2020 has been a roller coaster of emotions, but one thing is for sure – Women have been and will continue to shape the landscape of the music and media world. On the last day of Women’s History Month – we wanted to highlight some of the women in the DMV who are shifting the narrative and pushing the culture forward.
Ogheneraro Abugo, professionally known as “Raro Lae,” is a first-generation Nigerian American, born in Baltimore, Maryland. Raised by hard-working immigrants, her mother was a nursing student, and her father, a cab driver and scientist with a Ph.D. in chemistry.
Growing up, Raro attended Maryvale Preparatory School, an all-girls school located in Brooklandville, Maryland. After graduating, she furthered her education at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. However, after one year, Raro transferred and graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration & Marketing.
She stated, “In the middle of the mountains, there wasn’t much to do but snowboard; it was cool, but I realized I wanted exposure to the city/business lifestyle, so I transferred to Towson.”
After receiving her degree in 2014, Raro, like most millennials, had difficulties landing a job due to her lack of experience, however she didn’t allow that to stop her. Raro allowed her entrepreneurial spirit to flow freely, and launched a marketing company, Selah Global Solutions, as well as, began event planning/hosting.
“That was my segue into the entertainment realm, which opened my eyes and brought me into the media world,” she stated.
In addition to running Selah Global Solutions, Raro created an entertainment/lifestyle blog, The Raro Lae Blog, in correspondence to her YouTube channel. During this period, the DMV area was very new to having digital entertainment platforms that were based out of the area, and Raro found success posting lifestyle videos and interviews with celebrities consisting of actors, singers, and comedians like Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, and Jidenna just to name a few.
Fueled by the need to bridge the gap between African and Western Entertainment, Raro is determined to make a change. After her most recent trip to London, Raro noticed the inclusion of diverse music in the United Kingdom; as for America, we tend to focus on our artists instead of the multiple genres coming out of Africa and other countries.
Being a woman in the entertainment industry has been Raro’s greatest challenge. “A lot of the time, women are underestimated, and not taken as seriously,” she stated. However, growing close to other women in the industry, collaborating, and serving as a support system for one another has helped her succeed.
In contrast, her greatest accomplishment has been staying true to her capabilities and the vision she has set for her life. She stated, “Although you should always be confident in everything you’re doing, it’s a compliment to be acknowledged and accepted by others in the industry.”
As a DMV woman in entertainment, Raro Lae wants to contribute to the music, and create an environment where we can work in unity and provide opportunities/knowledge for our novice.
“A lot of my colleagues and I didn’t really have a lot of guidance getting into this, we all jumped first, and worried about landing later,” she stated.
Regarding the future, Raro plans on expanding her brand and releasing her all-natural body + hair care line, Selfull, this year. Additionally, she has a goal to curate educational courses, using her knowledge and guidance to give fellow entrepreneurs the extra oomph to go the extra mile.
Twin sisters, Ariam and Yodit Solomon, host their LIVE podcast, Deux Sol, weekly on Full Service Radio from The Line Hotel located in Washington, DC. Giving a platform and shining light on millennial women of color, they’ve become real media players in the Washington Metropolitan media scene.
Growing up they found themselves bonding over and analyzing music/pop culture daily. While attending college in Upstate New York, the two initiated their passion by creating a YouTube account vlogging and reviewing everything music-related. “After graduating, we realized it was something we wanted to take seriously, so we expanded our platform and started our interviewing series. [via Youtube],“ Ariam stated.
Although the two had intentions of moving to Los Angeles, California, to immerse themselves in the heart of entertainment, Ariam and Yodit decided to return home to learn and highlight DC’s “creative robust,” culture instead.
Following their return, in January of 2018, Full Service Radio granted Ariam and Yodit an opportunity to host their podcast, Deux Sol, meaning “Two Suns” in the nation’s capital.
Initially, their purpose was to exclusively highlight musical artists as an extension of their YouTube platform; however, they made a shift to focusing on all millennial women of color across diverse backgrounds, after realizing their most “powerful and compelling” conversations come from those connections.
Despite their success, Ariam and Yodit, like many, stumbled upon struggles along their journey. Building an audience and finding their voice was difficult in the beginning, but after a year, the two found their niche by narrowing their focus.
As DMV women in media, Ariam and Yodit notice the positive shift in DMV entertainment and the cultural movement of black women in media. “It’s happening as we speak, we’re constantly evolving, and there are a lot more platforms and layers of support happening in the community; It’s a blessing to be here alongside other women we believe in,” Yodit stated.
Looking towards the future, Deux Sol has plans to film the podcast, grow its audience outside of DC, and internationally tell the stories of incredible women all over the world.
Youtube: Deux Sol
Listen to Deux Sol here: https://bit.ly/38DLrcH
Breaking into the entertainment industry at any level is one of the most difficult tasks, but for 25-year-old McKay Bolden, who is already a Marketing Manager for Blue Note Entertainment Group – she’s just getting started. McKay is the Marketing Director at the historic Howard Theatre (operated by Blue Note Entertainment) in Washington, D.C., and as a millennial woman during this contemporary time, she finds joy in building exciting partnerships and bringing new life to the famous venue.
Bolden was originally born in D.C. but spent most of her childhood in Atlanta, Georgia. In her younger years, she enjoyed singing and set the initial goal of wanting to be a singer, however, after school and attending Belmont University to study Business Administration, and additionally learning about music publishing she changed her course of direction.
After graduating, in October 2017, she accepted a position back in her hometown with Radio One as a Promotions Coordinator. Like most millennials – our first jobs in the industry teach us more about life and ourselves then we could have imagined. “Working as a promotions coordinator was the most stressful job I’ve had in my entire life, but I learned a lot, and It’s the main reason why I’m in marketing/promotions now,” she stated.
Shortly after leaving, she tapped relationships she had made at one of the leading venues in D.C. who had a vacancy in marketing. The Howard Theatre which opened in 1910 and has been the stage for many legends from James Brown, Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and The Supremes all the way to D.C. heroes like Chuck Brown, and more recently Kendrick Lamar, The Roots just to name a few.
After thinking she was just interviewing for the role of Promotion Coordinator, The Howard Theatre ultimately offered her the position as the Marketing Manager. Still very fresh out of school, Bolden doubted herself but was extremely grateful for the opportunity. “I was so shocked, I was only two years out of school, and they wanted me to be the Marketing Manager,” Bolden stated.
Taking on the role, she felt honored, but there was a lot of work to do! Determined to change the historic music venue narrative, Bolden was continually thinking about the next step, and her plan to get The Howard Theatre on everyone’s radar.
Despite her swift success, one of the challenges Bolden discusses is the blatant disrespect and misogyny from men that still exist within the industry, especially as an attractive woman “some of the comments I get from tour managers, agents, etc., I know they wouldn’t be saying anything like that if I was a man in my position.” she stated.
As a DMV woman in entertainment, Bolden loves the city which is ever so expanding and is dedicated to connecting women in media and putting on more events like Broccoli City. “Putting that on a larger scale would be amazing for the DMV.”