Shari Bryant, co-president of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, saw an opportunity to succeed in the music industry and seized it. Bryant grew up in the same apartment building as Cam’ron and Damon Dash in East Harlem, New York.
When she was sixteen years old in 1999, she bravely announced that she wanted to work as an intern for Dash at Roc-A-Fella Records. Dash took her word and invited her to the studio’s headquarters.
Recounting her first day at the company, Bryant told Fortune, “Nobody knew I was there, no one was expecting me. They were like, ‘who are you?, He finally comes in maybe like an hour later and he’s like, ‘Oh, yes, this is Shari. She’s from my building, and make sure that she learns everything that’s going on.’”
Bryant went on to balance her studies at John Jay College with her internship. Almost thirty years later, Bryant has progressed from learning under Dash to leading Roc Nation. “When I walked into that company in 1999, I never looked back because I was able to see women that look like me and it made me feel a sense of belonging. I saw my mother, I saw my aunt. Not literally, but that’s what the representations stood for me at that time,” she expressed.
Bryant, 39, held positions at Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Records, and Alamo Records before returning to Roc Nation.
Today, the entrepreneur holds the title of co-president with Omar Grant, who has worked with her since 2019. He also has a lengthy history of rising through the ranks, having worked as an intern for Beyoncé’s longtime publicist Yvette Noel-Schure. Through this association, he met Beyoncé’s father and former manager, Mathew Knowles, and eventually became the assistant tour manager for her album “Dangerously in Love.”
Now, Grant and Bryant use their skills to help musicians and cultivate the next wave of “legacy artists” as leaders of Roc Nation. Bryant credits her success in the music business to three things. “I believe in leading with empathy, leading with passion, and leading with purpose. I attribute everything to empathy, passion, and purpose because I apply all of that into my work,” she told Essence.