China L’One: “Diversity is not just about race”

Dealing with programmed psychology that certain races will not be supported and given opportunities. We talk about glass ceilings but in my opinion the ceiling is created and if we don’t see a ceiling and truly believe that the sky is our limit — this kind of thinking goes a long way As a part of my series […]

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Dealing with programmed psychology that certain races will not be supported and given opportunities. We talk about glass ceilings but in my opinion the ceiling is created and if we don’t see a ceiling and truly believe that the sky is our limit — this kind of thinking goes a long way

As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing China L’One.

China L’One is a two time award winning entrepreneur and International Female DJ. In 2012 she founded the now renowned We Run the World Female DJ Agency Ltd — an all-female DJ agency based in London which she also manages. China’s primary aim in setting up the agency, was to raise the profile, awareness and skills of female DJ’s worldwide, while also securing DJ bookings for them. China L’One has a BA Degree in Media Art and Music Technology. Although a British citizen, she was born in Sierra Leone and came to the UK at the age of 13.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am a Female DJ and I know this is not the conventional career path, but I followed my passion. It has not been easy but when you are passionate about something and you truly follow your dream, it is less of a chore. It was not just about me though because as my career grew and got more established, I crossed paths with other talented female DJs. We shared the same passion as well as the same challenges, so it made sense to bring as many of us together as possible. My goal became to raise the awareness of female DJs worldwide, pushing for equality and opportunities for female DJs. My company today provides that platform where female DJs from all walks of life are promoted, a platform where they can be seen, heard, and represented.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In the US, I believe you celebrate Black History in February however here in England, Black History Month is celebrated in October. October 2019 is etched in my memory forever! I received a telephone call from someone claiming to be from Number 10 Downing Street which is the official residence and the office of the British Prime Minister. I was being invited to Number 10 (as we call it in England) for recognition of my contribution to our industry and to celebrate Black History Month. I thought this was a prank, however, this turned out to be true! Not only was I profiled, my agency was also recognised for the work we do. It was an honour to be asked to play at this event amongst other business leaders.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Running a DJ agency! How hard can it be? My ultimate mistake was thinking that it would be super-easy running a DJ agency. I really hadn’t considered and taken the business aspects into account. From managing other people, to payroll, advertising, presentation skills and so much more. I didn’t have a clue and I was expected to create profiles to showcase the amazing skills of these fabulous women. Realising this, I had to work on my mentoring and leadership skills to better support the team — it was certainly not just about the music! Haha!

Ok thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?

When we talk about popular culture, these are beliefs and practices that are prevalent and/or are dominant in a particular society. The US is no doubt the KING when it comes to the entertainment industry, it is where all dreams are achievable so my agency, with its diverse group of amazing women, brings the spice. I am leading a company that brings female DJ’s from all over, from different backgrounds which not only fits and enhances, but adds value to the US population — there is something from everyone!

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?

A lovely young woman comes to mind (DJ Natalie Rooche). She moved from Ireland to London as a make-up artist and was also DJ’ing as a hobby. Natalie found my agency online, got in contact and I saw something in her that was special. I mentored her, walked her through the key steps she needed to take, and the rest they say is history. I am proud of her as she is now a full-time professional DJ — who has played worldwide in places such as Dubai, Spain and Switzerland just to name a few.

As an insider, this might be obvious to you, but I think it’s instructive to articulate this for the public who might not have the same inside knowledge. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?

Which other industry creates as much joy and happiness more than the entertainment industry? Very few in my opinion!

· Diversity is not just about race. In my agency, we have female DJs from all walks of life. The female perspective is more nurturing and more loving and inclusive by nature

· Entertainment is an art! Art is an expression of life, culture, and spirituality so if you only have one narrow view you miss the wide spectrum of inspiration and talent

· We would lose the potential of different thinking and different mindset is we have the same singular viewpoint

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do to help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

1. Dealing with programmed psychology that certain races will not be supported and given opportunities. We talk about glass ceilings but in my opinion the ceiling is created and if we don’t see a ceiling and truly believe that the sky is our limit — this kind of thinking goes a long way

2. Be part of a positive mentality rather than a negative one. This means boosting and challenging each other in a positive way. The women in my agency value themselves and use their skills to promote positivity

3. Embracing and respecting culture in the industry. It doesn’t matter if you are based in the US, in the UK, in Africa — we all bring something unique to the table and together we can truly create magic. It is starting to happen but we need more

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is being the example! Today more than ever before leadership is needed and leaders need to be vulnerable and open enough to honest, to listen and truly lead by example. It’s time to get into the trenches, into the arena with our people — encouraging and supporting.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

There are things I wish someone had told me when I first started my business however, it is never too late to learn. The crime is in knowing and not implementing in my opinion. So here are five things which are somewhat interlinked that I wish someone had told me:

1. Be myself and authentic: I spent a long time trying to be what I believed others wanted to see and its exhausting takes too much energy and got me nowhere.

2. Trust in my character and values: you know that first thought or action? Trust it!

3. There will be dark days so have faith: Faith is believing without seeing and I have learned to believe.

4. Failure is option — just keep knocking on those doors as if you are not prepared to fail, you will never win.

5. There is no glass ceiling to smash

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire a movement that reflects my values, one that brings people from all works of life together, regardless of their race, gender, culture or lifestyle. A movement that acknowledges our differences, our struggles, our successes but yes sees us all as #One

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I am going to cheat here a little and merge two quotes if I may

There is a famous African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together” and then overlay that with a simple but powerful Michelle Obama quote which says “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” — I believe these two quotes underpin everything I am doing and trying to achieve

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I love this question! It has to be the one and only Michelle Obama of course! Her tenacity! Her Values! She gives me confidence, she is relatable, she rose from the grassroots up, nurtured a sick parent like I am today — I just love her!

Reading her book and watching her Netflix documentary I would absolutely love to meet her, that’ll be a dream come true. I would hug her for being brave and having the stamina to endure all that she did. A strong black woman who oozes endurance and pride — I want to be her when I grow up 😊

How can our readers follow you on social media?

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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