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MASIKA KALYSHA | ACTRESS, ACTIVIST, RECORDING ARTIST, MOTHER & FINANCIAL LITERACY EXPERT

July 9, 2020

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Masika Kalysha can hardly be boxed into one lane, juggling so many things that one can only aspire to do in a lifetime. You may recognize her from her role on VH1’s hit show Love & Hip Hop, or maybe on WE tv’s Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta, but either way it’s hard not to fall in love with her beauty, resilience, authenticity, passion, wisdom, and undeniable heart of gold.

Boasting over 2.4 million followers on Instagram alone, the Chicago native is an actress, recording artist, businesswoman, entrepreneur, mother, lover, entertainer, and most importantly, mother to her beautiful daughter Khari Barbie. Masika even named her own animal cruelty-friendly beauty line, KBB, in honor of her 4-year-old, offering designer quality products available at affordable pricing.

Masika can be seen in various movies such as Three Can Play That Game, The Love Section, The Prey, and Fanatic, with a recent appearance on the small screen on Issa Rae’s hit series Insecure. She recently landed a role as a cast member on the new television show PUMP.

Beyond all the accolades and endeavors, Masika is extremely passionate about spreading awareness to the importance of financial literacy and maintaining good credit. Her first-hand experiences of going from dirt poor to millions is a testimony she hopes to inspire the masses all around the world. Not only does she want her and her loved ones to be successful, but she wants to teach her supporters what it means to be wealthy as well — educating them on how to properly manage your finances and get the biggest bang for your buck.

Flaunt caught up with Masika via Instagram Live, who was enjoying a beautiful pool day at the top of the W Hotel in the heart of Hollywood. Read below as we discuss her beauty line inspired by her daughter, her new single “Cappin,” her thoughts on the world as a strong black female, generational wealth, and more!

Actress, mother, entrepreneur, model, artist, activist… how do you balance all that you do?

I don’t even know what balance really is. People always ask me “how do you balance?” I’m a mom, I don’t have a choice. [chuckles] I have to get certain things done to ensure that my daughter’s future is set. It’s not a balance, it’s an obligation. I don’t even realize the juggle until other people who can’t figure out tell me or ask me how I do it. But you have to give yourself credit, I do the damn thing.

Talk about naming your beauty line after your daughter, Khari Barbie.

My mother’s name is Makeba, my dad’s name is Emmett. Very white name, my dad’s very black. My mom’s named after Miriam Makeba, a very famous black poet. She took that and decided to name me and my siblings very powerful African names. I’m Masika Kalysha, my sister’s Jamila Makeba, my brother’s Emmett Howard Jabari. We all have very strong African names with very strong meanings. Masika means invincible in Swahili. Invincible means you’re impenetrable, you can’t be harmed or hurt.

I wanted to make sure my daughter had a strong African name, but I didn’t want it to be so intimidating or so pungent that it limited her opportunities. I was searching, sifting through names. Khari means queenly, joyful, born to rule and bring joy. I see nothing other than my child would be a queen. She’s going to be a ruler and bring joy. Khari’s a strong African name, but not difficult that ignorant people couldn’t pronounce it.

Everything I do for me, is for her. I had no reason, no drive other than I want to be successful. Having her changed my outlook on life. Naming my brand before she’s even born is symbolic that from this day forward, my goals are for her. There’s never a time you forget the purpose, which is her. Even if you get sidetracked, things get crazy, to sign a check I have to sign her name. This is for my daughter, she’ll never have to struggle like I did.

Bringing it back to your upbringing, what was the household like growing up in Chicago?

The crazy thing, I grew up very poor. I mean, very poor. My parents got married at 18 and 21. Neither of them had shit, but I never knew I was poor. I never knew all the Christmas’ they cried, all the birthdays they stayed up, sleepless nights figuring out what to get us. I never knew that side of it because I had everything I needed. I was a happy kid. My parents fought and argued because of bills and finances but any time there’s a birthday or holiday, if they went to the check out aisle and bought little bullshit toys, we didn’t know the difference.

There’s never a day I didn’t eat, never a day I wasn’t clothed, never a day I didn’t have toys to play with. We’re so poor, my parents had a garden to grow our own food and vegetables. I thought they were agricultural geniuses. Till this day, I’m asking my dad for gardening tips to grow my own fruits and vegetables. They did it because they couldn’t afford to buy the product. It’s so cool as a kid getting my basket and going to the garden, picking peppers and tomatoes and garlic so my mom could make spaghetti. I didn’t know we couldn’t afford spaghetti sauce.

You have 2.4M followers on Instagram. How do you plan on using your platform for the greater good?

God gave me a voice, He gave me a platform. As long as I’m able to speak, I’ll speak. I’m on a promo tour right now. If it wasn’t a pandemic, I’d be going city to city promoting that song. I couldn’t come on, talk about my single, hang up and feel okay as a human being. We have people dying, people making sacrifices, things going on in the economy way bigger than me. One of my biggest things is wealth: generational wealth, knowledge, education, beating the system.

All this looting and rioting going, people are mad. Target got fucked up, Gucci, Rodeo Drive.. What are these companies doing? Making statements. Target stands for black people, Sephora’s making sure 15% of their shelves are devoted to black people. Now, I don’t judge anyone’s hearts. I’m not God, but is it genuine? Who knows, who fucking cares. You can do $10 million worth of damage, they got a $20 million insurance policy. They don’t give a fuck, it’s the first time the damage happened. It took 5 fucking minutes for Starbucks to come back and say #BlackLivesMatter paraphernalia can’t be worn. Why? Protecting their fucking numbers. Target now as a program directly focused on getting me and you on their shelves. Why? Their insurance company.

We’re rioting, we’re looting, we’re fighting, we’re fucking shit up. #BlackLivesMatter! They do matter, I’m the biggest #BLM person. Imagine if all the black lives who mattered were educated about life insurance, about generational wealth, about stocks and bonds, about 401(k)’s. If every fucking black person murdered by a police officer had a $100K life insurance policy for $5 a month, do you think we’d be fighting for #BlackLivesMatter? If these insurance companies had to pay out 2 or 10 good policies, there wouldn’t be one cop murdering a black person. We’re not educated. We’re not taught these things. We’re not born into generational wealth. The educational system is trained to train workers, not owners. We’ll never learn in school how to be debt-free, how to pay your bills, how to make sure you have good credit. The government wants to maintain a controllable system of workers who will be conformists. There’s nothing wrong with working an honest job, however you should have that option.

Most of us learn the hard way. I got out of debt because I was in debt. If I learned in school how to pay bills, I would’ve never been in debt. No one taught me about life insurance. My brother-in-law had to die from a freak accident, left my sister with the bill for the funeral for me to learn about why life insurance is important. As much as I hate that happened, it’s a learning tool. What happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, all of these hashtags, imagine if one of them had life insurance. If one of these black lives that “don’t matter” had a million-dollar life insurance policy, we wouldn’t be rioting and looting. These insurance companies would be “Black Lives Matter! Don’t kill black people!” They don’t want to do these payouts. We are numbers. Until we have a dollar amount that costs them shit, they don’t give a fuck about us. I’m a millionaire, they don’t give a fuck about my millions because there’s multi-millionaires. Jeff Bezos is set to be the world’s first trillionaire in 2026. Why? Because the pandemic: people suffering, people dying, people losing made him a trillionaire. Over 400 years, we’ve been robbed as black people.

You had to explain to your daughter what’s happening, was she able to comprehend?

My daughter’s very smart, but it hurts her. She’s very emotional, I’m not. She’s very sensitive, I’m not. She’s taught me things nobody could ever teach me, because I have to be sensitive to her needs. In order to explain to her why her playdate with Cali (Game’s daughter) was cancelled, I had to explain to her: slavery. I had to explain to her who she is as an African American. When I first told her she’s black, she said “my skin’s not black.” It doesn’t make sense to a kid.

My sister asked her “if you picked a color from the crayon box, what would you pick?” She said “pink! That’s my favorite color.” Kids aren’t born hating. Kids are born pure, the hate is taught by parents. By society. I had to teach my child at 4 years old about slavery, oppression, digression, police brutality, rioting, looting. Something I never thought I’d teach a 4-year-old. I was thinking we’d learn about this as a teenager, not out of need but out of education. I never thought in 2020 I’d have to teach my 4-year-old how to not be murdered like Sandra Bland. This year, you can’t eat Skittles. You can’t wear a hoodie, you can’t have a taillight out, you can’t be a licensed gun carrier, and don’t you dare know your rights.

What do you think needs to happen? What’s the solution? 

When we talk about defunding the police, of course we need the police or else we’d have a chaotic world, but we need police where the funding goes to checking their mental state. Their psyche, their background checks, their hidden crimes. Mark Walberg has a history of recurring hate crimes and has tried to get them removed from his 20’s on up. Where he attacked black people, oppressed Mexican people, thrown his stones. He has a history of hate crimes on Wikipedia and we’re buying burgers from his goddamn burger spot. We have Asian beauty supplies, black owned beauty brands, that we’re not supporting. Once we shift the wealth, we shift the power. 100%.

You’re spitting so many gems, do you plan on teaching about finances and generational wealth on a professional level?

That’s the thing, it’s an accident. God has ordained everything, I pray every day. I’m very selfish with what I want for myself. I remember being broke in college and saving up for my first Usher concert. I spent $300 on 2 floor seats a piece, so $600. I got my hair and my makeup done, buying an outfit, we paid for car service. After that concert, it put me at such a deficit as a college student. One thing I haven’t seen is a wealthy artist, who wants their fans to be wealthy also.

As an artist, I’m a rich bitch. Real rich. I sing about what relates to me. I don’t want you to listen and sing my music if you can’t relate to it. My next single: “Rich Bitch, gimme cash, gimme cash.” I don’t want my fans singing that if you’re broke, you can’t relate to what I’m saying. When I talk my shit, I want my fans to be able to talk their shit. I want rich fucking fans. I don’t want my fans to save up for my concerts, I want my fans to be excited to come to my concerts because they make so much off their investments, how I taught them to do it.

I’m trying to change the culture. My desire is different, it’s beyond me. I’ve already accomplished more than I thought I could. I know God has more for me so I’m never limiting myself, but desire to have a wealthy, prosperous, happy fanbase, who don’t have to save up to see me. If you have to ever question a bill or a ticket, I did something wrong. I’ve never seen any celebrity push wealth ever. The way we get out of oppression is creating generational wealth in black, brown, and yellow communities. Until that happens, we’ll be oppressed.

You released your new single “Cappin,” who or what inspired this one?

“Cappin” was a concept of the group chat with your homegirls, dudes be lying about everything. “N*gga say you bought it but I know you rented that.” N*ggas pull up in a McLaren, bitch when I came to your house you had a Charger. You a trap star on IG, no. You’re not a trap house n*gga, you got sheets over your windows because you’re poor.  You say that’s your bitch, your whole team fucked her. It’s the ongoing group chats and DMs with your homegirls about cappin.

Cappin came from the South: South Carolina, North Carolina, Atlanta. I really wanted to tap into that Southern culture and lingo, then I wanted something light, satirical, fun, and not heavy. We’re dealing with life-changing shit right now. In the midst of all that, we need music to riot to. We’re rioting, we’re looting, we’re protesting for change. If I stop progressing or stop pushing forward, I’ve lost all psyche of reason behind my protest. The goal is success, wealth, transferring the power. If I focus on the problem without pressing forward for the solution, then I become a part of the problem.

I took a 2-week break to make sure I could devote time to what’s going on. But as a black woman, I have to continue on my goal. I should continue rioting, protesting, preaching, but I also have to continue pushing. I also have to continue teaching, which is why I’m putting out music. My video premiered yesterday, available on all streaming platforms. I’m teaching wealth by putting out a book on how to reap wealth. The average millionaire has 7 sources of income. I had 4 before the pandemic. Because of the pandemic, I have 7. As a black woman knowing what I know, I’d be a coon, a hypocrite if I didn’t try to share that. I want to create generational wealth. I want to inspire different thinking. Broke is not a dollar amount, it’s a mindset.

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