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A Conversation with Alexandria “Dria” Baum, Founder of House of ACES

From a bicoastal native to a Las Vegas transplant, Alexandria “Dria” Baum is a creative director, media host, activist, and founder of House of ACES – a creative and brand management agency focused on Arts, Culture, Entertainment, and Sports.

As an entertainment and media powerhouse for nearly thirteen years, Dria currently oversees a team of creatives that develop global campaigns for a diverse roster of talent and brands including Bravo, Cirque du Soleil, NBA Summer League, The Pussycat Dolls, Latin GRAMMY Awards, WE tv, Roc Nation, and some of the hottest independent music artists. She also creates social content as a spokesperson and brand activist, having worked with Puma and MAC Cosmetics. She has been an entertainment media host for national platforms such as iHeart, PodcastONE and All Def Digital.

Prior to opening her company, she aggressively worked up the corporate ladder, becoming an executive director for one of the country’s top communications firms – focusing on entertainment, culture, hospitality, and social impact. Combining her years of marketing, social media, and public relations work, Dria has deep experience advising high-profile clients and is known for her calm navigation of crisis communications situations. During her tenure, she has done cultural impact work through entertainment and grassroots campaigns, opened multi-million dollar properties, and managed communications for national/international tours, while also raising profiles for talent and thought leaders. Her client roster included, but not limited to, MTV, BBC Select, Stan Lee/POW Entertainment, SLS Las Vegas, Aurora James/15 Percent Pledge, Gene Simmons, Paris Hilton, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mayweather Promotions, NFLPA, the Cleveland Clinic, and Keep Memory Alive.

In addition to creating her own businesses, Dria is an advocate for driving change, and championing diverse and inclusive representation across various industries, which is evident through her partnerships with REFORM Alliance, The Innocence Project, and Equal Justice Initiative. She’s also been recognized among her peers and has been featured in E! News, People, Las Vegas Review Journal, and Vegas Magazine. Stay connected to Dria by following her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Clubhouse (@DriaB). For more information on House of ACES and their latest projects, please visit www.thehouseofaces.com.

Tell us about who you are and where you are from?

I am a global creative director, media host, activist, and founder of House of ACES – a creative and brand management agency that is based in Las Vegas.

How did you get your start in the industry and what do you currently do? How long have you been in the industry?

I got started in the industry by accepting a job as an entertainment and hospitality executive in Las Vegas, where I oversaw major accounts such as Cirque du Soleil, Tao Group, Mayweather Promotions, Keep Memory Alive, and the opening of SLS’s $415 million resort (now the Sahara). While I’ve taken on many roles within entertainment, media, sports, fashion, and hospitality industries, I’ve collectively been in my career for nearly 13 years.

What decisions influenced why you chose to pursue a career in your industry?

I truly fell into my career at the hand of a few unfortunate circumstances, that at the time seemed negative, but would later help me grow into the professional I am today.

As a high school hooper with mediocre grades, and suffering a knee injury early into college, it became clear that the WNBA was not in my future. This was the first major pivot that I made, where I decided to focus on what my major and career path would be. At the suggestion of my college advisor – who knew my strongest assets were writing and the gift of gab – we decided my major should be communications with a specialization in public relations.

Given my affinity for music, consuming entertainment, and acting/singing as a child, I was determined to break into the industry by any means necessary. It was my passion to be part of a creative industry that shaped not only our culture, but the entire world.

What makes your story different or unique?

I think my resilience is what makes my story unique. As a biracial, Latin woman, I knew I was going to face a lot of uphill battles both personally and professionally, but I always believed in a bigger purpose.

Life has thrown me some very traumatic experiences, but it’s never stopped me from going for what I want. Even as recent as last year, I survived a near fatal car accident that truly showed me who my real “friends” were. This situation mentally took a toll at first and had me feeling like my world was falling apart.

After some deep soul searching, I decided to turn this negative situation into a positive one, and ended up developing a whole new project, that’s getting ready to be shopped to entertainment studios early this year. I know my story is just beginning, and I hope this chapter helps inspire the next generation – particularly girls/women of color – to keep fighting for their dreams.

What are some of your goals for the future?

Overall, I would love to expand my brand and company globally, and currently have my eye on business endeavors in London, Paris, and Dubai. I would also like to solidify my place as a creator/producer in the TV and film industry, and collaborate on developing a Broadway show that resonates with the culture and tells our story from our perspective. I also want to continue partnering with organizations such as REFORM Alliance and The Innocence Project, who are doing critical work to transform our criminal justice system.

What skills do you have that led you to be able to succeed in your industry?

I always believed in who I was and that I deserved to be in whatever room that I walked into. Networking has been my greatest asset. I’ve surrounded myself with people that were successful in the industries that I wanted to be a part of and soaked up as much knowledge as possible from them. It was also important, early on, for me to cut out personal distractions and be as hungry as possible, but later, it was just as important to find a work-life balance. One skill that I wish I would have done more of though is developing a blueprint or plan to achieve my goals. I did a lot of my work on the fly which left room for mistakes along the way.

Finally, another major skill I developed early on, in entertainment, is to not take anything personal. These people are not here to be your friend. They’re here to do business, and you will hear the word “no” more often than “yes.” I didn’t let any of that distract me from the end goal, though. That’s the mentality and thick skin that you need to have to make it in this industry.

Do you have any role models or influences that have guided your journey?

Yes, I’ve been blessed to have some amazing role models throughout my journey. From my single mother, who’s supported me without question my entire life, to my grandmother, paving the way as the first female, commercial insurance agent and top seller on the West Coast, to some amazing mentors that have helped shape our culture through their tireless work.

What words of advice would you have for people who aspire to your journey?

Challenge yourself and do the work! As an entrepreneur, there’s going to be days where you feel unmotivated, not creative, and at times, alone, but you must keep hustling. I also think it’s important to do work that you care about because on the days when you’re tired or hit a roadblock, your belief in what you’re doing will carry you through.

Also, and this is personal advice as well, protect your mental health and peace. Not everyone needs access to you, and some people are in your life for certain seasons – know when to let them go. Self-care is so important and having a good support system of family/friends that truly want to see you win will give you the motivation to succeed.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you from a business perspective?

This pandemic has lit a fire underneath me and caused my creativity to go into overdrive. Every industry had to pivot due to COVID-19 protocols, and I think it’s allowed creative entrepreneurs, like myself, to really shine because pivoting is something we’ve had to do to succeed.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a complete shock to not be able to consume live entertainment, but it also birthed a new wave of content such as VERZUZ and even allowed independent creatives to be seen on a global scale – as everyone was glued to their devices.

Any other things we should be on the lookout for from you?

House of ACES always has new endeavors incubating, especially for 2022. I’m really excited for some of the new music campaigns from our clients Carl Lamarre (Hip-Hop Editor at Billboard and Rapper) and SMILEZ (Rapper), along with a special TV/film project that we’re co-producing in partnership with New York Post Entertainment. I’m also working on the relaunching of my entertainment/culture podcast, debuting later this year, and delving deeper into the cannabis industry from a holistic, wellness perspective.

Image provided by Mark Elibert