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 shows 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 [Jims 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?”