– Ivy Queen
As part of the Latin Grammy festivities, the Latin Recording Academy has named Nevarez Communications founder and CEO Mayna Nevarez, Spotify’s managing director of Latin America Mia Nygren, singer-songwriter Ivy Queen, and music composer Mónica Vélez as its 2021 Leading Ladies of Entertainment honorees.
The Leading Ladies initiative was created five years ago to celebrate women who have made significant contributions in the arts and entertainment fields, while inspiring the next generation of female leaders.
Nevarez is an award-winning publicist, speaker and philanthropist. As the founder and CEO of Nevarez Communications she works with some of Latin’s music’s biggest stars, entrepreneurs and cultural figures, representing artists including Daddy Yankee, Carlos Vives and Natti Natasha.
Nygren has spent two decades working at the forefront of change and implementation of new models with most of her professional career spent at the intersection of the music business and technology. As Spotify’s managing director of Latin America, Nygren has worked across departments and continents during her 10 years at the company.
Vélez has written more than 300 recorded songs, which have been recorded by acclaimed artists including Marc Anthony, Camila, Luis Fonsi, David Bisbal, Los Tigres del Norte, Reik, Paulina Rubio, OV7, Malú, Luis Enrique and Alejandro Fernández. The two-time Latin Grammy winner’s compositions have worldwide appeal, having been covered in Italian, Portuguese, Korean and Turkish.
Ivy Queen has been making music for over 20 years. The reggaeton composer and singer uses her lyrics to bring attention to women’s empowerment, LGBTQ+ issues and racism. She was one of the first women to be nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best Urban Music Album category.
Nevarez, Nygren and Ivy Queen took part in a Pollstar survey to chat about the Latin market, mentorships and the honorees’ proudest achievements. At the time of publishing,Vélez was not available for an interview. In the lead up to the 22nd annual Latin Grammy Awards on Nov. 18, a virtual event to acknowledge the Leading Ladies of Entertainment honorees will be held Nov. 16.
The Leading Ladies initiative is committed to creating opportunities for the next generation of women in entertainment. As part of the event and with help from corporate partners, a fund is being set up to provide scholarships for young women pursuing studies in music. The scholarships will be distributed via the Latin Recording Academy’s philanthropic arm, The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation.
The event is sponsored by Spanish Tourism Institute TURESPAÑA, along with Spotify’s Noteable, which will be making a special donation to the scholarship fund.
This year the Leading Ladies of Entertainment has also teamed up on a mentorship program with nonprofit She Is The Music, an organization that is committed to increasing the number of women working in music from songwriters to engineers to industry professionals. Building on She Is The Music’s mentorship program, past Leading Ladies honorees will be invited to mentor a She Is The Music mentee.
“She Is The Music shares the same values as Leading Ladies of Entertainment: supporting women in the industry and inspiring future generations. We are excited to launch this mentorship program together and take an important step forward for the Latin music community,” said Alexandra Lioutikoff, Co-Chair of She Is The Music Latin Committee, Group President of Universal Music Publishing for Latin America and U.S. Latin, and Board member of The Latin Recording Academy.
Lioutikoff added, “This is a perfect example of how women are working together to create positive change; today’s trailblazers guiding tomorrow’s leaders.”
Past Ladies Ladies of Entertainment honorees include Lionfish Entertainment CEO and co-founder Rebeca León, entertainment attorney Angela “Angie” Martinez, Esq., and broadcast journalist María Elena Salinas, along with artists such as Selena Gomez, Lila Downs, Becky G, Erika Ender and Goyo Martinez.
– Mayna Nevarez
CEO and founder of Nevarez Communications
What is your proudest achievement so far in your career?
Mayna Nevarez: My best achievement has been creating a balance between my family and my career.
In terms of career it is to witness throughout the years how we have built our clients dreams alongside them, and being part of great music moments for the culture. Also, I’m proud of our amazing team behind Nevarez Communications and to have mentored many employees and interns and rising stars during the past 25 years.
Mia Nygren: Bringing Latin America to 22% of Spotify’s global business in terms of monthly active users and having built a team with gender parity in executive positions.
Ivy Queen: My greatest achievement is in seeing how I am now [regarded] as a role model. It’s not just my achievement, but also a great victory for me. From my iconic nails, my flow, my lyrics, my constant image changes, my ovaries, which are always in the right place.
What’s one thing you wish people understood about the Latin market?
Nevarez: That even though we are Latinos we have different cultures. I hate when I go to a meeting and they still think Latin music had a [moment]. I wish the general market and Hollywood had more balance with Latin music in their programming.
Nygren: That it is composed of more than 20 markets with their own cultural traits and sounds.
That reggaetón is not a trend. There’s a whole story behind our movement. It’s about the power that comes from people having tried to silence us and to tell us no, leading us to make a living by writing about the pain of an oppressed adolescence, a story of survival, resistance and struggle. It probably sounds like a momentary fad that everyone wants to get in on. But the roots of that movement should be honored and respected, because they were the ones who endured storms so that the sun could come out in the end.
– Mia Nygren
Spotify’s managing director of Latin America
How would you like to see the music industry continue to improve when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
Nevarez: Diversity and inclusion are not only when we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Pride Month or Black History Month, diversity and inclusion have to be all year long. Media companies as well as music platforms should embrace diversity 365 days a year.
Nygren: The industry needs to agree on active, transparent, and measurable goals as a standard moving forward and with a date in mind to reach those goals. We should not accept the excuse that there are no “qualified women in this or that position.” There are overqualified and capable women in most industries and we need to do something about those who are underrepresented; we need a critical mass.
Ivy Queen: Diversity and inclusion will happen the day they stop questioning our people, because how you dress doesn’t determine your sexual orientation. Likewise, a woman doesn’t have to be a sex object to reach the top when she is blessed with talent. Inclusion will happen when we have more Black singers at the top. Inclusion will also happen when the productivity of my veteran colleagues is no longer judged by numbers.
If there is going to be “diversity and inclusion,” it must be more than just a trendy word. It has to be an action.
As part of this year’s program, the Leading Ladies of Entertainment is partnering with nonprofit She Is The Music on a collaborative mentorship program. What’s one lesson you’ve learned from one of your mentors?
Nevarez: One of the best lessons is to always work with passion and never give up a personal goal.
Nygren: The mentors I have had in my life, great female figures, have all taught me that having a mentor is very important both for personal and professional reasons. They have taught me the importance of understanding/defining where I want to go, why, how to get there, and with what tools. It’s about having an intentional plan for oneself and going for it.
Ivy Queen: I didn’t have a mentor. I had my own back. A lot of times I had to give myself motivational talks. The number of situations you have to go through is incredible. I found inspiration looking at Mrs. Celia Cruz and her indelible mark on a supposedly male-dominated genre.
What impact do you hope to have on your community and future generations?
Nevarez: To teach more women and men to be mentors and support up and coming leaders in the industry.
Nygren: There is a clear lack of recognized female role models to inspire future generations. If I could provide some kind of example that serves as inspiration, that makes women trust their own voices as equals, as persons, not as a gender, that would be all I could hope for. If this in turn leads to more women being seen and heard, accessing more decision-making positions, we have a network effect that will close the gap to gender parity.
Ivy Queen: I often see how my path has impacted other women. And I just smile with satisfaction, sure that the most definitive and important impact is the one I will have on my beloved daughter, Naiovy.