Mona Scott-Young has been an arbiter of Black entertainment for two decades. Through Violator, the music management company she co-founded with business partner Chris Lighty, she became an instrumental force behind artists like Missy Elliott, 50 Cent and LL Cool J. For the past decade, the CEO has captivated an even broader audience as the creator of the reality TV behemoth Love & Hip Hop and its many spin-offs. This year marks the tenth season of the original show in the franchise, Love & Hip Hop New York. Here the mogul opens up about her love of “supersized” reality and financial empowerment.
ESSENCE: What was the inspiration behind Violator?
MONA SCOTT-YOUNG: Chris Lighty and I built it to be the premier urban management company. We saw hip-hop being appropriated in every medium and every form to sell every product, and artists weren’t being compensated or positioned properly. We became the guardians, the shepherds.
ESSENCE: What kind of television did you watch as a kid?
SCOTT-YOUNG: My family lived in Puerto Rico for a bit, and because we didn’t have an antenna, which would have allowed us to view English television, I was forced to watch Spanish television all day long. There was no bigger drama than Latin American soap operas. I was raised on them. They told these stories that were larger-than-life in this hyperexaggerated way. That’s what Love & Hip Hop is at its core: It’s rooted in the real stuff. But we supersized it.
I provide platforms that people can leverage without judgment, because it’s about giving you the opportunity and the ability to become financially empowered.”
ESSENCE: Reality TV can be a controversial space to work in. What would you say to anyone who has something to say about what you do?
SCOTT-YOUNG: I provide platforms that people can leverage however they see fit. Whether that allows you to get your music or your waist trainers out there, we present a stage without judgment, because it’s more about giving you the opportunity and the ability to become financially empowered.
ESSENCE: The Love & Hip Hop franchise celebrates its decade-long run this year. How does that make you feel?
SCOTT-YOUNG: That’s a testament to the staying power of the show: the concept, the cast members, the way they put their lives out there. We are super excited to have so many of our cast members coming back home to New York City. If 2019 was the year of return for the Black diaspora, then 2020 is the season of return for Love & Hip Hop. We have all of our royalty coming home and it’s going to be amazing.