Around The Way Girl: Ticara Davis

_MG_0333   “It’s like all the little steps are leading me back to where I want to be,” and indeed they are, for 24-year-old Ticara Davis. With her 25th birthday around the corner, the west-side Chicago native has an impressive resume: from being Editor-In-Chief of music entertainment blog Vita 1017, to recently landing her big gig as a blog writer for the major Los Angeles radio host Big Boy, from Power 106. She attended  Columbia College in Chicago where she received her BA in Music Business Management, and Master’s degree in New Media Journalism from Florida’s Full Sail University. As a wearer of many hats, Ticara plans to take entertainment media by storm, and she means business! We hung out with her for a bit to get the scoop on life as a music journalist and how to survive the cut-throat industry.

Tell us about Vita 1017.

Vita 1017 is an online publication that focuses on entertainment and music news. We also do a little bit of fashion here and there. It’s just something I created back in 2012 when I was working on my Master’s degree.

Where did the name come from?

I was inspired by lifeandtimes.com! I was like, okay, I need to come up with another word for life. So I googled the word and found the Latin word for it, which is vita, and 1017 is actually my birthday.

So it’s safe to say you’re not apart of Gucci Mane’s crew right? (1017 Bricksquad)

[laughs] Everyone says that! But no, it’s just my birthday.

What does Ticara’s day at Vita 1017 look like?

I will say my day starts the night before. Depending on what posts or stories we have going on that week, I usually will schedule our tweets for the next day. So if it’s a big story, I’ll make sure to schedule those tweets during peak hours that I know people are reading, like 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Mondays I email my team…I have four to five writers who actually write for the site. I let them know our best stories of the week, update them on our analytics, and have them send me their drafts so I can go through those. So I kinda start the night before then go on into the mornings. I have to manage what [the team] is doing as well as put my pieces up, so it can be a lot of work at times, especially when controlling the social media because we don’t have that much help just yet. On top of that, I also contribute to another site (nickygeezy.com), so I have twice the load! It’s a lot of work but I get it done.

vita1017What made you want to take the independent route vs. an established company?

That’s a good question! I wanted to start somewhere more established, like XXL, or Vibe, but they’re not hiring people unless you’re an intern, and I’m not in college anymore, I’m not really trying to be anyone’s intern at this point. I feel like I’m a little too old to be somebody’s intern, but a mentorship or something like that would be best right now. But yeah, I would have loved to start out like that. I feel like it would have made [starting the blog] a lot easier because I could just say, “hey! I worked at XXL,” and you could go on the site and see my name up there. Instead, I had to take the other route, and since I was in grad school, it was a requirement for us to make a website.

At first, I was doing a little writing for my friend’s blog, but it wasn’t moving fast enough for me. So I was like, “Okay dude, I have to leave you alone, I’m going to grad school,” thats when I started my own site and it just continued from there. I didn’t expect it to still be here today. I thought it was just something I did for grad school, it was done, and my little articles just lived there; but people actually starting going to the site! They were like, “Hey we like what you do!” and I’m like, “Really?!” It’s insane. I’m still shocked til this day.

What are some of the ups and downs of starting your own blog and being a woman in the entertainment industry? We know it has it’s moments.

[sighs] It does. Well I recently just moved back to Chicago from L.A. I spent a lot of time out there and it’s just a completely different world. Being a woman, I kinda changed my style when I moved out there, as far as how I dressed, because I didn’t want people to look at me like, “Oh she’s sexy, she has on this body-con dress and heels.” So what I did was, every time I was around anyone that was involved with music, I was always covered. I always had on something like a covered shirt and jeans. I dressed as regular as possible because I don’t want them to look at me as a sex symbol. So that’s pretty much the downside, people don’t take you seriously for what you do. It’s like, hey, are you messaging me because you wanna talk to me or because you wanna do this interview? So you have to have those boundaries and learn to cut those people off…in the nicest way.

Another downside is that, when running your own site you’re not gonna start off getting paid. I don’t make any money from my site right now until I actually get advertising and all that stuff. But it’s like building a house: you have to have the foundation, then start building the walls, then put the decor, in order to sell.

What previous work have you done and how has it helped?

Before I started my own site, I interned for Music Dealers here in Chicago, which is a licensing company that’s partnered with Coca-Cola. So what I did was a lot of song registration on ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) and organizations like that, going through playlists, making sure all the copyright information was correct, and everyone was getting their song writer split. I interned there for a whole year, then went to their care department, which was like their A&R (Artists and Repertoire) department, and actually started scouting talent from overseas like Germany and Tokyo. One day they’ll be like, “Hey Ticara we want you to look for talent in Germany for a pop band,” and I’ll be on Youtube and such, searching. You get to learn how to use different media outlets for what they are worth. Like Twitter, it’s such an extensive outlet, more than to just tweet.

Then, I interned with Jeff McClusky & Associates, which is a radio and marketing company, at his Artist and Development department with his daughter, Rachael. So what we did was develop all of her social media, which is how I got into the social media game. We did her tumbler, her Instagram, Facebook… we scheduled photo-shoots, styled her… we booked her a Midwest tour–we were basically being her manager. It was like building an artist from the ground up.

ticara
Ticara taking pictures for Vita 1017 at the Jay-Z D’Usse event this past summer.

Is this what you imagined yourself doing at this age?

HA! Girl, at this age I thought I would have had me a car of my own, living in an apartment by myself. I would have had a pretty decent job with an okay title, making my way up to the higher-ups, but obviously I’m not. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, so I’m creating my own business and trying to make money off of it eventually. At the end of the day, I’m actually doing what I want to do and I’m not stuck in a position where I’m like, I hate this job. I have to deal with these snotty people. I actually like what I do even though I’m not getting paid. That’s the whole beauty of it because eventually I will get money from this because I’m so passionate about it and have to keep going. It’s all forward movement. Every step counts.

Would you say “the life plan” always changes?

Always changes. For example, when I moved to L.A, I was not expecting to move back to Chicago after eight months. I thought I still would have been out there but things didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. I felt like it was a set back, but really it wasn’t because now I’m about to start writing for a radio station in L.A. (which we later found out was for Big Boy’s Neighborhood on Power 106!). It’s like all the little steps are leading me back to where I want to be.

_MG_0338What advice would you give to other women trying to break into the entertainment industry?

First off, know who you are. Don’t let the media taint you into being something that you don’t want to be. Like, if you want to be a journalist, you don’t have to be naked on Instagram, or have your boobs out. You don’t have to do all that. I would also say be very passionate about what you want to do. Even if you don’t know what you wanna do yet, try to dabble in everything and see what it is your are passionate about, then give 110% to that. You never know where it’s gonna take you. Having positive people around you and like minded people also helps. One negative person can really affect what you’re doing.

How have you grown since starting Vita 1017?

It’s so funny because then, when I first started, I felt like a student and now I feel like a teacher [laughs]. Like, I too was learning how to use WordPress, how to edit, and how to properly caption my photos. Now I’m teaching other people how to do that. So yeah, 2012 I was the student, now I’m the teacher.

_MG_0342Do you ever look back at your first articles/posts and think oh my gosh!?

You know what my first story was about!? It was about CD’s turning 10 or 12 [years old] or something like that. I took pictures of all my little Jay-Z CD’s. I thought it was cute or whatever. I thought I knew what I was doing, but it was HORR-I-BLE. If I could go in there and delete that I would, but I’m not gonna do that. It’s good to let people see where I started. I wasn’t always the best writer either.

We know there are more to come, but for right now what’s the best moment in your career so far?

I would probably say I have two or three. So the first moment I would say is when I moved to L.A. I actually got the chance to meet this cool A&R who works for Sony and RCA, and I still work with him til this day. Great connection to have. The second would be while I was in L.A. I had a chance to be in the studio with Jean Baptiste from Free-School (songwriter), and he has two new tracks on Chris Brown’s album. We actually sat in the studio and watched this man create those two songs! It’s so crazy to see a record start from scratch, then hear it on the album, you’re like oh my gosh! It’s nuts! I was in the studio with this man! My third moment would be this interview I just did with L&F. I feel like they’re the biggest interview that I’ve done. L&F stands for Lost and Found, and it’s with Bongo and C4. They’re two guys who produced Big Sean’s new record “Jit/Juke.” Talking to them was so dope. Actually talking to someone who has songs on the radio and on albums is a good feeling. A great relationship is definitely gonna come from that. We’re probably gonna meet again [this month] just based off the interview and me being myself. They were like, “Hey we like you, let’s meet up when we come to Chicago.” So those are the three best moments so far.

vita10172Do you have to be really proactive and assertive in these interviews? You can’t be shy right?

Yeah, you can’t be shy. If you’re gonna get on an interview you can’t be like, [mimics operator voice] “Hi this is Ticara calling…” No! Be yourself. Speak how you speak. If you have a Chicago accent, take that accent and use it in your interviews. Don’t change who you are or your voice just because you are speaking to someone. Bring your personality. That’s what will make people like you and connect with you. They’ll see you’re down to earth. People can tell when you’re being fufu (Chicago slang for fake).

People might think your job is fun (going to concerts, parties, meeting celebs), how do you make time for a social life? Or has social pleasures become business now?

I think the challenge for me has been time management, trying to meet with people to do interviews, scheduling interview writing, and attending events. Sometimes I have to sacrifice hanging out with friends to go to a show. But sometimes I can bring them along which makes it even better. I try to make everything fun but it can be super overwhelming!

Where do you see the future of Vita 1017 going?

One of the people I look to for inspiration when it comes to entertainment writing is Karen Civil. I really like what she did with her blog. She basically made it into a brand. She has Live Civil, she has Karen Civil, she has merchandise and stuff like that. So that’s something I would like Vita 1017 to turn into. I actually really wanna give people the platform to write. Like, “Hey if you’re in school for journalism, come write for Vita 1017 and we’ll give college credit.” I really wanna turn it into that too. Giving people the opportunity to write because I didn’t have that. I didn’t get the chance to go to Vibe and write for them. If Vita 1017 can be just as good as that or even a notch close then I would love to help. If you’re a dope writer then we wanna have you.

_MG_0334What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

OH MY GOD! When I was 20 where was I?! [laughs] No seriously, I would tell my self to join more clubs in college. Network with classmates a little bit more… attend more events, and stuff like that. Focus more on school and not boys! I feel like I got a little side-tracked my junior year but definitely bounced back my senior year with two internships. Also focus on yourself. If you feel like going to school out of state then go. I feel like I was a little scared but I should have went to an out of state school. But hey, it happens.

What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?

Chicago is so diverse. We have so many different areas. Like right now we’re in wicker park, and then we have Lincoln Park, Humboldt Park, and so many other areas that bring something different to the city.

Be sure to check out Ticara’s blog Vita 1017.com and follow her on Instagram/Twitter @TicaraDevone.

XO,

Rebecca

{Know an Around The Way Girl we need to to get in touch with? Let us know in the comment section below!}

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