Updated: Mar 11, 2019
In our lifetime, we dream and sometimes we fail. That is just the way life goes. The real question is, are you a true dreamer? A true dreamer will continue to dream long after failure and obstacles introduce themselves into your life. We got a chance to chat with a woman who embodies the spirit and determination of a dreamer.
Saidah Nairobi, performer and #artist, has emerged into the spotlight after never giving up on her dreams and overcoming rejection. Saidah is not her hair, she is not her clothes, and she is not who she’s worked with in the industry. She is a unique gem, and at 30 years old, as fierce and beautiful as the day she made 21, Saidah made this boss talk very inspiring!
On Her First Big Opportunity
It just started flowing. It really felt like my life went through domino effect. I auditioned in 2008 for a tour with Jamaica, she was a choreographer for Ciara and it was like life just started going. I went to an audition for Beyoncé the next year and life really started going. That literally was one of my last auditions as a professional dancer, from there it became direct booking. Working with Usher was direct booking. It’s about who knows you so you have to put yourself out there in a way that’s different. When I first came in there were more auditions than there are now. Nowadays it’s social media and word of mouth, so it’s more about relationships.
What Influences Her Style & Surroundings
Mary J. Blige was a big influence for me. I loved Mary back in the day and she’s probably the reason I love thigh high boots and some fly sunglasses. I’ve always loved the 90’s that’s why I’m really big on big hoops, bamboo earrings and stuff like that. I love hoops. I have a long neck for it so I take advantage of that. It’s so funny, I look at pictures from when I was a kid and the earrings just get bigger and bigger as I get older (laughs).
Her Take On Confidence
For the most part, the confidence was always there. I’ve always been secure, but my hair really broadened my whole life. That was the turning point. I cut my hair and I was never afraid to do that. The only thing I was hesitant to do with it was color it, and that ended up becoming my signature look. Growing up I always wore dark hair. Of course I love T. Boz with the blonde hair, Mary J. Blige has blonde hair but for whatever reason I was like I don’t know about blonde, that’s real different...but once it happened 7 years ago, it’s been my signature look and I love it. I praise it just for it becoming a part of my brand – just realizing that it’s not a look that everybody can pull off, but people are really inspired by it.
I went to an audition for Beyoncé the next year and life really started going. That literally was one of my last auditions as a professional dancer, from there it became direct booking.
On Her At-Home Connection: Atlanta or Queens
I was born in Queens, NY and I was raised in Atlanta, GA. I’m definitely more connected to Atlanta, but all my family was from New York and everybody lived there while I was growing up. I grew up in Atlanta with my mother, but my father still lived in #Brooklyn and my sister lived in Queens. Every summer I was in New York...every Christmas I was in New York. I was there all the time, but I’m definitely more connected to Atlanta by way of dancing, my spiritual walk, my culture, my style.
On Whether or Not There Are Real friends in the Industry
There’s absolutely real friends in the industry! The industry is a workplace, but at the end of the day we’re all still real people and we have real emotions, and things that we’re connected to. It’s an energy thing. But it just so happens that the same friends I’ve had since high school, they’re my best friends to this day. I love that because they’ve known me before I became known as Saidah the dancer with the short blonde hair. They knew me as Saidah with the ponytail and the one who would sing and dance in high school. They knew me stripped down – the very foundation of who I am. So I’ve definitely made great friendships with people that I’ve met in the industry, but no one beats my girls from back in high school. They’re my absolute, no judgment zone. I can be completely transparent with them, no question. They’re really connected to my energy.
On Being Overwhelmed & Coping with it all
It happens after a while being on the road, because your space isn’t really your own. You get to be in your own hotel room but your time is not really yours, it’s catered to the artist that you’re working with. I don’t get to control the call time. So a lot of times we’ll be in rehearsal from 10am to 4am then we have to turn around and come back 4 hours later to start another day. You have to show up and be present – people don’t care about your attitude, how you feel, that you’re tired, you’re here for a job. I’m a very grateful person, so I take it all for the experience and I’m thankful for it all. Even though some times it’s tiring and draining, I’m like I get paid to do what I love and that trumps anything! Yes, I’m tired, but I will get some sleep on this flight on my way home, and I’ll be able to sleep in my bed once I get there, so it’s all good!
On her favorite designers and whether or not she likes to follow trends
Designer wise, Alexander Wang came to mind first. Well, I love pieces that no one ever has. The funny thing is I have to get more clear on who African designers are specifically, because I really love African style and African designs. Just scrolling through my timeline and seeing pieces, there’s a lot of great fashion out there from African designers – I just don’t know their names off hand, but I really love that style. I really love pieces that are unique, that everybody doesn’t really have. I go for those.
On how she feels about all her new found notoriety
I’m still wrapping my head around it! The fan base I have really blows my mind because I did not expect that as a dancer. I always thought artists have fans, but I never connected dancers to have fans even though I’ve been a fan of dancers. It’s like the loyalty is crazy. I have people who have contacted me since I first started with Beyoncé in 2009, people that knew me as a dancer in 2008 with Ciara and they’re still rocking hard with me! Just loyal, and all over the world. I have fans in Brazil, Japan, London, Turkey, Africa...places I haven’t even been to! It’s really trippy, but dope because you realize how powerful the arts is. I’m really thankful and looking forward to giving my fan base more to be inspired by.
On advice for upcoming artists to push through rejection
You just have to be patient and trust that when it’s time, it’s time! Be ready when it is time!
Don’t take anything personal. A lot of elements go into deciding on people to be hired for a job that are not personal. It’s a lot of small elements that come into play. It may be hair, skin tone...just because they need a diverse look, or whatever it may be. It’s not usually about the talent because there’s a lot of talented people out there that get passed on. Just trust the timing, and allow time to meet up to your dreams. We kind of put pressure on ourselves that if you don’t do something by a certain time, then it’s never going to happen but that’s not the case. You just have to be patient and trust that when it’s time, it’s time! Be ready when it is time!
On what is upcoming for her in the near future
I’m excited to drop “We Are”, my first song that I’ve written and recorded. I have a book coming out also, it’s called “The Journey of a Dream”. It’s a dance memoir that shares my journey and my story. It shares the inside scoop of what it’s like to be on tour, and just how faith has been the driving force for my career. Those are two upcoming ventures that I’m really excited to share with my fans. My book is my voice and people will be able to hear my voice through music too, so it’s just exciting to share more of who I am. It’s all about time and opportunity.
Stay connected with Saidah Nairobi!