Q’s With Diana Dotel, CEO/Founder Of Wakamba Entertainment And Co-Founder of MTW Agency: ‘Lead With Passion – You Can Never Go Wrong’

Diana Dotel
Courtesy Of MTW Agency
– Diana Dotel

Typically, a promoter would need at least two or three months to plan an arena show. But when Wakamba Entertainment CEO/founder Diana Dotel heard New Jersey had upped capacity restrictions, the independent concert promotion company hustled to put together “De Colombia Para El Mundo” in a few weeks. The July 24 event at Newark’s Prudential Center marked the first ticketed Latin arena show in the tri-state area since COVID began, with performances from Nicky Jam, Jessi Uribe, Francy, Grupo Niche and more. 

In addition to overseeing promotion and production for Wakamba, Dotel is the co-founder of MTW Agency. The entertainment marketing agency with a multicultural focus launched in 2018 and has been busier than ever during the pandemic with more than 30 brand deals brokered in the past 12 months. Recent deals include Bad Bunny’s Adidas collection, Maluma’s collaboration with Quay sunglasses and Becky G’s multimedia podcast on Amazon Music. 

Dotel caught up with Pollstar in the middle of the weeklong pop-up experience House of Bachata, which MTW Agency conceptualized with HBO Max to celebrate the documentary “Romeo Santos: King Of Bachata” and concert film “Romeo Santos: Utopia Live From Metlife Stadium.”

Her upcoming plans include three co-promoted shows with fellow Latin indie promoter CMN at New York’s United Palace: Sech, Aug. 27; Jhay Cortez, Sept. 3; and Manuel Turizo, Sept. 10. Wakamba also has a tour with Jessi Uribe this fall.
Pollstar: How did the “De Colombia Para El Mundo” show come together? 
Diana Dotel: A lot of people have this misconception that this concert was scheduled pre-pandemic and it was just carried over. Once we heard that the venue would be open, we called right away and we booked it. We really put the show together in just a matter of weeks. [Being] an independent promoter is obviously very risky [but] after being quarantined, after millions of livestreams later, after everything that happened in Colombia, we wanted to do something special. We put this show together pretty quickly in a matter of weeks, the contracts, the artists, the ticket sales, the marketing strategy – it was a whirlwind. It was really exciting and really successful.
House of Bachata (July 30-Aug. 6) is another special event. This was a partnership between MTW and HBO Max and you worked with Jessica Vargas, Multicultural Marketing Brand Director at HBO Max. And it features the first hologram from a living Latin artist? 
In the documentary, Romeo Santos [celebrates] the “bachateros” that opened the door for him to be who he is. He’s become mainstream, he’s had songs with Drake to Nicki Minaj and really has crossed over. He’s someone that we’re very proud of. We love to claim him. (laughs) …. And like Romeo paid homage to the bachateros, we wanted to pay homage to the community. Romeo Santos’ first group, Aventura, started in the Bronx. And it was the bodegas, the salon owners, the barbershops, the taxi drivers that helped create and grow this genre in the streets of New York. So, it was very important for us to have this pop-up location in Washington Heights. 
Romeo unfortunately couldn’t be present due to scheduling. We know how this community feels about him, so we wanted to give them something to be excited about. … The hologram technology company [PORTL] was amazing. He had a few messages for the public on opening night … It was very important to have him present in that room in one shape or another.  

Nicky Jam
Steven Blanco & Daniel Perez
– Nicky Jam
performs at De Colombia Para El Mundo at the Prudential Center Newark, New Jersey July 24, 2021.
Working in promotion, production and brand deals must keep things interesting. What inspires you?
I got my start in the live music space over 12 years ago. I had the opportunity to work with the most incredible independent promoter that we’ve ever seen and that’s Ralph Mercardo. I just grew a passion for it. … It’s a very male-dominated space, it’s kind of a boy’s club and it’s worse in the Latin community. And that drove me to keep going and to be better. 
I was doing shows with [Latin] artists – their ticket sales were just as much as a general market artist … however, the Latin artists are not getting the same opportunities when it comes to endorsement deals. And that passion for equality was what led me to create MTW agency. Even before we even incorporated with my partner Matt Ferrigno, we had Maluma in a Super Bowl commercial. And now we’re in year four … we’ve created many, many opportunities for many different artists. And it’s just that drive and passion for equality – for female equality and Latin equality in general. Diversity and inclusion, to me, it’s a buzz word. We shouldn’t even be using that [term] at this point. We should already be at a point of equality. 
Can you talk about breaking into the industry? 
I was fortunate that my father was working promotion with Ralph Mercado and would help with marketing. The first time I went to a concert I was just enamored and instantly I knew what I wanted to do. As far as breaking in, it’s still been a long road. Being female, what I would tell women or anyone coming up is just to really focus, have tunnel vision and do it. … There’s a lot of people that are doing incredible stuff that are young – just really network and tap into the music community. … Just be relentless.
What’s a lesson learned from your mentors that has stuck with you? 
Lead with passion, just follow your heart. It’s kind of a cliche, but everything I’ve done has been passion. Everything I’ve done has been with a mission, whether it’s for me, whether it’s for Latinos, whether it’s for community, whether it’s for equality. And that’s what led me here. Just lead with passion – as cliche as it sounds – you can never go wrong.