She’s the daughter of a billionaire—glam and fabulous—but nothing in her career journey spells nepotism. While she could’ve taken one of two stereotypical paths many children of wealthy, affluent parents take—a life of extravagance and leisure or that of a ready-made cushy job of prestige—she chose a nontraditional and oftentimes hard-knock one.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria and educated in the U.K., Florence “DJ Cuppy” Otedola has one of the world’s richest businessmen on speed dial—her father, Femi Otedola, chairman of Forte Oil PLC, who has a reported net worth of $1.6 billion. Instead of getting into the very lucrative energy industry, she followed her heart to spin hits around the world for powerhouses of entertainment, media, and business brands including House of DVF, MTV Africa, Tatler, Christie’s, and the Financial Times. She was the face of a major tourism campaign for a country boasting one of the top emerging economies in the world—Nigeria—launched House Of Cuppy exhibitions with Africa’s top entertainers, landed an internship at uber-cool entertainment company Roc Nation—the savvy brainchild of hip-hop icon Jay Z—and launched her own entertainment imprint, Red Velvet Music Group, all before the age of 25.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with this young global phenom during a break from her master’s studies at New York University to talk about her inspiration to pursue a creative career, how she responds to haters who attribute her success to her last name, and how she’s working to expose the world to today’s Neo-Africa culture and music.
BlackEnterprise.com: You’re becoming quite the international sensation as a young boss and entertainer. What initially inspired you to choose music and DJing?
I think my inspiration comes from passion. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria—a city filled with diverse culture and one that is positioned as one of the highest content-producing countries in Africa. Growing up around a creative environment, my love for traditional music grew at a young age. My parents had us involved in arts, music, and drama, so as child, a love and respect for our rich culture was put in me. When I moved to England as a teen, I had a connection with my continent’s music that has stuck with me even to today. It’s amazing to now be in a field where my job is to make amazing fusions of sounds and work with people’s content. I always say, “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
You’re currently a student at NYU getting your master’s degree in music business. Why continue your studies in New York, and how have your studies played a role in your work as a DJ?
The move to New York was prompted by the fact that I wanted to gain new experiences. I like to consider myself a sponge… I like to travel and learn new things while taking a piece of Africa with me. It’s been exciting introducing this side of the pond to the Cuppy brand. The plan is to learn as much as I can and find fusions that I can take back home from my experiences abroad.
Your father is one of the most wealthy people in the world, having become a successful businessman in energy. What business and career lessons have you learned from him?
When I said I wanted to DJ at age 16, he said, “Well, you must be the best.” I’ve always had ambition, and I’ve seen my parents work very hard. We were raised with a strong work ethic, and there’s a lot of healthy competition in the family. My dad always challenges me to be the best version of myself. In an environment like the music industry, it’s a fast-paced environment where there can be comparisons to measure how successful you are. I’m challenged to be the best Cuppy, not anyone else.
My dad has also always stressed to me that anything worth doing is worth doing well—to strive for quality not quantity, making sure you’re consistent with what you’re trying to achieve. Rather than being a master of all trades, you’re focused and invested in doing something great that can grow and progress. Even though I’m expanding my talents in different ways, I’m also focused on having a core set of skills that I’m invested in and improving.
Find out more on DJ Cuppy’s top career lessons and how she responds to naysayers who attribute her success to her billionaire last name on the next page …