Donatella Panayiotou is a pioneer in the UK music scene as the first female presenter in Grime working with GRM daily, Flava & MTV interviewing all of the biggest names in Urban music from 50 cent to Bruno Mars. In 2014, Donatella made the move to LA with the mission of making more opportunities available for artists from the UK and giving more European opportunities for US talent.
After 6 months of being in LA she was introduced to former Def Jam president Max Gousse, the man behind some of Beyonce’s greatest records. Impressed by her enthusiasm Max believed in her talents and become her mentor, In less than 6 months under his guidance Donatella signed her first US publishing deal for a now Grammy nominated, award winning writer to Warner Chappell. Donatella has also been instrumental in the success of singer Jeremih in Europe. Donatella has also worked for Stampede Management for clients such as Busta Rhymes, Ty$ and Snoop Dogg. Most recently we saw Donatella join the cast of hit American show “Love & Hip Hop LA”. We caught up with this transatlantic Mogul to find out more about her journey and what she has in store!
You have worked with some major UK media brands such as MTV and GRM Daily as a host. How did you get into presenting?
I studied broadcast journalism and while I was in college I started doing work experience at a production company and practicing with autocue and talk back whenever I could. I got my first presenting gig doing interactive game shows that came on Sky late at night, it was amazing practice. When I was confident enough I started a YouTube channel and after my second interview, I joined forces with GRM.
Why did you decide to make such a major move to LA? What were the reasons?
I felt like I’d reached a point in my career where I really wanted a new challenge and LA being the home of entertainment I felt like was the ultimate test.
Do you think there are lots of opportunities in the UK Media/Urban/Music scene or does the US have more to offer talent?
The US still has more opportunities but it’s so much bigger. The last decade has seen a huge change in the U.K. “Urban” scene and we now have the reach that we’ve always needed, the internet is so powerful and our media outlets have grown to be some of the most influential platforms.
Tell us about how you got into A & R and Music Management once you arrived in LA? Did you establish your connections whilst you were in the UK or made the move and then networked?
I managed both an artist and a producer back in the U.K., I was always a lot more hands-on behind the scenes than people from the outside knew. When I was the face of Flava TV I was also working in the office 3 days a week running the unsigned playlists.
What was it like working with Jeremih & being a key part of his recent success?
Jeremih is insanely talented and working in the studio with him is inspiring. It was his musical gift that gave me so many visions for his career, I’m really proud of the things we’ve achieved.
You also worked with various male rappers at Stampede MGMT what was that experience like especially as a woman working with all males?
Haha, there were female clients too! The industry though is male dominated so it’s something you have to get used to. I’ve faced challenges as a woman in the industry for sure but it’s something you learn and you grow through.
Why did you decide to join the Love & Hip Hop Hollywood cast? What has the experience been like?
The franchise Mona Scott Young has created is huge and the platform is undeniable. How could I say no? I’m all about bridging the gap between the US and the U.K. and this is a great opportunity. The experience has been completely new to me and very true to the Hollywood title at times! Watching back the funniest moment for me was “the wig coming off” scene!
Are you coming back for another series?
I wish I could tell you but you’re going to have to tune in to find out.
Tell us about your new merchandise line Peachy-Tings
Peachy Tings is a fun brand, it’s all the cute stuff that I love that I’m sharing with the world. I’ve been working really hard to get it right so I hope everyone loves it as much as I do
What would be your top tips for someone who wants to make the move to another country?
–Have a plan before you do it
-Test it out first as well, maybe for 3 months.
I had no plan and had to do things the hard way!
What is next for Donatella?
Working hard on building my company Connect The Dots Intl and who knows. I’m a free spirit so expect the unexpected.
You can follow Donatella on @LittleDonatella