From ball girl to the first African American female DJ for the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Wings, it’s pretty safe to say when it comes to DJ Poizon Ivy, things are going her way.
Recently our very own Bria Janelle caught up with Poizon Ivy to get the scoop on what it’s like making history every time she hops on the 1’s and 2’s.
Bria Janelle: First off I want to say congrats on all the of success! With that being said, can you tell us a little about yourself and some of the things you have accomplished. How has it played a role in bridging the gap between hip hop and the sports community?
DJ Poizon Ivy: When I look back at my whole life, I’ve always walked that line. I’ve always been dead center in the middle of things. From a young age I was always told that I was born to unite. You know sometimes you have to be careful when your parents speak something over you or when you speak something over your child, you have to remember the power of the tongue. All that to say, I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya where I was born and raised. I was one of those kids that was born at an awkward time in the family where there were no kids that were my age, so I always hung out with my older cousin. It was easier to go up then down. I hung out with a lot of with my uncles who were huge basketball fans. I remember watching tons of Bulls games, and knowing any and every possible fact about Michael Jordan that you can imagine. He was literally the only player I knew.
When it comes to music, I’ve pretty much been around music my entire life. My mom and my caretakers would always have the radio blasting when they were doing house chores. I think some of those things really worked their way into my DNA some way some how and I played piano for the longest. I remember my grandmother bought me a twelve key baby grand piano when I was five for Christmas.
When you look at the way my life has shaped out I’ve always been between two things; it was either this or that. When I got to college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to do a bunch of things. Honestly they say you can’t be a jack of all trades and master or none, but I was like you know what I’m going to go ahead and flip that real quick. I was like I’m going to be a master of being a jack of all trades, and I think it’s just ironic that it’s all played in my favor…truly divine ordinance from the man above.
Your the DJ for the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Wings. Can you give us the backstory as to how those opportunities came about?
It’s a crazy long story. I came up in sports and music. I was actually a ball girl for the Dallas Mavericks growing up from 12-18 when I left for college. The craziest thing is that I actually grew up in the American Airlines Center. I spent every season in the AAC. It’s like even when I left for college I never really felt disconnected. Through that period I got a chance to witness a great team then as I do now. We had a finals run and it was just so much energy in there. I recall all of that and channel it to this day.
I went off to college and went to Marquette which is a really big basketball school. I was there when Jay Crowder, Jimmy Butler, and Wesley Matthews.
I worked in various internships with the Bucks for a few years. From marketing, sales, and community relations, I had an opportunity to learn a lot more about the different areas in sports and where one could work.
Ironically it lead to an opportunity for me to DJ for the Milwaukee Bucks. I was like the only girl that was there to audition. It was four guys and me, and they ended up offering me the job but then it was no longer available. It was the same day that my mentor died, which was literally one of the worst days of my life. I literally contemplated just quitting DJing altogether. That happened right around the same time I linked up with Skylar Diggins, who at the time was having her basketball camp and tour. She only had a few cities and I offered to DJ the one in Chicago, because it was closest to me. From that we built our relationship and it’s been solid ever since. I went back on the back on the road for the 3rd installment of her camp, which at the time we found out that her franchise Tulsa Shock was moving to Dallas. I reached out to the office and was like hey guys this is who I am and this is what I do would you all have a need for me. Long story short that’s how I linked up with that.
I emailed the Mavs and the position was filled at the time. I still felt confident in the situation. Low and behold I got a call two month later saying they needed a DJ and were checking to see if I was interested. I literally cried because I was so happy.
How have the Dallas Mavericks embraced the Hip Hop culture?
When you look at the integration of notable hip hop figures in the NBA their the ones you see on the sidelines. They have a great relationship with our players and owners.I’ve been fortunate enough and given the freedom to be a little bit more younger, and really be relatable. I mean we go from anywhere to Public Enemy on down. We have a very open culture in the arena.
When you look at your brand and all that you have accomplished thus far, can you discuss the evolution of your brand and how you see it effecting the culture of sports and entertainment.
It’s wild because I have people that remind me of it being black history month and women’s history month coming up that I am the only female resident DJ in the NBA and I’m only the second ever in NBA History. I don’t take it lightly, I was born in Kenya and raised in Dallas, so Dallas will always be home.
My goal is to make the Dallas Mavericks game an unforgettable experience, and that you will have a very well rounded experience. I always want to make sure our experience stands out. I show a lot of love to the local artist; past, present and future. There are certain things that we have that are traditional, but for the most part, you will never come into the AAC and expect to here the same thing time and time again. I feel like there is so much great music and there are so many great people that put time and effort into their music and craft that 44+ games a year is enough that I will never have to repeat the same records over and over. Don’t get me wrong it makes for hard work always staying up on the music, but it’s so worth it.
What is the difference in your approach when you like a record vs. when you love a record?
I can guarantee you for the rest of the season, I move on stuff fast. I’m also a radio DJ. Radio has it’s protocol but I have the arena. You better believe that after DJ Khaled dropped the ‘Shining’ record that the team warmed up to that. A song can come out yesterday, and today I get to play it. I think that the reason that is so important is because we live in a society that is so immediate that it’s not even funny. It’s like nothing last past the moment. Recently I played the ‘Cash Me Ousside’ Remix and somebody caught it. One of the guys from ESPN caught it and he tweeted about it. That created an instant conversation piece. I love social media it makes it very interactive. I love when fans request music.
In the NBA teams trolling each other on social media has become a big thing. Recently the Washington Wizards DJ trolled Nick Young playing Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ after missing a shot, have you every had a little fun with a player during game?
I try to stay away from personal attacks. I mean don’t get me wrong I think there are a lot of other ways to have fun. Over here I try to make it light hearted and fun for everyone. I watch a lot of basketball and I know a lot of these guys. Now DJ D Sharp in Golden State and I always go back and forth seeing we have Seth Curry and they have Steph Curry.
When you put aside all of the accolades, and all the great things you have accomplished, what is it like being a mother?
Wow! It’s literally the greatest feeling ever. If you ask anyone around me, management, my bosses, etc., I tell them all the time the greatest feeling in the world is being a mom. My daughter will always come first no matter what.
When you work a job like I do and you have to expect to be gone at the drop of a dime or a long period of time. I have to be very cognoscente and find balance between working and being a mother. I look at someone like Beyonce and I’m like I don’t even know how she does it. You never get a chance to do it again. Every day that passes is a day gone. You have to give it your best foot forward everyday. There’s times where I want to be there for something but sometimes I’m not able to. That’s when you say thank God for family who step in for you, whenever your in one of those positions. I’m truly grateful for my four-year-old daughter who really and truly gets it. She will tell you if mommy doesn’t go to work then mommy can’t pay the bills. You can call it what you wan’t but I break it down and talk to her on her level why it is that I am doing what I am doing. Not only that but she is around me a lot. People have a lot to say about that, but I can’t hide her from what I do. People think that this is not a profession for a child, but I’m like that’s not your call to make.
My daughter comes to the arena a lot. She’s with me at gigs sometimes. I travel with her a lot because I think it’s important for her to see the hustle. I want to instill a work ethic within her. I want to be the best example for her.
Last week was Valentines Day. I got her a doll that she has been wanting for the longest. Just to see the smile on her face and hear the excitement in her voice is amazing. For her birthday I had our mascot deliver her cake. I just want to make sure that more than anybody she is soaking up all of the benefits and creating memories for her. I just want to make sure she grows up to be a great member of society. I just never want her to feel like she will be pressured to be like me. I just want her to know that no matter what mommy is going to be there. It’s literally the coolest thing in the world. It’s no greater feeling and accomplishment then being a mother to my daughter.
What advice would you give a younger you about what it takes to be successful?
[Laughs] Oh Lord….first of all I would tell a young me define success to your terms. I say that because to often we measure ourselves by other people’s rulers, we’re not all the same length. You are lying to yourself every time you measure yourself by someone else’s standard. The first thing that I would tell a younger me is set those standards for yourself. Define them very clearly for you, because the quickest way to unhappiness is looking over at your neighbor. Never compare yourself to someone’s highlight reel. If it was their blooper reel would you still compare? Just watch your own film and encourage yourself from there. Your dreams will come true if you activate them. Everything begins and ends in a dream!