Watch this interview on Youtube
TVOA: Hello it’s your host Kadmiel Van Der Puije and welcome to TVOA TV and Podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us who goes by the name of Kim Jayde. Kim Jayde Is A Model, Founder of KJProductions, TV Presenter And An Influencer Born In Harare, Zimbabwe. Jayde Relocated To South Africa After Completing Her High-School Studies To Pursue Her Tertiary Education, Where She Obtained An Honors Degree In Social Work. During Her Time Studying, Jayde Fell In Love With The Entertainment Industry And Used Social Media To Get Her Name Out There. MTV Base South Africa’s Talent Manager Saw Her On Instagram And In Less Than A Week She Was Offered A Job As A Presenter On The Channel. Hello Miss Jayde. How are you doing?
Kim Jayde: Hi. I’m so good. Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today.
Can you tell us about your childhood growing up?
Sure, so I was actually born and raised in Zimbabwe. I was born in the capital Harare and then grew up in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, which is a small town. I went to a tiny school with about 300 girls in the whole school but it was very safe. I remember with my brothers, we could ride our bikes out all day and then come back when the sun was down. It’s that kind of small safe community, which was really amazing growing up. I moved to South Africa later which for us was like a big deal because it’s a big city, big country, lots more people, far advanced. I got my honors degree, here in SA, in Social Work and Psychology. So yeah.
Can you tell us about being bullied at school?
It’s really hard for a lot of people to believe now when I say I used to be really shy and awkward. I think I was just that kid in school who didn’t find her tribe or find clique early; so, I was often alone. To avoid going out to play with the other kids, who didn’t like me anyway, I would ask my teachers for extra homework and just sit in the classroom during recess. I think I was bullied much because I was different and I didn’t really fit in; plus, I was neither sporty nor super academic. It was when I moved to boarding school that I found more artsy cultural people like me and where I found my voice. I became more confident to appreciate who I was and what made me different. Because of this experience, I don’t relent to advise those who may be in similar situation and feel left out: Just wait, you will find your tribe and you will find your voice among those people who share your passion. Strive to preserve who you are for the right audience or company.
Did you always want to be an influencer growing up?
Influencer is a pretty recent term, right? I mean when you talk to the older generation, they’re like what are you doing? What are you influencing? I never knew this was what I wanted to do. I studied Social Work and Psychology because I genuinely believed I was going to be a psychiatrist or work in the field of mental health or work with communities, but God had other plans. It all started when I worked for the Department of Education in my honors year while managing the students’ crisis hotline; which was for students on campus to call whenever they encountered any difficulty. I began to handle cases to do with abortion and attempted suicide and it was really heavy. I took a gap year after I got my degree because my course was really challenging to model part-time. I realized then that I could really do this for the long term because I started being really good at it and earning some really good money and it was a way to be financially independent. Back then, the starting salary for a social worker was around 3 thousand Rand which is about 175 dollars a month. It wasn’t really much, neither was it enough to live off of because my family was still in Zimbabwe and I was in South Africa on my own with no family. I figured I needed to hustle.
For me, modeling was my hustle. I had my own fashion and travel blog; this was when I was still living in Cape Town. I made the move to Johannesburg because I had my sight on TV but no agency would represent me because people didn’t know me. Johannesburg and Cape Town are like LA and New York. In Joburg, no one knew who I was and life was and still is completely different in Joburg. It’s fast-paced, lots more money to be made but it still relies on who you know. It took me a really long time trying to break into the TV space and finally had my opportunity when the talent manager of MTV Africa at the time saw me on Instagram and she slid in my DMs. She went like, “We’re looking for a new presenter on our show. It’s a daily news show. Are you interested in coming in for a screen test?” And I was like, “HECK YEAH, I’M THERE!” Things turned around in a flash but as a matter of fact, it came out persistence and keeping my eyes on the goal.
Are there any role models/mentors you had that you could learn from?
Unfortunately, I didn’t and this is something that I’m hoping we’re going to grow in South Africa and Africa; to have more females reach out to other females and be that big sister or be that mentor who can share their experience and knowledge. Where I come from in Zimbabwe, we’ve never ever had someone on MTV until me. It sometimes surprised me that for some of the things I’ve been able to accomplish, I was first from my country to ever do it. For instance, I was the first face of Revlon South Africa, and it was a Zimbabwean face; that’s a big deal. In my case, I can say I am a pioneer. As amazing as it sounds, there are times on these uncharted paths I’m like, “What the heck is going on?” There’s no road map and females tend to be very competitive and project a this-is-my-spot approach. No one shares their knowledge and contacts for fear of losing the spot you’ve spent years to make your own. Things are gradually changing now. Since being signed to Africa Creative Agency, my manager, Yvette Gail an iconic and incredible personality has become my mentor. She has vast experience coming from the US and working in entertainment and music there. She’s worked with the likes of Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and so on. She’s become a mentor and a big sister I can confide in.
How do you encourage women in the industry; as well as find and develop female talent to take on creative roles normally monopolized by men?
I just genuinely try to be honest about things. I don’t over sell it as some would by saying it’s incredible; It’s fabulous, glitzy and glamorous. I tell it as it is: the ups, downs and the need for hard work. My first two years in entertainment was tough; I was downright broke. The truth is, people in entertainment here in Africa don’t really get that much money being on TV or on radio, but where we do get a lot of money is through brand endorsements, using our social media accounts as marketing and advertising tools. This is something I remain clear about; that is, our social media platforms are now our CVs. It’s our way of showing the world who we are, what we do and we can reach people across the globe. For instance, connecting with you was through the power of social media? So, it’s constantly just trying to be honest about how things really are and give practical tips on how to be better and how to improve. We do need more real life like chats like this to have real conversations about careers in the entertainment industry.
Throughout your professional and educational careers, did you find that you have had to prove yourself or defy people’s assumptions/expectations because of your gender and or racial identity?
Constantly I have had to. I don’t know how much you know about the history of Zimbabwe but at one point our country was one of the strongest in Africa; we were known as the breadbasket of Africa. So even though we are half the size of South Africa, we were exporting food to the entire continent and not only food but minerals, gold, etc. It was an incredibly strong country in the 80s and through time through different political leaders, our country’s economy has performed abysmally along with our currency. There used to be the Zimbabwean dollar. It doesn’t even exist anymore. It got so bad that there were literally images circulating about how we needed barrels of money just to buy a loaf of bread. Stories are told of how people would cross the Zambezi River full of crocodiles just to get into South Africa. So that’s how bad things got and I come from that country. To this day people still make those jokes like, “Do you have like a thousand barrels of money just to buy toiletries or just to get groceries?” People constantly make fun of Zimbabwe’s economy and how bad things were. We despite the fact still have one of the best education systems on the continent and we’re able to live and work anywhere in the world. There are some incredible Zimbabweans doing amazing things across the globe. Danai Gurira, an actress, is an example. She starred in the Black Panther movie. The main hurdle I have had is just constantly trying to shake off the negative stereotype and strive to show people that we are not defined by the flaws of our country and that I am super talented.
Can you explain what your role was at MTV? And what’s your daily routine was like?
I actually left MTV three months ago to push my own business. I started my own production company called KJ Productions. I was a TV host and we were very active in creating all of the content. For example, when there was no script, we scripted; or when there wasn’t a makeup artist, we did our own makeup and in the absence of a stylist, we did our own styling. It really was super, we had to be in charge of our own brand and our own image. It’s up to us to show the world. It was very hands-on and it was an incredible experience. I was there for over three years, traveled the world, did amazing things. We did Tomorrowland; I went to the VMAs and covered the red carpet. We’ve done some amazing things with MTV and with that knowledge and experience, I decided it was time I launched out on my own and be a female boss.
What was your first award, and how did this impressive form of recognition inspire you to do more?
My first award was the Simba Mhere Media Personality award, was a big personality in Zimbabwe, he recently passed. But to be acknowledged by the Zimbabwean people that are living in South Africa was a big deal. That was my first award and that was really special because it shows that people see what I’m doing and that’s really cool to get such recognition from your country and people, its major. But I think the biggest one for me, thus far has been making the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list. It was a really big deal because I’m sure you know a lot African parents don’t understand the creative world. They don’t understand why you choose to be an entrepreneur as opposed to getting a steady 9-5 job that pays the bills. So, to be recognized by Forbes, my dad who’s a lawyer, my stepdad who’s in mining came to understand that what I am doing is a real thing; a real job.
Okay. Yeah, that’s really interesting. What difference did the Forbes 30 under 30 recognition make in your career?
Have you heard of imposter syndrome? It’s basically a thing that a lot of major athletes or celebrities or actors when they reach this level of recognition face. You begin to think like, people are going to wake up and realize I ain’t shit. I’ve just been keeping my head down, working and hustling for so long to really know what it is to be super broke and not to be financially independent and comfortable. It humbles me.
What inspired you to stay committed to this career path after years of struggling to even get a gig the first two years of pursuing modeling?
It’s incredible to look at how far we’ve come where we see in campaigns, brands actively booking people of different body sizes and different ethnicities. It’s just a beautiful thing. But when I started, it was the complete opposite. One had to be size 0, 6-feet tall in order to get any work and I was a 5-feet something; I was curvy and had a booty size out of the norm. They were like, “What is this short girl doing here? Somebody, kick her out.” It was tough for me to even get castings, let alone be booked for jobs but I knew in me that I was going to be good at it. When I’m on camera I can perform and I can deliver far above these skinny girls that are superhot. Do you know what I mean? And I think that’s what got me through it, then coming to Joburg. It was just a feeling, I think. You know how people talk about how you have a calling? It’s been my calling and I’ve been a successful working model; I’m on TV, “killing it;” I’ve won numerous Awards. What’s the next challenge? I’m actually really interested in owning a TV station, being in charge of putting out campaigns for Brands; that’s the next challenge. So that’s where I am now just trying to grow my business and my brand and continually challenging myself to push harder and learn more to be better.
You are a huge Sneakerhead. What is your favorite pair and what is your most sought after pair of shoes?
My favorite pair right now is a pair of tie-dyed Jordan Ones. I’m a Jordan ones girl and it was a really hard pay to get in Africa. I know it’s hard in the States, but they definitely release more units there than they do here. So here it’s really really hard to get a pair of super sick sneakers. Especially after that Michael Jordan docu-series dropped on Netflix. Everyone now wants Jordan ones, everyone.
Is it a difficult balance trying to keep your audience entertained whilst using your platform to talk about serious issues you feel passionate about, and if so, how?
I don’t think so. People do feel the pressure to put on a facade of having a perfect life and making everything appear great to their followers. I could only post about sneakers and fashion and that would be fine because that is also part of my life, but I feel a sense of responsibility being a Zimbabwean and being someone who has this platform to speak about issues that really matter to me, so I do talk about body positivity; issues going on back home, xenophobia, there’ve been attacks in the past few years on foreigners living in South Africa, and I’m a foreigner living in South Africa. It’s my responsibility to speak on these issues. I feel and I just know it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t talk about them. If I remain quiet while people back home are being arrested and put in jail and abducted from their homes just for peacefully protesting against what’s wrong. I just think the best advice you can always give to somebody who has a platform is be extremely genuine and extremely honest and speak from your heart. You can’t go wrong for speaking from your heart and I do get a lot of backlash on it. Like who is this girl talking about Zimbabwe, but living in South Africa? Do you even really love your country? These kinds of stuff. Haters will always hate but if you just stay authentic, there’s nothing wrong with that.
I definitely respect you touching on those subjects because not everyone is, but I think it also depends on who is using their platform because people like Kanye are totally not using it the right way.
I’m a major Kanye fan, but also felt ashamed. I think I saw a post recently that said Kanye cried on camera and the whole world made it a meme. It’s really horrible how it happened but what’s great is that it’s encouraged us as people of color to start to seriously have this conversation about mental health because what he’s going through is very serious; being diagnosed with bipolar and going through a manic episode, depressive episodes. As a culture and globally as a community, we can start to have these conversations.
You spoke briefly about the events in Zimbabwe on July 31st, what do you think needs to change about the culture surrounding protesting in this country?
Africa was colonized. People came here and drew borders on a map and all of a sudden we hate our neighbors or fear our neighbors because we don’t know them. The truth is in Africa we don’t really know that much about our neighboring countries or our fellow African countries. We know Nigeria because, WOW the Nigerian people have done such an incredible job of putting themselves, their artists and music on the map. We don’t really know our fellow African countries and we make lots of jokes about them, which is actually really sad. I think personally, my wish for us in Africa is for there to be less boundaries and less fears and less borders. There shouldn’t be such a thing as, “I’m South African. I’m Zimbabwean and I’m Ethiopian, I’m from Morocco.” We’re all Africans and when you go to America, you feel even more because there is that longing for that ancestry and that connection to where home is, the motherland; where borders and boundaries are not the focus and it’s just Africa. An Africa that is united is far more needed than an Africa that fights one another.
How do you wish to see the future of Africa, and the future of Africa in the media?
When it comes to entertainment, the world tends to look to Hollywood. Globally, people have started giving African Talent the recognition they truly deserve. So, whether Drake is collaborating with Wizkid or now very recently, Beyonce with Black is King. So many collaborations with African talents. I think the whole world is finally waking up to the fact that this is not the dark Continent anymore where lions are running in the streets and we ride on elephants to school as some people erroneously believe. And we can’t blame them but their education system or their lack of curiosity to learn for themselves. But what’s really exciting now is that they are waking up and this is amazing because I feel like people have been stealing little bits from our culture here and there for a really long time and not giving us the credit that we deserve. But now, we are getting the awards, nominations at the BET, MTV Awards; Burna Boy is winning; these are incredible; Wizkid selling at the O2 Arena; things like these are great; the diaspora are claiming us, they’re buying the tickets, they’re buying the merch, they’re streaming the music and that’s really exciting.
How can other African female media personalities command more respect dollarwise, whilst the wage gap seems to still be insurmountable?
We just don’t talk about it. The truth is, we don’t talk like MC to MC, rapper to rapper, artist to artist. We don’t talk about how much we are making and that way brands, promoters, these big companies can get away with paying less because no one actually knows what others are being paid to get some bargaining chip to push higher. It’s so silly and it’s so funny and I know the comedians here in South Africa have a very open dialogue about how much they will accept. It’s a kind of Union for Comedians. We shy away from talking about money to avoid letting others know how much we are receiving. The interesting thing is that, that’s what can actually help us push our earning higher. Open dialogues and really great representation give us a leg up because then we are better informed to reject peanuts for your talent and for your work and that’s where I’m super lucky. I have incredible representation and a great manager. She won’t accept any ridiculous amount and she’s not afraid to ask for what is deserved because the male rappers aren’t afraid to ask for what they want.
How can the voice of Africa support your causes?
Sharing the content you’re creating, sharing the stories that you’re pushing out, that’s why I started my company. There are so few female owned production companies and being a young person of color, I just looked around the space and wondered why there aren’t any young females of color doing what I’m doing. So, I started doing that and I think sharing the narrative and the story that actually there are people doing that. So that a girl from a small town can also say, “Kim did it; I can do it too.” What Minnie is doing with her brand and her company we’ve never seen before; Rihanna is doing it, that’s amazing in America, but for us it’s not relatable. Because we need tangible evidence of these in Africa. The more we have female women of color that are doing incredible things and people are talking about it, the more the foundation will be created for up and coming ones. That’s how we’re able to inspire the Next Generation to know it’s possible because when Fenty skin dropped we all tweeted, “Oh my God ASAP Rocky, oh my god Lil Nas.” We must do the same for our own, like when Minnie is doing stuff for people, sharing it and talking about it is good. We need to do more, support more. That’s how media houses and The Voice of Africa can help; just celebrate us and when we’re doing cool things, share or retweet.
Do you have any advice for any youth following in your footsteps?
Find what makes you unique and different and own it. But that’s not the message we get from our parents or our teachers; what we get is to get a good job, get a stable income, do the traditional jobs and become an accountant, a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor, that’s what is going to make you money. I’m saying, identify what makes you unique and what makes you different; that little gift and that voice inside you; this is what gives joy, find it and nurture it and educate yourself with the right tools and the right knowledge the right experience in order to grow that because that’s what’s going to make you special. That’s what’s going to give you a life of meaning and that’s what’s going to ultimately contribute to your community and your country.
Thank you, Miss Jayde for joining us on our platform and talking about your life, career and business.