León herself is no stranger to crossing cultural boundaries. Born in Miami to Cuban parents and raised bilingual, she has deftly navigated between the mainstream and Latin music worlds her entire career. She spent 11 years at AEG Live/Goldenvoice, where she headed the company’s Latin business as senior vp of Latin talent while simultaneously managing Juanes and J Balvin as co-founder/CEO of her own company, Lionfish Entertainment. (León created Lionfish in 2004 but relaunched it in 2014.)
Since 2017, she has focused full time on Lionfish. In the past 12 months, she has carried out a slew of deals for her roster — some in the midst of the pandemic. León worked closely with Travis Scott’s team on two collaborations with Rosalía: the remix of Scott’s “Highest in the Room” with Lil Baby and “TKN,” Rosalía’s single featuring Scott that reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. León also worked with WME to secure Rosalía’s multiyear global deal with MAC Cosmetics, kicking off with a Viva Glam lipstick campaign. (All of the proceeds will go to COVID-19 relief.)
After amicably parting ways with Balvin in 2019 (they still chat on WhatsApp and speak often), León signed 20-year-old rising reggaetón star Lunay in partnership with producers Chris Jedi and Gaby Music, who also own the artist’s independent label, Star Island. “She works every day as if we were starting from zero,” says Lunay of León. “It’s the same mentality I apply to my own career.” León snagged an endorsement deal for Lunay with Spanish youth-apparel retailer Pull & Bear; his capsule collection sold out in one weekend.
As she continues to sign new talent (her latest, bilingual R&B singer-songwriter St. Pedro, signed with Interscope earlier in 2020), León says finding artists who share her work ethic is more important than simply growing her roster: “One thing is for me to recognize an artist. Another is for me to want to work with them. As an artist, you have to want it more than anybody else. I don’t do anything superficially.”
Keeping that focus is especially crucial considering León’s latest expansion: film and TV. Earlier this year, she sold half of her management firm to Live Nation, which helped fund her new content company, Lionfish Studios. “Rebeca has proven time and again that she has an incredible ear for talent and a natural instinct for taking artists to new heights,” says Live Nation Entertainment president/CEO Michael Rapino.
The studio’s first project, currently in development with HBO, is a scripted series about a female manager in the Latin music industry. “Obviously there will be things pulled from my experiences, but the character is not me,” says León. “[My hope is] to give women a voice, and I’m actively looking for female writers.”