Ivy Awino, better known as DJ Poizon Ivy, has made a career being a DJ who loves basketball. She's combined the two and is the Dallas Mavericks' official DJ. She stopped by The Dallas Morning News photo studio on Jan. 25, 2018, for a celebratory portrait.

Ivy Awino, better known as DJ Poizon Ivy, has made a career being a DJ who loves basketball. She's combined the two and is the Dallas Mavericks' official DJ. She stopped by The Dallas Morning News photo studio on Jan. 25, 2018, for a celebratory portrait.

David Woo/Staff Photographer

Ivy Awino is at the top of her game.

She's the official DJ of the Dallas Mavericks and a mix DJ for "K104" KKDA-FM (104.5). She laughs easily and loves what she does. Her dreams come true every day when she walks into work.

Her nom de turntable is DJ Poizon Ivy. And she's here to make you move, and that doesn't mean just dancing.

"I'm submerged, immersed and everything in between. ... I know Mr. Mark Cuban, this amazing guy that I work for ... is known to say that the team belongs to the city," she says with a wide smile. "I start to embody what the city of Dallas represents and that's diversity and that's culture and that's fun and that's history, a rich history."

She's also making moves of her own. A recent weekend was perhaps the biggest indicator. First, she attended the Global Spin Awards in Los Angeles, where she was nominated as best female DJ. 

"It's an awards show that recognizes DJs but almost through the eyes of their peers, which means a lot," she says. "That's why I'm so honored is because, you know, these are people who have witnessed my growth. ... I'm nominated alongside names that ... when I met them, I was like, "Oh, gosh, this is so and so," and now here we are side by side."

Here comes the laugh. The last time she was there, she says, she was on assignment as "lobby entertainment."

Though she didn't win, the nomination means that she's arrived, hailed in the same breath as one-name industries such as DJ Khaled and Timbaland. The awards will be televised at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 on Revolt TV.

But she didn't have time to dwell. Awino followed that on Sunday by being the first woman to DJ the NBA All-Star Game. 

She says she's grateful for those who helped. That includes her grandmother, who raised her as she spent her first nine years in her native Nairobi, Kenya. She moved to America to be with her mother. She calls Dallas her "American home," even as she honors her roots, from the clothes she wears to the music she plays.

"I've been taking this platform to play all kinds of music. I'm obviously on a huge Afro beat kick, Afro fusion," she says, noting that the team is a leading organization in integrating culture, perhaps playing Olivia Newton-John followed by a movie theme. "It's just really good to see the specific things we do to cater to our larger audiences. 

"I find the time to entertain and educate at the same time," she says.

She also honors everything else she holds dear by being her authentic self when life and its busyness happens.

Dallas hip-hop radio station K104 hires Poizon Ivy, the Dallas Mavericks' DJ

"Initially, a lot of these things just happen by default, right? You try to go somewhere and you don't have a babysitter. Oh, well, you're coming to work with me. Try to do my hair and this and that and I just like my hair in a big braid or I just want to wear my hair in a 'fro, you know? I wanna be comfortable, you know? So I have a lot of cool clothes from home," she says. "So it goes from like to purpose to intention, and it's at intention is when things start to really stick and affect your viewership, fans, friends, whatever, anybody with whom you interact with on a day-to-day basis. ... There's nothing that I do that I haven't thought about, that I do on accident and then think about."

That also means a circuitous answer about what might be next for her, for her career. She's service- and civic-minded, but, first things first.

"I just feel the need to chill," she says, "just to get the natural vibes of where I want to go next because it's been a question that's been very hard for me to answer."

And then she finds the answer. Or rather, the answers. Plural. She has a "very deep desire" to travel, share and explore international music, meet people and be "somebody's tour DJ." Well, let's let her tell it:

"Every day is an era," she says. "But just weaving myself into the fabric of now ... being very purposeful, affecting change, a lot more nonprofit work. I think I was born to be a civil servant. My grandfather was a politician. I think that's somewhere in me. So, don't be surprised. Ivy for some kind of office. Just a very, very deep desire, of course, to continue to use the platforms of being a female, being a minority, to empower those that look like me — not even look like me — those that feel my story and identify with any of my story."

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