Your heritage traces back to Rwanda, a country well documented for the genocide that took place there, how close to you personally do these issues resonate?
The genocide in Rwanda (1994) is definitely something that is still very close to me and is a part of me in many ways. My family and I were in Rwanda during that time, and fled to seek refuge along with other Rwandans. Witnessing, first hand, the violence, the killings, and how inhumane people can be, and also coming from a well off and comfortable lifestyle and, in an instant, finding myself living in a refugee camp for months, outside or in tents in Zaire, and eventually in poverty that seemed never ending in Kenya and Tanzania, is without a doubt something that has helped shape the person I am today. An experience like that is definitely bound to take a toll on someone. However, I believe it is how you rise above tragedies in life, no matter how big or small, that really matters; how you choose to let it affect the rest of your life, positively or negatively. And in my case, being that I have faced the brutality of death, I have become relentless and hungry for so much more in life, and am motivated to do the most that I can and be the best that I can be.
Tell us about how your career in the entertainment industry began and what led to your change in direction?
I started performing, Rwandese traditional dance, in Kenya at the age of six, along with my older sister. It was another way to help our family get by in Kenya, for we would get compensated in food (rice, beans, flour, etc) to take home to our families. We would perform for ‘rich’ and ‘important’ people, in competitions, concerts, etc. After a while, being one of the youngest dancers, I was featured on the front page of a popular magazine in Kenya. I loved entertainment from a young age, and moving to Ohio in 1999, I automatically fell into Hip Hop Dance, which led to attending showcases and performing, and eventually training for on camera performance at 16. I fell in love with Broadcasting. As a sophomore, I decided to move to NYC right after graduating high school to pursue my dreams. I did just that, with $28 and two suitcases. Falling into doing music videos, accidentally, almost, I realize that it really wasn’t for me, and I was going in a direction that I really had no passion for. I did not want to be known for my looks. So I focused more on broadcasting again, attaining my radio show, hosting live events, interviews, etc. Jim Jones and the Byrdgang and 730 Dips family really helped me a great deal when I needed it the most during that time.
You are now the host of your own radio show, how did this come together and tell us more about the show…
I remember my father sent me a text message asking me what I was doing here, (in NY), and I automatically responded, “I’m going to get a Radio Show.” I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not I was ready, or if I would be accepted by people as a host, but at that moment, after the text message, I decided to go for it. I had visited the DTF Radio Station before and loved the people and the energy, and could see myself there. With the help of many of my supporters and friends who actually campaigned for me to land a slot on DTF Radio in the next three days, and in that time, developing what i wanted my show to be about, I finally had meeting at the station and was granted a show! The Josi Marie Show is a fun filled open forum talk show that discusses hot topics and issues that we face on a daily basis. I also feature Models and Artists on the show for exclusive interviews. The show is diverse and fresh from week to week and has something for everyone. I am very excited about the growth of the show and am working with some very creative young people on the show who make it even more unique!
Recently you organized the Ball With Vixens charity basketball game, tell us how it all came together and what your goals were?
Like a lot of my ideas, I came up with the idea while in bed! Being that I had access to music video and urban models, i had always wanted to brin them together and do something fun! I wanted to promote unity in young women, and doing so and also helping raise awareness for an organization that helped other women, Women-In-Need.org seemed like too good of an idea to let die off. I wanted these models , and young women overall, to be seen in a different light! I detest stereotypes, and a lot of the Urban models are stereotyped for many negative things. For them to be so actively involved and dedicated in the Ball With Vixens Charity Game, I believe so many people gained more respect for them, and young girls who watch way watch the ladies can see that there are other ‘cool’ things to be involved in, and that it was ‘cool’ to get involved in their communities. It definitely was not easy, but with the help and support of Jim Jones, Scott Furgeson, Eve Lora, Chris Rucker, the models, media, staff for the game, sponsors and supporters, the end result was well worth the hard work!
What does the future hold for the Ball With Vixens movement, any events or games in the coming future?
Many of the girls definitely have requested that we continue with the new found movement! During the preparation for the game, we built some lifelong friendships an support groups within he Ball With Vixens family. will definitely be more Ball With Vixens games and events in the future! I would like to do a game each summer for Charity. Judging from the way people responded to it, it is bound to get bigger and bigger each year! I am very excited about the growth that this movement will have, and how it will positively affect women and our communities!
You have championed for charitable causes and developed a network for ladies in the industry to communicate and share ideas and experiences, was this always your intention?
Giving back to the needy has always been something that was important to me. While in Africa, although we lived in poverty, I was still able to attend private schools because people helped us. And in moving to America, with the help of many good Samaritans, I was fortunate enough to continue with a Catholic private school education that promoted charitable work. Since I was not killed in the genocide, and survived so many near death experiences, and living in both extremely rich and extremely poor conditions, I believe I have been blessed with the life I have now for a purpose. Since someone helped me, it is only right that I help others as much as I can. It just so happened to be that I had the network of ladies from the days when I was involved in music videos, and some of them were as passionate about giving back as I was.
That is a question that I had never really thought about much. I was nervous at first about being a host/personality, but then I figured, the best way to be accepted as a host or personality overall, is to be myself. I believe that as I continue to grow as a personality, and as I get more and more comfortable with myself as I develop into a more wholesome woman, people will decide for themselves whether or not to take me seriously. The thing is, I take myself seriously along with everything that I do, so I feel that if that is the energy I am releasing in the universe, I will get the same back. I am also aware of the fact that not everyone will take you seriously, but that is also alright with me; I respect everyone’s stance.
What were some of the obstacles you overcame as you transitioned to your current status?
I went through a lot of challenges to be where I am today, and I still go through life’s challenges to this day. Since I moved to New York City with basically no money and no place to really call home if I was not living on campus at Long Island University, one can only imagine the things I allowed myself to go through only because I know that with hard work and sacrifice, my future will be bright. There was actually a time where I was virtually homeless in NYC, in the summer of 2009, and I could only afford to eat a two dollar tuna sandwich with mayo from the nearby corner store each day to survive. I could have easily went back to Ohio to my family and lived comfortably, but my relentless spirit made me stay because, I would ask myself, “What is success without struggle?” I had started something, and I was going to finish it successfully by any means, so I stayed. There are a lot more stories, but those are for another time, and another day. I look at obstacles as challenges, and man!, do I like a challenge! I m prepared for more to come, for I am aiming higher and am not complacent with my current status.
I have so many, I wish I had 7 lifetimes! I do want to end up in television! I have always admired Oprah and her work, an her charities. I definitely see myself doing similar things. I want to help as many people as I can, and eventually help the people in Rwanda, especially the young women there. I know I am destined for great things, and I have been given the tools to get to where I need to be. When the time is right, I will take the necessary steps and risks that I need to take. I ultimately want to leave this world a little better than I found it.
People would be surprised to know that ___________?
I do not watch television much. I don’t even own one! I have an addiction to reading, that if I go for too long without a book, I’ll fall into slight episode of depression, I think! Also, I do not have my ears pierced, no tattoos, and am terribly afraid of needles and animals besides fish that are in a fish tank! I passionately hate bananas and anything that is flavored with it, looks or smells like it!
Your idea of relaxing is?
My idea of relaxing is actually being with my family in Ohio. I don’t get to do that much, and when I am there, I am not thinking about work or the “Josi Marie” brand at that time. I am just Josiane, the Rwandan daughter, sister, niece, and aunt.
You’ve got front row tickets to see your favorite artist. Who is it and why?
I listen to ALL types of music, and love a large variety of artists from Pink, Linkin Park, Jim Jones, Chrisette Michele, Wyclef, and Beyonce, so this is a very hard question. I can simply say that I have yet to get over the fact that Michael Jackson (RIP) is no longer with us, and I have yet to love an entertainer as much as I loved him! I listened to him since Africa, and he would have had to be the one!
Your favorite getaway spot?
Anywhere by the water is perfect for me! I want to go back to Mombasa to the Indian Ocean! I have never seen anything as beautiful as that!
Who have you enjoyed working with the most? And name someone you would love to work with?
I enjoy, mostly, working with Jim Jones on various projects. He is an activist in his own way and really gives back to the community, which is something to applaud! I like working with people who push me to work harder, and he does just that! I also enjoyed working with all the beautiful ladies from Ball With Vixens! They inspired me to never give up! I want to work with Oprah so badly! …and I will.
What should we expect to see you doing in the near future?
I am actually working on a blanket drive for the homeless, being that the winter is coming and it pains me more than anything to see them on the streets! Lots of people will be involved in that! Also, The Josi Marie Show is something to stay in tune with! It is on DTFRADIO.COM and can also be sen on http://www.youtube.com/JosiMarieTV.
Any parting words or people you would like to thank?
So many people to thank! Jim Jones, Jetlag Ash, Sen City, DTF Radio, My team at DTF Radio (I love you! Thanks for being HUNGRY!).
HardBodyTV, Kush DVD (Kush Boyz), Bryan Hicklin Photography, Nick Haze, and all the blog sites that feature my shows! A personal thanks
to my close friends who keep me level headed (Mugisha, Ashley, Crystal, Kwesi, Rachel, Knix, Josh). My Family, I love you.
Parting Words: “Do Everything with Conviction” -My Father