If Laura Stylez was certain about one thing in her life, it was that she wanted to pursue a career in radio.
The Los Angeles-born Guatemalan made her way to NYC to achieve her goal and is now one of Hot 97's morning show hosts, where she dishes the "Flashing Lights" report and fiercely shares her female POV in discussions with fellow hosts Ebro Darden, Cipha Sounds, and Peter Rosenberg.
"The morning show is a dream come true for me," she told us, "because I’ve been in radio for a long time...like ten years."
We got a chance to see the beautiful Laura Stylez in action at Hot 97's studio and chat with her about VH1's This Is Hot 97, the road to her dream career, and more. Read it all in our exclusive interview below:
First things first, where did the name Stylez come from?
It was a nickname I got when I was younger and it’s with a “Z” to keep it hip-hop. A lot of my boys were graffiti artists and b-boys, and when I was growing up, I expressed myself through dying my hair [different] colors. I was also very brave when it came to fashion. So they were always like, “Oh you always have dope stylez” and it just kind of stuck. It was like, “Laura Stylez!” and I was like, “Yeah. I’ll run with it. You know, it’s cool.”
What made you decide you wanted to be in radio specifically?
I really fell in love. I thought it was just so much fun to be able to have a microphone and be an attention hog. Like, at the party I was like, “Oh my God I want to shout people out!” I would sneak in and say, “Let me use the mic! Let me use the mic!” You know? And I just wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be involved, so it just came from me wanting to be a DJ. Plus, I was a loudmouth. I also love the culture. I love the music. I love to travel. I love people and being able to connect with different people every day is just amazing to me. You know, and sharing your energy with somebody and learning from people. I just really wanted to be a part of it.
How did the pursuit of the dream all begin?
I was born and raised in LA, and I moved out here when I was 19 to do radio. I didn’t do radio in LA and I wanted a big change in my life. So when I decided that I wanted to just take a chance on life, I moved to New York — the number one market for radio. I was like, I’m gonna be in radio if it’s the last thing I do. And everybody was like, “Yeah right! You’re gonna come back. New York is crazy. You’re alone over there. You’re never gonna make it.” I got everything thrown at me, and I was super determined. I was in college, working three jobs and interning. I got my first radio internship, and from there, I just kind of moved on. I became a producer, I learned how to run the boards — just everything about radio.
Eventually I got my first big on-air break working for a Hispanic radio station, a Latina radio station, and it was Spanglish. It was a reggaeton station, and I didn’t know anything about reggaeton, but I learned. I submerged myself in the culture, and to this day — it’s crazy! — I still have great relationships with a lot of the artists. And next thing you know, I was like, hip-hop is my heart. Fast-forward radio stations and different jobs, I got the opportunity to come here to Hot 97 as a Digital Producer. I was basically working on online stuff — hosting live streams. Angie Martinez kind of let me work under her wing, and I was helping her out with all of her web stuff. And when she would go away, she would let me take over her show, which was incredible! She’s always really held me down.
Then the opportunity came to be on the morning show, and I had filled in for them before whenever they needed me. And I took it, and I love it. I hate waking up so early in the morning. I’m up at 4:30am, but besides that, it’s like our little dysfunctional family. It’s me, Ebro, Cipha, Rosenberg and Shani Kulture, who’s our other producer. I handle all the entertainment reports and lifestyle, and I share my life with the people. I’m kind of like the female voice of the show.
Do you still remember what your first day at Hot 97 was like?
Yes! I came in here and the good thing is that since I had already been in radio before, I already had relationships with a couple of people. DJ Enuff has always been like a mentor to me, [DJ] Camilo. I knew Cipha Sounds — [he] has been a great friend of mine for years. So I already had really solid relationships with a couple of people, so they really welcomed me. And then other people, they just kinda had to get to know me. You know? But I guess they figure, hey If these guys really co-sign her, then she should be good to go.
I was nervous, of course; it was new. Being the new girl always sucks at the beginning because you kind of have to prove yourself and show that you work hard. And that’s all I did. I was like, “Listen, I’m here to work.” I just wanted to take advantage of my opportunities. I was nervous but excited. I was just happy to be here, and I still feel that way. I’m still just happy to be here!
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