Ivy Awino’s classmates from The Hockaday School remember requesting copies of the mixtapes she made in the upper school commons.
Now, Awino, known as Poizon Ivy, is the first female resident DJ for the Dallas Mavericks and only the second woman to be hired as an NBA team DJ.
“I don’t take it lightly,” she said. “I’m happy to be here to make some change, make some waves.”
From hosting a midnight campus radio show at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where a DJ friend taught her the ropes, her career has moved fast. Her first live show was opening for Machine Gun Kelly with a friend and classmate, DJ Prophetic. That same summer she opened for Wiz Khalifa in front of 25,000 people.
“I remember wanting more, more, more,” she said.
Before arriving at the Mavericks she opened for other big names such as Nas, Juicy J, and Lupe Fiasco.
Basketball and music have been two constants in Awino’s life, music since her grandmother bought her a baby grand piano when she was 5 years old, and basketball since she became a Mavs ball girl at the age of 12. She kept the job until she graduated high school at 18.
“It feels like I never left,” Awino said. “It feels like home.”
Awino likes to make a statement.
“She told me she wants to try out 41 different hairstyles for the 41 home games,” said Erin Finegold, director of corporate communications and events for the Mavericks. “Every time I see her she looks different.”
(But each style includes a streak of blue hair.)
She was also the official team DJ for the Dallas Wings and worked on Wings player Skylar Diggins’ “Shoot 4 the Sky” basketball camp tour.
Awino moved to Dallas from Nairobi, Kenya when she was 9 years old in 1999. She wears a bracelet with the colors of the Kenyan flag every day to remind herself where she came from. “I have two homes, that’s how I feel,” she said of Nairobi and Dallas.
“Music makes such a difference in every setting. I basically score the soundtrack to everyone’s experience here,” she said. “That’s a lot of power and a lot of responsibility, but I take it very personally.”
Awino dreams of becoming a popstar; Diplo is her role model. Her ultimate goal is to put together a music festival in her Kenyan hometown.
“I have this dream of seeing seas of people – so far down it looks like they’re over the horizon,” she said. “I want to know what that feels like.”