Behind the Music: Momager Sonja Norwood Grows ‘Family Business’ Tree

Industry vet has passion for cultivating careers and advocating for women executives

Sonja Norwood plans to take her more than 10 years of experience managing Brandy and Ray J to find success for newbies. (Image: Getty)

I have learned to care for people–not to look at my clients’ photo and not see a human being. If I’m going to involve myself with that individual, I’m going to dedicate myself to reach their goals and dreams the same way I did with Brandy and Ray J. [My clients] are considered family. I want to create a very inviting environment where they can meet other professionals in the business and be successful.

What are some do’s and don’ts of starting one’s own talent agency? Do’s: If you really have a desire to start a talent agency, you have to be willing to work with people and dedicate your career to developing the careers of others. You must have a passion for developing careers, and its not an overnight success type of business. It takes building relationships and really getting out and doing the work. Don’ts: If you’re not a detail-oriented person or if you’re just in it for the short-term, and you don’t want to go through the process, this may not be the thing for you.

You once talked about how in business, being a woman and being firm can come across negatively. How do you approach being a fair, yet firm, businesswoman? I am very much an advocate for women executives. I believe women should walk into a building to get a job wanting to be an executive. We have to understand that fear is our problem. We shouldn’t fear walking into a room to discuss business or be intimidated. If you are prepped when you go in the room and you have your goals and objectives of what you want to accomplish, you’ll be successful. Your goal is to walk in to get what you came to get. When a person says that I’m ‘difficult,’ 99% of the time it means the opposite party feels they couldn’t get what they wanted to get out of me. Or [it could be said], ‘I’m hard to work with’ because the other party was not prepared. Fairness is rare and sometimes you have to fight for it. If you keep your clients in mind at all times, you’ll do what’s in their best interest.

Your daughter, Brandy, has expanded her brand for over a decade from singer to actress to reality TV star to even getting into the hip-hop game. What advice would you have for young black women in the music business when it comes to longevity? Stick to your true beliefs and goals and no matter how rough and tough times are, talent will always rise to the top. I think that image and other factors are a good part of the industry, but talent keeps you here for a long time. Your true talent will sustain you. Always watch your money and your spending. Always look at your checks. And have wisdom. You have to be able to look into the future to see where you want to be 30 years from now. When you’re wise about something, you’ll always be watchful and mindful of what you’re doing.

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  • DIONNDRE

    Sonja norwood is one of the smartest women Manager shes savy and smart. I like how she turned her kids into superstars i have been a fan of her kids for years especially brandy she knows her stuff…