We’ve seen the scandal, the tears, and the fights on VH1′s Love & Hip Hop, which follows the lives of women involved either in the music industry or with men who make a living from it. Now, as the show begins its second season, we’ll see new additions, with one being a young boss who brings a different aspect of the business to the table.
Yandy Smith, 29, joins the cast as a young entertainment powerhouse, having worked with industry superstars Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes, and serving as manager to hip-hop artist Jim Jones and model Toccara. Smith got her big break as executive assistant to Mona Scott-Young—co-founder of Violator Management and founder of Scott-Young Monami Entertainment—and went on to work her way up the ranks to broker deals for clients of her own. BlackEnterprise.com talked with the Howard University alum about how reality TV benefits her brand, how she gained success, and how up-and-comers can get their big break.
BlackEnterprise.com: What inspired you to get into the entertainment business, and how did you land your gig with Mona Scott-Young?
Smith: Actually I came in as an intern to her assistant’s assistant. I’d just graduated from Howard, and I wanted to get into entertainment law. I wanted to see what the whole entertainment world was about and decided to seek out an internship. I came across Violator Management. At the time they weren’t looking to hire anyone. I decided I’d come back again, and I’d check back the next week and the following week, until they finally said, “Let’s just give her something to do.” I became an intern after that.
Then from being intern, I became an assistant to Mona’s assistant, and then became Mona’s executive assistant, and now Mona and I are partners.
How did you become involved with Love & Hip Hop?
I actually pitched the show to [the show's now executive producer] Jim Ackerman, but it was a story based on Jim Jones’ life. [Ackerman] thought it was great, so the pilot got picked up, and we started shooting. Shortly after, a lot of things began happening in Jim’s personal life that affected shooting the show. I needed to rework [the concept], and I didn’t want to lose the deal at VH1. So I called Mona to come in and help me rework the idea. She had a great idea she was pitching to another network about the women behind the scenes in hip hop… We [thought of] how to incorporate that with [Jim's story] and the vision came to life.
I loved the show last year. The only thing I would’ve loved to add was to show a woman who stood on her own two feet and didn’t do it on the back of the men in the industry. So after thinking, Who would be that woman? Mona said, “Hey, how about you?”
The blogs have been abuzz about your conflict with Jim Jones’ girlfriend and fellow castmate Chrissy, which reportedly led to your professional split from Jones as his manager. What were the challenges you had, and how best do you think one should handle professional conflicts?
I can’t get into many details about the show, but my best advice is to draw a line, if you can, between business and personal. Sometimes your clients might get you involved in their personal space because you’re not only their manager, sometimes you’re also a psychiatrist, a friend, an adviser. And that sometimes can lead to lines getting crossed. I would say, as much as you can stay out of that, stay out of it.
[The management situation] plays out on the show… I love Jim to death, and not only has he been my client, he’s been my brother, he’s been my best friend for almost eight years now. We’ll always work together in some capacity, whether I’m managing him or not.