Media Maven Jamila Mustafa talks breaking barriers in the Entertainment Industry as a Young African American Journalist
Jamila has the most energetic personality that anyone can feel through the phone.literally. I had the opportunity to chat with her last week about all the exciting things taking place in her career and her energy was so radiant I could feel it in her voice. Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Jamila was destined for greatness from the moment she attended an agency open call.
Jamila known as Jmedia is breaking barriers as a hot millennial at the young age 24. Jamila was nominated for Forbes 30 under 30 as well as BET’s 30 Under 30 Young at the age of 23. In addition, Jamila currently works as one of BET’s hottest new host for shows such as BET’s Set Trippin, BET Breaks, and BET’s Music Sound Bites. She is definitely making her mark as a journalist and continuing to rise. Check out my interview below with Jamila.
AM: Hi, this is Alexus.
JM: What’s going on Alexus? I’m so happy that you called.
AM: Thank you. I’m so happy that you give me the opportunity to interview you.
AM: So, we can go out and get started so my first question is what inspired you to get into the field of journalism?
JM: I love that you dove right into it. So, I didn’t know anything about anything. When I was very young I was super energetic. Very Energetic. Basically, the same person I am, I’ve always been this. So of course, naturally, people always told my mom. She should dance, she should act, she should be a lawyer. It was always “She should, she should, she should” and it was always lawyer because I love to speak and all those things but I didn’t have the patience and I was just wild. One day my mom took me up to an Agency. We had to sit down in line, it was in New York City. This long ass line and I finally got to audition for my Agent Jay. She works mostly with children but she has a plethora of artist.She works mostly with children and about six adults. She locked down her list. Long story short we stood out in line. We had to read something about Milk, Girl. I was so illiterate. I did not understand the concept of reading material, right? So, you have to read the material, memorize the material,then you have to read it back to someone and act it out. I was like “What?”. It was like, either I’m going to read it or I’m going to make up some sh**. So, I basically did a compilation of both. The entire room laughed at me and they caught my mom like a week later and it was like “Look I just want you to know, she did a horrible job. She’s very unpolished.” My mom was like “Oh gosh…”. “She needs to get her hair done. I had these nappy meek mill braids.I was a wild tiger. Really Wild but “She has it, we want to sign her”. So, we signed the deal and long story short my first few commercials I booked. My first audition I booked. That was when she was like she’s going to be a star. People audition for years and years and never get a hit. How is it that this girl from Wilmington is booking gigs that it takes some people forever to book? That’s how you see these young kids winning Oscars. Somebody’s kids are leaders in Sitcoms or this child-stars are still eating and still making money 40 years later from a show that they did when they were ten. Why is that? Because children actors are one of the most talented people in the whole planet. The older that we get, we get more polished, we get more nervous, we start to care more about what others think. So, I think that’s the one quality about me. That I still have that child quality to where I could meet somebody off the street. I’m not nervous. I’m not embarrassed. I’m not afraid to embarrass myself and I just do me. That’s how I got started, just like that. It was just something that was always a part of me and my mom kinda just evolve me into this role.
AM: Well that’s an interesting way to start it and look at all the success you’ve had to this day. I mean that’s so amazing girl. That’s really amazing. And you were nominated the Forbes 30 under 30 last year. That’s very exciting. How did it feel to be nominated for that last year?
JM: I mean it was dope as hell! I got two nomination submissions. Which was pretty awesome! So I thought that was pretty cool. I always kinda knew about the Forbes list because it’s a Huge name. I think when I got nominated I really got into it. Then I was invited to attend the summit so I got a chance to talk to the creator of the list Zack Greenberg and pretty much some of the biggest stars. I just found out I’m nominated once again this year and I’m going to the summit on Sunday, well, really Monday. I have a great relationship with some of the founders. I’m just excited. I mean it’s a blessing and I am only 24. I graduated college at 22 and was nominated the year after I graduated. Here we are, I’m nominated again this year. So, you know I have until I’m 30. I am in no rush to make it, but you know that’s on my bucket list. It’s just amazing to be recognized in that caliber. To be honored! I get to attend the summit and then all the Forbes events. They always invite me so it’s a family thing. It is politics too. You know, I’m going to wait my turn but when I get nominated, what happens is that those who actually make the list then are part of the Selective Committee. So, my main goal is to make the list so that I can select the person who is not doing everything that they want to do in life. A young African-American who aspires to be awesome. If I can have that power, not for myself to brag and say I’m on the list but, to put somebody else in a position to sore. That’s why I really want to be on the list. You know, if black people don’t have the power to make the moves then we can’t-do anything. So that’s the goal. That’s my end goal. But it feels fu***** great. It’s still better to make the list but it’s still awesome to be nominated. To be honored and recognized for your hard work but more so to be recognized with the potential that you can one day become. It feels good.
AM: That’s so Amazing and It seems that you do have a busy schedule what are some things you do to keep yourself motivated and not get overwhelmed?
JM: I’m always overwhelmed. But I just think the motivation is just the curiosity. I feel like the curiosity is what keeps me going because it’s like if you see a dope ass car right? You’re like damn. I could get that car maybe. You think that can I get that car. I’m going try to get that car. You hear people and you hear these success stories. Some of the wealthiest people in the world come from worse places than I did. Some of them come from worst circumstances than I did and they made it. So that doesn’t make you curious? That’s the way I think, Right? It doesn’t make you curious then there are things in life and why can’t I get it. Why does Oprah have to be the only person who has the jet? Some people genuinely believe that they enjoy looking at other people’s lives. They believe that they can’t obtain that. They’ll see a Benz and they’ll just appreciate the Benz. They’ll pull out their phone to take a picture.I’m not that type of person, I want to get in it. I’m so curious. I want to know what it feels like to drive it and to own it. I think that that is what keeps me going. The curiosity and now that It’s past the curiosity, it’s actually real, that I can do it. I can really be one of the biggest stars ever. So why not try to go for it? Those downfalls, those negative things that happened, made me want to quit it or made me feel like damn. Am I not working hard? Or man. You look at social media. Why is this person doing so much? But then I think to myself, why can’t I do it? Then I try not to focus on other people. So that what keeps me motivated. Of course, my family, my friends, my supporters and people like you who see the journey and are like “I like what she’s doing. I want to talk to her more. So, the way that I think is that if next year if I quit all of this. Then it’s like what did I waste your time for? I want to make you proud enough so that one year from now or two years from now you can be like. “I talked to that girl, I interviewed her”. And then like “Wow, you did?” I want to give people that glory. I do it for others.I do it for others.
AM: I love that. I really love that. And congratulations on your website. I saw that this morning. So where do you see your brand going in the next two years?
JM: It’s crazy. That website was done like four months ago. I just had it sitting. On top of that, I have like three shows that I just launched and my website designer kept getting annoyed. It was to a point where when we finished this site four months ago and every single week I had something else to add. Even today I was like “I just launched a new show called Set Trippin. I want to add that I just did a season three breaks photoshoot. I want to add” She said, Jamila, if you keep adding something every day when are you going to launch the site? Put the site out there and then every month at the end of the month we’ll update it. I said “We got to wait a whole month?” So as far where I’m at now with BET we’re going into season three of breaks. The show that I helped to franchise. We launched a new show called Set Trippin and I’m the host of it. I do the red carpets and I do the interviews. I served on a panel for the first pick live. I do a lot of work with IHeart. On top of that as far as acting we just did a Geico commercial. We got a lot of new stuff coming up that I can’t announce. I may have something on the table, I don’t want to announce it yet, But with complex. We’ve got something going on with BravoTv. So, coming this fall I have about three new shows that I’ll be a part of on a platform. Then independently I want to go on a speaking tour to motivate young woman, to motivate young host, to motivate young journalists as to how. What is the formula? Everybody is showing you what they’re doing, telling you what they’re doing but, nobody is giving you their formula and connecting those dots.I think that is crucial and by the time the people come back and speak they’re either way too big to the point where it is like- If Taraji P Henson comes to the school you’re going to appreciate it but it’s going to be hard for you to connect those dots because she’s much older. It’s a larger platform versus somebody that is like “I can touch her.” We’re like the same age. We’re around that same things so If I could do exactly what she’s doing, then I will be straight. So that’s why that tour is so important to me. So, I’m going on an independent tour. I’m developing my entire production company so between these three shows I’m coming out. I want to go on tour and I want to launch my production company. All this year
AM: Yes!! Loving that!!! I wish you all the blessings with that.
JM: Damn girl. I’m here looking in the mirror, bouncing up and down and Just getting fired up.
AM: I love your energy so much!! Its so radiant and I can feel it through the phone. So, my last question is do you have any advice to any millennials currently trying to follow their dreams and or too young black female journalists?
JM: Absolutely, So two parts for young people following their dreams. First thing, I have three good quotes for them. One, don’t look back because you’re not going that way. I say that because especially in our culture, in our age the first thing that we do when we want to talk about doing something in our past. “I can’t-do that because I don’t have the experience. I didn’t go to college, I didn’t do this or sometimes people are nervous to move forward because of their past. You might have had a nasty attitude, you might’ve been branded a certain way or you get a little nervous. For example, if you’re a rapper but all your college years you never rap. You come out as a rapper and it’s like I’ve never done this before. So that’s the number one. Don’t look back cause you’re not going that way. I’m not looking back to see what anybody else is doing and whenever I say that it’s never an arrogant thing. If you ever talked to me its like she doesn’t have a cocky bone in her body but I’m just being realistic. If I’m so busy looking what you’re doing and I’m of course naturally going to compare it to what I’m doing. I’m not going to say that I’m doing worse than this person, or doing better than this person but that’s three seconds that I wasted even contemplating about what you’re doing. If what you’re doing comes across me I’m going to celebrate you, I’m going to congratulate you and I’m going to keep it going. Either we’re going to figure out a way to work together or I’ll support you from afar. But, I do not say who you do with such and such. “She ain’t doing all of that”. So that’s the first piece of advice. Don’t look back cause you’re not going that way. The second thing is don’t wait for it, work for it! That’s a huge thing because we’re taught especially as millennials, that one you got to be patience, or you need to wait your turn, just wait on it and wait on it. It’s like don’t wait on it, the lord has already blessed you with the essential gifts that you need. The lord is going to bless you and open the doors that need to be open. But, the lord is not going to sit there and wait because the lord waiting on you and you’re waiting on the lord. So you’re just playing the wait game and so that’s another thing. The first part is don’t wait and the second part is work for it. A lot of times we’re not working. We’re out here looking like we’re working, if millennials put half of the energy that they spend looking like they’re working and actually work then it would be easy. So many people out here that are not working, that for those like you or for me, these people that are working, it’s actually easier. It’s easy. Like some of these major networks, major corporations that I’ve seen people beg to get into. When I get in there I’m the hardest working one because they’re not working. So for millennials if you don’t wait and you just work it will happen because a lot of us are not focusing on putting in work and therefore were not getting the opportunity that we deserve. Last but not least, to all millennials. Be true to who you are. Its now more than ever so hard. It is an everyday struggle to be you because you got magazines, you got social media, you got this and you got that. Telling you and more important showing you what you should look like, what you should talk like and what you should do. Like I know a lot of my friends now, you got to pose this way and they do this. They are out here getting they bodies done. I don’t give a damn about none of that and most people want to be serious. I am who I am. I’m energetic, I’m outgoing, I ain’t got no ass but I got some nice legs. I know what works for me and I stay true to who I am. I’m not going to change for any network, any publication and any fan. I’m not changing for anyone and God has made me this way and he’s going to make me succeed because he’s happy with what he created. So those would be my three things to tell millennials and for young woman, support each other, embrace your blackness, sprinkle your black magic everywhere you can and don’t alter your blackness or hide it to make people feel good. To be honest girl right now the white man, everything black is what they want. The culture and the music. So, stay true to who you are uplift another sister and just do your thing. So that’s all. Go get your nails done and go get your feet done. That’s pretty much it. So that would be the advice I would give..
AM: Oh, Thank you for the advice. I love it!!! Definitely something I think every millennial needs to hear as well as me.
JM: Didn’t mean to take you to church girl.
AM: No, I know. I love that. Thank you so much! I love your energy. I think that you’re going to really go far and I really do wish you the best and blessings on your career and everything you have planned for yourself. It’s really a blessing to see another young black female journalist, you know going for what she wants and especially after talking to you and having this conversation. You know, I love your energy I love everything about your positivity.
Be sure to keep up with Jamila on her journalism journey. She has some great things in store.
Represented By: VS Talent Group/JGD