Raymone Bain, publicist to the stars and founder of Raymone K. Bain Companies, LLC, joins Dr. Vanessa Weaver to discuss her experience working with some of the biggest names in sports, politics and entertainment. She shares stories about her work with Michael Jackson, Bernie Mac, Babyface, Jimmy Carter and more. She also reveals the discrimination she has faced during her career and offers advice for those facing similar challenges.
In this Episode
· How Raymone created a path to success in a male-dominated industry
· Her experience working with notable celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Bernie Mac, Serena Williams, and Janet Jackson
· The importance of investing in relationships as part of building a successful career
· The discrimination, bias, and obstacles people of color face in the public relations industry and how to overcome them
· The importance of being loyalty and staying true to oneself
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Workin’ It Out
Diversity and Inclusion Television
Dr. Vanessa Weaver: Welcome, I'm Dr. Vanessa Weaver. On today's episode of Workin' It Out we're exploring the personal story of an accomplished professional, a businesswoman who has triumphed over adversity. For many professionals of color, the road to success can be littered with discrimination, bias, or other potentially career-derailing experiences. Today's guest will tell her story, share what she did to overcome the challenges she faced and explain how these experiences has shaped who she is today.
Joining me today is the renowned Raymone Bain and Raymone is a phenomenal woman as Maya Angelou used to say. She's a public relations and public affairs executive in business, entertainment, politics, government, and sports In fact, Raymone founded the Raymone K. Bain Companies, a full-service boutique firm that specializes in management and public relations, but that doesn't really tell the real story. She's had just incredibly renowned clients, such as Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Serena Williams, Janet Jackson, Kenneth Babyface Edmonds and Boys II Men and that's just a few.
She was one of the first women to provide PR support for many of the boxing individuals we know. And we're going to have her talk a little bit about that. And even now she continues to really provide incredible communications, public relations and PR support to people in the District of Columbia such as DC's former First Lady, Cora Masters Barry, who was married to the late Marion Barry and she also speaks for the Barry Estate. So Raymone, I am just so glad to have you here today.
Raymone Bain: Thank you. I'm honored that I was chosen to be on your show.
Weaver: Oh my God, wow.
Bain: And congratulations to you for having this show.
Weaver: Oh, thank you, we're—
Bain: You're quite a trendsetter and trailblazer yourself.
Weaver: You got me right there, hello. Thank you for that. Raymone, well, tell us a little bit about it. I know you came to the DC area. In the Carter administration you were part of the Georgia mafia. So tell us a little bit about that, how you got started.
Bain: Well, I began working with then Governor Carter when I was a student at Spelman HBCU and it was like my first day there, my PR, not PR, but my political science instructor, Dr. Lorris Moreland said, "Oh my goodness, "I'd love for you to meet my friend. "You need to work with my friend." And I said, "Well, who is your friend?" She's like, "Governor Jimmy Carter." I said, "Well, work with him how?" And she said, "He's running for president." And I said, "President of what?" And she said, "Of the United States of America." I'm like, "So Jimmy Carter, the former governor of Georgia is running for president of the United States of America?" She said, "Yes." I go like, "Oh, okay." And so--
Weaver: Why not?
Bain: He called a friend of hers who was in the campaign, and I went in as an intern and ended up traveling into 32 states with Jimmy Carter. At the time I was leaving Spelman in my senior year to go to law school. I had been accepted at several law schools and everyone in the campaign was like, you know, I remember Ham Jordan and Jody Powell, Frank Moore and all of them, "You mean to tell us you helped get Jimmy Carter elected and you're not moving to Washington?" And I thought about it, and I said, "Well, I never thought about moving to Washington. I'm happy he won." But you know, my mom in the background saying, "Oh no, you're not moving nowhere. You're going straight to law school."
And so it was the convincing of everybody in the campaign because it was a phenomenon. I mean, there were so many wonderful and when I say wonderful, I mean, such gentlemanly, decent individuals running against Jimmy Carter at that time. Scoop Jackson, Morris Udall, Ted Kennedy, Julian Bond. There was a group of men who had helped to shape the political landscape of this country that were decent. You know, they weren't inciting riots or being discriminative. They were class act to people who he ran with that I got to see and know traveling into 32 states and I thank the president of the school at that time, the late Dr. Albert Manley for saying, "You're a political science student. How best for you to learn participatory politics than to be out there with now the front runner." He wasn't necessarily front running at that time.
Weaver: Oh, so let me just—
Bain: So I traveled—
Weaver: Let me ask you this. So you didn't start out in public relations, you started out in political science.
Weaver: Oh, I didn't quite get that distinction.
Bain: I majored at Spelman in political science with mass communications is my minor.
Bain: And I began traveling with President Carter in my junior year. So I had a whole 'nother year left to continue to travel with Jimmy Carter. I was introduced to him in my junior year at Spelman College.
Weaver: Okay, okay.
Bain: And so it was a pleasure, but like I said, it wasn't my vision to move to Washington. It was my vision once he was elected to say, "Okay, bye guys. I'm so glad you won. Let me go on to law school." I ended up having to make a bargain with my mom 'cause at that time mothers dictated, mothers, fathers, family dictated what you were going to do. She didn't care that Jimmy Carter won the election. It's like, okay now, I sent my money as your admission, to pay your admissions to law school. Now, which one you're going to and then, you know, so much talk about everything else. Let's just get back on track. So I had to like bargain with my mom. Okay, I'm going to move to Washington with Jimmy Carter, but I promise you I'm going to law school.
Weaver: And you did do that.
Bain: And I did do that. Thanks to David Wilmot, who was an African-American male, who was the Dean of Students at Georgetown Law School. David helped me and so many others get into Georgetown Law. We might not have, probably 90% of us would probably not have been able to get in there without David, but he convinced them that, you know, you got to look at more than just test scores. You've got to look at what they've accomplished, what they are involved with, what their grades are. And as a result of that I worked at the White House during the day and went to Georgetown during the evenings and I graduated in 1984, December of ’83, but marched with the class of ’84.
Weaver: What struck me about just even sharing that part of your life is how important relationships have been in terms of introducing you to opportunities and making sure that you have certain exposure. I mean, it's really... Relationships seem to be pivotal to that.
So let's talk a little bit about that because when we come back, I want you to talk about some of the challenges and adversities that you as a woman in a pretty predominantly male industry have faced and then how you overcame some of those challenges. What I have promised our listeners, our audience and I'm going to deliver on it was really sharing one of the big you had was Michael Jackson. In fact, in 2006 and you've finished the Carter administration, I think you had even worked for Marion Barry in the DC government as his press person, but in 2006 Michael Jackson tapped you to be his personal manager and even President of the Michael Jackson Company. So tell us a little bit about that. And then we got to get into what are some of the challenges and adversities you face because we know that it's a pretty significant role that you have one that's not typically afforded a Black female with a talent as big as Michael Jackson.
Bain: Well, I just want to say that I've been really blessed. Most of the clients, you know, and you name them Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Muhammad Ali, Steve Harvey, Babyface, Boyz II Men, they're all men and very powerful men and they entrusted me with their business. I have to give kudos to them.
Right now I'm a member of Higher Heights and Black Women Lead and When We're Black Women 2020 and I take my hat off to all of the women groups who have lobbied together to make sure that they can effectuate positive change for women. When you and I were out here, many others, we didn't have that kind of support base and that's why I'm so honored to be a part of those women organizations who helped effectuate change in this past election. And we have now an African-American woman who's the first Vice President of the United States and hopefully we'll have so many more, so many more African-American and women of color senators. When I was in law school, my priority was being a criminal attorney because I thought that African Americans were facing a lot of injustices in the criminal justice system.
Even way back then, I remember my mom and I going to the baseball games, and I would sit next to white fans. They would turn their backs to us. And one kid, my arm... this was years ago, my arm touched his just briefly and he had to wipe it off and cried and was sitting there whining and telling his mom and dad I had touched him. But yet when Hank Aaron came out on the field, oh, they stood up and they clapped and applauded. They didn't look at me in the same vein as Hank Aaron. I was Black, he wasn't because he was playing ball. So it's very interesting how he himself had to face discrimination, but yet when I was sitting in the stands I faced it, but they embraced him. You see, it's just real convoluted.
Weaver: It's the celebrity piece of it.
Bain: Yes, and it's convoluted and it's because of things like that that I chose the path. And you know, when I was tapped by the Kings of Comedy, I was so honored, Bernie Mac, the late Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L Hughley, Steve Harvey, those men brought joy to people around the world, and they filled the Phillips Arena in Atlanta that holds 70-some-thousand three nights in a row. I mean, just exceptional individuals came to me and I'm very honored about that. Now, on the other hand, you asked what were some of the challenges.
Bain: Clearly in boxing there were challenges and I think my first encounter with my first client in the whole wide world was Hector Macho Camacho. And it was in September, he had fought Rafael Solis for the super featherweight championship of the world. And I had friends there at Home, years ago if you remember HBO, Larry Merchant used to have boxing week and it was so amazing. I looked at him and he had on these leopard trunks and his cape, and he was twirling in the ring, and I looked and I said to them, "I'm going to represent him."
Well, surely enough that's in September. In January, a friend of mine in New York called and said, "Raymone, listen, can you come up to New York? I have a friend whose mother is so concerned 'cause her son is boxing and he hadn't gotten paid by Don King." And I said, "Well, who is the boxer?" She said, "Hector Macho Camacho and he hasn't been paid for the fight with Rafael Solis." I couldn't believe it. That was the same fight I was watching and said to my friends, "I'm going to represent him."
Well, I then, Marion Barry has been a mentor like a father or brother. I don't know how to describe it, but I mentioned to him that I was going up to New York to face Don King. He says, "Well, you've got to meet my best friend in the whole wide world Cora Masters. She's the chairman of the Boxing Commission." He took me over to Cora's house. She put me on the phone with Rock Newman and Butch Lewis and they told me play by play what was going to happen in that meeting. Everything they said, they're going to curse. They're going to fight. They're going to act the fool. They're going to just try to intimidate you. And they did.
I got a pitcher of cold water thrown on me, ice cold water thrown on me. And this was January 24, 1984. I will never forget that date as long as I live. They fought, they threw chairs, I had to duck, somebody hit somebody else in the nose, it started bleeding, blood just splatter all over the place. The papers were thrown in the air, chairs thrown, me and Hector having to duck. Now here it is a fighter having to duck, scared to death and they had told me what my ace card was, and I let them go through all of that and I said, "You know what? This has been so entertaining. I want the judge to see this. I want the judge to see the yelling, the screaming, the cursing, the fighting. I want the judge to get bloody. I want somebody to throw a cold pitcher of ice-cold water in the judge's face. I'm done here."
And Don King stands up and says, "Hold it! Hold it! I'm an honorable man. I'm an honorable man." Because they had told me if one more person files a lawsuit against him, he was going to be suspended for years and would not be able to promote anymore. And that was the inside information that Cora Barry and others had given me. So he calls his accountant in, writes the check, tears it out of the checkbook, gives it to me. Hector and I get the heck out of there. We get to the hotel, have security take us to our rooms because one of Don King's people said we'd never leave New York alive. And that was my first interaction in boxing and when word got out as to how successful I was in getting Hector his money, then everybody else came. And that's how that happened.
Weaver: So, as you think about that part of your life, what were some of the lessons you learned as I think one of the few, if not the only Black woman that was representing boxing giants like Muhammad Ali and other people?
Bain: Well, let me say this. You know, you have as people who are viewing your show will understand. See, the talent, the celebrity is cool, but you got a whole bunch of people around. You got the managers, you got the trainers, you got the agents, you got the lawyers and they're primarily white. So as a Black woman, everybody is not like Joe Biden, and everybody is not like Bill Clinton. Everybody is not like some of these people whom we see and we know and they do the right thing.
There are some people here as we have seen this last year and a half who don't think Black people deserve a seat at the table. They don't care who you are and what you do and how successful. And I've had to encounter that. I've been slandered, defamed, demeaned, diminished, hacked, cyber attacked. There've been articles written that were completely and unequivocally false in order to hurt me, in order to keep me from excelling in business. I've had government agencies called under false pretenses. All of that because of the level of success that I reached in sports and entertainment.
There is an old bastion of control in power. You've heard about it. Kanye talks about it. So many actors and actresses talk about it. You know, the Weeknd talked about how he felt discriminated by Naros. We hear it across the board. I remember I had to do a press conference for... Well, conduct a press conference for Puffy and others in hip hop many years ago where they were just deliberately left out of the competition in Grammys, you might remember that many, many years ago. Somehow when it's all said and done, we as Black professionals are not supposed to share in the piece of the pie. And that's why I am so elated that we have so many African-American women and men who are excelling.
I have excelled in this business because African-American men gave me an opportunity. There are good people who want to see you succeed and Lord knows I could not have gotten to the level that I am without them, but on the other hand there are a group and a packet of people who have control that don't want to share it. They don't care who you are, how old you are, what you do, what you've accomplished, what your network is. They are out to destroy you because your success means that their power and their control weakens because you don't have African-Americans representing people on the level of Michael Jackson and others.
And Lord knows I wouldn't even be sitting here if it weren't for Kenny Edmonds. By the grace of God, he and Tracy Edmonds not only, I mean, we were all like same age, but they kind of took me under their wings and Kenny became like my guru. Like if I needed a reference, he did it. He walked ahead of me. He brought Boyz II Men to the table. Then Quadri brought Janet Jackson to the table who was Boyz II Men's manager and then Debra Cox and Rochelle Farell, and so many others. It was through the people that I worked with who had confidence in me and knew that I was out here trying to do the best that I could do for the right reasons, that I was able to build my base within the industry.
Weaver: This is a fascinating conversation. And it's real talk about how diversity and inclusion and challenges are really playing out. We have yet to even talk about its specific impact on you although I hear what you're saying in terms of people, the people that networked you in and gave you the opportunity weren't always the people that had to pay you and respect your contract. And what are the strategies and approaches that you use? You were just really ready to get into that. And I want to make sure that we hear that from you because it's a blessing to hear the story, but also know what are the steps that we need to do to resolve it. How do you, when you have a complex web of adversaries that are after you, how, in fact, do you recommend that anyone not only what you did, but what would you recommend? What would be the two or three things you recommend that--
Bain: Well, you've just got to keep fighting. You've just got to keep fighting. You just, you know, if something is written, I mean, I've had to call Google. I've had to call lawyers. I've had to turn to friends of mine who are experts in public relations and online damage control. You just call people that you know because you can't allow people to beat you down. They will. And when they do beat you down, I'm not saying they're not because I and so many others have been beat down to the point that you just want to give up. And so you just have to keep fighting.
Weaver: So for you to keep fighting.
Bain: So we have to deal with the fact that we're going to be discriminated against. Everybody is not going to love us and we're going to have to fight to get a seat at the table and we got to have to use whatever means necessary to have that seat at the table. Black musicians are not supposed to be able to garner and become billionaires. I am so happy to see that we have at least 10 to 15 African-American men and women that are certified billionaires and I'm happy to see that. So that means that despite what we have to go through, despite the issues, despite being beat down, we just have to keep on doing what it is we do. Be good at what you do, be honest at what you do, lawyer up, strategize, rely on your network of professionals and your friends and make sure that what you say and how you say it, you're telling the truth, you have credibility. Keep your moral compass, don't compromise your principles.
Weaver: You seem to have contributed to other people long before you needed them to support you. Yes. So kind of undergirding all that I heard you talk about. was the importance of investing, cultivating relationships, investing in relationships and then taking those steps that are very, very challenging.
Bain: When I was moving here from Georgia and one thing, Jimmy Carter, Hamilton Jordan and all of them said to me was that "Raymone, you're going into a city where it's doggy dog, "remain loyal and remain true to yourself." I'm going to be honest; I didn't know what loyalty meant. I went back to my dorm room at Spelman and looked up the word in the dictionary.
Years later, when The Washington Post did an article on me, everybody who they interviewed regarding me had one thing that was in common, she's very loyal. And that's one of the things I pride myself with. See, when you're out here in a certain profession, you have to be loyal to those around you, yourself and of course the people that have come to you to represent. And that's one of the things I pride myself with. I love loyalty above money. I would prefer you and others say about Raymone Bain, she's loyal rather than, oh, she will throw you under the bus for a dime. I've never been driven by money. Yes, I'm in litigation because I want to be paid for what I have earned. And that's the American way. You work and you're paid, but it was more to me the validation, but even now after so long, I've learned that I don't need a court to validate me. I did what I did and if you believe it fine, if you don't, that's okay too.
Weaver: Oh, Raymone, I have just... I feel so fortunate that you've chosen to share your experience and your story around how to deal with adversity and the numbers of adverse situations you've had to deal with, but also your successes because your story is one of perseverance, is one of resilience, is one of loyalty, is one of integrity and determination. So I just want to thank you so much for being a part of Workin' It Out.
Bain: And spirituality.
Weaver: And spirituality. So I want to thank you so much for sharing your story with us. So on behalf of our Workin' It Out team I want to thank you again and thank our audience and I wish you a safe, productive, and a be happy week.