Watch this interview on The Voice of Africa TV
TVOA: Hello Welcome to the voice of Africa today. We have a very special guest with us, Tanasha Donna, Kenyan model, entrepreneur, recording artist, and influencer. Can you tell us about your childhood growing up?
Tanasha: Sure, I was born in North England and I moved to Kenya when I was about four and a half years old and studied there until the age of 12. Then I moved to Belgium with my parents and ended up studying there until about five years ago when I moved back to Kenya. So now I’m back home.
TVOA: Are there any role models/ mentors you had that you could
confide in in your process?
Tanasha: Most definitely, my mother and my grandmother taught me how to hustle as a woman. They taught me not to depend on anybody but myself and God and to keep pushing, never giving up, no matter what. My mother and my grandmother are very tough women, they’re alphas and I would say that they’re definitely my role models even to today.
TVOA: What do you find to be the most fulfilling aspect of your chosen career path?
Tanasha: I would have to say the amount of knowledge and wisdom that I’ve managed to gain so far. That would definitely be the peak of my career so far for me and just the experience. Experience is the best teacher and it gives even more knowledge as we move forward.
TVOA: Throughout your professional and educational careers, in what ways have you found that you have had to prove yourself or defy people’s assumptions/expectations because of your gender and or racial identity?
Tanasha: It’s the moment I became a mother because now I have a responsibility. I have a whole other human being who I have to take care of so it’s not only about me anymore. Before, It was just about me. I could be selfish but the minute you become a parent it changes, that’s why they say respect your mothers. I felt like I had to prove myself as a mother not only to my son but to my supporters and to everyone out there who’s watching me and who’s behind me and obviously people have these very high expectations of you as a musician, as a mother, people will always expect the best from you. Thus, I live up to other people’s expectations—sometimes it’s not easy. I, however, feel like when you’re in the Limelight you don’t really have to but for some reason, you still have to. I don’t know if I’m making sense, you are kind of in between; at one end you sort of live up to your supporters expectations yet, not fully because you’d otherwise be living your life for them and not for you.
TVOA: Well one thing you never want to do is become like an extension of someone else’s own ideas. Why have you chosen to dip your toes in numerous business ventures, such as acting, modeling, presenting, and music?
Tanasha: I was in commercial modeling, then I ventured into radio presenting and journalism, which I love very much. Funny thing is, all of the things that I was doing from modelling to acting to radio presenting, are all part of things that I really love and enjoy doing. However, they weren’t the it thing for me, you know how you do something but you’re like damn is this really what I’m meant to do? For me it was always music. So now my focus is just music. I quit presenting about a year and a half ago, but I had a really great time and gained a whole lot of knowledge and the same for when I was modeling. They translate now into how I creative direct all of my projects and all of my music videos. So I believe this entire journey just merged perfectly to what I’m doing right now.
TVOA: Do you have an end goal in mind, choosing these career paths?
Tanasha: For sure. I’m very passionate about music. I look at music as a business and I believe that if you enter or branch into the music industry, you should look at it as a business. All the celebrities who are recognized in the music industry globally look at music as a business. So for me, I see myself doing music for the next 10 years or so and then after probably still be in the music industry, but more from behind the scenes. Then I could venture more into other businesses. Plans are underway to launch my cosmetics line next year. Inshallah, towards the end of next year, I want to launch a denim line as well. So for me, I feel like if I was to do music for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t really enjoy it fully. I’d be working just to go on tours and constantly be busy and I want to retire in my mid thirties, maybe if possible and Inshallah, why not? So yeah, my main goal is to end up becoming a businesswoman and the family woman. Every woman has the dream of getting married one day so I see myself in the music industry for another 10 good years or so and then after that I’m going to be doing more other businesses behind the scenes.
TVOA: How have you utilized your time in this pandemic to better build your career and what innovative ways have you adopted to be able to still grow your career?
Tanasha: Well, I would say through digital platforms because that’s the only thing that’s moving at the moment. Alhamdulillah, I’ve managed to get endorsements and am still shooting music videos and releasing them to make money off digital platforms.
TVOA: Why was it important to you to bring talents back to Kenya to participate in Miss World Kenya after starting your beginnings in the fashion industry during your time in Belgium?
Tanasha: Well, I was actually meant to participate in Miss World Kenya, that was a main goal coming back to Kenya. The funny story is I was meant to go back home. However, something happened, I ended up not participating, I ended up not doing the actual pageant because I found myself venturing into other deals that also revolved around commercial modeling and so I took those deals instead of going to Miss Kenya. However, I did get to see a lot of things happen behind the scenes.
TVOA: Can you talk about why you created “For Her Luxury Hair” and the significance it holds to you personally?
Tanasha: Oh my goodness. That’s such a funny story. That was a rushed business idea. I noticed back then human hair wasn’t really a thing in Kenya. It was popping but not as much, right now all the ladies rock human hair, but about five years ago, it was happening but not as much so I felt like it was the perfect time to get into that business because I knew a lot of business women who are making really good money from it. So I figured why don’t I do this. So I rushed and invested $5,000 into this business and started and ended up realizing that I’m not really passionate about hair, I’m more passionate about makeup and cosmetics. I know lots of things about almost everything regarding makeup or cosmetics and skincare as opposed to hair. So I rushed into that business. However, it did manage to sell, people did buy hair and I ended up keeping most of the hair for myself. I made some of the extensions into wigs, so I just have a whole bunch of hair, like today if I want to switch up my hairstyle today I can because I have a full stock.
TVOA: What or who inspired you to launch into a music career and launching your first album?
Tanasha: I would say my mom and my dad because growing up we used to listen to a lot of Music at home. It was like part of our routine every weekend, my dad would blast music in the house. Come wake me up in my room, open the curtains and I’ll be like, why are you doing this? And he goes like, yeah, it’s the weekend, It’s family time and all I’m thinking about is, can I get some sleep? I wake up every morning at six and this is in Kenya, I have to be at school by eight and you’re doing this to me on the weekends and he would be like no it’s family weekend and we have to do stuff together. Music was always a part of the stuff that we did together whether we traveled, whether we stayed at home, whatever we did music was always a part of it. My dad was obsessed with J.Lo, Britney Spears and Beyonce, he had all their CDs back then and he had lots of their live performances so I loved watching the live performances. I used to think I’m JLo, I was like, this is me, and yes, I’m going to own it. So yeah, my family, my home, my upbringing is what inspired me to become a musician today.
TVOA: What is your creative process like? Are you involved in any of the visuals you have in your music videos?
Tanasha: I am involved in almost every single creative process of my work. I’m one hundred percent behind it. I creative direct the brand, I creative direct my music videos, I creative direct if I’m to launch a product, I have to be behind the entire creative process of it. I’m a creative. I’m born a practical person. If I was to define myself I would define myself as a creative.
TVOA: What do you wish to do with your future in the music industry, and what are your hopes for solo projects?
Tanasha: I want to put East African music out there more than it already is because we are already very familiar with afrobeat, the UK sound, the French sound, American sound. However, it’s time for Eastern and central Africa to get the recognition we deserve and Swahili is the most spoken language in Africa before English, French, Portuguese, It’s Swahili. So I feel like The Lion King was inspired by East Africa on its own, so there’s so much that we have to offer and we’re finally approaching our peak in terms of recognition on a global scale because now we’re finally starting to penetrate even more, people are becoming more interested in the East African sound. So I believe we’re at a good place.
TVOA: How do you intend to use your vocally independent identity to help reshape gender roles for future generations of young women?
Tanasha: I intend on using it to empower women to believe in themselves and realize that they can do it on their own as well. We live in a female era. Jay-Z appointed the CEO of Roc Nation as a female, there’re lots of women behind those desks making decisions. I want to Empower women. You don’t need to depend on another human being or a man, nothing against The Boy Child, I am Pro Boy Child. I am not an extremist feminist. However, we’ve approached that time where women deserve to shine and women are starting to shine, and just recently in Saudi Arabia they allowed women to start driving. This wasn’t a thing a good four or five years ago, this was just the other day. It’s my goal to empower women and for us to come together and build each other up. Women are naturally very competitive, so we need to realize that when we come together, we are more powerful. This is my main goal.
TVOA: How do you wish to see the future of Africa?
Tanasha: I see Africa hopefully becoming a union. It’s a dream I’ve had for Africa to become a union the same way The United States is one, the same way Europe is one, that’s my main dream for Africa—to become united, one currency, one leader. I don’t know how long it will take for that to happen because there are lots things going on out here. Yeah, but, InshAllah, everything shall happen at its time.
TVOA: How can African female celebrities such as yourself command more respect both fiscally and professionally?
Tanasha: By being professional, that’s the way a woman can command her respect especially in Africa. It’s by being professional that is what will help women gain their respect in this industry.
TVOA: Do you have any advice for any youth following in your footsteps?
Tanasha: Never give up on your dreams and figure out your purpose. Sometimes we get lost in the sauce. We’re not sure where we really belong, figure out what your heart really wants to do. When you find your purpose is when your soul is at peace. There are people who have money but they don’t have peace of mind. And peace is priceless, peace is more valuable than any amount of money or any price tag. So that’s how you figure out that you’ve found your purpose. When you have peace in your soul and your heart. So never give up until you fulfill your goals and note down your goals. Note down your one year goal, your five-year plan, your 10-year plan, put your goals together and manifest your life, remind yourself of making sure that whatever you do, you do it to the best that you possibly can and take your time, never rush the art. Put God first before everything, work hard, but pray even harder.
TVOA: How can The Voice of Africa support your causes?
Tanasha: By what you’re doing right now, informing people, giving them a bit more knowledge and I think you guys are on the right path. What you are doing is the perfect way to support us artists. Thank you. Thank you.Thank you.