Miss Vimbai – After Big Brother
Big Brother season is all anybody can talk about. Another batch of stars will soon be unleashed onto the showbiz scene. The star-making power of Africa’s biggest reality show is undeniable and shows no sign of slowing down. But what is the price of fame? Big Brother breakthrough star Vimbai Mutinhiri breaks down the highs and lows of the Big Brother experience.
The Zimbabwean ebony beauty who has been in the spotlight ever since she made her debut on the huge reality platform which propelled her career in the way she had envisioned for herself. This media girl, popularly known by her brand name Miss Vimbai went on to host and become the executive producer for entertainment and lifestyle show Star Gist on Africa Magic right after her departure from the Big Brother House, her career only skyrocketed from that moment onwards as she hosted the Africa Magic Viewer Choice Awards alongside with IK Osakioduwa in 2013 and has gone on to becoming a major influencer and personality in the media and entertainment industry.
Miss Vimbai who shuttles between South Africa and Nigeria is a strong contender in the media industry. She currently boasts of her production company Mambo Media which has done work for big brands such as BET Africa and Heineken. In this interview with the GL team, she talks about the opportunities of the Big Brother platform, her undying love for Nigeria, her love life as well as her career and opinions on societal issues facing the African continent.
How was your Big Brother Africa experience?
You know I still can’t believe I did it. It was a fun and learning experience. I learnt a lot about myself and I grew a lot as a person. I think I came out of my shell, I was a lot more shy and introverted when I went in than when I came out and that was that experience but I wouldn’t relive it.
How did BBA Amplified propel your career?
I know that BBA was the foundation of my career. It was a very direct relation, I was in the house, I came out and then one of the guys who was in charge of the show for M-Net was also responsible for Star Gist and when I auditioned, they thought I had something and that is how I started my career. I don’t know if things would have turned out the same way for me without the BBA platform. It is a powerful platform.
Big Brother Nigeria just started, what is your advice to contestants in the house?
The advice I’d give to them is to focus on the money but also focus on the bigger picture. From watching it, it seems like a lot of them are thinking of the bigger picture which is what happens to you after you live the house. So, there is a 1 in 20 percent chance that you will win the money but if you don’t win, do not let those two or three months of your life be wasted. For me, I didn’t win but I was able to market myself enough for doors to open when I left the house. So, just make a name for yourself while you’re in there so you can build on it when you leave there.
In hindsight, what would you have done different?
In hindsight, I would still have gone into the house, I don’t think I would have done anything differently to be honest with you, maybe I would have done more research on how to play the game. The game is won in the diary room because that is where you get to tell people what you are up to, what your play is, why you are doing the things you’re doing. Maybe that is what I would have done differently but everything else I think I needed to do to just become who I am now.
“Nigeria has the biggest entertainment industry in Africa”
My soul is Nigerian! I have a Zimbabwean passport and a Nigerian soul. Nigeria has the biggest entertainment industry in Africa and for me to achieve the things that I wanted to achieve, I needed to be in the biggest market. I didn’t want to be a big fish in a small pond. I wanted to know that I went to the biggest market and I was able to make it and grow to the rest of Africa from there. Also, sometimes God just has a plan, besides my wanting to be here, there was also a bigger plan for me to be here.
You have a lot of commitments in Nigeria, how has it been dealing with the culture here?
It is so different. The other day, my friend was telling me to do a reality show about being a young, foreign, single girl in Nigeria. Every place you go to has its own culture and it is always difficult to try to learn and understand it. I think the most difficult thing in Nigeria is dating. Every other thing is quite easy to get used to but dating is a different ball game.
Have you had issues of xenophobia in Nigeria?
No! Nigeria is the most open-minded and most open-hearted place I’ve been to. People here just embrace you. I guess it is because many Nigerians travel and live overseas so it’s not a big deal. A lot of people don’t think I’m Zimbabwean, they just think I am Nigerian who was living outside and just moved back home. I think that is my favourite thing about Nigeria, how cosmopolitan it is and how we just embrace people from everywhere.
Would you say you have become fully Nigerian?
I am fully immersed in the Nigerian culture. I just need to go to more weddings [laughs], that is my new year resolution for 2017. I didn’t go to enough weddings last year.
“It’s been five months since my sister died”
In a recent interview, you stated you have a spouse. Tell us about your love life and expectations in that aspect of your life?
There is a man but I am not one of those putting my man on social media types. The funny thing is if you look closely you might see some clues but they are well hidden. It is not a big deal, I just feel when I am ready to I will but for now I don’t want the focus to be on that. I want it to grow a little bit more because he is also not a public person and I don’t want him to feel like he is being put in the media.
You are no stranger to loss; how has it affected you?
It has been five months since my sister died, it’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through in my life, there has never been anything so painful or traumatic but I am grateful because it weeded out a lot of people who you think love you and care about you. It is only in your down time that you realise that this person may get fed up with your pain or with being patient with you. I am grateful that one loss just removed all the other people that didn’t need to be in my life. Other than that, I think I am a stronger person, I think I appreciate life a lot more. I just read Shonda Rhimes book The Year of Yes so I’m saying yes to a lot more stuff, to every opportunity, anything you ask me that is going to add value to my life or anything that scares me, I’m going to say yes to it this year. It’s a year of yes.
How has your career been thus far? Any plans for the new year?
The career is always on fleek! [laughs] I wish my relationships could be like my career, because my career is always under control. I am turning 30 in February, so this is a year of 30 for me. We have got so many things planned that we are launching in February, from just self-love content to inspiring stories to share with people, the milestones, where I’m coming from as well so people will get to know and understand me a little bit better. I want to celebrate with other people out there. So, this year, there is a whole lot of focus on celebrating my year of 30.
What is the unique factor that has distinguished you so far in the media industry?
The greatest distinguishing factor with Miss Vimbai and with my business as well is that when you engage with us you are getting global quality and standard. It is not a Nigerian, Zimbabwean or South African production. When you get Vimbai to host, know that you are getting an international standard host, she is going to look the part, speak the part and she is going to hold it down, same thing with the business. I remember when we did work for Heineken, they sent it to their headquarters in Amsterdam and they wanted to use it globally because it was acceptable, quality and content wise. The differentiating factor is #PANAFRICANGANG! [laughs]
You read Politics, Philosophy and Economics in the University of Cape Town, how did you become a media girl?
I think you can’t run away from your passion, I did the degree because my parents wanted me to and I am grateful for it. I have a solid foundation, I have got some good skills that I use now but you won’t catch me in politics or philosophy, that’s for sure!
Work ethics you live by?
Work-wise I swear by always looking for the next big thing. I never look around me or what people are doing in my environment. I try to close my eyes and ears, I am really lucky that I get to travel a lot and in my travels, I get to see things differently. Whether I am hosting or producing something, I always want to make sure that it’s not the same old thing that anybody else has delivered.
Who are the members of your power squad?
We’ve got the #PANAFRICANGANG, a bunch of successful young ladies across the continent who are just doing really big things. Unfortunately, we are not always at the same place at the same time or even in the same country. People in my gang are ladies like Stephanie Busari – a producer at CNN and Pokello Nare from Big Brother.
Where do you see your brand and business five years from now?
My long-term goal remains the same as five years ago, which is to reshape the African narrative to the rest of the world and that is why I am in media because I am in a powerful position to tell these stories. The long-term goal is to continue telling a positive narrative about this continent within the continent and to the rest of the world. It is about creating a discourse, yes there are negative discourses happening on the continent but it is also time for us to take control of a positive discourse of some of the things happening and jut tell the world that we are not a dark continent, we actually have a lot to offer; just like Lupita was able to bring some positive limelight to Uganda through her movie Queen of Katwe.
What has been your experience as an African woman globally? What are her limitations? What is it like being the African woman?
I wish we would just stop being so apologetic, it is one thing I have noticed across the continent. It is like we almost feel sorry for having careers and leaving kids at home or sometimes earning more than our husbands, we feel bad about it. If that is the one thing I can influence I just wish we can own it and stop feeling guilty for our success.
Being a woman with vast travel experience – what is your opinion of the issue of feminism and misogyny?
Every family is different and finds the dynamics that works for them. We women are our own enemies, but you don’t know how balance works in a household. I grew up with a hardworking mother and it taught me and my siblings how to be hardworking. For me there is no better lesson for your kids and family that nothing in life comes easy, everything comes through hard work. You lead by examples and it is a different type of example, if you choose to be a housewife, you are leading in a different way. I just feel we should stop being hard on one another because there is no one rule fits all for life, there isn’t a single recipe, there are a lot of ways to achieve things. Misogyny is heartbreaking and sometimes we women are the ones that judge ourselves, we are being hard on each other and failing to recognise our unique journey.