Cultural Artige’. Digital Renaissance Woman. Builder of Great Things. Karen Civil’s Twitter bio does a good job of summing up her incredible impact on pop culture using the internet. After her fan sites led her to meeting the Backstreet Boys and Bodie from The Wire while growing up, she realized the power of technology. She has crafted social media campaigns for artists and brands including lil Wayne and Beats by Dre. See how she discovered success on her own terms.
Name: Karen Civil
Tile: CEO of Always Civil Enterprise
Hometown: Elizabeth, NJ
City: Los Angeles, CA
The journey: I always knew I wanted to do something in entertainment. Since I could not sing, had no rhythm and did not want to be a baby mama, I thought I would explore the Video DJ route. While working for Diplomat Records, I helped several artists with their online branding and social media. Once I left the label, I worked directly with artists and noticed many artists were overlooked and underrated if they weren’t in XXL or The Source. In 2008, I started KarenCivil.com interviewing artists like Nicki Minaj and Drake before they were huge.
Confessions of an internet mastermind: When I was in eighth grade, I created a Backstreet Boys fan site. I came in third place in a fan site contest and got to meet them. In high school, I created a fan group for J.D. Williams who played Bodie on The Wire. I had the chance to meet him and he took me to have lunch at iHop. At that point in my life I noticed this Internet thing was giving me the chance to check-off goals off of my bucket list. Once I started working for DipSet, I realized you could monetize off of this platform if you understand how to engage your audience.
Branching out: Four years ago, I left my hometown of Elizabeth, NJ to become the Social Media Manager for Beats by Dre in Los Angeles. I continued to grow my site, which had a male-dominated audience. I decided I was ready to launch my lifestyle and beauty site, LiveCivil.com. I wanted to create content that women could enjoy, too. With LiveCivil.com, we did a ground-breaking in Haiti for a playground, launched a women’s empowerment tour and partnered with Carol’s Daughter and CoverGirl.
Being a Black woman in hip-hop: It’s about teaching people, especially in this industry, how to treat you and how to talk to you. I learned to set the tone for how my partnerships will work. I don’t drink, smoke or do certain things when I’m out. It’s a shame you have to work a little bit harder to do certain things, but I’m okay with that. I’ve had to check many people.
Her career highlights: A few moments stand out for me. One was when I got the MTV MVP hip-hop award and Sway announced my name and showed my photo on TV. Another was when I received three awards during Grammy weekend.
Her beauty must-haves: Dior lip-gloss, Gucci Premiere and Christian Louboutin polishes.
Her tech fix: I love Vine! Vine is a place where you can be a comedian, learn and see an array of personalities in just eight seconds. I also like VSCO Cam, which allows you take incredible pictures with different filters.
Her power accessory: Always something Chanel.
Her mantra: “Always be you, always live Civil.”
Her theme song: My own song, “Living Civil,” and “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.