Victoria Kennedy was living her dream, touring Europe as an opera singer, performing in castles and cathedrals dressed in elaborate, flowing ball gowns. As Marisa Johnson, her stage name, she even had a hit single on the classical charts. “And then it all came crashing down,” Kennedy recalls. She had been living in France and planned to renew her visa while on a routine visit back to the U.S. The French Embassy told her she’d need to wait a month. But one month turned into two, and then three, and Kennedy soon realized that the French had no intention of renewing her visa. So what was a stranded opera singer to do?
“I ended up being a singing gondolier,” Kennedy says. She was visiting friends in Las Vegas at the time of the visa debacle, so she landed a gig with the Venetian Hotel, where she still appears in an in-room video. It was not a high point in her career.
Kennedy spent a year licking her wounds, coming to terms with the reality that her days as diva were indefinitely stalled. “It was devastating,” she says. But she knew she needed to dry her eyes and come up with a plan. So she decided to start a real estate marketing business, tapping into a community of former Las Vegas performers who had become agents. She spent $1,000 on an online course and within nine months, she was making six figures and feeling “on top of the world” about her new career. Her success attracted attention and she was approached by a company to become the CEO of its new real estate division. “As soon as we inked the deal, the world shut down,” Kennedy says.
“Rolling Stone Culture Council has been such an incredible community to be part of and has given me so much credibility and expertise. I’m grateful that it exists and I’m so proud to be a member.”
It was time, Kennedy decided, to draw upon the skills she had honed as a singer and let those talents inform her next step. “When I was singing opera in Europe, I always knew how to get my music played and how to talk to editors and journalists,” she says. She went to her real estate marketing clients with a proposition: she’d do PR for them. Within 60 days, she was speaking at a big, virtual real estate conference, was writing for a real estate publication, and was featured on multiple podcasts. “I had found my superpower,” Kennedy says. “The first year, we made a million. Now, we’re not quite two years old but we’ve already surpassed three million.”
Kennedy’s company, Victorious PR, quickly expanded its client base beyond real estate and now also focuses on entrepreneurs and on music industry professionals. She has 18 contractors, a handful of whom will soon become full-time employees. “I have huge plans for Victorious PR’s market dominance,” Kennedy says. She envisions opening up satellite offices in locations such as Miami, Dallas, New York, and LA, tapping into local professionals with deep knowledge of their markets. And she has a long-term plan to get back into singing classical crossover but says “I just want to make sure my business is where I want it to be before I go into music again.”
As a musician, Kennedy has a long and emotional connection with Rolling Stone and says that “Rolling Stone Culture Council has been such an incredible community to be part of and has given me so much credibility and expertise. I’m grateful that it exists and I’m so proud to be a member.” Her Expert Panel and article contributions have helped establish her as a culture leader and she says that “when I walk into a room, I’m treated with so much more respect and I have credibility and authority.” She thinks that the community has also helped her generate new business. “I'm able to shine the spotlight on so many more people, because Rolling Stone [Culture Council] has shined the spotlight on me,” Kennedy says.