Yolanda Starks White is, according to a lawsuit filed in Dallas on Monday, “a highly respected multi-hyphenate industry powerhouse” — the entertainment industry, that is, specifically the world of urban radio and television. She wasone of the first execs working on Tom Joyner’s radio show back in the early 90s, when he was commuting — daily — from Dallas to Chicago. She served as director of talent for BET. And just a few years ago she was named an exec director at Syndication One, an affiliate of Radio One.
And until recently she was the manager for Rickey Smiley, the former Beat 97.9 talker who, in 2008, took his morning show national with a syndication deal that turned into a slot on Dish Nation (which also featured Kidd Kraddick) and a based-on sitcom that airs on TV One and draws nice ratings. Starks White was even an executive producer of that sitcom; so too her husband, Fort Worth-based entertainment attorney Ward White, who’s also Erykah Badu’s attorney.
— Rickey Smiley (@RickeySmiley) February 6, 2012
But Starks White and Smiley parted ways in early April of this year, according to a lawsuit filed today, which means she’s no longer getting her cut of the proceeds she claims she’s due from the TV and radio ventures she says she secured for him during their four-year-long relationship. And, she claims, that 15 percent is worth quite a bit, since his annual income these days is around $3 million.
Says the suit, not so long ago “it was the consensus of the industry that Smiley had ‘missed his window’ for great opportunities and reached his peak.” But Smiley saw what Starks White did for others in the urban entertainment field and reached out to her to make him a star, which, she says, she did.
“His goals, once only mere hopes and dreams, were finally realized — all because of the invaluable work of Starks White,” says the suit. “However, after acquiring the level of fame and creative vehicles he so desperately wanted, Rickey Smiley decided not just to part ways with Yolanda Starks White, but to toss aside his obligations to compensate her as agreed. This is unacceptable.”
The lawsuit below details their dealings, both before and after they teamed up. But long story short, says the suit, she was his manager until April 3, 2013, when Smiley had a former Radio One exec send her an email telling Starks White her services “are no longer required.”
Attempts to reach Smiley, whose voice mail is full, or his representatives have been unsuccessful.
Yolanda Starks White v Rickey Smiley by Robert Wilonsky