Desiree Perez is a “real-life Wonder Woman.” That’s what former Roc Nation CEO Jay Brown called the company’s newly-named CEO — who previously served as the company’s COO for a decade — upon introducing her at Billboard‘s 2019 Women in Music award ceremony.
The Bronx-born exec was honored with Executive of the Year, which Brown noted was well-deserved. “She’s fearless, a champion and she saves the day. A true humanitarian.”
Brown wasn’t the only one who thought so. In an introductory video on the screen, DJ Khaled is seen shouting, “Bless up, Billboard! Bless up, Des,” before adding that Perez is a “powerful Queen.”
Robert Kraft agreed, naming Perez “truly, an unstoppable force” in the clip.
After countless shoutouts by Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, Michael Rubin, Fat Joe and more, Perez took the stage to reveal that it’s the first time she has ever accepted an award publicly.
She kicked off her speech with a fitting quote from Anais Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Courage, she added, was a huge factor in her career success as a woman, noting that females often have to work a lot harder than their male counterparts and that “nothing will be improved unless it’s challenged.”
Perez then took the time to thank each of her Roc Nation partners, starting off with Jay-Z. “You’ve taught me to trust myself to do what’s right and not whats easiest,” he told the rapper and business powerhouse, as he smiled sweetly back at her. She added that he’s her “inspiration and North Star” for hard work.
She also paid tribute to Brown onstage with her, her husband and head of Roc Nation Sports Juan Perez and co-founder/president of A&R Ty Ty Smith.
Perez continued her theme of gratitude by expressing well-deserved pride over Roc Nation’s accomplishments, including the fact that half of their employees are woman and half are minorities.
She concluded by noting that she’s a product of “support, encouragement and equality,” and those around her have contributed to that.