Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Joann “Jo” Mignano loved watching celebrity entertainment shows on television. She never missed the red carpet extravaganzas and was mesmerized by the Barbara Walters specials featuring high-profile guests. “I wondered how Barbara got those guests,” remembers Mignano, now 44. Fascinated by these TV moments, she developed an intrigue of the inner workings of New York and Hollywood entertainment.
Today, Mignano represents some of Hollywood’s biggest stars as the founder of J Migs Public Relations. Operating from her home in Palm City (she moved from New York to South Florida in 2014), she represents recognizable names like ’N Sync star Joey Fatone, world heavyweight boxing champion and entertainer Mike Tyson, singer Taylor Dayne, vocal group Boyz II Men, and reality TV stars Vinny Guadagnino and Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola (of Jersey Shore fame), among others. “Working for myself in the Sunshine State has been a wonderful journey so far,” she says of the past eight years spent living here.
Mignano studied public relations and advertising at St. Francis College in Brooklyn but dropped out after two years to gain experience in entertainment public relations while supporting herself in retail. In 2000, she began work at Momentum Worldwide, part of the parent organization McCann Worldgroup. While continuing to take college courses at night in pursuit of a degree in communications, she worked for Momentum’s corporate clients like American Express and Best Buy, as well as others. “I did event marketing for Sheryl Crow and Sting concerts,” she says. “I loved it, and when I was promoted, I quit school completely to pursue my career.”
Through hard work and forming important connections in the heady world of entertainment publicity, Mignano landed a job at PMK/HBH, one of the top PR firms in the country at the time led by powerhouse publicists Leslee Dart, Lois Smith, and Pat Kingsley (whom, coincidentally, Mignano wrote a paper about during her early years in college). This role allowed her to gain crucial experience as she worked alongside the agency’s top publicists, like Jill Fritzo, with the top-tier celebrity talent PMK handled including Rosie O’Donnell, Billy Crystal, and Sharon Stone. “I learned so much from Jill about how to protect my clients and get them enviable magazine covers and international exposure,” says Mignano.
She rose to senior account executive, managing and expanding the firm’s sports division with clients like Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, and NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman, and she developed publicity campaigns for Rosie O’Donnell and Australian singer Delta Goodrem. “I had to be on my toes 100 percent, attending premieres, talk shows, and red carpets,” she says. “I had a great relationship with Rosie [O’Donnell] and met many people. But I would often work 12 days straight. It took a lot out of me.”
She left PMK to become vice president of entertainment and lifestyle at FYI Brand Group, where she developed publicity campaigns for Mike Tyson, singer Jason Derulo, rapper Fabulous, producer Sean Garrett, and the late actor Michael Kenneth Williams. Then came a six-year stint leading the entertainment division at Krupp Communications before she launched her own agency, J Migs, in 2017, bringing many of her existing clients—like Tyson—aboard.
“Jo prides herself on her business being personal,” says Mike Tyson’s wife, Kiki. “We have worked with her for 15 years through ups and downs, and she has always shown the same passion, compassion, and dedication to Mike and his family. We are grateful to still have her on our team.” Joe Mulvihill of Livewire Entertainment, who manages clients Joey Fatone and Boyz II Men, shares a similar sentiment: “Jo is more than a publicist. She is family!”
Mignano’s career highlights include witnessing Tyson perform in his 2012 one-man show Undisputed Truth on Broadway and then becoming a best-selling author, assisting Boyz II Men as they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and helping rocker Bret Michaels [of the band Poison] add entrepreneur and motivational figure to his résumé.
Having visited Florida many times throughout her life (“I’ve always loved Florida,” she says), Mignano finally decided to make the move south in 2014. Leaving the Big Apple for Palm City hasn’t slowed her business at all. She is the same hardworking publicist who loves her career and dotes on her clients. “I can work from an igloo in Alaska,” she says. “All I need is a phone and a computer. I’m like an actor on call—it’s not a
nine-to-five job. I actually care about my clients.”
When not working, Mignano enjoys spending time with her son, 10-year-old Billy, doing things in the area like swimming at the beach, dining around the Treasure Coast (favorite spots include Townie’s Tavern, Hudson’s on the River, District Table & Bar, and 1000 North), going on staycations in Hutchinson Island, and visiting Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando Resort. “I have an amazing career and a wonderful son,” she says. “I love what I do and do what I love.”