Sat, Apr

Publicist du jour Wyllisa Bennett


From Hollywood red carpets to local community events, Bennett is having a lot of fun as the owner of her own boutique public relations agency.

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Wyllisa Bennett was a guest on Fox Soul’s tv show, “Out Loud With Claudia Jordan.”

By Megan Reed

Wyllisa Bennett has spent many evenings rubbing elbows with her celebrity clients at red-carpet events, and she is a very recognizable figure at events in Los Angeles’ Black communities.  Through her public relations agency, WRB Public Relations, she is the PR director for the Pan African Film Festival at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Leimert Park Book Fair, and the Stocker Street Creative project, which is building a film studio in Baldwins Hills.

While her profession takes a lot of hard work, Bennett loves every moment of it.

“I have a fun job,” she said.  “I get to meet interesting people and I still fan out (when meeting celebrities).  I’m still excited to get up every morning and do my job.”

Growing up in Burlington, North Carolina, Bennett loved to sing and act in school plays, but she did not envision herself working in the entertainment industry.  Becoming a lawyer seemed like the way that she would go.

“I come from Southern parents who wanted me to get a good education,” she said.  “That’s all they cared about.  And that’s all my grandparents cared about.  Being in the arts wasn’t a career move.  That was like a hobby that you do on the weekend.  Singing in the choir, being in plays.  Here I am in the South, that wasn’t really something that I could do.  But a lawyer, that I could do.”

During high school, Bennett was able to take a life-changing trip to London, England, and Paris, France, with a teacher and other students.  

“My teacher just kind of opened my world to other possibilities,” Bennett said.  “And one of the things that she said was, as I was deciding where I would go to college, she told me that I was a very good writer and that I should consider media journalism.”

Bennett majored in English at North Carolina Central University, and she is a third generation HBCU graduate.  While in college, she made a major decision that led her to having a career in the entertainment industry.

“Everybody around me was a law school student,” she said.  “There was one thing that was common about them.  They were not having fun in college.  They always looked tired, they were always carrying a lot of books, and they were always studying.  And I kind of knew that’s probably not something that I wanted to do because I really wanted my college experience to be a lot of fun.  I studied media journalism, and that is a fun major.”

During college Bennett was the editor of her school newspaper, and her first major interview was with actor and comedian Dick Gregory.  She interned as a communications aide at the state capitol in North Carolina, and after graduating, she had a paid internship at the Durham Morning Herald, which is now the Durham Sun.

“That was a big deal because now I’m working for the big city newspaper,” she said.  “I remember that job paying me $5 an hour and I was giddy about it.”

While Bennett was growing her career, she wanted to move out of the South.

“I reached a glass ceiling in North Carolina as what I felt the I could do as a Black woman in the South,” she said.  “When you come out of college, you have all of these goals, and I felt that I had reached those goals and reached the possibilities of what I could do in the South.  I was ready to live a more creative lifestyle.”

Bennett’s brother was a Marine who was stationed in California, so she chose to move to Los Angeles over New York.  

“I asked one of my mentors if Los Angeles was a good place to do PR, and he said, ‘Absolutely,’” Bennett said.

Bennett made the move out to Los Angeles in 2001, and she was able to work for the legendary Pat Tobin, who was a PR pioneer who mentored many Black publicists in Los Angeles.  

Bennett got her big break when she was working the red carpet of the BET Awards, and The Young and the Restless star Victoria Rowell needed somebody to walk her down the red carpet and present her to the press.  Bennett jumped at the opportunity.

“I was a fanatical fan of her’s, so I knew literally everything about her,” Bennett said.  “When she gets out of the limo, I walked her down the red carpet, and I’m introducing her kind of like she’s my client.  Like I know her.  She was so impressed with me that at the end of the red carpet, which was about an hour and a half, she asked for my business card.  After I gave it to her, she said, ‘You were on point, and I’ll give you a call.’  And she did.  She called me from Paris as a followup.  She left a message on my voice mail saying how she thought that I did a great job.  I must have played that message like 50 times for everyone of my friends.”

Shortly after Rowell set up a meeting with Bennett, and Bennett landed her first big client.  Bennett has also worked with Nene Leakes, Russ Parr, J. Anthony Brown, and Brandi Maxiell.  

Although Bennett is a celebrity publicist, what is really important to her is also giving back her talents to local Black communities.  She ensures that annual events such as the Pan African Film Festival and the Leimert Park Book Fair are properly promoted, and she is making sure that the community knows about the Baldwin Hills Creative project,

For more information about Wyllisa Bennett, visit www.wyllisabennett.com