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Posted under: News Culture

Dionne Warwick Is Brittani Warrick's Literal Auntie And We Have Her To Thank For Putting The Icon On To Twitter

"I am Dionne Warwick's niece, but I am my own brand as well," the social media maven told Blavity.

Dionne Warwick, a record-shattering music icon who's sold millions of albums and created timeless music, can now add Twitter phenomenon to her illustrious resume.

The legendary singer's transformation into an overnight social media sensation was yet another unexpected -- though delightful -- twist in the 2020 saga. In recent weeks, the 80-year-old has done everything from telling Chance The Rapper she cannot stop thinking about why on Earth he feels the need to include identify himself as a rapper in his stage name to encouraging folks to find the "hussy" within. 

Warwick's outrageously funny antics even caught the eye of the folks at Saturday Night Live who dedicated a Dec. 12 sketch to the legend's newfound use of Twitter. Someone else who enjoyed the skit was Warwick's niece, Brittani Warrick, who is also a digital media and brand strategist. What many may not know is that Warwick's niece, a social media maven, is the millennial engine that powered this machine. With extensive experience in social media management and work as the current creative director of her aunt's camp, Warrick, 31, has given us the greatest gift of 2020 by getting her aunt on the social media platform. Blavity recently caught up with the Los Angeles resident to discuss how she was able to do it, her thoughts on her aunt's tweets and more about herself.

Blavity: Ms. Warwick has said that you, her niece, taught her how to use the platform. Tell us more about how and why you ended up schooling her on social media. 

Warrick: Aunt Dionne was very skeptical of socials at first. I've been on her team for years now and I've been managing her socials for a very long time. During quarantine, I said, let's try some new things and she was kind of curious about Twitter because it's like an ever-changing feed of thoughts and people are saying whatever. She was like, "What is that?" I told her, "This is where you need to be." So I walked her through it with a couple of Zoom calls because she's in New Jersey and had lots of phone calls asking what things mean. Now, she's doing it.

Blavity: Recently, SNL paid homage to Ms. Warwick through a hilarious skit about her social media interactions where they portrayed you as both her producer and publicist. What were your thoughts on the skit? Were you surprised?

Warrick: I was so surprised! SNL is one of my favorite shows of all time. I watched it live and I had no idea that they were doing that so when it came up, I was just freaking out and I was not expecting it. My family thought it was hilarious. I thought it was really, really funny and very tastefully done. The impersonation of my aunt was just spot-on and hilarious. Her reaction to all of these different newcomers as she would call them is exactly how she would've reacted in real life. I thought it was so funny. 

Blavity: The world really has you to thank for helping Ms. Warwick get in the Twittersphere. Do you have a background in social media? 

Warrick: Yes, it's largely based on social media strategy and making sure that large scale brands have a great digital presence. That's my bread and butter. 

Blavity: As the creative director for your aunt’s camp, what does that entail? What are some of your responsibilities?

Warrick: Lots of hats. When she's on tour, I like to be there front and center with the promoters and the marketing teams to make sure that the messaging is correct. When she drops an album, I want to make sure that the messaging there is correct and on-brand.

Everything is about making sure it's organic to her personality, who she is as an icon, as a person, as a human being, and to make sure that everything is on track always. I jump in where I feel that I’m needed. It's not really a traditional creative director role, I would say because if I feel it needs creative tweaking, I am not shy as a woman in the workplace to be like, "Hey, that's wrong" or "We need to do it this way." That's how she taught me to be as a woman and I implement that into the workplace as well. So I'm everywhere. 

Blavity: Since she’s been on Twitter, she can now add "Twitter phenomenon" to her resume. What is it like seeing all of the love she’s getting and knowing that you kind of kickstarted it?

Warrick: I think it's so cute. If she starts a hashtag or something, I taught her how to do that, I'll go read the hashtag and just see what people are saying. I know that the internet can be a very relentless place but she really holds her own, so I'm not really worried about that. It’s nice to see the stories that people have about Aunt Dionne from back in the day when they met her. It's nice to see kindness through other people's eyes.

Blavity: How was it growing up with Dionne as an auntie? I can only imagine how amazing that would’ve been!

Warrick: You know, it's always an adventure with my family. I grew up going to shows, going on tour, being backstage, and things like that. My cousins and I, her granddaughters, we would run around backstage and have so many fun memories doing that but that's our normal life so I never thought anything grand of it. I just thought it was another day in the life of being a Warrick. Aunt Dionne is just like anybody else, she gives us Christmas sweaters and we sit around the Christmas tree and she passes out gifts. Unfortunately, we won't be able to do that this year due to COVID, but usually that's how it goes. Just like a normal family. 

Blavity: What is it like to witness folks referring to her as “auntie?” 

Warrick: It's weird. It's a conflicting feeling because she is kind of like the universe's aunt but I'm like no, she's my aunt [laughs]. It’s very conflicting but I think it's nice because it makes me feel like people are comfortable enough to do that. And that's nice. 

Blavity: What are some of your favorite tweets that she’s recently shared? 

Warrick: My favorite one actually happened when she was talking about animal crossing. I play Animal Crossing so I was like, "Is this shade?" She doesn’t know that I play it but she asked the name of the game where people pretend to have animal friends and it was really funny. It's just like a stream of consciousness of tweets that she shot out and I'm like, okay, "This is, this is hilarious. How do you know about this?"

Blavity: I’ve noticed that she is very candid with her tweets. I loved the tweet where she asked Chance The Rapper why he chose to put the word “rapper” in his name. What are your thoughts on her highly revered candor? 

Warrick: I look at her as the matriarch of the family. That's how she raised all of us to be. She set that example so I look up to that kind of candor and I have it as well because of her. So I like it. I think that it's honest and it's truthful. It's who she is as a person and we should all be striving to be ourselves every day. 

Blavity: I also loved the tweet when someone asked her, “How do I become a hussy?” and she told them, “If you look deep enough you’ll find that it’s been in you all along.” I love how candid and shady that was! Is she like this in person as well?

Warrick: Yes, she's a comedian. She's so funny. That's why I was like, Twitter is the perfect place. I've been plotting this for years for her. I've been wanting her to do this because she's just so funny. And I felt like it's one of those things where it's like, if I have to see this, so do you. She’s hilarious. 

Blavity: I’ve seen her engage a few times with you on the platform as well. Has that direct exposure changed your life at all?

Warrick: I don't know that it's changed my life, but there's more eyes on me. It feels like more people know who I am which I guess could be a good thing because of me being a president of a digital agency. That's quite nice for networking purposes and just to meet people and get out there. I've really been behind the scenes working tirelessly at these things and I'm stepping out into the front to be more visible and engaging in meeting these people. I feel like it's fun to meet people like me, people in the industry and I'm even learning about people. So it's been fun.

Blavity: What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to get their older relatives on social media? Are there any hiccups that you ran into?

Warrick: All of them. Just have patience! You and I come from a generation where we were born into technology and it's second nature to us, but they weren't. I think it's important to come at it from that perspective, they don't know certain terms that we know and it's important to have patience with them and be respectful while you're teaching. Those are the two main things. 

Blavity: What’s next for you, Brittani? What are some things that you’d like to accomplish in the future?

Warrick: My ultimate goal is to make the internet a fun place, again, a cool place to be again. I feel like through this presidency, it's gotten a lot of negativity on it. I think a lot of people were afraid at one point to go online because what were we going to see at that point? My main mission is to make it a place that is fun and easy to be. That’s my ultimate goal with my company as well with all of my clients. I have clients that are in the NFL, I have clients overseas, I have government clients, political clients, and I want to make all of their strategies an inviting, warm, and sometimes fun place. 

Blavity: Anything else you’d like to share?

Warrick: I think just the main takeaway is that I am Dionne Warwick's niece, but I am my own brand as well. I kinda feel like the niece had just got her aunt on social media and then ran away. This is my profession. I've been doing it for a very long time and I'm just planning on leveling up in my career and making more of a name for myself.

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A Detroit native, Kenneth 'Kenny' Williams Jr. is a self-described cultural critic and visual storyteller. While at Michigan State University, Kenneth received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and went on to obtain his Master of Arts degree in Public Relations. Kenneth's passions include pop culture, writing, and using his skill sets to actively and positively promote the narratives of Black people and Black culture. Any questions? Reach out at kenny.williams@blavity.com. Follow me on Instagram @kennyonce