Angela Yee has provided a woman’s voice to the male-dominated industry of hip-hop entertainment for more than a decade—and she’s never shy about saying what’s on her mind. Angela sat down with Dress for Success and shared how her early career seemed to constantly be changing trajectory, but how she continued to build on each experience to finally propel herself to the forefront of urban pop culture.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Angela is currently one of radio’s most beloved trios on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, one of the tri-state area’s most popular morning programs. Sharing the mic with DJ Envy and Charlamagne tha God each morning, Angela comes across crisp and charismatic, natural and nuanced, as if being a radio host was what she had dreamed about all of her life—and finally achieved. Being broadcast out to millions of morning listeners is far from what an adolescent Angela had planned for her future self, but this vocational detour has proven to actually be the perfect path.
As a child, Angela favored scary movies and she would spend hours in the basement of her building and watch these tales of horror all alone in the dark. They say that the only thing to fear is fear itself, but when you face fear head-on, then there’s nothing holding you back. While the scary suspense throughout the films captivated her, it also laid the foundation for the fearless manner in which she conducts business, as well as her dedication to professionally push herself beyond her comfort zone.
Because of this connection to art, experiment and motivation, Angela aspired to be a writer in her younger years. After graduating high school, she attended Wesleyan University to study English and took on a teaching position in uptown Manhattan while she completed her education. Angela’s plan after college was simple, yet strategic: get a job, find temporary, and use her free time to write and do photography. But Angela soon found out that even though it’s always great to have a plan, plans don’t necessarily go as expected.
Angela landed a job doing data entry after graduating college, but she rapidly realized that it was not at all what she wanted to do, so she took a risk of not knowing what her next move was going to be and quitting after just two days. But when one door shuts, another opens, and this decision was one that would shape Angela’s career moving forward. Figuring out that the first job that she took directly out of college was not for her ultimately led her to working for Wu-Tang Corporation during the height of the Wu-Tang Clan’s popularity. Hired almost immediately after leaving her previous position, she was the assistant to the CEO and was in charge of payroll and attended meetings at all of the record labels that the rap group was affiliated with, as well as put together community events like Park Hill Day in Staten Island, a free fair with health information, rides and a concert. And so her career in the entertainment industry began.
Although it was a struggle after quitting her temp position, Angela enjoyed working at Wu-Tang and loved what she was doing. Throughout her time there, she made sure to develop important relationships with people (and as you know, networking is something we highly encourage here at Dress for Success!). It was because of one of these nurtured relationships that Angela was able to make the transition into radio, despite having no prior radio experience.
She was introduced to the world of satellite radio as the co-host of The Cipha Sounds Effect on Sirius’ Shade 45 radio station. Angela took the initiative and made every effort to get better, analyzing each show after it aired. Everyday she would listen to what the show sounded like, figure out how she can improve, get plenty of sleep and critique herself. This aided in her success. She did not wait for anyone else to do these things for her; she was honest with herself and told herself if she sounded good or bad.
“Always critique yourself, always do better, because you can always be doing better,” Angela told Dress for Success.
Her self-analysis paid off big time and, after a short time, she was offered her very own show, The Morning After with Angela Yee. But why stop at just one show? Angela’s past experiences helped her market herself as she added another show of her own to her roster, Lip Service. After steadily gaining a following, Angela was propositioned with other career prospects, but if they weren’t willing to give her equal billing, she wasn’t budging. And they weren’t. And she didn’t. Those horror movie viewing sessions of her childhood were paying off; she wasn’t scared to call someone’s bluff when they tried to offer her something that was of no real benefit to her career.
But when the right opportunity presented itself, Angela welcomed it with open arms. When Power 105.1 approached her, she knew she just wouldn’t just simply be made into a side attraction and that the spotlight would be equally shared between her and her co-hosts. And for more than three years now, Angela has called The Breakfast Club her professional home. Understanding her worth has helped Angela navigate through her career and ensure that whatever the next move she made would be the right one.
But carving out a niche for herself within genre of music that is thought to be a Boys Only club wasn’t as easy at it seems. “You have to deal with a lot of male chauvinism, but at the same time, you get a lot more opportunity because there are less women,” Angela says and she has been able to use this to her benefit when opportunities arise for a woman who knows hip-hop. With no connections in the industry when she first began her career, she did everything on her own and, for her, it is important for women to see other women doing that.
Angela is always thinking about the next thing she can do or overcome. Although the plan of becoming a writer did not go exactly as she had hoped, she has continued to adjust her goals and work towards them, whether it was a part of the plan or not. But don’t count Angela out of being an author just yet, she is still determined to achieve her dream of writing a book. And what’s another change in careers when you have know no fear?
“Being scared is a great thing,” Angela remarks.
Follow these tips from Angela Yee to help put some of your professional fears to rest:
- Remember that there is no shortcut; success does not come overnight. Be prepared to not make a lot of money at first and once you get to a certain level, you have to demand what you deserve.
- Giving up is not an option. You have to figure it out.
- It is hard to find people who are not going to judge you, but during negative times, do your best to try to turn things around. When you feel most vulnerable might just be the perfect time to take a risk.
- It is important that women be proud of whatever they want to do and have the ability to back it up. The definition of an empowered woman is not being ashamed of who you are and what you do.
- Having mentors helps you stay on track. Mentors can give you valuable insight on things like how important it is to be trust worthy, present and honest, etc.