Awakened Convos: Entertainment Strategist, Darius Bradley, Chats on Helping Entertainers of Color
Getting into the entertainment industry and really making a name for yourself is hard, if you don’t have the right strategy. This is why Entertainment Strategist, Darius Bradley, does what he does. He helps those in the industry to formulate a plan of action!
Bradley is originally from Indiana, South Bend to be exact. He got his start in the entertainment industry at 19 by interning for record labels. Currently, he is living in Atlanta and is a new author with the release of his upcoming book, “No Damn Excuse”, which he has self-published. The book is about the survival of a celebrity assistant.
It wasn’t until now that Darius decided to finally put a title to what he has been doing for years, as far as entertainment strategy. He provides it for anyone who has a business, a company, if you are a journalist, an athlete, he can put a plan together and help you.
I recently interviewed Mr. Bradley where he chatted more on his business. Check out the interview below:
The Empress Dee: Can you tell me about your work experience and some of the things that you have already done?
Darius Bradley: I have been in the game for 10 years. I was a celebrity assistant and mainly what people know about me is that I have worked for singer/actor Rotimi, from “Power” people may know him better as Dre (The character that he portrayed on the show), Gbenga Akinnagbe, one of the roles that he is known for was Chris Partlow in “The Wire” and he also appeared in the movie, “The Taking of Pelham 123, starring Denzel Washington. I have also worked with Saycon Sengbloh who appeared in the movie “American Gangster” also starring Denzel Washington. I am used to being around actors and talented people.
The Empress Dee: With that experience, what have you really learned just being in that environment?
Darius Bradley: The big thing is staying in your lane, I learned that very early on. As I transitioned into becoming a celebrity assistant, working on Rotimi’s team, it was actually just the two of us working on his project every single day. Imagine working on someone else’s project every day for 5 years. I stayed in my lane and I was able to last that long because I knew how to play the game. If I ever needed to get over into another lane, much like driving, you have to put your blinker on and let people know that you are about to get into another lane. A lot of people run into conflict in the music industry because they do not know how to put their “blinker” on, and they do not know how to stay in their lane. Everybody just wants to have power, everybody has an ego, and people have to learn how to relax their ego.
I learned how to relax my ego for 5 years…I played No. 2, and I was one of the best damn No. 2’s that there was. I was a go to person, I stood by everything and I was there for every moment and so that takes a toll on you mentally, especially being an assistant. That experience alone of staying in your lane, a lot people need to come to my course and get some knowledge from me.
The Empress Dee: It is funny that you said that because I was thinking about it today. Everybody wants to be in the forefront and like you said, you have to know your role and sometimes your role could be to promote others. But you have to understand that it is not always time and I think that everybody thinks that it is their time immediately and you have to be patient.
Darius Bradley: One thing, people want to step out so often (Darius shows the motto on the hat that he is wearing which says, ‘Become a Threat’). In 2016 I decided that I was done playing in the shadows, I wanted to take my career and become the road manager full time, I wanted to transition into that but because I tried to do that, it was met with opposition. I became a threat because they started to see how smart I was, we helped him and ,now he has gotten smart, now he wants to become a road manager, they put up roadblocks, and I started to experience conflict. That is how it is in the entertainment industry, no one wants to see you come up…especially from under them, when you come up from under them, success kills a lot of things.
So, as soon as I realized that I had the skills to be somebody one day, I just said that I am about to take a risk and put myself out there and really show people that I am really smart and I know how to do what I am doing. It is unfortunate that I had to experience that when I decided to step up to the plate and really flex…showing that I belong here but the powers that be had different agendas.
The Empress Dee: I definitely appreciate your confidence in being able to do that because I know that a lot of people that get stuck in the shadows because like you said because they are nervous or they do not believe that they have the capacity to be able to do those things, so I definitely appreciate you mentioning that.
Can you tell me more about your memoire and what inspired you to write it?
Darius Bradley: Wow…that’s my baby. I started on it in 2017, so it took about 3 years. In 2019 I did something that many people would never do, and I strategically did this, I cut myself off from a lot of people…most would not know how to do that. I cut myself off from people for 2 years and only maintained communication with a small group of people. I did that for a reason because I had to focus on making money, working and also on getting this book out. This book has 15 chapters, I wrote it 5 different times within that time span, and I went through so many levels of emotions…I was getting ready to publish it last year but God, who walks with me put up a road block and so I could not release it and it was not even ready.
Looking back on it, I was missing certain parts of my story but now the story comes together. I feel so good about it and I cannot wait for you guys to read it because it is going to touch some people’s lives…if you feel inspired now, wait until you read the book it is going to be a wrap.
The Empress Dee: I am so excited, that is awesome.
Darius Bradley: I was couch surfing for close to a year and a half. I was bouncing around because I was in my passion working with people that I desired to work with since 2010 and that was Rotimi. I was willing to sacrifice whatever and I sacrificed making money so that I could spend more time…people may not understand but when you invest time, time is money. When it comes to my time, I do not play, I was always on time, I was a road manager, so I value time…it’s just a matter of time before the money starts to come in where then I am going to be a beast because I will have the money and I already know how to manage time. So, people have to take their time when it comes to money and time and then focus on it, whichever one it is.
The Empress Dee: I know that in your book you mentioned that you lived in New York City at one time where I know that the hustle and bustle is crazy, so do you think that different cities/states produce people that have different work ethics and if so, why do you think that happens?
Darius Bradley: So New York City, if you can make there, you can make it anywhere and it is true. When I was 19 and I went over to New Jersey, New York City immediately…I went to the city with a few of my college friends and we went downtown, and this guy had a table and they were playing a game using 3 cards and they would flip them and people began to surround them. I went over there with my friends and we started picking them right, but we did not put any money down. Everyone started to encourage us to put some money down and so I did it and I started losing and the next thing that I know I lost $125 and I was like what the hell! So I used my credit card to go to an ATM and so long story short…NYC built a beast because I believe that I can go anywhere in this world and make it happen.
I went to London when we went to open up for 50 Cent and I had to get on the train to go to Wimbledon, I set out on my own and I did not have to ask anyone. I am literally in another country and was able to find my way, transfer and get to Wimbledon on time.
The Empress Dee: That is awesome. Yeah, I think NYC is definitely…I mean because you have to be, there are no excuses there.
Darius Bradley: If you could just take this with you, no excuses creates solutions.
The Empress Dee: I love that…I like that a lot, that is dope. So, Big Sean just recently came out with an album and in one of his songs he mentions how his emotions mean nothing to his goals, would you say that you can attest to that personally?
Darius Bradley: You have to have emotions, especially when you are a creative. I believe that emotions drive everything, like when I think about sleeping on the floor in my friend’s dorm room to doing a 6-month internship, that took a lot of emotion. I know how to sacrifice; it was one of the hardest things, but I was interning at a place that I love. So I believe that you definitely need some type of emotion as a creative in order to touch somebody, because somebody has to feel emotion when I am talking to you.
The Empress Dee: Speaking of people having emotion when you talk to them, would you consider yourself to be a motivational speaker?
Darius Bradley: No…you know when you have been No. 2 for so long and you have perfected it, I am not necessarily built to be in the front. I have a lot of tips and motivation because a lot of people who are behind the scenes in the music industry, who I have ample respect for, because I am them…have knowledge and we have so much experience and motivation but we do not share it and I decided to step up and share it in my book. What I am doing right now, we do not do this we are supposed to be gatekeepers and we hold it down. I do not consider myself a motivational speaker, I just know a lot and I have a lot of experience. Hopefully one day, as I continue to build my career that may be another title that I can add.
The Empress Dee: Absolutely. Now tell me do you consider yourself a person who had to graduate from making excuses or would you say that you have always been diligent and hard working?
Darius Bradley: I have never been the type to make excuses. I had to grind my way up and I worked for everything…seriously this whole book, I put it together on my own and I have been that way my whole career. I find my own clients, I sign them, they pay me good money just based on my history and I continue to produce. I do not create excuses, I just grind.
The Empress Dee: I hear that…I love that.
Darius Bradley: Where I come from, I am the underdog, like the picture-perfect person for an underdog. I came from nothing.
The Empress Dee: I absolutely love people like that because one thing about them is that they are very humble and just controlled and grateful for every opportunity, they do not feel entitled to things…so I definitely love that.
Darius Bradley: I have to earn people’s respect. I am never just going to assume that because I work with someone or because I did that…I will be respected, no…there are so many different people in the world…like who are you? I always tell people that when you walk into a room you are always going to say that I am the best and get the most attention but who are you? That is not in the negative sense, but it is a question that you should ask yourself and I ask myself that every time I walk into a room…who am I? I am Darius Bradley, and I am about to get me some contacts because I came in here with a goal and I am going to achieve it.
The Empress Dee: How would you motivate people to refrain from making excuses or from becoming stagnate in their lives?
Darius Bradley: People who are stagnate need somebody who can push you a little further that is when you need to start reaching out and put your ego aside and ask for help because it takes a team, it takes people to build a village. Do you think that Rotimi just woke up and said I have talent and I am going to go out there because I am smart, I can go out there and make it happen…no!
He hired 2 people, he was a smart leader, and he kept those 2 people close to him and we built him, and I am proud of that. So I would never go against something like that after building it for 5 years.
The Empress Dee: You talk a lot about your experiences and how you work every day. Some people have this perception that if you work all these hours that you do not get to see the fruits of your labor, what would you say to people who think that way?
Darius Bradley: It is so true, without saying too much, I can tell you that I am the person that lived these experiences and no one else has walked in my shoes but I worked my ass off all those years and I did not get to see the fruits of my labor…I saw a little bit of it but I did not get to see all of it, on the grand scale. So, I can attest to God working in my life and He does it for a reason. What I believed was my “greatest blessing” my out…my exit to make money and become a road manager, well known music professional, took me from that and then threw me in Atlanta. Four months after I got fired, I went to Atlanta and I did not know anybody out here.
I did not know anybody in New York, He took me…God took me from what I thought was my greatest win and let me know that it was not my greatest win…it is going to come and my greatest win is going to be this book.
The Empress Dee: I love the motivation…that is awesome. So, do you feel like being able to see the fruits of your labor will come in the future or do you feel that it will not be something that will not happen in your generation but maybe with your children?
Darius Bradley: Oh no it is going to come this fall. I am going to see the fruits of my labor when my book is published because God took that away from me and He is saying this is you, no one can take your work away because you own it. There is a reason why I self-published it because I did not want someone from an agency to say, do not release that book. It is my book, nobody is contacting me because I strategically removed people from my life and I did not really speak to anybody for 2 years, I had to focus so that no one could say this or that…focus.
That is the biggest take away that anyone could take from this interview is focus and finish. I learned that and that is why I lasted so long in the entertainment industry because I focused, and I finished.
The Empress Dee: I like that, that’s dope. With your work ethic being so strong, have you ever had moments when that interfered with your mental health?
Darius Bradley: I talk about that in the book too. Mental health and people in the industry, we do not talk about that, we suppress our feelings and so we become tough, strong, and sometimes bad people and we have those experiences and we continuously do that to the next wave of people that are coming up in the game because when I came in the game, I was fresh faced and it was do the right thing, work hard and you will get your reward, that is not how it goes…that is fantasy land.
When you read the book you realize that I came in the game and then I left the game damaged, beat up…all that stuff and ended up coming out like a diamond through pressure and that is how you create diamonds and now I am coming out of that phase and I am ready, I’m ready to go. So, with mental health the people in the industry…we never talk about it and that hampers us forever. There are some people that will not even talk about it because they have to be strong and so I am deciding to talk about it and that is how I release so that I can get my mind right and share my story with other people because someone needs to hear my story because they are going through it just like me.
The Empress Dee: Absolutely and being in the position that you are and were in, what advice could you give to those who are working these long hours and who do not feel like they have time to take care of themselves?
Darius Bradley: You have to find some time to take care of yourself. I do understand…I get it. I was on-call 24/7, I would get a call at 3:00 a.m., get a text at 4:00 a.m., pretty much anytime of the day and I am at work. figure it out…no excuses. I would get calls to do different assignments and I would be at work, but they had to get done. I had to do catering jobs in NYC for different events and I would have to figure out how to get away…get my phone because that is priority, I would lose this job over my career, my career comes first.
You are going to lose a lot of jobs, you are going to quit a lot of jobs, keep moving forward, do not think about the money…just think about the experiences and do not let any opportunities pass you by. When you see an opportunity, analyze it, and decide if it is the one for you and if it is the right time.
The Empress Dee: I know that you also have a Podcast, right?
Darius Bradley: Yes, I just started that.
The Empress Dee: Awesome, tell me more about that.
Darius Bradley: ‘No Damn Excuse Podcast’ I basically wanted to create a platform for professionals like myself who are in film, TV and fashion. They can come to this platform and share their stories verbally if they do not want to write it and they feel more comfortable to talk about it. This platform is for that purpose, we can speak about all types of topics from politics to current events. I will talk with everyone, managers, journalists like yourself, we are going to bring all those people together on this platform to have a conversation because I do not want to sugar coat anything for people, I am trying to keep it as real as I can and it is going to scare some people, by bringing people on who are going to talk about their experiences, it is going to scare some people and it is really going to rev up more people to come and listen.
So, right now I am just getting my feet wet, talking to people…I am not used to this, you know I am supposed to be behind the scenes and not talking. So this is new for me.
The Empress Dee: I completely understand, and I love the podcast because what it is doing is giving people the opportunity to tell their story which is very therapeutic, and it is also giving the listeners motivation to know what to expect if they are thinking about inserting themselves in these types of environments. So I think that is very dope.
Darius Bradley: I put a lot of work into it. I edit my own podcast, I record them. The graphics, I hire people…it is all me. I do not have a team doing things for me, It’s Darius… it is my mind, I did it for 5 years, it’s easy and I can do it for anyone.
The Empress Dee: Do you intend on keeping it that way because that is what you like or do you at some point intend on getting a team together?
Darius Bradley: Well, in order to be a business owner, you need to have a team and I understand that when you have a team that is how you win, that was how all of my clients won, they had teams. So, I can have a team of 1 person, or I can have a team of 3 people, it does not matter, I know the positions that I need to be filled and I know the roles and I am not going to lessen my standards because this person is excited about marketing…no!
It has to be quality and if they do not know what they are doing, then I just have to wait because God is going to present that person to me sooner or later. God presented a marketer to me during an uber ride 2 months ago and now that person is working with me. I needed a marketer, but I said that it is going to come, I did not have to go out there looking for one, one came to me. I put the energy out there that I needed a marketer and the energy just started coming and now she is working with me.
The Empress Dee: That is beautiful, well I am so excited for you.
Darius Bradley: Thank you…thank you, I really cannot wait to share this story with so many people, when they hear this story, it is going to blow a lot of people away. I am not holding back, and nothing is really holding me back from sharing my story.
The Empress Dee: What would you say right now is the most difficult aspect of really pushing your brand?
Darius Bradley: I would probably say learning to maneuver social media. Social media is not my thing…sharing stuff and creating captions, I can do all that stuff, but social media has never been our thing and when I say our thing, I mean for those of us who work behind the scenes. We would have 2000-5000 followers, we were not trying to have 15 to 20,000 followers, I did not care about that, but now I am being encouraged to do that and hopefully I can get that many people and I know that it is important but that is why you have to hire people. So I would say social media because I have never really taken the time to learn it, I was always focused on the work.
I am focusing on how to create emails, writers, how to send things out the promoters. I am focused on who is going to pick us up from the airport and who is going to cover incidentals at the hotel. People will read all about that in book…cover incidentals, yes! I am going to share every step with you because I need to take your hand so that you can see what I went through.
The Empress Dee: That is awesome. So, with your brand because I know that you have so many things in store, what do you see for your brand moving forward?
Darius Bradley: I basically see a lot of things; I have a couple of things that I want to do. I want to create a foundation for young Black boys who were raised by single Black mothers, because I was raised by a single Black mother. My father went to jail for 12 years…so I want to create a foundation. I have a platform called ‘Back Stage’ I have created a platform of panels where we talk to people from the entertainment industry from TV to fashion and film and we talk about different topics that will help people like artists, such as the team that you need to build in order to win and I did that in 2018. So, I literally have a lot of things…I have ideas for a TV show and a movie, the sky is the limit.
The Empress Dee: That is amazing. Well I appreciate all your energy…you are so enthused, and I really like that. It is definitely necessary when you have your own brand and your own business, so I really do appreciate that energy. Tell us please where we can find you.
Darius Bradley: Before I tell you that I just wanted to mention one thing because you talked about the energy. One person that motivates me a lot is Serena Williams. When you see her on the tennis court, she is a beast. She can be down 5-2, she can have 5 match points against her, that woman does not stop! There were people that were doubting her saying that she was not going to win the Australian Open in 2007, she beat 6 ranked players and beat the No. 1 player in the world in the finals. I tell people, that is my energy. I am not stopping…I am a fighter. I am competitive as hell so even when you think that you have me down, and you are thinking oh we got him and that is going to stick, it will not stick because I am going to keep going. That is life! You have to keep going.
So, if you want to keep going with me, you can follow me on Instagram @iamdbradley and I have a ‘No Damn Excuse Series’ on Instagram. I just redesigned my website, www.nodamnexcuse.com, I design all of my websites. I create all the language on my websites…I do all of that because I did that for my clients, it was how I lasted so long.
The Empress Dee: Thank you so much for your time and for this interview. I really do appreciate your words of wisdom and we wish you the best of luck on all your future endeavors and maybe at some point we can get another interview so that we can see where you’re at with things.
Darius Bradley: It’s done! Like I told you, I am the opposite of my experiences and I have experienced a lot of bad things, so seeing how other people treat people once they have made it, like thinking that they do not have do certain things anymore because they “made it,” I do not care where I go, I am still going to speak to you, Destinee…even when I am 5 years in the game and I will remember that Destinee interviewed me when I first came up, fly her here so that she can do my exclusive interview. I am all about helping the next person. I would not have created my company ‘Strategize with Bradley’ if I did not want to help people, that is my passion and I realize that I cannot get away from my passion. It is not about who is going to get ahead of me, that is the best move for me because if somebody can get ahead of me then they will always be loyal and look out for me, that is how you win but some people do not look at the game that way, they play checkers. People think that they should come first, no it is the people that are behind you that should come first.
The Empress Dee: That is beautiful, I love that! Thank you so much, you have been such an inspiration and I will make sure that in the next couple of months to do a follow up interview because I would love to see everything that you are doing.
Darius Bradley: That is something that we can definitely make happen. I appreciate Purposely Awakened for giving me this platform, to interview me a virtual unknown who was a former celebrity assistant and now an author and strategist, I had never seen myself past a certain stage and now I am there and I am like wow, I can actually become somebody. Like I said once I removed those people and now that I have good people around me, the sky is the limit.
The Empress Dee: Thank you again and have a wonderful night.