L+A: What was it like growing up?
My family has definitely been through a lot over the years, but I’ve always felt loved; i’m the only girl, I have three brothers. They’re so many pictures from my birthdays as a child and you could see my parents needless to say went IN! I had a themed birthday every year with extravagant dresses, etc. My god mother, who also lived upstairs from us and who I called grandma, used to babysit me when my mom went to work. They were like my second family and made sure I was primped and pretty. I was a ‘JIGGY’ kid in my baby pictures (HAHA). They always pushed me to do my best, have manners, be polite, and be me above all. My parents always made sure education was a priority in my life. My parents always made sure education was a priority in my life
My brother who has cerebral palsy - and at a point in time it was just me and him - I was his shadow, we did everything together – he watched wrestling I watched wrestling too, he watched BET I watched BET too. Little did my brother know he put me on to HIP HOP. He had crazy CD collections and loved R&B and HIP HOP. We would vibe out together — he is one of the biggest inspirations behind why I push myself as hard as I do everyday. Looking at my little brother and looking at his limitations in life, how dare I make an excuse for myself.
“My brother is a daily inspiration to me, and everything I do, I owe it to him to be successful”
L+A: Tell us about one of the first projects you’ve ever worked on?
I started a blog “Tea Time with Ivy" it had no direction at all at the time. I was literally writing about whatever was on my mind, whether it was sports, relationships, specifically “how to get over a break up”, which was my most popular article that I had written. Eventually, as I began to grow, I felt I needed direction as to where I saw my brand going, so I figured I’d keep it around things I found interesting like music, celeb gossip, etc. I started interviewing my friends who I wanted to highlight because I think they’re dope!
“That’s what it’s all about support. You gotta support your friends before you support the people that don’t even know you.”
L+A: How did the radio show come about?
I’ve always wanted to see how I could elevate the platform that I had been given at that time, so I figured a radio show translates better with people. It was literally an idea and my friends encouraged me so much because they thought I had such a great personality already. I was in Queens College at the time so I transferred to Brooklyn College because they’re known for having an outstanding tv/media program. I immediately started interning at their radio station and 3 months later I had my own show. That for me was the beginning of my career now —The Ivy Rivera Show.
L+A: How would you say your radio show has evolved since then?
I had an all-female crew and I just wanted to prove that in this male dominated industry we can hold it down, which was the sole purpose. Eventually with time I had to understand that people have their own agendas and endeavors, their need to explore in their own personal lives so I couldn’t hold on to them. I had to learn EVERYTHING! I learned how to make mixes on my own for my shows, booking people, and writing the content for the show. It was very time consuming and hard but this was something I was truly passionate about and it grew into more then I could’ve imagine at the time. I’ve been doing this for 4 years, I still have the same day and time of the radio show. I never lost its consistency and I think that its something that’s allowed me to become so successful.
“I'm not where I was 4 years ago and I thank god for that. I’m an example that consistency and hard work really prevails at the end of the road.”
For a lot of people who start up their own brands, I always push them to not stop because it always seems hopeless in the beginning and you feel like no one is really catching traction to you, but they’re not going to catch traction until you’ve proved to them that you are really about this. So many people start things and never finish.
L+A: Tell us more about your radio show currently?
Right now I have a weekly live streamed radio show that is on from 7-8 on an independent network based out of Washington D.C called ‘Ripped Radio Network’. I’ve been with them for about 2 years now. They actually reached out to me back when I was at Brooklyn College expressing interest in me being on their network. Of course I jumped on the opportunity because it didn’t have to be Power 105 or iHeart Radio, I was just honored at the fact that someone saw something in me and was willing to give me that opportunity. Overtime we grew a great relationship and I was traveling back and forth to Washington very often. Basically it's a weekly recap of everything going on in the entertainment business; I try to stay away from gossip and focus more on the music and the culture or things that can stimulate peoples mind.
L+A: What are some of your favorite interviews?
All of my interviews are my favorite but the interview that really stuck out to me was my interview with Chris Rivers - the son of Big Pun. I say that because he allowed himself to be so vulnerable with me and sharing something from his past that I know was not easy to share with anybody; and I was so honored to receive that privilege. I remember speaking with him after and he told me he never listens to his interviews, but this was one that he did and he enjoyed it, so for me that felt amazing. Prior to interviewing him I was on a mission to meet him because we’re fake cousins (haha) from our Puerto Rican blood line we need to at least cross paths and when I finally did we instantly clicked - especially because of our energy - he agreed to come on the show. He’s so intelligent and I absolutely admire his story considering everything he’s been thorough.
Angie Martinez as well, OF COURSE! She is an icon, a super fucking legend! I felt like I was interviewing who I was going to be in the next 20 years. It was nerve wrecking but exciting at the same time. The interview was so New York! We were literally uptown in Dyckman, we had gotten Mofongo , and were touring the city on a double decker bus, touring places in the city that meant something to her at different stages of her life. We drove by Hot 97, this club that she celebrated her 25th birthday that Biggie was at, etc. Not only did I go on a tour with her and got her book but, I also got to talk to her. There were only 3 people who got a chance to interview her and I was the only one doing a video. So they told me I had 2-3 minutes, that interview ended up being 7 minutes long. In the midst of me interviewing her Fat Joe and Remy Ma came up, but Angie made sure she came back to finish that interview with me. That meant so much to me, because it showed it mattered to her, which I truly appreciated. That interview alone defined a lot of my career.
L+A: Have you ever had a challenging interview or just didn’t click with the interviewee?
for me I felt like that happened often in the beginning, it truly depends on who you talk to and the type of energy you deliver. Artists will open up as long as you make them feel comfortable, which was something I struggled with at first because when you’re interviewing an artist it’s like meeting someone for the first time and you have to break the ice. Not only are they in your home, you have to make them feel at home themselves.
I’m not going to say I had challenging interviews, but I will say some artists need media training. They give bad interviews, they don’t know how to tell their stories or be professional.
“I have to put the pressure on myself to make sure everything is going good, because I feel like I can’t give anyone that responsibility. Because no one is going to do things and go as hard as you are for something that you’re passionate about. Nobody is ever going to understand and feel more passionate about your dream than you”
L+A: Has there ever been a time you struggled? How did you stay positive?
you know I'm in a place where I'm a lot more confident in my path/career. There were times where I was in major doubt because there was no money coming in or opportunity coming by for that matter. For me, it scared me because I was like what the hell do I do? I don’t want to get a 9-5 job and have that steal all of my time from doing what I love. I had to make that sacrifice, to be broke and out here grinding and proving to myself more than anything that I can do what I love.
“It took a while for me to learn the art of hustle, the only thing that stopped me from making money wasn’t the lack of opportunity it was the lack of self-confidence! You can get money in many ways.”
One of my biggest things was I had too much pride to go and talk to my friends and ask for help, and to me it’s like that’s what your friends are there for, to help you! However for me it was like, well, I’ve asked for help, they’re going to hold it over my head, which is what I struggled with a lot. I never wanted anyone walking around saying they made me, you got me to the door and I thank you, but ultimately where I am is because of my consistency and persistence.
"I wasn’t going to level up if I kept allowing myself to feel like I can do everything by myself”
there’s no real strategy to making it out of that dark space but it does start with a lot of self-acceptance and self-understanding. I had to dig deep within myself and understand certain things about me needed to change — it was either stick with it or do something about it. A lot of people use their traumatic experience as an excuse to how they are the way they are in the present; and my thing is if you’re aware of that, why not do something about it? Why are you living in this heavy dark place? Get out of it and evolve! People forget to congratulate themselves and look at all the things they’ve done this far — whereas instead they’re looking for what’s next which leads to never being satisfied and always wanting more.
L+A: Has there been a defining moment for you this year?
MTV had reached out to me and even though I didn’t land what I auditioned for, the fact that I was reached out to, from this specific network to come in for an interview to be the host of ‘YO! MTV RAPS’ was amazing in itself. They told me how they’ve heard my radio show and love it as well as my personality. Hearing that made me cry/scream at the same time, because it proved to me that everything I'm doing doesn’t go unnoticed. I prepared for that interview for 7 days straight and I know I nailed that interview because I was brought back for a second time, because they heard I had a great first interview. Now this second audition was for TRL-not only was the experience nostalgic but it was an overwhelming feeling from watching Carson Daly and LALA, and thinking I could potentially be the face of that and the reintroduction in New York as a Latina woman! That was an amazing feeling!
L+A: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Truth be told I go with the flow because as people we are forever evolving and things ultimately change. I like to keep my mind open to other possibilities. I know that I have passion for being a personality, but I want to explore how far I can go in this industry! I would love to be “the Diddy in the industry”. I want to know all the politics of working at a record label, what it’s like to manage and build artist, own my own network and producing things; the list goes on! I’m trying to really network and have multiple incomes.
I just started this job at an independent record label as an urban marketing assistant—and the exposure is helping me explore a whole new side of the industry, which excites me because I know I can attack this industry by storm! I want to be unstoppable!
“The people I look up to don’t do just one thing, a true boss doesn’t do just one thing. They do EVERYTHING”
L+A: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a woman?
It would be from my mom; and as cliché as it is “Fuck what everyone thinks” people’s opinions have such an effect on others, if and once you stop caring about them and convince yourself of your own truths it makes things so much easier for yourself.
My thing growing up was I wanted everyone to like me, so their opinions mattered to me. One thing I learned is to never take peoples opinion in vain. Because if they don’t say what you want to hear you have to learn to take it as some type of constructive criticism. Everyone isn’t going to have the best things to say about you, but take that and keep it noted in the back of your head.
“"you have to be in your own head and feed yourself your own medicine”
Photo Credit: Ismail Calligrafist, Anibok, Angielmv