Kanya King: MOBO Awards Director

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Stylist Team
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Kanya King MBE, is CEO and founder of the MOBO organisation. She lives in east London with her partner

My job is always busy – as founder of the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) awards, I deal with everything from press launches for the annual award show – we’ve had amazing artists like Rihanna, Jay-Z and Sade perform – to meetings with advertising agencies. I’m just as happy dealing with the nuts and bolts stuff to closing important deals.

A typical day starts at 7am. I put the news on, grab my skipping rope and do a mini-workout while I’m watching TV. Exercise helps me get ready for the day, mentally and physically. Then it’s a quick soak in the bath before my other half drives me to our swish new offices in Soho for 9am. It’s the perfect time for us to catch up and have a chat.

I’m currently off coffee, thanks to my fantastic nutritionist, so I’m always lugging around a shopping bag packed with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and milk for my morning smoothie. I’m militant about getting my five a day. My handbag’s always brimming with the day’s essentials – everything from sponsorship contracts to a spare pair of shoes in case I need to change for a last-minute party. Luckily I have a wardrobe in my office so I never need to go home before going out. I absolutely love the high street for fashion, Warehouse is great and I’m really into a label called Aftershock.

Stevie Wonder called me out of the blue with a fake British accent and invited me to his birthday party

Once in the office, I check my emails, Google alerts and the BBC News website and discuss my diary with my PA, Mia. At the moment I’m busy getting ready for our fifteenth MOBO Awards on 20 October, so my time is spent emailing and speaking to agents, artists and venues. I’ve never really been starstruck, even when Tina Turner dropped into the office! Stevie Wonder was something else though. He called me out of the blue with a fake British accent and invited me to his birthday party a few years ago. He’s so funny.

I have a daily brainstorm with the MOBO team – there are 10 of us – where we talk about what’s happening in the industry. We discuss potential presenters for the awards and plot a plan of action. A big part of my day is spent booking talent; I spent months liaising with Alesha Dixon and her manager before we booked her as the host for this show and, I’m currently, emailing back and forth with LA trying to find an American act to perform with JLS. As well as waiting for LA to wake up to play hardball with American record labels, the closer the awards get, the more time I spend doing press and interviews. I was at the BBC last week and then went straight to Cardiff to see an act perform at the Ryder Cup. There’s never a spare moment!

Last year was the first time we held the event outside London and this year it’s at the Liverpool Echo Arena so I spend a lot of the time on the train up to Liverpool. On a typical journey I do some work on the train and sneak a peek at the papers to keep up to date with the gossip.

If I’m in London, I’ll pop along to whatever events are happening that day: a photo shoot with Lebara, our sponsors, a meeting with Choice FM or a catch-up with our advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. I often hold meetings at the club I’m a member of, One Albert Place. The staff are great, they always have my smoothie ready for me.

My day winds down between 8pm and 10pm unless I’m at a gig or launch party. I’ve been working for 20 years now and I’m lucky enough to have a job I truly love. I was working in TV when I had the idea for the MOBO awards. I grew up listening to black artists and wanted to create a modern platform which would celebrate their work. I started it off in my bedroom and I had to remortgage my house, which was hugely risky, but now I get a buzz out of every day in the office, so I guess it was worth it.

Picture credit: Gemma Day