OUTSTANDING MEDIA PERSONALITY FROM MALAWI
Confidence is key if you are going to make a statement in the world of entertainment, especially here in Malawi. Placing yourself at the center stage of our fast-paced, ever-changing world of social media and technology, you might need to become more outspoken, outgoing, opinionated and a little stubborn to leave your mark in the industry. Walking into a room, head held high, oozing confidence and dressed to kill are just some of the qualities media personalities ought to have.
25- year-old Priscilla Kayira-Weja is a vivacious TV presenter and journalist with a Communication in Electronic Media degree from Daystar University of Nairobi, Kenya. She hosts two shows on Zodiak, a Malawian radio and TV station, throughout the week and over the weekends. She cohosts a live program, Social Hub, which airs from Monday to Friday in the afternoon and another show, Zodiak Fresh Entertainment Lockdown which airs Fridays, Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Her shows capture the essence of a young Malawian populace that loveS the urban scene of social media, music and entertainment. Playing a range of Malawian music from gospel to urban music, Social Hub focuses on giving a platform to local artists and individuals doing the extraordinary in their communities. Fresh Entertainment Lockdown celebrates local artists by giving them a platform to socialize and share their music with different audiences. Winning the UMP Award for Best Media Personality at Lake of Stars in Priscilla’s first year into the media industry just last year was a defining moment which called for celebration and added to her drive to keep pushing herself to cover more festivals, create more highlights and host events as well as shows. Here is where it started.
Priscilla was well on her way to becoming a part of the tech industry when she first enrolled to Daystar University’s Management Information System program. A year into her course, she wasn’t too pleased with her academic performance and her mother gave her an ultimatum: to change programs or return home to Malawi. At this point, after consulting with some of her lecturers on what would be the best step forward, she decided to switch to the Communication in Electronic Media program at their recommendation. Her outgoing nature and love for socializing made the new course a perfect fit for Priscilla who found herself propelled onto a career path she instantly fell in love with. Her grades immediately improved in her first semester on the new course and attending classes was not mundane anymore instead it became an experience she looked forward to.
We often hear the terms “believe in yourself” and “be yourself, everyone is taken” but how many people put themselves to task in making these words real? Admittedly, the process of sifting through negative self-talk and believing in your ability to bring something authentic to the table is uncomfortable but the rewards are unprecedented personal growth and confidence. Priscilla’s journey into the entertainment industry brought her to a point of reflection.
“At some point I wanted to be like every other TV presenter at the expense of not being myself,” she says. She decided that if she was to make a difference and become a sought-after media personality and host, she needed to do things her own way. Focusing on her unique qualities, she is broadening her media horizon to include the international scene by constantly working on the way she presents herself visually and content wise.
“I definitely see myself as amongst the people who are transforming the Malawian entertainment industry in the way that it is perceived and valued by individuals and organizations,” Priscilla adds. The power and influence of media in our current age is beyond metric measurements. The entertainment world influences and shapes cultural attitudes all around us and as such individuals work tirelessly to create and share content. It also creates jobs that enable people to make a living and feed their families, even more reason why there is to need value it is as important as every other industry that contributes to the overall Malawian economy.
For us to produce world-class Malawian entertainers, there is need to create and strengthen infrastructures and policies that create an environment where creatives are properly compensated for their creativity and hard work. Priscilla also believes that those working in the entertainment industry need to value themselves more to the point of not accepting little pay and “exposure” for the work they put in. She sees the lack of support and respect of one another’s hustle reflected in the way most of us are unwilling to pay the full price for goods and services offered by fellow Malawians. Despite Malawi being a small country where money moves slowly and the economic environment is extremely tough on those that don’t have connections and access to resources, there is still need to collaborate in promoting one another so that the success of one opens doors to the success of many.
Her mother has been her biggest support system on her journey of self-discovery in the media industry. She has stood behind Priscilla’s vision of herself and supported her in creating a wardrobe that complements her industry’s requirement to look good as a part of what you do. Being a TV presenter is not one of the best paying jobs yet she says, however, you still have to make an effort to look the part because your reach now extends to global audiences thanks to new technology and social media.
The pool is big enough for everyone, but you still have to work twice as hard and smarter than the next person she comments. Those interested in becoming a media personality have to teach themselves patience, something she is still learning to do, as you have to pay attention to people who can guide you to making better choices and to the ever-changing environment. Practice makes perfect is more than a saying. She has seen herself growing in how she presents and interviews people. She’s gone from being nervous when she first started, to knowing how to calm herself down and get on with the task at hand. The competitive nature of the industry demands that you stay ahead by constantly upping your game and staying on your toes if you are to have longevity in it. She plans on retiring early from the industry to freelance and pursue other avenues of media that will showcase her creativity on her media journey. Afterall, she feels she is yet to put to good use the radio and TV production, editing and film directing skills that she learnt from her university degree.