MANIKA By: D’mani Devoe
Manika was just 17 years old when her musical talents were discovered by Michael Jackon’s long time manager Frank DiLeo . Manika had won the outstanding performance award three years in a row at the National Performing Arts Festival in New York City then graduated high school a year early as valedictorian to pursue her music and writing career. From an early age, Manika was interested in music, singing, songwriting and taught herself to play the piano and guitar. At age 15 Manika wrote the children’s book “The Exciting Adventures of BOO”, donated all proceeds to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and served as their teen spokesperson. Manika also takes time to read her book to inner-city schoolchildren and young cancer patients. Her experiences with the underprivileged and unfortunate inspired one of her songs on her debut double-album. Manika donated the proceeds from this song to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She recently fit us into her busy schedule to talk about her past, present and future. LM: Just to get a good background on you what is your age and where are you from?
LM: At what age did you decide to have a career in the entertainment industry?
M: I’m 22 years old and I’m from Las Vegas.
M: I always wanted to be in the entertainment industry since I was really young. When I was 3 years old I was too shy to talk to anyone…literally… But I was always on stage performing, and loved it! I’ve always just felt most comfortable on stage.
LM: One thing that I thought was really interesting is that you were discovered by Michael Jackson’s manager; how’d that discovery go about? M: I was actually a junior in high school when a mutual friend of mine happened to show Frank DiLeo a video of me singing and performing a song I wrote on YouTube. Frank was really impressed and actually flew to Vegas to meet with my family and me. He told us that he wanted to come out of retirement to manage me, his “one last big act”. I was beyond myself with excitement! I graduated a year early as valedictorian to move out LA to pursue my music career. LM: I bet that was a wow moment for you. M: Yes it was so surreal! I was really nervous because the last person he managed was Michael Jackson. But Frank was such a nice guy. He put me at ease right away. LM: You sing, rap, produce, songwrite, and host a TV show… how do you manage to balance it all? M: I think it’s because I started so young. I started with singing and then I added songwriting and then I started rapping and producing. So as I got older, I got and more and more into it. Now that I’m in Vegas I have my own studio, so I’m really able to spend a lot of time there getting involved in all aspects of music creation. I just enjoy being very hands on in my music. I like doing it all!
LM: Do you ever get nervous when performing in front of millions of people? How do you feel before these big performances? M: It really depends on what type of performance it is. For instance on the One Direction tour there were like 40,000 people there in person watching me perform. Where as other performances like the Hollywood Style Awards or my special movie theater stream, there is a smaller live audience but millions watching at home on their TVs. I don’t really get a “nervous” feeling per se, it’s more of an exciting feeling for me. Especially in front of a bigger live audiences I get butterflies in my stomach, but I use it as a good thing. I’m like, “oh yeah that means I’m excited for this show that means it’s going to be awesome!” I think I don’t get nervous because I really don’t get embarrassed. I’m not scared of messing up or making a fool of myself. My mom embarrassed me so much growing up, that I’m kind of immune to embarrassment. One time when I was in middle school, she went to one of my school dances in Justin Timberlake “Sexy Back” booty shorts and started bumping her booty on the dance floor (off beat of course). Now I love it when my mom does stuff like that. I love having a fun mom!
Published on Jul 21, 2015
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