Some might know Mona Scott-Young as the former president of Violator Management, others might recognize the “Renaissance Sister” as the face behind artists such as Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes, but today she’s the force behind hip-hop’s favorite VH1 docu-drama, Love & Hip-Hop. With over 20 years in the game, Scott-Young has managed some of rap’s biggest names while staking her claim in today’s television and film world.
Between working on films with 50 Cent and Nicholas Cage (The Dance), multi-media’s mogul-on-the rise is now busy managing the lives of VH1′s most watched reality series for the season. From make-ups to break-ups and fist fights to friendships, Mona Scott-Young gives audiences world wide the real behind-the-scenes look at hip-hop’s favorite TV stars. Ballin’! —Amber McKynzie
XXL: A lot of people question how close the show is to reality and how much of it is scripted. So, how much of what the audience sees actually happens on its own, without planning?
One hundred percent happens on its own, and the cast will tell you that. All we do is set the stage for where it happens. [But] if a scene happens, and someone says or does something to someone, they’ll come to me and say, “I don’t feel like I really addressed that, or I sure think x,y,z. I want the opportunity to have that discussion.” Then we decide whether that discussion takes place. Sometimes it’s organic to the scene. That’s about as much of a hand as we have in this. But the rest of it…all that comes from the “we’re just really following the real stories as they’re unfolding.”
Has anyone seen the entire season yet, or does the watch it as it premieres?
I’m in the editing process, so I know what the shows are, but the talent does not. They see it for the first time when it airs.
How is it watching the show unravel with the cast? Jim, Kimbella, Juelz, Chrissy, everyone.
There’s so much that makes me cringe. I mean, this is all playing itself out in real time and real life. None of this is premeditated. There’s no expectation of what’s going to happen. So a lot of the time, my reaction is exactly what the audience’s reaction is when they see it ’cause it’s like, Holy crap! With some of the stuff that has gone down so far — especially with the first episode with Chrissy — nobody expected that. Nobody saw that coming at all. I noticed the tension was getting a little high, so I went into the room and was like okay, “Let’s just calm down. We can all use our words and communicate effectively.” And I know Chrissy said, “I’m going for some air,” or something along those lines. And before you know it, it was like whack, whack whack. We were all kind of taken off guard by that. As far as some of the more cringe-worthy stuff that occurs, it’s tough, but we’re all committed to just locking in and making the most honest depiction of their lives that we [can].
Have you received any shocking emails or phone calls from the cast saying, “What the hell…!?!?!”
It’s weird watching it with them for the first time. They don’t know what this person said or they didn’t see that person’s reaction. Mama Jones was doing a couple of … I was doing a screening for press at my house and [Mama Jones] saw Chrissy on green screen call her a “jack ass” for the first time, and she was like, “Oh, so I’m a jack ass …” Or Kimbella watching Chrissy’s reactions to her when they first meet and stuff. With some of the more drama-filled moments I’ll get the, “Why didn’t you tell me she said that ’cause I woulda said, ‘x,y,z’,” and that’s why we say, you guys, “Be in the moment, don’t try to second guess or censor or edit yourself.” What ends up happening is if that other person is in the moment , you’re not going to be responding or in tune with what’s going on with them and how they’re going to interact with you if you’re so busy trying to orchestrate the way you want to come off. You’re missing what’s actually happening in the scene.
Coming from a management point, what cast member do you think has struggled the most by having their life broadcast on national TV?
I think most people would agree [that's] Emily. it’s interesting to me because a lot of people see her as weak and they think this is a girl who is wishy-washy and a marshmallow. I’ve heard all kinds of words used to describe her, [but] if we were to really stop and think about it, I actually feel she’s one of the strongest of the women. Think about it. How many women are honest enough about the way they feel about a man [and] they’re willing to tell the world? She doesn’t give a shit. She’s like, This is who I am; this is how I feel. I’m not going to lie to myself, and in doing that, I’m not going to lie to you guys either. And that’s all she can expect from herself. Good for her.
What do you think it is about this show that gets people so hooked versus other reality shows? What do you think it is about Love & Hip-Hop that has women tuned in every Monday night?
One of the major focuses for me was trying to do something that really gave these ladies a platform so that they could leverage and showcase whatever it is that they wanted to have showcased. I just wanted to give them a platform because these women that … I felt … had supported and been the backbone for their man in the business [but] had things they wanted to do. [They want to] have their own dreams. I also wanted to show that there are different sides to these women. They’re polite, they’re outspoken and they’re opinionated. They’re sensitive, and they love and they hurt and they cry. So it was about showing the full picture, and giving people a full 360 view of their lives and who they are.
The show is now in its second season, where do you see it going from here?
I want it to grow like Sex & the City, where women would group together on whatever night that was and there was a whole movement associated with watching the show. I love to see sparked conversations about relationships in this world, and I love that the show has put that at the forefront. It isn’t just about bling or one-night stands in this world. There are real relationships.