elite and depicts the black upper-middle class community. Think Beverly Hills 90210 meets Baldwin Hills.
Yearlong subscriptions to HBO Go are about to be lit!
Everything Issa touches seems to turn gold, so there's no doubt the public will respond positively and support her new shows just like they do when they clamor around the TV to issue their dissertations on Insecure on Twitter in real-time. What's the secret behind Issa's success?
Well, it's probably her relatability and her FUBU demeanor. In every interview, she carries herself like someone who knows exactly who she is and what she brings to the table just as much as she is fully aware of who her platform is for. It's no surprise that black girls, women, even men are all here for it.
As someone who has witnessed Issa Rae's career unfold beautifully, this is a huge stepping stone because it's a come up for black women in film and entertainment. Every new level Issa reaches, means that a new door opens up for the black woman behind her.
It's more than just a black girl's magic moment, Issa takeover!
Featured image via Giphy
It's yet another winning moment for black girls around the world, because it's law that when one of us wins, we all win.
Black girl magic remained the anthem over the weekend when Olympic-hopeful Maame Biney solidified her position as an athlete to watch. Maame has found her true purpose in life as a speedskater. And although she was once told that she could no longer figure skate because she skated too fast, Maame became the first black woman to be added to U.S. Olympic speedskating team!
In doing so, she has also become the second black person to qualify, following in the footsteps of Shani Davis who qualified for the Winter Games back in 2002.
The 17-year-old Ghana native is yet another reminder that black girls really are the future. Girl can move!
During this past weekend's speedskating trials, Maame conquered two victorious 500-meter rounds. But with every win, comes a fail. The teenager saw the saw the humor in it though, and laughed the whole time. She told ESPN about the hilarious moment following her historic win:
"When I realized that made the Olympic team, I started cheering like crazy, and then I made my epic fall."
Fortunately, she was able to get back up again:
"I can't believe it, aww geez. It's a really good feeling, but it has to set in first because it takes me a while. I'm like, 'Holy cow.'"
Her black girl joy is contagious and her skill is undeniable.
Although more of a metaphor, an arsenal of people are in Maame's corner, rooting for her success this winter. This includes her coaches, John-Henry Krueger and J.R. Celski, and a proud father. In fact, her dad's motto is: "Kick some hiney Biney!"
And that's exactly what she did.
We are all rooting for you, Maame! Congratulations on this incredible milestone and your success moving forward.
Watch Maame do her thing below.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I was in middle school, humming the lyrics to Eve's Gotta Man and pretending to embody the confidence of my then-idols. In my mind, I had the love of my life, the bomb career, and the sex appeal.
The black women I admired on television had all this swag and charisma that I assumed would automatically come with age; I literally could not wait to grow up. Now that I'm older and have redefined what success looks like from my point of view, who I look up to has evolved significantly since middle school.
We all know her as Eve, the rapper, the first lady of the Ruff Rider label, the movie star, and the star of the eponymous UPN sitcom Eve. Radiant, collected, and all grown up, Eve is back and she's better. With a fresh approach to life, her career, and what role she has as a businesswoman coming up in the music industry, Eve has entered the spotlight once again, gracing the stage as one of the hosts of the popular daytime talk show series, TheTalk in place of Aisha Tyler, who recently left the show.
Now that she has added yet another accolade to her lengthy resume, it's dawned on me how I am still able to relate to Eve on an adult level.
Like many women that came before her, as well as those continuing to raise the bar in their respective industries, Eve shows millennial women how having a support system in place has actually helped her adjust to this new career opportunity. Eve explained the speedy hiring process and what it meant for her tribe, consisting of her husband and four stepchildren, who would have to figure out how they'd make things work with her living in California and her new family being in Europe.
"It didn't take that long. I came out that first week and did that test week. The next week I went back home to London. I got a call probably that Wednesday or Thursday, saying they're gonna make a decision soon and then by like Monday or Tuesday they were like 'They want you.' I was like, 'Wait a minute, what?' Because my husband and I were like 'What are we going to do if this happens?' and he was like, 'We'll deal with it,' and then it was like, 'Let's deal with it if it happens,' and then when it did it was one of those 'Yay! Oh sh**!' kinda things, but he's so supportive and he loves California and my stepkids love California. They were excited like 'Are we gonna go to school out there?' I was like, 'Let me just get the job first.' It's exciting, it's an exciting chapter. I stepped back for awhile, so to get to come back on this kind of platform is amazing. I feel very happy and blessed to be here."
Leaving fans in the dark can be risky, especially in an industry where everything is constantly changing. In a recent segment of The Talk, Eve opened up about her struggle to keep up with the rest of the world via social media.
"...I've teared up twice since I've been on the job already, but at the same time it's kinda nice. I'm not the best at social media, I feel like I don't share that much. I am a slow sharer, so being on this, where you are talking about topics and stuff — my first week I was like 'I don't know if I want to say this much…' — but after I started opening up, it actually feels good. It actually feels nice that there could be people in the audience or people watching that feel the same way. It's nice, the support that you get from the audience."
And when asked how she handles social media backlash to some of her commentary on the show, particularly in regards to an unpopular opinion like the one she shared after Nicki Minaj graced the Break The Internet cover for Paper Magazine, Eve gracefully gave insight as to why you won't see her clapping back on social anytime soon.
"Some people don't deserve responses. Any kind of social media, you kinda want to clapback, but you're giving them what they're looking for. I'm learning, I'm definitely learning but at the same time everyone is entitled to their opinions regardless."
Overall, it's empowering to witness another woman's evolution and Eve is no exception. Every level requires a brand new set of responsibilities that can be overwhelming to undertake, but less than two months in her new role, Eve already seems completely in her element as a television personality. She is truly living in her moment.
Check out some of our favorite winning Eve moments on The Talk so far below:
When Eve shared her thoughts on Nicki Minaj's racy magazine cover:
When Eve confirmed that she's trying to have a baby but kept it real that she didn't want to keep being asked about it:
When Eve spilled the tea on a rival rapper trying to steal her shine at her show:
Keep shining Eve! The only direction to move is up and forward, a mantra all of us girl bosses can learn from.