The entertainment industry is a very fierce one. One has to be seen and be seen in a favorable light, and have a team to support AND protect your dreams. For some time now, rappers and artists alike have been looking good in the media and been under the expertise of one phenomenal woman. Farah Fortune.
As the Director of African Star Communications, not only are we exposed to new talent but also the veterans feel in good hands that their brand is safe with the woman dubbed the Pit bull in Heels.
The impact Farah Fortune and her team has had on SA hip hop in the past couple of years is commendable as they ensured we get to see our favorite wordsmiths and see their brands catapult, safely, into super stardom. African Star has protected and guided our favorite MCs’ dreams and much to our pleasure, the hip hop heads and general public.
Without further adieux, ladies and gents… Farah Fortune.
CHEKA Digital: Firstly thank you for your time with speaking to us, the first question which you’ve probably answered a million times, who is Farah Fortune?
Farah Fortune: Farah Fortune is a mom first before anything else, then a businesswoman and Director of African Star Communications
CHEKA Digital: The need for publicist grows parallel to people becoming stars and the growth of their fame, what are your views on publicists being labeled “Damage control” when a star is in hot water?
Farah Fortune: LOL! WELL….. ok seriously, we are that, we create an image, build it and maintain control around it at all times. We do have to do damage control but honestly that’s not all we do. It’s definitely not something I take offence to.
CHEKA Digital: Your company African Star has been aligned with some of the biggest hip-hop acts in South Africa. What are some of the criteria, if any, that determine whom African Star manages?
Farah Fortune: Everyone in the office has to be passionate about the people we take on as well as their music. We’re a company built on passion and that plays a huge role in how we work, as well as how we handle a client. Therefore understanding the client before we sign with them is essential! We also ensure the artist is as passionate about their music as we are, you’ll be surprised how many people we turn away because of lack of passion. Some artists see fame but not the work that goes into that fame.
CHEKA Digital: SA hip hop is growing by leaps and bounds and aside from rappers and producers giving us hot songs we repeat daily, the publicist is an unsung hero / heroine. What are some of the challenges unknown to the public do you come across as a publicist to celebrity?
Farah Fortune: African Star specializes in making unknown artists known, our work with Solo, Rouge, AKA & Cassper Nyovest is testament to this. However I don’t think people realize how hard it is to convince media to interview someone they have never heard of. I spend most of my day ‘selling’ my artists, making them look great and sending their music to media, so they at least get a chance. I’m luckier now than when I started, I’ve built relationships with media so when I start pushing a new artist they listen to what I have to say and they are more likely to give our artists a chance.
CHEKA Digital: A lot don’t know how much behind the scenes work a publicist does. How much input does a publicist have in an artist’s media appearance and general showcasing of their talent?
Farah Fortune: This really depends on the publicist and the artist’s relationship. I personally don’t interfere with the creative side of things… I’m not a rapper, but I also know what works. So when they’re done with a project, I give my input on which songs to put out as singles etc. Media appearance however falls under my sphere of work and we’re picky on what you want to portray as your public image. It has to work the right way.
CHEKA Digital: Is it mandatory to be a fan or at least be well acquainted with the field of music with the clients you represent?
Farah Fortune: YES! YES! YES! You cannot work on a genre of music and know nothing about it! That honestly makes no sense. To me that means you’re in it for the money and not your client’s dream. If you noticed we specialize in Hip- Hop because I’ve been a hip hop head since I was 11, when my big brother, Fuad Fortune, introduced me to Foxy Brown, Da Brat, Missy Elliot, NWA, Master P and so many more. I literally fell in love with hip hop then.
CHEKA Digital: Rouge is one of the African Star clients and she is one of the handful female rappers in the scene. Is there a differentiation in how African Star represents her in an industry that is male dominated?
Farah Fortune: We don’t position her as a female rapper, we position her as a rapper. You don’t call her male counterparts ‘male rappers’, so it was important for me to showcase her talent and not her sex. Besides… Have you heard here rap, she could take on some of our greats and beat them!
CHEKA Digital: African Star is 8 years in existence this year, what are some of the lessons from the past years that you have learnt in being an integral but not fully noticed part of SA hip hop?
Farah Fortune: Don’t’ skip a year! LOL! We’re only 7… I’ve learned some amazingly valuable lessons. I’ve learned we have more corporate hip hop heads than we like to admit! I’ve learned its not all about the music but rather the team behind you. I’ve learned people will step on each other to reach the top. I’ve learned this industry is small, so be careful who you piss off, they could make or break your career.
CHEKA Digital: You’ve recently been a guest on the Vuzu show The Hustle. With that exposure to budding talent, how important is brand management in talent and artists that are entering the scene and what advice would you give them?
Farah Fortune: Brand management in any career is important. In hip hop even more so, as your entire image is public! The best advice I could give anyone is, DON’T STOP! Not everyone will help you but it’s about the passion and drive inside you that will eventually make you stand out from the crowd.
CHEKA Digital: Since this is a predominantly hip hop site, we have to test your knowledge on hip hop a bit. Choose one option please.
Tumi or HHP
Farah Fortune: I rep Tumi & HHP is a friend (Don’t do this to me)
Lil Kim or Nicki Minaj
Farah Fortune: Lil Kim
Loubotinis or Nike Jordans
Farah Fortune: Crissy Lous! I’m a heels fan, although I own a number of sneaker brands!
CHEKA Digital: As pointed out, African Star is not a novice in the industry, what do you wish for people who come across African Star’s work to know about African Star?
Farah Fortune: That we are not just a celeb PR agency, we also work within the corporate field and do event management.
CHEKA Digital: Thank you again for your time and we wish African Star success and growth. We also like to thank you for making hip hop not just about bars and beats but respectable figures in the entertainment industry.
Farah Fortune: I’m humbled artists trust me enough to let me handle their dreams!