Company Anniversary - VP Kym Johnston
We have some exciting news this month! Our Vice President of Operations, Kym Johnston, is celebrating her 14th year with the company. The BTA family loves to celebrate anniversaries, as they give us a chance to reminisce on good times of the past and keep us excited about what is to come! In a short interview, Kym shared some of her wisdom and why working for Box Talent is special.
Q: What was your background/field of study before working with BTA?
A: I went to the University of Maryland to study Health and Nutrition because my passion was to work with youth and fight childhood obesity.
Q: That’s an interesting background to end up booking bands. How did that work out?
A: The job I held right before working with Box was at the Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan, working with youth. I met my husband, Mike, while I was overseas; that’s how I ended up coming to Oklahoma. I heard about Box Talent through a family connection, and was brought on as an office manager in 2001. A couple of years later, President David Box did some restructuring of the company, and promoted me to VP of Operations. Booking bands was totally out of my comfort zone, but I did have experience in event planning; David saw the potential that I didn’t see in myself at that time.
Q: What is your favorite part of working with BTA/in the entertainment industry?
A: The coolest part is probably taking a client’s initial idea for an event, especially a wedding, and turning it into a reality. When you get the right band, lights, and decorations together and you get to see how happy the client is at the end of the night, that’s special.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories during your time with BTA?
A: I got to work with Brian McKnight for the Langston University annual Scholarship Gala. Brian has been one of my favorite artists since high school, and it was extremely rewarding to learn that he is a genuine person. He wanted to learn about LU and the event for which he was playing, not just where he could pick up his paycheck. I also learned that he doesn’t have any instruments in his tracks that he isn’t capable of playing himself. I don’t think I would have ever known that if I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with him.
Q: What is your advice to college students/young professionals looking to enter the entertainment industry?
A: Well, my first piece of advice is to establish networks. It’s the first thing I learned when I came to the Oklahoma City area (as evidenced by my coming to work with BTA), and that goes for any facet of the industry, not just band booking. I’m also a firm believer in internships. You wouldn’t just go to a car lot and pick out a car at random because it looks good. You shouldn’t pick a career that way either. An internship is like test driving your career. Get as many internships as you can, paid or unpaid. I currently oversee the BTA internship program! If the company you’re interested in doesn’t offer an internship program, call and ask if you can job shadow for as long as they’ll let you. Any experience helps.
Q: You said your first passion was working with youth. Do you still work with youth today?
A: Absolutely. I joined the Junior League of Norman (JLN), an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers, in 2007. I served as the President of the League for 2013-2014 and am currently the Outgoing President/Parliamentarian. One of the JLN programs I am most passionate about is Baby Steps.
The goal of Baby Steps is to help teen parents complete their high school education so that they can reach their goals and become productive citizens and effective, nurturing parents. Baby Steps is a partnership between the JLN, Norman Public Schools, and Crossroads Youth and Family Services. JLN opened Baby Steps in 1993 and since then, more than 150 pregnant and parenting teens have graduated high school while participating in the Baby Steps program.
Baby Steps is an Early Head Start program for the babies, toddlers and their families that is accessible and free so that teen parents can complete their high school education while their children receive quality early childhood education services. It enhances the parenting skills of the students by providing daily childcare classes and hands-on lessons with the children in the center. Preventing child abuse, neglect and negative parenting are high priorities.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say about your experience at Box Talent?
A: Yes, that it’s not all about band booking and commissions. Through Box, I have become a more involved and contributing member of the OKC community. I am fortunate to hold the position of Entertainment Chairman for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. From its inaugural race in 2001 with just shy of 5,000 participants, the event now hosts over 25,000 runners and walkers from every state and several foreign countries. The Mission of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is to celebrate life, reach for the future, honor the memories of those who were killed and unite the world in hope.
I’m also Co-Chairman of Intern OKC, which is a Greater Grads program. Greater Grads is an initiative of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s Education and Workforce Development division. Greater Grads launched in 2006 to build Oklahoma City’s talent base by connecting Oklahoma graduates – a vital component of the City’s future workforce – with employers in the Oklahoma City region. These connections will help Oklahoma City’s flourishing economy, creating even more opportunities in the years to come.