There have been many female DJs that have come before DJ Poizon Ivy, and there are so many more female DJs that will come after her yet will never quite attain the particular level of success DJ Poizon Ivy has reached throughout the duration of her ongoing career.
When it comes to her career stats, DJ Poizon Ivy is the second female DJ in NBA league history, the first female team DJ in Dallas Mavericks’ franchise history, and last but not least, the first ever female DJ to DJ at an NBA All Star Game.
Having opened up for the likes of Nas, J. Cole, and Wiz Khalifa, currently DJing for a top five radio market radio station, as well as a highly requested DJ for high profile charitable events — DJ Poizon Ivy is superwoman in her own right and we sat down with her in an attempt to pinpoint the root of her superhuman abilities and how we can hone our very own. We discussed her upbringing from Kenya to Dallas, how she balances motherhood and an unorthodox DJing career, the advice she would give to other women who have aspirations to be successful female DJs, as well as originally being denied a job with the Milwaukee Bucks before being hired as the Dallas Mavericks Official Team DJ.
Being from Kenya, do you have any culture shock stories from when you moved to Dallas or your earliest memories of Kenya?
I moved to Dallas when I was nine. I love and miss Kenya all the time though. When I’m there I never want to leave. We’re a British Colony so I had a bit of an accent when we first moved. Again, I was nine years old and nine year old kids are very brutally honest. But as an adult with a child now, I understand now that a lot of it is just curiosity more than anything. So of course, they teased me about my accent. They used to ask me if I got here on a boat or if I used to live in a hut. The questions were endless but my mom taught me how to have a sense of humor and handle such things with a sense of humor which carried on into my life as an adult.
Why did you choose to attend Marquette University?
I applied to 18 colleges and universities including every Ivy League one. It’s a fantastic school and they were just very accommodating in terms of the finances. I had full rides elsewhere. I had a full ride to Boston University and a couple other universities. But when you’re going to college you’re going to move away from home for at least four years, and I felt the most at home in Milwaukee. Of course, I don’t think it’s by coincidence that I went to a school with a really good basketball program. I worked around the sport a lot. I went to school with a lot of the guys that are in the league now — Jae Crowder, Jimmy Butler, Dwight Buycks. We all legitimately went to school together and even had class together at that. So maybe it was some kind of foreshadowing.
After starting your career in Milwaukee and gaining all your newfound respect there — what was your thought process in moving back to Dallas?
I spent a good six years in Milwaukee and it’s a great city that’s definitely booming right now. But I felt like I had exhausted all my opportunities there. I got on commercial radio. I did a lot of shows and I was well known in that city. But then I had a child. I needed support from my family and not having any family members anywhere around Milwaukee was very hard. So it was a combination of wanting additional challenges and wanting a bigger playing field and wanting to be close to my mom.
Any particular habits that you credit your success to?
Obsession to a certain extent. I’m always thinking to the point where like right now I’ve had a really really long year and I’m starting to feel the effects of that emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But I just like to read up on people that I admire. With that being said, I have a couple of people that you really wouldn’t even expect for me to admire.
But I’m a Gemini so you’re going to find this duality in a lot of my thought process. As much as I think that it’s great to read up on people that you admire I also feel like it’s not because you’re not that person and I need to just figure out what my story is.
But I’m definitely a YouTuber. I watch a Pharrell interview everyday. I watch a Beyonce interview everyday, and Grace Jones.
There are a lot of female DJs on the rise or already established and social media kind of makes it inevitable to compare yourself to others. What helps you stay in your lane and focus on you without comparisons?
Here’s the thing — with social media it’s all basically constructable. You can buy the likes. You can buy the followers. You can pay for the photographer. You can pay for editing but none of that amounts to what you really have going on in real life. So I worry about my real life. I don’t take the time to get on social media and compare my behind the scenes to somebody else’s highlight reel. Don’t do it. It’s unhealthy. We’re creating a generation of “effed up” people because of this mentality that you’re keeping up with something that’s not even real. Imagine that.
I don’t and I won’t do that to myself. But one things for sure though. I work hard and I think that it shows. That’s what I encourage everyone to do. Just work hard and it will show. It won’t show to everybody but it only matters to me. If I can feed my daughter and pay my bills I’m good.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in your shoes or do exactly what you do?
Practice obviously — and really do it because you love it. Don’t do it because of what you think that it is or could be. Just do it. Devise a plan. Talk to God about it. You all come to some type of agreement. Keep going. Go back to God. Talk to him about it . Keep going. Repeat.
In that regard, success is about resilience but for some people they’ve given up after one or two or three failures. Can you provide an example of a failure that you had that actually turned into a testimony?
I actually auditioned to be the DJ for the Milwaukee Bucks and got turned down. And no loss love because I have a lot of great friends in that organization, but that didn’t work out.
That very day, I remember specifically saying “I’m ready to quit”. I haven’t said that much in my career but I said it that day. But something was telling me “Just as you’re getting your first taste of what it could be, now you’re ready to give up?” And because I didn’t give up I’m now the second female DJ in NBA history.
But between the gaps it was hard because the job was actually given to a friend of mine, my mentor who I love to death. It hurt. But I’m so humbled because it was that same situation that set me up for this job with the Mavericks. I won’t go into specifics but trust me, just when you feel like you’re ready to quit or give up just know it’s darkest before dawn. So hold on!
Have you experienced any prejudice or jealousy from male DJ counterparts?
All the time. I think that’s just life. There’s some things about life that I’ve honestly gotten to the point where I realize the higher up you get not everybody is going to like you and not everybody is going to be happy for you. That’s also why I keep a very small circle because I can’t afford to expose myself to that energy. But look at how many people I’m around every other day. How can I even focus my attention on that? You just block the energy by giving off good energy. So if it’s good energy all around you the bad can’t get to you. So I’m not worried about that at all. It’s life. It keeps me going. It sparks my fuel. I need it.
It takes energy to hate and if you want to give me that energy I welcome it.
Was there a tryout to become the official team DJ for the Mavericks franchise or what exactly was the hiring process like?
You really have to prove you know what to do in certain situations. So a lot of what I do has to do with knowledge of music. If our team is winning or if our team is losing I have to know how to rise the energy, pick it up or pull it down. It’s half science half art. So yes there was a call. In the interview when they asked me why do you deserve this position — I literally just showed them a picture of me working as a 16 year old Dallas Mavericks ball girl with a mop in my hand. So I kind of feel like it was almost like how can you say no. It’s a little bit of destiny in there too. There were some tears involved and everything in between.
You do have a little daughter. Is there any particular mantra, motto, or or moral standard that you raise your little one by?
I remind her every morning before she goes to school that she’s smart, she’s kind and that she’s beautiful on the inside and outside. Those are the only things I feel like she needs to know. I can ask her other questions like “Who is your best friend?” She knows that’s mommy. “Who loves you?” She knows her whole family does. “Who loves you the most?” — God. I feel like if anything were to ever happen to me, in her darkest toughest moments she could repeat all of those four things to herself and she’ll be good.
Is there anything that happened in your childhood or with your parents that made you want to parent the particular way that you do parent?
My mother literally on several occasions has given her last for me. She’s always told me that she would lay her life on the line for me and in various ways has proven that. I’ve been through a lot especially in these last couple of years, and every single time the only person that I can look back and remember never turned her back on me (even if I’ve turned my back on her) was my mom. I feel like because of how well she has done that I have to take that times two and do it for my daughter.
Also, I live a bit of an unorthodox life so my daughter is with me a lot living it with me. She has to share her mommy with everybody. So for that I feel like she deserves it all.
With such an unorthodox life, have you figured out balancing a relationship and this career?
I’m not going to lie. I’m at a point where things are falling into place. I just told my friend today, “I got it all but for some reason I’m just not there yet”. She was like, “I know what’s missing”. I said, ”What’s missing?” She says, “Some love”.
I purposely avoid that because it eventually becomes more of a headache than it is helpful. I would love to have a boyfriend. But at this point, I need a husband. I’m speaking that into existence. I am ready to settle down. I’m not old but I’m also not getting any younger. I’m building my life and I want to be able to build it with somebody. I want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. But again, you can’t make it hard for me. Life everyday is already hard in itself. You can’t be asking too many questions. I’m around a lot of very attractive very wealthy people. It’s my job. Half of them are my friends. But really just help make my life easier please. So hopefully here shortly.
What did you think you were going to be before DJing was actually an attainable goal and a sustainable career? What was your ideal career?
I wanted to be the first female commissioner of the NBA. I actually ran into Adam Silver last year at All Star. I told him about me and how that was once my goal and he was like, ”Well why can’t you”?
I told him how old I was and he goes, “You have three lifetimes left to still chase that goal”. He kind of got my wheels turning. But I always wanted to be some kind of executive. I like making decisions. Before that, I wanted to be an ER doctor and a firefighter. Evidently I like jobs that involve a lot of risks too.
Any particular celebrity that you’ve met and after meeting them you gained this newfound respect for them?
I met Kareem Abdul-Jabbar like three weeks ago. He is so intelligent. His level of intelligence coincides with how Coach Ro [Rolando Blackman] explained how Kareem was always reading a book. If he wasn’t hooping he was reading a book. I always feel like working in the entertainment and sports industry — intelligence and your skill in each particular area are sometimes viewed as mutually exclusive when they’re not.
The Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, is an amazing person. In addition to being a fantastic owner, you could literally call him and talk to him now. He’s just as regular as regular can be but in that same regard he’s really not regular at all.
There are a lot of people. The person who really taught me about being super real is a great friend of mine who I worked with, Skylar Diggins-Smith. She plays a lot of amazing people and a lot of amazing teams but before she hits the floor before every single game she will shake every hand on the baseline, in addition to getting everything else done that she needs to get done. I mean just a people’s person. And it’s honestly not for show. Because I’ve been with her a lot of different places. She’s taught me a lot about just making sure you make that meaningful connection. You only have about a few seconds with certain people sometimes but you have to make it as memorable as you can. So shoutout to Sky!
Another person that I feel like is of super legendary status — big shoutout to Wizkid because doing what he’s doing for the culture is amazing. I feel like rockstars are not made their born. That’s something I truly believe. I don’t think you can work your way up like that. I think you’re born to be a rockstar and that dude is a rockstar. I just can’t wait to see where this goes for him. He’s a pioneer. That’s a living legend.
First female DJ for the Mavericks franchise, first female DJ to DJ the NBA All Star Game, and second female DJ in NBA history — how do you feel about these accolades and how are you continuing to push the envelope?
I don’t think about it. These are accolades but I just try to be better every day, try to set more “firsts” and keep feeling like I’m working. I can’t ever get to a place where I’m complacent. I’m very aware of these accolades but complacency is the beginning of a lot of bad things. I get on my knees every night and thank God.
It’s not even a humility thing but if you look at some of the greats like Kobe [Bryant], you’re never going to hear him stand up boasting and bragging. I’m going to let my work show for it. I don’t think I’m where I can stand back and relax. My house is still being built but it’s all on a good foundation.