I arrived in NYC against my parents’ wishes with two suitcases, chump change, and a mountain of student loan debt. My single-parent aunt believed in me, despite my father making it crystal clear to her this wasn’t what he and my mother thought was best. I already changed locations twice after graduation. My aunt and two impressionable little cousins offered a couch to sleep on and one empty closet. That was more than I could ask for considering I no longer had my apartment and had sold my car to come to the Bronx.

In Woodbridge, Virginia, I was a beauty supervisor for Victoria’s Secret by day, and a celebrity event freelancer by night. Unfortunately, this translated to several DC promoters as me being a sweet piece of party reporting. My aspirations were grander. Upon shipping my last few belongings from Virginia to New York, my stepsister and stepfather damned me to hell. I hit my breaking point with them. Truthfully, they’d never encouraged me the way I desired.  I was ill used, and as a result, I assured them they wouldn’t “hear from me as long as there was air in my lungs.” I kept my word.  Thus, Kingsbridge, BX became home again, to me and my recently fractured arm – making it difficult to unpack or write.

The transition to the New York market only proved more savage. I clung to my virtue tighter than ever, no pun intended. My confidence was broken, but my aunt encouraged me to pursue my dreams.  Unsure of how I’d do it, I vowed to never live an average life. An imprint within Universal Music Group had an opening as an unpaid intern. My family reiterated to me I needed a “real job.” Music imaginings didn’t pay the bills; not yet, anyhow.

I produced electronic press kits (EPKs) and composed artist bios. One in particular was for a producer signed with Universal Music Publishing Group. One contact led to the next, and finally placed me on a phone call with a cutthroat Los Angeles based associate. I was petrified to chat but conveyed my hunger.

She forewarned me that music was a man’s game, so, I would do twice the work for a quarter of the praise – even those numbers were generous. Also, if selected, I’d be the only woman, with the exception of a director who didn’t deal with the “street team nonsense.” Record labels require 24/7 availability; that meant I’d be on call with no tangible guarantees.

This was it! I waited my entire life for a chance, and I refused to squander it. It was sink or swim, and there was no time for hand-holding. In came the never-ending grunt work, midnight calls, early mornings, and cheesecake walks. I continued to write artists bios for indie artists and create EPKs between my new executive and talent demands. This gave me just enough to maintain my train fare and well-rounded dollar-pizza diet. Farewell metabolism!

Nothing prepares you for the music industry. The president of the imprint had advanced from being a former intern. He was cultured, chart-topping, and unpretentious. I respected him because he challenged me, but never violated my womanhood. Mr. President was the American dream personified. Conversely, his previously hazed executive assistant spoke to me harsher than any of the crew, so I growled back louder than he anticipated. Truthfully, he owned no authority over company dealings with exception of me. Hence the unwarranted flexing. That was short-lived glory.

I arrived studious, inquiring about company objectives, deadlines, and required protocol. No matter how empty my wallet was, I always had heart. The assistant sought a pet, not a lioness in training. Where others of grassroots stature were willing to sell their soul, I refused to be affronted by a junior. We developed a lengthy history of vulgar disputes.

Two months into my internship, I earned consideration for a full-time entry position. I even wrote additional artist bios to be able to afford a new suit prior to my interview. Naturally, the assistant thought this was the perfect day to mandate I walk outside in the snow – wearing a skirt suit and heels for his breakfast cereal. He directed me to a store five blocks away. (They had the cheapest Kellogg’s around). I wanted nothing more than to rip through him; however, I was aware he was reaching for a rise. His motive was to label me useless.

I grabbed my coat and walked to the pharmacy attached to the Universal Music Group building. I purchased the cereal with my money, returned his given change, and told him, “My treat.” This infuriated him. He rushed to the outworker interviewing me and classified me as insubordinate. He spent an exasperating thirty minutes with her behind closed doors prior to our formal meeting. 

“Seriously? Why is this guy determined to block my blessings,” I wondered. Upon extending my hand to greet my interviewee, I could tell she was preconditioned. With time, she gathered I was not thoughtless. I prayed she experienced an incident like mine. The assistant could have won an Oscar award for his theatrics. Still, I made no mention of him or his incessant antics. I remained unflustered and agreeable.

I returned again with the remaining candidates for a few more of what felt like endless interviews. Soon, I bowed my head in appreciation upon being offered the role – grateful to not waste my aunt’s optimism. She was my guardian angel. Relatives who turned me away soon began to believe in my pursuit. And I made sure to leave the cereal box on my desk, alongside my counterpart, for the next few months. He merely saw me scratch the surface.

About The Author

Bianca Alysse is a creatively driven Bronx-born writer and editor. Before becoming The Knockturnal‘s music editor she served as Latina‘s creative coordinator and was a contributor at Billboard. The Boricua scribe has a lengthy resume in the music industry and has penned for Universal Music Publishing Group, Epic Records, G.O.O.D. Music, Compound Entertainment, Artistry & Récords, and Arcade Creative Group. Her work has been seen on platforms like VIBE, mitú, TIDAL, Remezcla, and behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week. As an independent contractor, she has written for Sony Music Entertainment’s global business affairs department, Warner Music Group, and currently Roc Nation.

5 Responses

  1. Yvette

    I couldn’t believe he called me for that. I remember exactly where I was standing & the conversation.


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