The Humor Mill

From Hip Hop Emcee To Becoming An Agent, Tamra Goins Becomes Hollywood’s Comedy Mogul

Posted Dec 19, 2023

It’s very rare to come across any African American women in the Hollywood industry who are so-called “movers and shakers”. You can count the women who are making it in the industry on two hands, and the number shrinks drastically more than that if you want to include these women who are trail-blazing for others. You definitely know some of the women like Oprah Winfrey, Debra Martin Chase, Gayle King, and even Talitha Watkins who fit that mold.

But there are some women who are making a name for themselves in the business while creating opportunities for others, as they are fighting social injustices IN THEIR industry, not to mention doing what they can outside of it.

And when it comes to comedy, there is only one woman who is doing all of this in the industry and doing it as an Equity Partner at her Agency; her name is Tamra Goins, of Innovative Artists.

Tamra Goins, who as I mentioned, is a Talent Agent at Innovative Artists Agency, is making a difference in her space as she is ensuring those who follow in her footsteps get the tutelage to be able to feed their families because, as she says, “I want to represent anyone who wants to grind like me, and those who do – own their own home, have children, and are full-time comedians, and they do that.”

Goins is as remarkable as they come, and most in the Hollywood circles don’t even know it. Many may not be aware, but Goins has made her mark not only in comedy, but she will go down in history as one of the early emcees from Oakland known as Entice. She was one member of Too Short’s battle rappers best known for the historic single “Don’t Fight the Fellin’.” If you stop anyone in Oakland, even today, and ask who is on the Mount Rushmore Hall of Fame for battle MCs, they will say Goins is placed right there, among their best!

So, how does a person become a 17-year-old battle rapper, and eventually end up as the most powerful African-American woman in comedy? Goins’ journey is one for the ages with a LOT in between.

After becoming one of the Bay Area’s best and “hood famous” at a time when hip hop was at its infancy, Goins attended San Jose State University at 17 years old. While not sure of what she wanted to do, she was certain she didn’t want to be “on drugs or be a dope dealers’ baby Momma.” Goins set her sights on making sure her rent was paid and worked toward getting her degree in Criminal Justice.

While in school, and still maintaining “her hustle” Goins met Jeff Clanagan, someone who was also making waves in the entertainment industry, as he started a record label and was looking for artists. Today, Clanagan is President and Chief Distribution Officer, and Co-Founder of Hartbeat, and former Founder of Codeblack Enterprises. During that time, Clanagan was eventually able to persuade Goins to be a Promoter Rep for him. Goins had experience since she had also been a club manager in the local area known as Club Jazz, and was able to get her start handling Clanagan’s New Year’s Eve shows. Goins climbed quickly within the ranks, handling tours for the Isley Brothers, and eventually started producing 10 city tours.

Then everything stopped, as Clanagan turned to the corporate world and Goins went on to get married and became an NFL player’s wife.

Fast forward to 2009, and Goins realized that her life “lacked purpose”, and after a divorce, her real journey began. Goins circled back with Clanagan, as she pressed him to jump back in entertainment as Clanagan and his Codeblack Entertprises is producing the beginning of the Shaq All-Star Comedy Show, where Goins was able to land on as a consultant (while working a day job). Time eventually passed and Codeblack produces “Seriously Funny” with Kevin Hart, the “Mike Epps Live” and Steve Harvey’s concert, while the new Shaq brand eventually goes overseas.

Goins continued climbing as the Shaq brand became digital and launched a YouTube channel, “Laugh at My Pain” with Kevin Hart is next, and the Shaq brand launches a national tour. All while Goins becomes fully integrated within the Codeblack brand.

Then a phone call would change her world, AGAIN! Clanagan receives a call from an agent who is looking to corner the comedy market, and he refers Goins. Before you know it on May 9, 2013, Goins becomes an agent, and her new career begins.

In 2023, working for Innovative Artists as a Partner at the agency, Goins created something at an agency that has never been done before; she has a television and film department, literary department, and more; a complete full-service comedy department, all under her. Goins can literally manage everything in-house instead of trying to fight uphill battles in other departments for her clients.

While reflecting, and unbeknownst to her, a film titled “Freaky Tales” (not to be confused with Too Short’s classic) starring Pedro Pascal and directed by Ryan Fleck, comes along and gets submitted to the Sundance Film Festival for 2024. The film tells of four interconnected stories set in 1987 Oakland, and loosely bases a character on Goins’ early career as a hip-hop artist, which is going to be a quarter of the film. The film will also feature the musical artist known as Normani who will reprise Goins’ rapper Entice. “Freaky Tales” will highlight a time in hip-hop that it tells about the love of music, people, and memories while paying homage to some who may be overlooked.

Being an agent for Goins is to “under promise and over deliver while creating many opportunities for others”, especially those in the agency who report to her. As a former musician, promoter, producer, NFL player’s wife, and now as the head of the comedy department and a Partner at Innovative, Goins is doing just that; delivering.

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The Humor Mill Volume 7 Issue 1 March 2023

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