Being in front of the camera is cool and all, but let’s focus on a mover and [pepper] shaker who soars below the radar. This beaming light has hustled her way through the music industry, shattering stereotypes and securing her seat at the table along the way. Meet music publicist Amaiya Davis.
Davis recently transitioned to oversee the publicity department at RED MUSIC, starting as a publicist for the label in 2017. Additionally, the Baltimore native has worked in publicity for RCA Records, the New York Giants, and Fred Segal, to name a few. With less than a decade under her belt in public relations, Amaiya is quickly making her mark on the industry, hoping to inspire those ‘in her image’ (pun intended).
Do you see being a Black Latina woman as an advantage or disadvantage in music publicity?
In my experience, it’s been mostly an advantage. The disadvantage is not seeing many faces that look like mine, but I love being a Brown girl in this industry. When I work across genres like rock or alternative, clients may not expect me to be well versed in those genres. Although I grew up listening to urban and pop music, it has always been important for me to learn the publicity world for all different genres so that I am not put in one lane. I always learn as much as I can (quickly), and try to find a likeness/connection to all of my clients in order to do my best work.
Despite the overwhelming popularity growth in urban music, the industry still does not reflect the talent. Even Billboard agrees that entertainment companies need to hire more people who represent the diverse backgrounds of their artist rosters.
It’s cringeworthy that Black creatives are tastemakers for popular culture, but are, far too often, not trusted to handle tasks beyond talent. We need to recognize and honor those working overtime to shatter professional glass ceilings—people like Amaiya or Yvette Noel-Schure and Ernest Dukes (noted for the iconic “Beyonce’s Publicist is Black” apparel in 2018, referencing Noel-Schure) and many others. Whether we’re examining music labels, Fashion Nova, or Beyonce, it is imperative for us to see familiar faces who are responsible for keeping these powerhouses at the top.
Speaking of familiar faces, I later asked Amaiya what role does her race play in building/maintaining relationships and making connections, casually and professionally. She answered:
My job allows me to form friendships with people (writers specifically) I’ve never met since we interact so much via email and phone, and you can tell some people are shocked by how I look when they officially meet me in the non urban or pop genres. Everyone I’ve encountered has been great though.
It’s very important for me to have a ‘tribe’ in this industry; it can get very intense and stressful. It’s imperative to have people that understand your field and what you go through. I’m grateful to have a group of uplifting young Brown people around me, without any competition. I’m always looking to help people that look like me succeed wherever I can, because there needs to be more of us around here! I also mentor other women looking to work in the music or public relations industry to help them progress. Having support and mentorship is so important.
Your rise to leadership in music publicity, just over 5 years into post-grad life, is one to be revered. What is the significance, to you, of being a 20-something while navigating a rewarding career?
At times, it can get overwhelming trying to figure out myself and my career. It is not easy and I am still figuring it out, let me tell you. Nothing really prepares you for adulting other than just having to experience it and go through it. I always say that our 20s is like 30 years in a decade. You have your early, mid and late 20s that can all serve as their own decade it feels! Me at 21 is so so different than me now at 27. We have such harsh, unfair expectations from society about knowing what we want to do for the rest of our lives, and I’m just thankful for having a plan and goals for my career because I know how difficult it can be for others. You just have to set goals, be yourself, be willing to learn and put yourself out there. Networking is key.
One thing that I had to learn the hard way was that there’s life outside of work. There’s a saying in PR: ‘it’s PR, not the ER’ because things can get so intense and it’s easy to feel like the smallest error is the end of the world. I work incredibly hard and make the most out of every situation, but self-care should always be a priority. Finding the things in life that make you you — reading a book, taking a bath, going to concerts, lighting candles and watching your shows… whatever it is. I’m still a 20-something who wants to have fun, take care of myself, and live life to the fullest. Luckily two of my biggest interests are music and going to concerts, and I literally do that for a living. I am living out my dream. I am fully aware of how big of a blessing that is and I don’t take that for granted, even in the moments when I am down on myself. I always put that at the forefront of my mind.
Editor’s Update: She is now a publicist for Universal Music Group’s Republic Records.