Rebeca Leon's 2019 Midem Q&A: 5 Highlights From the Keynote

Wesley Mann
Rebeca León photographed on Oct. 20 in Medellín, Colombia.

Rebeca León manages some of Latin music’s biggest names, including J Balvin, Juanes and Rosalía, among others. On Thursday (June 6), she sat down for a keynote Q&A with Billboard at Midem in Cannes, France.   

Here are five memorable things she said:

1. León works more closely than you think with business partner Juanes: It’s not just that they share a company (Lionfish) and that the Lion stands not for León but for Juanes, a Leo (León is a  Pisces, ergo the fish). Juanes was also instrumental in León signing both Balvin and Rosalia. “He was the person who introduced me to J Balvin and insisted I manage him. … Then two summers ago he saw Rosalia in Spain and called me to say he thought he had seen the baby of Björk and Whitney Houston."

2. Pharrell is another “fairy godfather”: "He’s always believed in me."

3. Her criteria for signing an artist: “They have to not be able to sleep at night at how badly they want it. I can’t be the one losing sleep at night. The artists who make it don’t see themselves doing anything else. If they don’t do music, they die.”

4. She has a secret code word for Beyoncé: When Bey's collaboration with J Balvin on "Mi Gente" first came about, “We weren’t allowed to talk about it. So we came up with a code word: Chimichanga. It was in all of our chats -- chimichanga, chimi.”

5. Sneakers changed her life: “As a woman, I felt like sneakers really liberated me. When you’re at an awards show, and those nights can be 13 hours long, and you’re on heels -- which are leather straps on wood -- it’s impossible to keep up with your male counterparts. I don't want anything to  slow me down. I don’t want to go home because my feet hurt. That’s lame. So I decided I was gonna get really cute sneakers and wear them with all my dresses, and it changed my life.”

You can watch the full interview here:

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