The hardest working woman in showbiz may just be one you’ve never seen before, but if you’ve ever touched a radio dial, we’re sure her impact has been heard and/or felt. Continuing our quest to look behind the glitz and glamor of the Urban entertainment industry, let us introduce none other than famed author, radio personality, and radio producer Nikki Woods.
Known best for her contributions as senior producer to the long-running “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” Woods’ entertainment conquests have included hosting her own web series Beyond the Studio, becoming a published author, consulting, motivational speaking, and so much more.
Now, in an exclusive sit down with That Grape Juice, Woods weighs in on her storied career as well as a hot topics “Knowles-Carter drama” and “Donald Sterling vs. Magic Johnson“.
Trust us, this is one read you don’t want to miss. Meet Nikki below:
Nikki Woods Shouts Out That Grape Juice
That Grape Juice: You wear so many hats in the industry! Just share a few of the titles you have and let our readers know where they would know you.
Nikki: I’m a mother, first and foremost (laughs). I’m also the senior producer for the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. I am also the CEO of my own company, NikkiWoodsMedia. There, we use social media to help people develop platforms for their businesses and services.
Also, I am a published author. Writing is a big passion of mine.
That Grape Juice: Wow! Now, in sharing about the start of your storied career, did you always know that you wanted to pursue these professional avenues?
Nikki: My first pursuit was actually education, so I taught school for a very brief period of time. It was probably more than two full years in the States, then I taught a while in Jamaica. From there, I went back to school to pursue journalism and this is where my career has been since.
That Grape Juice: If you don’t mind us asking, what inspired the shift in career choice?
Nikki: Teaching is quite the undertaking and it takes a real passion for it. While I do have a passion for children, I don’t think I realized how much was entailed in education.
In addition to the children, it can be quite political when you consider the parents, the system, the administrators, the school board, etc.
That Grape Juice: If the opportunity presented itself, would you ever go back to your first love of education?
Nikki: I don’t think I could go back to it now. But, the beautiful thing is that because I am in media, I get to go into the classroom a lot to spend time with kids and hopefully influence them in some way.
That Grape Juice: Awesome! Now, that leads us to another “hat” of yours – being a published author.
Nikki: I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior. One way I’ve channeled that is through fiction because I can control the story. To some degree, stories always write themselves. But, I have a responsibility to the story and to the readers to make it come alive.
That Grape Juice: We are loving your latest novel “Easier Said Than Done.” Tell us the inspiration behind the novel.
Nikki: I deal a lot with motivating women. So, the message with this novel talks about how at some point in our careers that we have choices to make. For “Easier Said Than Done,” the choice is whether or not you’re going to do what everyone else is telling you is right for your life or if you’re going to be the big girl and do what you know will make you happy.
Kinston, the main character in the story, is faced with this. She is a high-powered, entertainment executive in Chicago with roots in Jamaica. She learns her grandmother has died, so she travels to Jamaica to settle her estate. There, she has to deal with family issues and childhood trauma, but she also deals with a love that didn’t go the way she wanted it to. So, she has to decide there that she wants the rest of her life to look like.
That Grape Juice: When you write novels or short stories, how much of you and your personality are injected into the characters?
Nikki: I think people always like to think that, but I really don’t. While I draw upon experiences, there are no real pieces of me or my family in the stories. It’s just the flavor of how I write.
And, to me, it’s the easy way out for writers to put themselves into the characters. It’s much more challenging to write about people unfamiliar to us.
That Grape Juice: Interesting way of looking at it. Now, in regards to the novel’s follow-ups “Innocence Lost” and “Light My Pathway Home,” are they still in the works?
Nikki: “Innocence Lost” is done, so the publishing date is not far off. “Light My Pathway Home” is still in the works. That’s more of a documentation of my family history.
I tell it in somewhat of a fictional way because I want other people to find it interesting and informative, but it really is about the things I learned about my family while teaching in Jamaica.
That Grape Juice: Now, as with many interviews, we have a segment called “Five From Fans” where we received five questions from our readers for you. Are you ready?
Nikki: I hope so!
That Grape Juice: 1) You have an extensive list of interviewees, from top celebrities and more. But, who is one person you’ve yet to interview that you would like to?
Nikki: It would’ve been Michael Jackson.
That Grape Juice: 2) Are you ever afraid that your friends or family will think the characters you write are about them?
Nikki: Yes, I am. My family did read the novel [“Easier Said Than Done”], but nobody ever asked me if it was about them. I have to write honestly because I want people to see themselves in the characters. But, I never write a character based on any one person.
That Grape Juice: 3) What are your thoughts on the Jay Z / Solange saga? They appear to have made up.
Nikki: I hope my sister would go to bat for me like that if something happens (laughs)! It’s bad, but it’s family. It just shows the passion that Solange has for her family.
But, because I don’t advocate violence, I hope she learns something from the experience and learns better ways to challenge that energy. But, you always want a “ride-or-die” on your side. Now, we see Beyonce has got it.
That Grape Juice: 4) You shine a spotlight on a lot of people who work behind the scenes via your Youtube series, “Beyond the Studio.” Why is that important to you?
Nikki: I work as part of a team and I realize what goes into what makes a team. I produce the Tom Joyner Morning Show, but while my name is not in the jingle, I recognize that it takes all of us to make the show work.
There are so many people who do work in the community and they deserve the spotlight too. It’s not always the celebrities who are making things happen.
That Grape Juice: The story has died a bit, but what are your thoughts on Donald Sterling’s antics?
Nikki: Donald Sterling is an idiot and a racist. He needs to learn more about who he’s going to start slamming. Magic Johnson is obviously the wrong person to slam for “not giving back to the African American community” when he’s poured millions of dollars into it.
Post-basketball this man has dedicated himself to African American kids to sending school, uplifting people, and more. I just wish Donald would go away.
That Grape Juice: Thanks for answering those questions. Lastly, given that your career has seen so many accomplishments, is there any uncharted territory?
Nikki: I don’t think so (laughs). I have a passion for everything I do, but I realize I can’t be all things to all people. I’m not one to take on too much because I don’t want to not do something well.
I look forward to what’s next, but I’m not pushing the envelope in making that happen. I’m taking life as it comes. I worked hard at the beginning of my career to get where I am, so, now I’m just enjoying the space that I’m in.
Interview by: Rashad (That Grape Juice US)