We don’t know how Malaika keeps her dynamic career going. From modeling, to emceeing, to acting…it sure seems like a handful. And that is why we wanted to hear about it! Though she broke into the industry through a family connection, Malaika proved that having a valuable network is useless if you do not know what you want and are not able to sell yourself.
“Building a career in media is not just about making the best of every opportunity that comes your way but also about going as far as creating your own opportunities,” she says. Through concentrating on the positives and shutting out the noise, Malaika has been able to build a solid brand as a media personality. Read on to find out how.
Name: Malaika Nnyanzi
Current Title/Company: Media personality. Editor. MC/Events Host. Voice-over Artist. Actress. TV Model
Education: Bsc International Business Administration (Marketing)
What was your first job out of university and how did you land that position?
I started a company, Strut it Africa Ltd (SIA) with a friend while at university and continued with that even after school. That was in Nairobi, Kenya. It was a top of the line Model Management Company that handpicked the best of the best. We groomed and created the modeling careers of some of the finest models Kenya has seen to date from Lois Hannigan Emo Rugene, Jo Kisila, S. Kaari, Hivita, Knicco Hodge, to Nick Mwaniki.
We grew this little idea into a Model Management, Fashion Show Production, and Photography company. The company booked shows in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Uganda. I later went on to co-found the Strut It Afrika (SIA) Fashion Week in 2013 with my business partner. It was the biggest Regional Fashion Show in East Africa.
What is the greatest lesson you took away from your first job?
I learnt that patience and perseverance are the bread and butter for success.
Can you give us an overview of your career path.
My first job was when I was 15 years old selling Nnyanzi Art pieces. When I finished high school, I applied for and landed a job at Globetek Entertainment as an assistant to the Executive Director. I left Uganda for University and while in school, I started modeling. Later my company Strut Afrika Ltd was founded. I moved back to Uganda and got into media. That has been my career path so far.
How can someone expect their career to evolve as a TV and MC personality?
Building a career in media is about making the best of every opportunity that comes you way and even going as far as creating your own opportunities. You also have to own your journey and career. It is hard but very crucial.
Why did you gravitate towards this industry?
While working with my company, Strut It Afrika, I was interviewed a lot. During the interviews, I realized that I always wanted to be the one asking the questions. I am very inquisitive by nature. So, while growing up, I always thought that I was going to be a detective or a lawyer.
Inquiring minds want to know: How did you break into the industry?
My modeling career kicked off when I left Uganda to co-found SIA. When my journey with SIA came to an end, I had to reinvent myself and follow a new path. I was always curious about being a TV presenter but I never thought I was good enough for it.
On my return to Uganda in 2014, I sent out my CV to numerous TV and Radio stations but I got no feedback. My break-through came through my father. I went to his office one day and lucky enough for me, he was being interviewed for a show on Urban TV by one of the best TV presenters in Uganda, Mosha. I talked to the producer of the show, Mr. Batee. When I told him of my aspirations, he was intrigued by me. He helped me set up a meeting with another producer, Shawn who later gave me a green light to the Station Manager, Michael Owor and Political Analyst, Angelo Izama.
I went through three weeks of training and orientation. On 1st June 2014, I started working on the current affairs morning show called Urban Today. On this show, I worked with big names in the industry like Sophie A. Adengo, Gaetano Kaggwa, Conan B, Jona B, and Desire Derekford Mugumisa. It was more than I could ever ask for. After a period of two months, I got my second show, The Urban Fashionista. That same year, I got into emceeing when I was selected as the host for The Coca Cola Rated Next Season 3. In 2016, I landed my third show, The Loop that I produced and co hosted with Kabs Haloha.
What level of education do you think is necessary for success in your field?
Honestly I would be lying if I said anything in that regard because I never studied what I am doing now. I am blessed with this gift. What I studied gives me an upper hand in terms of business but I have to work twice as hard as someone who has a background in Mass Communication or Journalism.
What personality traits and skills do you think are necessary for success in your field?
Being a great conversationalist will take you a long way in this field. You have to be confident and have an ever ready Smile. Professionalism and politeness are also invaluable.
Is there anything you think people would be surprised to know about your job as an MC and TV personality? (Is there more to your job than what meets the eye?)
My “uncle” daddy passed away and I received the news right before I went on air, I was in so much pain but I had to smile and do my job. The vigil was up to 2 am in the morning but I had to be up by 4:30 am to be in office ready to smile and work. I missed his funeral because I had already confirmed and been booked to be an MC for two events. I have never forgiven myself for that. You sacrifice a lot in this world. Your problems are yours. It’s none of your audience’s business if you are in pain. All they need is for you to be that personality they tuned in to see.
You are a fast rising MC and TV personality. Some one could say that you have a multi-faceted career. What opportunities has your job given you access to?
Thank you I am humbled. I have always wanted to get into acting and that is something I am excited to get into. I also want to inspire and change the lives of so many young Africans and this platform has helped me reach many people.
Tell us about a particular challenge you have faced in your career. How were you able to overcome it? What is the most challenging part of your job?
Being a young female in this industry is not easy. You are either objectified, or not taken seriously or undermined because of what you look like. I shut out the noise. I realized a long time ago that not everyone is a well-wisher. No matter how good you are, people will always find something to pick at. So I concentrate on the positives.
The connections. I have met so many inspiring people and people that have helped me grow as an individual. The VIP treatment is a big plus too.
What’s not so glamorous about your work?
The really early mornings and late nights and some nights that go by with no sleep at all. The rumors and false stories. It is a real struggle to balance work and personal life.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into the industry?
If you are not passionate about it, do not do it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell her that society has an idea of who she is supposed to be and that’s their problem. It’s none of her business. God’s plan for her life is all that matters.