Samantha “MisRed” Musa is choosing happiness…

Samantha Musa. MisRed to the world. Multi Media Personality. Mother. Digital Entrepreneur. Daughter. Influencer. Philanthropist. Goal Getter. Friend. And now, with the debut of her book, “Be Faithful to Your Happiness”; Published Author. Samantha Musa to her close circle. Closely guarded and fiercely private, allowing only a trusted few into her space. MisRed to the world. The people’s fav. A champion for women and girls. Fearlessly outspoken. A force…

And in this raw and authentic conversation, we get rare and exclusive access into both worlds as she candidly unpacks the layers that make up the remarkable woman she is…

So, is it Samantha or MisRed?

It depends on who’s asking. There’s Samantha the person, the mum, the sister, the aunt, the friend….She’s in sharp contrast to MisRed, the character who was necessitated by the work that I do in media and communications.

How did the name MisRed come about?

It depends on what I’m reflecting on at the time because there are two completely different incidents that the name came from. I moved back to Zimbabwe about 9 years ago from Pretoria. At the time, I decided moving back home was the best decision – I missed my family, especially my daughter, I needed to be with her. As I was trying to find my feet again, I hung out at the studio a lot. I love music and the business of music but at that time I hadn’t figured out my place in the industry. I had this beautiful ruby red lipstick I loved wearing each time I went to the studio. I don’t remember seeing a lot of women wearing that colour. It was bold and distinguished and became my trademark around people I hung out with. As all things go, one day yakapera and I ventured out without my signature look. People noticed and asked me if I was ok, something seemed missing.Someone from the back of the room shouted, ‘Ah, she’s Miss Red, she’s always in red but nhasi it’s missing!’ The name stuck from then on.

The other side of my name, a meaning which I adopted when I entered the entertainment industry was how misunderstood I was growing up. People misjudged me and it was only those who got close to me that realised I wasn’t the person they thought I was! When I got on radio, I decided not to use my real name. I thought of my rebellious teen life, the people from my childhood who would recognise my real name and the misconceptions that would come with it. I needed anonymity; I decided to become a character – to become and embrace, MisRed.

What words best describe who you are?

Vivacious, bold, goal getter, a mother.

I hate not being able to do stuff – if people say it can’t be done, I always ask why not? This is one of my distinguishing characteristics. I’ll always go for it – I’m a “if I fail, I fail, if I die, I die” type of person.

I’m very bold. I’m very outspoken, I have a lot to say. I’m not one to hold back on what I think or what I feel. I love hard.

I’m an extremist, I’m never in the middle – I go all the way.

How do you introduce Samantha and MisRed to people?

It’s very rare for me to ever introduce Samantha unless it’s a private conversation. I’m Samantha, I work in communications; which covers a lot of fields and could be any industry – it’s vague but intriguing enough to spark a conversation. I find it awkward, in a one-on-one setting to introduce myself as MisRed. Not everyone cares so I don’t put it out there – they eventually just figure it out or find out. When I’m working, when I’m in a crowd – that’s different. I introduce myself as MisRed, a multimedia personality, and now, a published author!

(At this point we pause the interview, pop a bottle and scream out loud –  in celebration – what an achievement!)

Oh that was such big news! Tell me about your book.

Be Faithful To Your Happiness is a journey of self-discovery, about faithfulness to a process of healing and finding beauty in the obvious. In the book, I go through my life and some of the biggest life lessons I’ve learnt. I narrate it in a way that I hope is palatable to everyone who reads it.

Some people look at my life and think it’s glossy because they only see the result not the work behind the result. Some think I woke up one day and became who I am today, not knowing that it’s been 9 years in the making! I’ve gone through a lot to get to where I am in my career. I’ve gone through a lot to get to where I am in my personal life. There’s a lot that happened which led me to even think, to even consider media as a career path.

The book is filled with a lot of personal stories on some situations that I have gone through, that I’m still going through. I hope people who are younger than me can read it, reflect and learn something from it.

Question: Writing a book is not something you just wake up and do. How did that come about?

Two years ago, I was recording a motivational video when the words be faithful to your happiness flashed before my eyes. I reflected on this and realised I was cheating on mine. I seemed to find every reason, any excuse to do everything for everyone else except for myself. I cheated on my ambitions, my aspirations and didn’t put enough effort into my own happiness. I then went through clinical depression a while ago and started taking medication for it. It was a dark place and I always say to people you can never fix depression with one solution – there are so many facets to it, some of which we don’t understand up to now. Someone advised me to start journaling, so I did and it was transformational. I wrote down all my thoughts, reflected on my past and how that affected me and influenced who I am today. I wrote about my parents, how we went from being rich to really broke. I unpacked why I always wanted to be the centre of attention, realised it was because I was lacking in it growing up and it was my way of looking for validation.

I also realised the reason I tend to over explain myself was due to my inferiority complex of never having finished school. Somehow, I thought over explaining myself would validate me and my words. A friend then encouraged me to share my story with publishers and here we are!

Would you say this was a form of self-healing?

It definitely was, but, I’m still healing, it’s not a one-day event. It’s a process you have to constantly work on. I have so much baggage from so many years so it doesn’t automatically go away. I’m grateful that I’m able to admit to myself that I have issues, it’s so much easier to navigate around them once you admit them and face them.

How have you managed to step into your beauty in a world that dictates what beauty should look like? How have you come to a place where you love yourself for who you are?

This is the hardest place to get to as a woman, especially when you’re plus size.

Many people find a lot wrong with my body because we’ve been conditioned to think that being a certain body shape and size; in a certain skin colour is what makes you beautiful. There are all these facets of conditioning that have influenced and affected black people particularly black women when it comes to beauty – look at how being dark skinned and certain body types are demonised. There’s this glorification of a certain type of woman that makes us feel we’re inadequate if we’re not cut and moulded in that way.

I was lucky that I stayed in Mozambique for a while where there are so many beautiful, diverse women, comfortable in their skin. The diversity of skin colour, body shape – thick, slim, all sorts of shapes was a common sight.

You’d see them all, particularly the plus size women at the beach wearing bikinis, comfortable in their own bodies. It was normal for them but an absolute culture shock for me! I was coming from a conservative background which frowned upon wearing bikinis, particularly for my body type. Being around women who accepted and loved themselves helped me to embrace myself and my body. When I came back to Zimbabwe, a lot of people advised me to wear clothes that were appropriate for my body type – I was criticised for my fashion sense, ‘how dare I wear tight fitting clothes…’ but I was beyond trying to please or align to societal norms, I proudly embrace who I am.

When it comes to our bodies as women, we have a lot of work to do! It’s not just about embracing ourselves for how we look but it is refusing to reduce ourselves or each other to just our bodies – to just our vaginas. I had an interview with a Ghanaian radio station last year and I admit, I said some insensitive things. One thing though that stood out for me was that people didn’t attack what I had said, they attacked my body. They took my opinion, everything that I had said and reduced it to my body. And that unfortunately is always the story of many women – when attacked, your body, not your opinion, is used against you.

Everjoice Win – a well-known Zimbabwean feminist activist – at the time wrote something incredible that has stayed with me;

One thing I know for sure, is, as long as the sun rises from the East, being a woman in this world is HARD. My womanhood, this body I reside in, will always be used against me, when patriarchy wants to punish, silence, & keep me in my place, this body is the first line of attack. I have also learnt that one of the easiest weapons used against me is my sexuality, my sexual choices, and half the time- mere sexual innuendo is enough to destroy a woman. By simply reducing me to a VAGINA, my fate can be immediately sealed. All my work, good or bad…. my whole being, can merely be reduced to my vagina, and that is it! I am done for. I am sad. Sad. Sad. Because, at the end of the day- that is what I am reduced to. It is pathetic. It is horrid. My gift to women younger than me on this street today: The same horrid words you use to reduce another woman to a vagina is exactly what they will do to you, the day you cross that (invisible), line. Always remember that. YOU are more than your vagina. You are a FULL human being.

As women, we have the power to do better, to be better. People used something that had nothing to do with the issue to attack my body, this is how the world works but we have the power to change that. We need a world where more women, like Everjoice did, stand up and say I am not my body; she is not her body; I am more than the body I reside in; she’s more than the body she resides in!

I am my thoughts, my opinions. There’s more to me than just how I look.

The more we walk proudly looking the way we do, the more people will understand there’s more to us than our looks. This will lead to society taking us more seriously and treating us all with respect.

 How do you separate the chaff from the wheat when it comes to peoples’ opinions?

Ad feminam is alive and well in our society and people don’t realise how deep it is. It’s not just done by men to women but nowadays you find women doing it to other women too which is really sad.

I know everyone will always have an opinion, it’s important for me to only engage when I’m ready and to engage with the right people, in the right way. The majority of people I follow and engage with are respectful enough to have a healthy debate with me. With my history of mental health illness, It’s unhealthy for me to allow negative energy into my space, I’m very protective of that.

What do you believe sets you apart?

I’m honest enough to be who I am. I do my best to be authentic and to be honest. In the industry I’m in it’s very easy to try and be someone else to please everyone. If you don’t like me, that’s ok – I’m not ice cream which has different flavours to suit everyone’s taste. I used to be such a people pleaser for a long time and I realise now that that’s what kept me from growing. The day I let go and decided to be true to myself is when I started growing. I’ve tried to fit in but I’ve found something always seems wrong when I try to be someone I’m not so I’ve accepted who I am. I’m trying to be more natural now because that’s more me – I guess the older you get, the less fast you are about certain things.

What was it like growing up? Did your childhood help form who you are today? What’s most memorable about it?

My childhood formed everything that I am today, every single bit. We went from being the budding, upcoming, successful black family where my dad was a banker and my mum a businesswoman to being broke overnight. I went through having everything to having nothing. Trying to fit into a world I clearly didn’t fit into anymore was really hard and embarrassing. I was a teenager and I didn’t know how to explain any of the things happening in my life to my friends. I can adjust easier to life changes now because of what I went through when I was young. The normal trajectory of life is growing up poor then you become rich, but it was the opposite for me and I learnt some pretty harsh lessons. I remember how rebellious I was growing up! I didn’t have my parents’ attention because they were always working so I got it from other places. I was that kid everyone knew. I was the cool kid people liked hanging out with.

So what exactly happened? How did your family fortunes change overnight like that?

I talk about my upbringing extensively in the book and how everything transpired with regards to our finances. Want to know more? Buy the book! (Laughs)

What’s your passion?

I am very passionate about empowering the next person, whether its business, knowledge, connecting them in some small way; I love seeing people win around me. It’s my ultimate high. A lot of the initiatives I undertake are to make sure that someone else is able to win because of me. I introduced Red Market Sunday for people to get exposure for their businesses – I don’t make any money from it. I love speaking to girls about life; as a 1st born, I didn’t have anyone do the same for me growing up, that would have made a world of difference. I’ve been a volunteer with Girls R Us for about 5 years. We mobilise funds for sanitary wear and go around schools talking to girls. We’ve got to normalise talking to girls about taking care of their bodies, bathing properly, getting rid of odour, loving themselves – they need to learn this from a young age.

Putting on lenses from 10 years ago, Is this what you would have envisioned your life would be?

I really wouldn’t have seen myself in this space 10 years ago. I talk about this extensively in my book as well. I had no ambitions, absolutely no vision. Life then was about having a good time. Things were going so bad in my family that I just needed attention, to be the life of the party. I wish I could give you a big story about how I dreamt to be in media when I was 15 but that would be a lie. I liked the idea of being a sound engineer because I love music but beyond that – zero aspirations. I was a teenager and I just wanted to have a good time.

You’ve done quite a lot over the past few years, what are you still hungry to achieve?

Girl, I haven’t even started! I have so much to learn. I’m legacy oriented. Until I have built something that I can honestly say this will outlive me, I won’t rest. I need to build schools, to create cultural shifts and until I’ve done that – I’m still just starting. Tich Mataz did a lot in media. You may not realise it but he shifted the way we saw black people in the media space, how we’re perceived not just in Zimbabwe but in Southern Africa. He facilitated a cultural change, a cultural shift which enabled a black person to be on TV, a black person to be considered cool and become a major personality who actually received endorsements. We can go back even further to Webster Shamu, one of the first black people to get an endorsement while still on radio. I look at that and aspire to be part of that class of media personalities who shifted the culture. I want to be like Supa Mandiwanzira and own Media Houses. I don’t want to be basic, I want to go above and beyond.

Where do you see the entertainment industry in Zimbabwe in 5 years’ time? How do you fit into that?

We have an opportunity to build a functional industry that we are all proud of, that is professional in all aspects. One where our creatives are at par with the rest of the continent and world. I have a part to play in my areas of influence, practise and expertise, and one of the many ways of effecting change and growth is by just being a good example and template. I want to inspire the next generation of women in media to dig deeper and open up their minds to the world and what it can offer when they apply themselves

If you were to put it into one word, what’s your hustle and how do you differentiate it from your private life?

I do a lot of stuff but let’s just say in a nutshell, Communication is my hustle. I’m a media personality, event host, entrepreneur, Influencer, Philanthropist and most recently, an Author.

There is a distinction between Samantha Musa and MisRed. I share about being able to realise what is worth your energy in my book. I’m a private person and I only share what’s relevant to share – everything else I keep away from the character of MisRed. People want to know who I’m dating – I’ve been dating the same person for quite a long time but I don’t want to bring that out in public. I don’t talk about my daughters online – I don’t want that to be part of a MisRed story, that’s a Samantha story. I draw a line between the two ladies, Samantha’s business, you’ll rarely see online.

On reflection, what keeps you up at night?

I haven’t reached where I need to be, it’s the biggest thing that keeps me up at night. I want my children to have everything they need. I’m not the type of woman who waits on a man to provide.

I don’t want to die without making sure my kids are ok. I’m always thinking of projects I can get involved in to make money. I want to buy a property for my kids, to get enough money to put in a trust fund for them, to build something that lasts.

My kids and legacy are important to me and planning around those two keeps me up at night.

 

 

By: Emmagness Ruzvidzo

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