The Rock the Mic lecture series entered its third consecutive year this past Thursday with media mogul and producer Mona Scott-Young kicking off the program in N.C. Central University’s B.N. Duke Auditorium.
Scott-Young is the CEO of the $30 million production company Monami Entertainment, which produces VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop” franchise, and co-founder of the Violator Management multimedia conglomerate and record label that housed some of the most popular hip-hop starts at the turn of the 21st century. Violator’s acts included Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J and Missy Elliot, who Scott-Young herself manages to this day.
Scott-Young’s lecture focused primarily on how she achieved her success and why she chose to work in the entertainment industry. She started off by commending students for “pursuing excellence” by going to college, since she never went.
“This is my college experience,” said Scott-Young. “Sitting here (and) talking with you all is the only college experience I know.”
However, she wanted to be clear that education doesn’t only take place in schools.
“Education comes through life, and that’s really the foundation of my education,” Scott-Young said.
Part of that foundation came from bearing witness to her mother Jeanine’s own success. She was an illiterate single mother, which was surprising given that young Mona and her mother lived in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“Seeing how well off we were even though my mom couldn’t read or write helped me realize anything is possible,” said Scott-Young of her mother’s ambition. “How dare I not succeed if she could?”
Scott-Young then spoke about how she set about entering the entertainment industry through taking a dance class and believing then that “entertainment chose (her).” From that realization, she took it upon herself to get educated on the business, feeling that it was her responsibility.
When asked what to expect when working for her, Scott-Young said it was “very exacting, very demanding, but in a mutually beneficial way.” This prompted two students in the audience to give her their résumés in hopes of a job. Scott-Young was pleased at the students taking initiative.
“This is what I like to see—you’ve got to do what you have to do to do what you want to do.”
The next Rock the Mic lecturer will be actress and stage director Phylicia Rashad on Nov. 8.