When you think of New York City, one of the first things to come to mind will always be Madison Square Garden. Now imagine growing up in the Bronx New York and aspiring to one day make it to The Garden as an entertainer. Then imagine you are a little Black girl with an ear for music and a dream in your heart to rock the ones and twos in one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Seven years ago, this dream was realized by Tiff McFierce, the first woman and the first Black woman resident DJ of Madison Square Garden.
Tiff is not just a DJ, she is a woman with vision and unafraid to use her voice for good. She is a welcome breath of fresh air as a wellness activist and pioneer in a space normally dominated by men. Tiff has connected with health and wellness in a transformative way and uses a unique and intuitive blend of music, movement and meditation to create her wellness community & brand, Look IN. An intersection of wellness and everyday life, Look IN is a restorative, safe space for Black Women to awaken and support inner healing and explore practical and creative paths of self-care.
Tiff spoke with Her Agenda to share her journey to making history at Madison Square Garden, navigating the entertainment industry, and the inspiration behind Look IN.
Her Agenda: Before joining the Knicks did you know you would be making history as the first female DJ at Madison Square Garden?
Tiff McFierce: I didn’t know that I would be the first Black woman DJ with the Knicks. I knew I had two goals. My goals were to be the resident DJ at Madison Square Garden and be on the musical team. Leading up to it I was keeping my head down and doing my work with blinders on. I’m the first woman/the first Black woman, I get to do this thing and it just so happens that I’m the first Black woman. It wasn’t something that I knew I was going to make history doing. I think now even accepting what that means, I’m taking it all in and being okay with that, and also wanting to keep the door open for others. It needs to be more, it always needs to be more of us.
Her Agenda: As a DJ how has music impacted your wellness journey?
Tiff McFierce: Music and movement have always been my meditation before I knew what it meant. My music was my escape to myself, my music was my escape to my safety, my dancing was how I expressed myself because I was painfully shy as a child. One day I had an “ah ha moment” and realized this is how I meditate. This is how I find my stillness. This is when I feel like things are downloading into me, I can feel spirit strong in these moments. So I just accepted that. When I accepted what I was given, in the same way we all have gifts, I was able to get creative with that gift.
Her Agenda: How have you been able to navigate the entertainment industry as a woman?
Tiff McFierce: Not to subscribe to any of the BS! I’ve had to navigate through by really finding myself, coming home to myself, and every day making sure that I put myself first. I’m going to do what feels right, I’m going to try my hardest to be impeccable with my word. I’m going to keep learning and growing. But I’ve navigated by realizing that I don’t have to go on anyone’s path. I need to go on the path that’s written for me and I need to be true to myself.
Her Agenda: How has your wellness journey shifted during the pandemic?
Tiff McFierce: In the beginning, it was so great! I was really on my workouts 3-5 times a week and I was walking like five to seven miles. I felt so good, I was killing it. Then in August, I was hit by a car and everything shifted. This was also the middle of the pandemic, then depression began to set in around the isolation and not being able to hug people, it really affected my mental health. I had to reach out to my therapist and ask for extra sessions from biweekly to weekly. Not being able to have contact with and hug people really, affected my mental health a lot. Also, dealing with emotional eating and after the accident, realizing I’m struggling. What I did before the accident was my workouts, I got back to taking dance classes and my body was feeling well. Then the accident happened and I thought I’ll be good in two weeks. Then I realized how hard it was and has been for me, now I really have to slow down.
It just took me back to having to do, more of the basics, more of having to get my back to feel better. I did not realize how your back is literally holding up your whole body. I also had a concussion during this time. So I was losing my balance a lot, not being able to walk well, lights and sound bothering me. Then not being able to DJ as much as a result. It started to affect my self-esteem, I began to get annoyed with myself. I wanted to move faster. This time has been teaching me everything that I’ve been saying to other people, it’s like reteaching it to myself again to heal. It has been also the unsubscribing of who you think you are supposed to be.
Healing is not linear. I hope in my sharing parts of my journey with people through Look IN, it shows them we are all human.
Her Agenda: Back in 2017 you were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and were able to begin reversing it in four months after diagnosis. How has your personal health and wellness journey helped you support others through your brand Look IN?
Tiff McFierce: It really helped me realize the need to show people how human and alike we are. We literally need to look within versus looking externally for what you think you know and who you are, what you seek is within. Healing is not linear. I hope in my sharing parts of my journey with people through Look IN, it shows them we are all human. You are the thing you are looking for every time. We show people through the three Look IN pillars of music, movement and meditation you define this for yourself. You show up as you are and celebrate you. It’s okay to literally just figure this out step by step, day by day, and also celebrate all of your smallest wins. I hope when I share with people, and what the community shares with each other, it helps us know we’re okay to keep going.
At Look IN we want to provide space to explore self-care on a cellular and surface level. Self-care is not just bubble baths, and all that jazz. It is also a set of tools to help you feel good about yourself. So however you like to feel good about yourself, that’s healthy, we’re going to support that too. Also the other things in the area of mental wellness like therapy, we’re supportive of all of these things.
Her Agenda: How are you extending grace to yourself in this season?
Tiff McFierce: I extend grace to myself by extending grace to all parts of me. Showing myself and my body love! I hug and say good morning to myself, ask myself what I need, and I thank myself for showing up. Sitting with my inner child. I hope to continue to be of service to myself and anyone else I am to be of service to. I am humbled to be blessed in a drought. To know there’s purpose for my life, there’s purpose for all of our lives.
[Editors note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]