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From bartender to ‘Love & Hip-Hop’ co-executive producer, determination was key

From bartender to 'Love & Hip-Hop' co-executive producer, determination was key
Photo provided by MariCarmen Lopez

Meet MariCarmen Lopez, a former bartender who turned an internship at an indie label into a career in the music industry. Read on to find out how she transitioned from music to being a co-executive producer with Mona Scott-Young’s newest franchise, “Love & Hop Miami.”

What inspires you to show up at work every day?
My commitment to my talent, my team but more importantly, myself. I’ve worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point in my career. I want to leave something behind that my family can be proud of. I was the first generation in my family to be born in this country and although right now our country is in need of improvement, this country afforded me the opportunities that my family didn’t have back in their country of Cuba. I don’t want to let the sacrifices and determination my family had of moving to a new country for the sake of their children to be unmerited.

How did you determine your career path?

What’s interesting is that I was, at first, unclear of my career path. I went to school for criminal justice and soon after I got an internship by chance at an indie label in my hometown of Miami that changed my life. I was bartending and waitressing during college and a woman by the name of Wendy Morgan, who was the VP of marketing at Slip N Slide Records, saw something in me when I was waiting on her and one of the artist from the label at the time. She asked if I was interested in coming in for an interview and to be honest, I said yes but didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Byron Trice is the man I credit for teaching me the ropes of the music industry. I wouldn’t trade my experience in working with an independent label for anything. It taught me to wear multiple hats and figure out how to make something out of nothing. How I got into television is a whole other story, but the person I will credit to starting me off is the incomparable Mona Scott-Young. That woman took me under her wing and believed in me and put me in positions that I probably wasn’t prepared for but I had a “sink or swim” attitude and pushed myself to the point where I wasn’t going to fail.
Describe the skills that will be essential to future business leaders and innovators?
I believe anyone trying to succeed in anything they are trying to do need to have a “determination under any means necessary” attitude. That, to me, is one of the key components that all successful leaders have. I don’t believe in compromising your ethics or principles to get there. You have to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. And you have to figure out what your level of success is. To some, finances may be how you determine if you have succeeded. To others, it may be the spirit of entrepreneurship and knowing you can be your own boss. And to others, it may be peace of mind. But only you can determine what that is for you.
Describe why lifelong learning is important to you?
I believe no matter how old you are, you can learn something new every day. None of us are born with the knowledge and wisdom we need to live this life. It takes living it to learn from it. There are so many different types of people and personalities and experiences to learn from. As far as business is concerned, everyone’s blueprint is different. No one has one formula that results in how they are succeeding. You can learn from others but you ultimately will have your own unique formula that got you to where you will be.

What are the three most important factors of being a successful woman?

Determination, confidence and a support system have been three big things in my path to becoming a success in my own right. I determined I wasn’t going to give up, even if at times, I wanted to. I needed to have confidence in myself that I can make it as far as I dreamed and aspired to. I’m not going to sit here and act like things were easy, I sacrificed relationships, friends and sometimes family. I left the only city I knew to move to a city I had no real friends or family in. But if I didn’t have my core team, my support system pushing me, encouraging me, even getting upset with me at times but ultimately understanding what my goal was, I wouldn’t be at this point. There is no way, in my opinion, that you can make it on your own. More than just for my career, my life needed to shift gears in a major way and I needed to become uncomfortable to grow. I was in a dark place in my life, my career in music hit a very hard place and I survived the death of more than half of my family in a short span of time. I needed to become uncomfortable to realize my potential, and I’m still realizing it everyday.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

Stress-management. I wish I knew when enough is enough and I need a break. When I’m overwhelmed I just focus on other things as opposed to dealing with what I’m feeling at the moment. I’m not always good to myself and that’s something I need to learn to manage better. I also need to live more by the mantra I have tattooed on my skin, “Let go and let God.” Sometimes I feel I can take on every problem and there are battles that are not meant for me to fight.

What are the dos and dont’s for young women in business?
It’s hard to answer this because everyone is finding their own way in making it in business. A great example is someone who is on our show that I’ve had the opportunity to watch firsthand develop into her own brand and that’s Cardi B. The old way things worked would [have] probably told you that based on the path she was forced to take in her life, she wouldn’t have made it outside those four walls. But she was able to turn her life experiences and her story into something people can learn from. Above all, she didn’t allow her past to determine her future. So if I can give any dos and dont’s for women is to do have a dream and believe in yourself enough to accomplish it and don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t make it, no matter what life has thrown your way. Women have a special skill set that God blessed us with. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have that special light.

“Love and Hip Hop Miami” is slated to air in January 2018.

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