Entertainment is the driving factor of popular culture. My company and the LIQUID SOUL agency are producing a fully vetted and curated Black TV & Film Conference that will be a solution to an old narrative that the pool of qualified black candidates is small. This conference will create immediate and tangible opportunities for African Americans looking for jobs in the TV & Film industry.
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 Emona Matthews.
Emona Matthews is the Founder and President of Music Supervision and Creative Licensing for Blaze Unlimited, a creative Music Agency. Emona has been working in the TV/Film music industry for approximately 6 years. Her illustrious background includes working as a Music Supervision Associate for Sony/ATV ‘s Extreme Music and a position at Rostrum Records to spearhead the creation of their new one-stop-shop catalog, DRIP Library. Prior to that, she handled music coordination for Kevin Durant’s Showtime project entitled “Basketball County: In the Water “ in her role as Head of Music Supervision and Creative Licensing at House Music Group.
Emoni is living proof that it is important to aim high and never accept no as a final answer. Her experience, talent, ear for music combined with her innate fearlessness and determination are the keys to her success. Her latest venture Blaze Unlimited was co-founded with Grammy award-winning engineer Jake Vicious. She is also creating some exciting, novel ways to help others follow in her footsteps.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
You Know, it’s really crazy to say but, I didn’t know my current career was a job until my senior year in college. It was a year after my sophomore year internship at Paramount Pictures and I’d just completed my junior internship with John Anderson and Jeff Grey at Hunnypot Unlimited Publishing. For Paramount, I worked in the Music Archives department because all the other music department roles were taken, and I know how to read music. The amazing archive team gave me a very gracious gift on my last day. I didn’t really dig into the contents of the packaging until I was moving into my dorm senior year. The box of goodies included a ton of Star Trek and Indiana Jones keepsakes, but there was also a book titled “Music Supervision” by Ramsay Admas, David Hnatiuk, and Davie Weiss. I wish I‘d found it before my Junior year internship with Jeff and John since they introduced me to the synchronization world and a lot of their long-time colleagues were mentioned in the book! But let’s just say I fell in love with the sync community. So, I did my homework my senior year right before going into the real world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Every day in the sync world is an interesting story! However, it had to be when I struggled to decide between starting my own company and looking for a job. This decision is never made lightly; however, the lack of security and uncertainty of opportunities was compounded as my field was literally on pause during these crazy times. I still made that jump. Yet, even when I announced that I made that jump mid — COVID my colleagues and clients were very supportive and oddly relieved that I finally did my own thing.
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?
I don’t know about other industries, but in mine, there’s a period of time when sending cold emails and calls is a must to build your Clientele. When I first started reaching out to people about a catalog I’d built for Rostrum records it was all about sending cold emails. During that time, I was using a template that I had copied and pasted. Unfortunately, for about 50 emails I’d copied and pasted emails with the wrong name in the intro. That led to replies that were quite interesting. Some ignored the mistake, some to this day have never forgotten it, and some just made a joke about it or responded “I don’t know who Bob is but Jessica Is glad to meet you.” The lesson I learned is to pay attention to detail and you can never cheat or cut and paste your way to create a relationship.
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?
Absolutely. Entertainment is the driving factor of popular culture. My company and the LIQUID SOUL agency are producing a fully vetted and curated Black TV & Film Conference that will be a solution to an old narrative that the pool of qualified black candidates is small. This conference will create immediate and tangible opportunities for African Americans looking for jobs in the TV & Film industry.
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?
This is a new initiative and we have yet to open applications. But the type of candidate I hope it impacts is the young Black girl or boy in an area like Sitka, Alaska who is talented and qualified but may not be able to experience such an event or opportunity in their location, or where their location or financial situation isn’t the deciding factor of their future.
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?
Diversity literally makes the world go around. Hiring people of diverse backgrounds to fill roles in front and behind the cameras is a great way to reflect our world. Society has long used and exploited different cultures, it is now time to embrace and understand our cultures and help the industry connect with broader audiences.
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?
Yes, I can recommend a few tactics. First, it’s time to hire qualified Black candidates. And, we need to amplify the voices that have been unheard and make sure we don’t underestimate a candidate with experience who doesn’t have a degree.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is a noun and an action that needs to be taken seriously and held with the highest regard. It also means selfless rewards. This means that through your movements and goals you should expect take action and expect nothing in return, except the knowledge that your efforts have positively changed the future.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Everyone’s path is unique. I had to learn success has many paths and its never a wrong move to follow a road you believe in 1000%.
- Clients can be friends too. I soon learned that you must know someone as a friend and a colleague to truly be an asset. Not every client is the same and shouldn’t be treated in the same way.
- Just because you are not white does not mean you are not right! I had to learn to stand up for my opinion and that my opinion is necessary to change my industry.
- It’s ok to make mistakes. Although I’ve made plenty in my time, I’ve only fallen in love with making mistakes just recently. Mistakes equal growth and growth reminds you that you are still living.
- College is what you make it. I utilized college as a way to network horizontally with people I knew were as hungry as I was to be in an industry that seemed to be only for the connected and strong.
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 start an open Forum movement. This would be an opportunity for everyone to speak not just in a social media forum but in a way that creates immediate change, help or comfort. In such an isolated world the biggest movement that can happen is one that encourages us all to come together.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My late Grandma, Marvella, who I lovingly called Della, once said “I told You no a million times …. What are you afraid of?” She meant very literally that many times in my life she’s told me no even when I felt like I deserved a yes. So, if I can hear “No” from her, why am I afraid of hearing no from anyone else? She also told me that I should show them why the “no” would have been a maybe and why the maybe should have been a yes. Bottom line is never just take “no” and don’t let hearing “no” be the reason why you don’t try at all.
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. 🙂
Since I was in high school I. knew my purpose was to create opportunities for other people. The one person I felt like was the epitome of my purpose was Oprah. Also, she is a fellow strong Aquarius woman and I feel a lot of synergy and wisdom from her could be shared.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am on Instagram via @ E_wrotethat .
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!