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Interview with Thembisa Mshaka (formerly of Sony Music)



Today, you will hear about lovely Thembisa Mshaka.  She has been in the entertainment business for over 20 years.  She is an author and definitely a game changer.  As Senior Copywriter for Sony Music, Thembisa  contributed to the sale of more than 150 million albums for artists including Lauryn Hill, Will Smith, Beyonce, Wyclef Jean, NaS, Maxwell, George Michael, Wu-Tang Clan, Bow Wow, Jill Scott and Babyface.  When she says she knows about the business she knows.

·        What do you want my readers to know about you the woman behind the business?
      That I love to educate, inspire others, foster sisterhood, uplift women, and live for God, my family, travel, music and film!

·        What is your business?
       I am a creative writer/producer and voiceover actor. My company is called SEEIT Live. How can we find it? On my sites: Book: www.putyourdreamsfirst.com and blog: www.thembisamshaka.com Creative Reel: www.youtube.com/thembisamshaka

·        What inspired you to start your business?
       The desire to write for a living was the spark. How did you get started? Ironically, writing commentaries and reviews on Bay Area entertainment happenings for FREE. After a few clips generated buzz on me, the money-making opportunities came. Eventually I was appointed Rap Editor at GAVIN. That was in 1993.

·        What was the most difficult part of starting and now running your business?
       The backend organization, contracts, and securing my intellectual property rights. For me, being creative is easy. But even I have to be extra mindful of the business part; part of why I wrote my book, Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business.

·        What does a typical workday look like for you?
       It varies widely. That’s what I love about it. Writing is always a part of each day, but I could also be voicing a commercial, in production on a shoot as writer or talent director, or studying in my film school producing program, which is taking up lots of time for me right now.

·        What do you count as your reigning achievement in business thus far?
       I’d have to say publishing my book. It was a seven-year endeavor including over 90 interviews of the industry’s busiest and most dynamic women—no easy feat. In addition, my mother passed away from cancer right as I was completing it, so it almost didn’t get done. I knew she would want it to come out, so I persevered and dedicated it to her. I have to thank my husband Tmor (www.twitter.com/tmizy) and agent Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency (www.serendipitylit.com)  for being there to support me in that effort.

·        Where do you see yourself in business in 5 years?
        Producing web series, TV series and films!

·        Who are the people that inspire you or you look up to?
       I am a political person; if entertainment had not come into my life as a college intern I would have gone into that field. So I deeply admire Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who even though I am now in New York, will always be my first district Rep. because I am from Los Angeles. I also love fellow Mills Alumna Barbara Lee, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus on Capitol Hill. And my two career mentors: Author and mental health advocate Terrie Williams and film producer Lisa Cortes. They keep me focused and never sugar coat anything, all while reminding me of why and how I can manifest my vision. I also roll deep with a crew of peer mentors: Nicole Moore, Tyesh Harris, Elizabeth Mendes-Berry, Monique Martin, Quincy Jackson, and my friends who are not in the business at all. You need them the most because they “knew you when” and are never star struck: my best friend of 40 years, Dr. Maliika Chambers, Kym Miller, and Evette Brandon.

·        What is the best piece of advice you would give my readers?
       To do as my book title says and put your dreams first when it comes to your career. We all should be passionate about our work; that only comes from speaking, sharing, and working toward the fulfillment of your dreams. Too often we help others achieve their goals and settle for less ourselves. I wrote my book to show people that they do not have to settle in work or in life.


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