This week, our Young, Gifted and African Series story is on Shiro Mugo. A 23 year old fire cracker from Embu, Kenya!
If you are not familiar with my Young, Gifted and African Series, check out my first post and introduction HERE!
Shiro and I met in 2010 -in High School- and have been friends ever since.
She has always been artistic and very expressive, -having directed a High School play before she even turned 18.
Talking to Shiro about what she loves about 254, she told me loves how innovative and creative Kenyans are. There’s also warmth in Kenya which she says she can’t put in words -not just warmth as in the weather (which is amazing btw), but it’s something to do with the people. She says she would best describe it as radiant.
“I also love our sense of humor, -even during the most trying moments. Kenya is also quite scenic; -literally everywhere you go feels like it’s been painted; -our country is art!”
Hearing her talk about Kenya like this, made me miss living there all over again.
I asked Shiro to describe herself in just three words, and the answer I got was “I don’t know whether that’s possible. I’ll have to say indecisive, soulful, adventurous and goofy. That’s 4, damn it! I guess “breaker of rules”?” Yea, that’s Shiro, such a rebel LOL.
About 5 months ago, Shiro created a YouTube channel, -I asked her to tell me more about that. “I have always been passionate about creative and performing arts, be it poetry, books, music, film or fine art. I love seeing how people use their craft to entertain, educate or even just as a means of therapy. I feel like my life wouldn’t really have meaning if I wasn’t a part of the creative world. It’s what keeps me going. It’s what makes me who I am. With my YouTube channel that’s what I aim to showcase.”
She went on to say that for as long as she can remember, she’s always had this passion… to be creative, producing and appreciating various forms of art. She told me that her dad always brags about how she could read when she was about 2 years old, and so he knew that her life would have something to do with the literary world. While on the other hand, her mum could always tell that Shiro was going to be an entertainer of some sort. This is because she would always be up for entertaining guests by singing and rapping along to all sorts of songs and always acting or putting up some sort of performance. “I was also very chatty and inquisitive. I had my first acting role in kindergarten and I think from there I knew I wanted to be a part of this world.”
What drove her to pursue this? “God, Passion and Desire. I say God because I believe he’s the reason that I exist and he put my wants, needs and desires in my heart and so it’s my duty on earth to achieve these things and I can only do it through God, hard work and determination.” Shiro mentioned that she doesn’t think that anyone can really commit to pursuing something unless they are passionate about it. Also, having support from the right people has definitely given her that extra drive.
Shiro expressed that her family and best friends are her biggest supporters. “I genuinely don’t know who, what and where I would be without them. They are the realest ryyyddaass.”
Don’t know who a “rider” is? Or as Shiro put it “ryyyddaaa” – someone who motivates you, supports you, and essentially sticks with you through thick and thin.
When asked about who she looks up to, she said that would have to be her mother! “She is everything I want to be. She’s not only beautiful inside and outside but she has such a pure soul. She is such a hard worker, a dedicated mother and the best support system. I also really look up to Oprah Winfrey and Mo Abudu because I want to build global empires just like them and influence and inspire. They are such bosses. #BlackGirlMagic”
Shiro’s answer to my next question proves why she and I are meant to be friends! I asked, who she would love to meet dead or alive, and why. She said – “Rihanna, because she is the baddest to ever do it, and I love people who are unapologetically themselves.”
PAUSE. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Rihanna, her boldness, her diverse talent, her aura, her passion to give back and as Shiro herself put it she is unapologetically herself.
Shiro would also love to meet Tupac. She explained that this is because, (I decided to directly quote her on this, so ya’ll can see how much she loves him) “I truly believe he is the love of my life and we would have made beautiful poetry and babies together.”
HA! If only eh?
Showing her love for poetry, and plays, she also says that she would love to meet Shakespeare, “have you read his work? He is lit!” and Maya Angelou “because she was one woke sista!”
Back to Shiro -and her Youtube channel, her journey so far- I also wanted to know what obstacles she has faced. She said lack of support. “The lack of support from people who you know have links to bigger possibilities as well as people you thought would support you. It really dampens my drive but I constantly have to remind myself that I can do it on my own, just stay committed and put in that extra work. People not taking what I do seriously. There’s still this unfortunate stigmatization about creative people. People think it’s just a hobby that you’ll soon get bored of.”
I can totally relate to this. At an event recently, I was asked what I did and I explained that I was previously in a marketing role, but I now blog, and I am enjoying showcasing Sierra Leone and all she has to offer. The look I got said it all. Later on that day, I met another fellow creative soul, and -we got to talking about the event and how it went. I told him about the response I had received when I mentioned that I blog and he wasn’t at all surprised, because he has faced the same while doing his photography- and creating designs.
There is still the belief, particularly in Africa, that if you opt to go down the creative route (fashion design, singing, photography, make up, blogging and even producing content under a YouTube channel) that it’s a hobby -and it’s not serious work. Most of these start out without monetary gain, and it’s hard for people to grasp the concept that you love what you do, and that comes before making money.
Moving on, we also got the chance to talk about the most memorable thing to happen to Shiro on her YouTube journey so far. She told me that meeting strangers who know her through her channel would be one major thing. “It’s really crazy because sometimes I don’t think people outside of my family know my channel exists. It’s so inspiring and encouraging to hear people say such positive things. Social media has so much power. Also, other “creatives” wanting to collaborate (just like this), it’s so heart-warming and makes me want to go even harder.”
Her most embarrassing moment? “Yo. There’s toooo many. I’m one of those people that things that don’t normally happen to other people happen to. (I hope that makes sense) The moment that stands out as the most embarrassing would have to be my cousins wedding. I was one of the flower girls and we had to walk over a bridge and it had just been polished. The way my face hit the ground, yeah? Probably the most-talked-about wedding moment to date.”
Ha! Trust Shiro to steal the moment from the bride, in a way only she can do.
Where does she see her brand in the next 3-5 years? Well, Shiro wants her brand to be one that is “on everybody and their mama’s lips.” In addition, she is also starting to take photography and poetry more seriously. She believes that this will lead her to where she ultimately needs to be.
“I want to be well known for all the right reasons. I want to be a reference point for young black girls. I want my work to touch people’s lives. By the grace of God, I want to be a global empire. I want my brand to be a source of income and something that makes me happy to wake up each morning.”
She also plans to further her studies by obtaining a Masters in either Media and Public Relations or Film and TV production. She believes that there’s still so much that she has to learn, noting further that -as an English Literature and Film Studies graduate, she thinks that furthering her education will make her a cut above the rest. She wants a clear and in-depth understanding of her field; plus, she said she also likes challenging herself and is well aware that getting a Masters degree is going to take a lot of hard work and determination. However, she wants to be a professional and taken seriously.
Her parting words saw her give advice to someone starting off in a similar field –“DO NOT let anybody tell you, you can’t. If I listened to all the nay-sayers then I wouldn’t be where I am today. Surround yourself with the right energy and vibes, people who genuinely want to see you win. There’s so much power in vibes. Don’t limit yourself and always practice your craft. Always remember nothing good comes easy. Stay grounded and believe in yourself. Do not seek validation from social media and ignore the haters at all times… it will just dampen your light and you deserve to glow!”
Check out Shiro’s YouTube Channel here! She talks about –music (yes that includes Rihanna’s new releases, d’uh), relationships and friendships, hot topics, and so much more (lots of laughs guaranteed)
Follow her on her other social media pages too!