Everybody — especially our youth — needs to be able to see somebody that looks like them in whichever field of entertainment they’re interested in. Not only will this help open the doors for more acknowledgment of all cultures, but it also gives people more inspiration to know they can accomplish the same things. This is about the youth growing up knowing they belong without feeling like something is out of their reach or off-limits because of what they look like.
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 Ryan Houston and Craig Posey.
RCE, LLC was founded in 2018 by Ryan Houston and Craig Posey. The full-service entertainment company specializes in the production and management of events dedicated to promoting diversity, inclusion and community. Ryan and Craig’s values are embodied in their various intimate event series, including Black Voices, Lets Taco ‘Bout It and Good Vibrations. RCE’s creativity and sense of style enables them to produce unforgettable events rooted in the goodness of culture and collaboration. Their ability to provide unique solutions to their client events was most notably showcased during their virtual collaboration with Clubhouse Global and Beats by Dre in 2020. The event raised money for Kendrick Sampson’s non-profit, BLD PWR.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
We built this platform with the mission to inspire others. We want to show our community that each person has the ability to achieve their dreams, aspire to be more, and own their path to greatness. Both of us have been in the events and sports industry since college, and eventually decided that we had a unique opportunity to bring interactive experiences to facilitate communication and opportunity in the entertainment scene. By featuring musical performances, art galleries and fashion shows, our events were really well received by our guests and provided engagement in a way that typical entertainment events may not have been able to. We feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity and take our role very seriously.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
We both decided to quit our job six months into starting RCE. One month after quitting, we landed our first corporate client, BurgerIM, and were able to curate pop-up events at their locations to build awareness and drive traffic to their locations. This opportunity came about because we’ve always been big into networking — which helped us secure this client and others. While there are other interesting things that have happened, we feel that it’s important for people to know that they should take the leap of faith and go after what they want if they’re passionate.
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?
The funniest mistake we made was during first-ever event for Black Voices. Although we quadruple-tested our sound system for the live show, the host’s microphone went out. It was incredibly frustrating because we did everything we could to prevent this from happening, but it’s funny because we had to call upon our audience members to see if anyone knew how to fix the system. Thankfully, we had a sound guy in the audience who fixed the problem and led to an amazing event. Always have back-up systems ready!
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?
We strive to create unity with all of our events and content. Our goal is to create a place anybody can come to and experience something that opens them up and inspires them to do amazing things. We strive to create a new culture of learning, respect, love, and togetherness. Even though we started this mission in Los Angeles, we plan on taking this from city to city — providing an easily-accessible opportunity for folks of all colors to attend.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?
Pernod Riccard is our culture manager and inspiration who we partnered with during one of our flagship events. When we first met Pernod, he let us know that he always felt that ‘these types of events’ were invite-only and exclusive, without knowing instructions of how to ever access those. Fast forward, we collaborated and produced an event in his hometown. The great part about the event is that it’s based on helping those who may not have the access and connections in the industry to be able to showcase their talents and create something that truly shifts and uplifts others.
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?
- Everybody — especially our youth — needs to be able to see somebody that looks like them in whichever field of entertainment they’re interested in. Not only will this help open the doors for more acknowledgment of all cultures, but it also gives people more inspiration to know they can accomplish the same things. This is about the youth growing up knowing they belong without feeling like something is out of their reach or off-limits because of what they look like.
- To teach. The entertainment industry has an incredible opportunity to influence the world. It is our job to teach about diversity and ensure that representation of all cultures is seen on a broad scale to minimize ignorance.
- To experience. Learning about other cultures is so important and eye opening. Everybody has a story and everybody has a culture worth sharing. The more you see that represented, the greater understanding and accountability you will hold as an individual.
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?
- Be opened-minded.
- Create open dialog between the community and industry leaders on needs and create a plan to tackle those issues.
- Accountability & acknowledgment. We know we have a lot of room to grow with the lack of diversity in leadership roles. Once we acknowledge the lack, we can begin to change norms to create a new normal.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is being able to motivate a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. For RCE, this is showcased in trusting the team to collaborate and make our events better in order to bring more diversity and inclusion virtually and physically.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Choose your partners wisely. In this industry, no one is going to go as hard for your brand as you do. There will always be situations where things don’t go as planned, or where someone may want to cancel an event because their name wasn’t on it. When it’s your brand, you need to make sure your partners are aligned with the vision and committed to executing the vision.
- Make sure you are true to yourself and what you represent. Stand firm in what you want and take full command of the vision. In the early stages of our business, we certainly didn’t always stand firm in our mission, especially during meetings with incredibly business leaders who provided insightful comments on our business and needs.
- You have to learn how to do everything yourself. When first starting out, you have to learn every department of your company until you can hire a team. You have to be the front of house, back of the house, set-up, and clean-up crew. It’s a lot of work and there were many times we were up until 5am setting up for an event the night before by ourselves. This is the way it is in the beginning, but it really helps because when you do hire people you will know exactly how to navigate them in the most efficient way.
- Know your worth and what value you bring to the table. A lot of times when approaching and reaching out to brands for partnerships, we would be hesitant on the ask and what that should include. We’ve learned that being confident and knowing your worth is beneficial to all parties involved.
- Maintain the love and passion for what you do. Remember why you started and don’t let bumps in the road stop you. The lucky thing for us is that we are both motivated and believe in what we do so much that we know nothing will stop us. We continue to encourage each other and never let obstacles get in our way.
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. 🙂
We would love for the industry to really model itself behind the motto of “it takes a village.” A lot of times in this industry you can feel like every person is out for themselves. Over the years, we have really learned the value of paying it forward. We fully believe that we were placed here to gain knowledge and progress and want to continue lending out a hand to help someone else achieve their goals. That’s what we do at RCE. We want to create opportunities for everyone to achieve their dreams and if we can be the resource to make that happen then we are happy with that. If everyone could shift to that mindset the skys the limit. There is room for everyone to win
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
Throughout our journey, we have had many ups and downs but we have found a way to push through all of them. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, keep pushing and never give up.
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 tagKNo them. 🙂
We would have to say Jay Z. This man truly inspires us as a businessman and mogul. He is somebody who has thrived at the top of the entertainment industry for so long. We aspire to be on the same track as his brand, Roc Nation. He has truly been the image of excellence and as a black man, he inspires us to be Black Kings. The things he has accomplished in his career, the businesses he has built and worked with, and the way he moves in the industry is exactly who we want to be and would benefit learning from. If we could go to lunch with him and pick his brain, that would be an absolute dream. And then from there to work with him (just putting it out there) would be the highlight of our career.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can follow us on Instagram @rce_la
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!