Medina in June 2013
January 24, 1958
Los Angeles, California, United States
Benny Medina (born January 24, 1958) is the CEO of The Medina Company and son of the jazz drummer Ahmad "Benny" Medina. He has worked in the music business as a producer, talent manager and record executive. He has been involved in the careers of a variety of recording artists and performers throughout his career.
Medina was born in East Los Angeles into a poor family. The death of his mother and abandonment by his father resulted in him being placed into a number of foster homes, which he repeatedly ran away from before he and his siblings were taken in by his aunt. In his early teenage years Medina dealt joints and amphetamines. A critical event in his childhood was the befriendment of a wealthy white teenager, whose family in Beverly Hills allowed him to live in a refurbished garage behind their property. Medina then attended Beverly Hills High where he met Kerry Gordy and was a successful student. Medina's experiences of transferring to this wealthy environment is the loose basis for the 1990 Will Smith show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Medina started his career with the group Apollo, who released their self-titled debut on Gordy/Motown in 1979. Medina was the lead singer, other members included Kerry Gordy (keyboards), Cliff Liles (bass), Lenny Greene (drums) and Larry Robinson (guitar). Medina co-wrote three of the seven tracks, including “Astro Disco,” for which they are best known. The album was produced by Ray Singleton, former wife of Motown founder Berry Gordy.
At age 24, Medina became the head of A&R for Motown, working as a protégé to Berry Gordy. Under Gordy, Medina wrote and produced for legendary Motown acts such as The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Billy Preston, Rick James and Teena Marie.
Medina then moved on to Warner Bros. Records, where executive Mo Ostin tasked him to build and cultivate the careers of the company’s urban artists as VP/GM of its urban-music division. While there, Medina collaborated with artists such as Ray Charles, Babyface, Prince and Chaka Khan as well as Madonna, Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac. He also worked with Naughty by Nature, Queen Latifah, De La Soul, Biz Markie, Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shanté, and Monie Love.
After leaving Warner Bros., Medina and longtime friend Jeff Pollack formed Medina/Pollack Entertainment, which grew into a full service management and production company. They masterminded a variety of projects, including Booty Call, Above the Rim, and Maid in Manhattan.
In early 2009, Benny Medina formed another company called the Medina Company.
Medina is best known for managing actress/singer/dancer Jennifer Lopez. Along with Lopez and then-head of Sony Music, Tommy Mottola, Medina launched Lopez's pop music career in 1999, after which he and Lopez worked intensively together building a dominant film, music, fragrance and clothing empire. In 2003, at the height of her popularity, Lopez and Medina had a public falling out, and split. They remained in contact with each other, and unofficially reunited during late 2007. As of 2008, Medina officially resumed his role as Lopez's manager, and is also a godparent to her twin children.
Other clients were also managed by Medina to lesser extents, including Tyra Banks, whom Medina helped to create a largely successful television and fashion career. Medina managed Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and aided in the launch of the Sean John apparel and fragrance empire. He has also managed singer Mariah Carey, one of the biggest stars in the world of Tommy Mottola (his close colleague while working with Lopez) before being let go in September 2008. Medina was also dismissed by actress/recording artist Brandy (fired him in 2004), and R&B singer Usher (who fired him in 2008). Medina also managed singer-songwriter Vanessa Daou from 1996-1998 while the artist was signed to Krasnow Entertainment/MCA Records. When Daou chose to leave with label head Bob Krasnow and find a way out of her contractual obligations to MCA in 1998, Medina and his company Handprint Entertainmant, along with Daou, co-released the artist's internet-only album release 'Plutonium Glow'.
Sexual assault allegations
In November 2017, actor Jason Dottley accused Medina of attempting to rape him in December 2008. Dottley stated the event happened at Medina's Los Angeles mansion after Medina gave Dottley and fellow actor T. Ashanti Mozelle a tour of the home. Dottley stated in an interview with The Advocate that Anthony Rapp's recent sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey inspired him to come out with his "shameful secret." Through his attorneys Howard Weitzman and Shawn Holley, Medina said in a statement, "Benny Medina categorically denies the allegation of attempted rape."
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