Alabama native gets national exposure on Bravo show
by Allison Griffin, The Montgomery Advertiser
September 20, 2013 10:00 AM | 853 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — New York has beckoned countless young entertainers with promises of fame and stardom. For Montgomery native Africa Miranda, the lure was undeniable, but she later realized that the South will always be her home, and it's where she's found her latest success.

Miranda is one of the stars of the Bravo show "The New Atlanta," which debuted on Tuesday. The show follows five young attractive Atlanta professionals, who all want to "make their mark in the cutthroat industries of fashion, music, event planning and business while taking advantage of Atlanta's hot social scene," says a description provided by the Bravo network.

In the first episode, Miranda introduces herself as "a woman of many slashes — I'm an actress, I'm a model, but my first love has always been singing."

She's shown in a recording studio with Vawn, another member of the show's cast, who is an "entertainment consultant," in Miranda's words, and works to develop artists.

Despite her work in the performing arts, filming for the reality show was not as easy as she thought it would be.

"For this, you can't play yourself, you just have to be yourself," she said.

In the premiere, as Miranda speaks directly to the camera, a gold chain dangles around her neck, on which the word "Bama" is plainly visible.

"Montgomery is definitely home for me," she said. "Of all the things I've been doing in my career, it's great to have that hometown support. I've had so many people that have called and texted, old teachers and classmates.

"I tell people all day, I'm a 'Bama girl."

She graduated from Sidney Lanier High School and went to Alabama State University, where she earned a degree in English, not in theater or music. She was active in different arts activities, but she thought she was on a path to law school, not the entertainment field.

At ASU, she was a student orientation leader, a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and was Miss ASU. "So I was active on campus, but not necessarily on the creative side of things, which now, looking back, seems kind of strange."

After college, she worked on the staff of former Gov. Don Siegelman for about a year, but was drawn into performing. She decided to try to make it in New York, fulfilling a dream she'd had since childhood.

On trips to the northeast, her family would drive through New York, and the sights made an impression on her. "There's that moment when you're crossing the George Washington Bridge to go through New York to get to Massachusetts, and I could always see the lights of the city. It was like, I have to live here. Whether I was acting, dancing, whatever, I had to be in the city."

She became part of a girl group that sang R&B and pop music, back when such groups were immensely popular. Through that experience she met people in the music business and made connections that allowed her to keep recording and working on music when the girl group broke up.

She loved the glamor of New York. But Atlanta was fast becoming a hub in the entertainment business with opportunities in film and TV. And being closer to home was an appeal.

"It was the best move and change for me that I've done in my life," she said.

A friend knew that producers were casting for a new reality show centered in Atlanta. (Bravo has already had a hit with "The Real Housewives of Atlanta.") Miranda met with the producers and said she talked about her life and her story.

The idea of being so exposed and vulnerable on reality TV was scary, but "the things in life that are scary can end up being the best things that you've ever done."

She knew most of the cast socially, so there was some familiarity there. The teaser for the show promises a mix of flirtation, fighting and drama, which have become a hallmark of such reality TV shows.

Though many such shows are scripted and carefully plotted, she said that what you see is actually what's happening in her life.

"The cameras are on, and they're just kind of capturing what's happening," she said.

Though she is a natural performer, being on the cast was a different experience.

"At some point, your inhibitions fall to the wayside," she said. "I won't say that you forget the cameras are there, but you go on with the business of living your life."

Miranda is single, and promises that the show will highlight some developments in her personal life. The premiere episode alludes to a possible romance with Vawn, who's helping her with her music career.

She hasn't been told if there will be a second season of the show.

In the meantime, she has other projects going on. She and two partners created a concept called "The Lipstick Junkies," which she calls "a mixture of off-Broadway, Cabaret, Vaudeville, singing and dance."

She also has a hair blog, called "The Hairnista Chronicles," which she started after she decided to go with an all-natural hairstyle. Through it, she reviews hair and beauty products and interacts with fans.

From the blog sprang another concept, "Girls with Curls," which is a traveling event that allows her to share what she's learned about grooming products and to meet fans in person. "I'm always trying new things," she said. "I'm always into, what's the new, amazing thing that's going to give us all great hair?"

Her many projects keep her on the road, but she loves to travel, so even when she's on a work-related trip she'll search out sights and restaurants that are off the beaten path. And she's a big fan of social media, interacting with fans on Instagram and Facebook.

Even with a seemingly glamorous lifestyle, she will always call Montgomery home — her mother, grandmother, two aunts and a cousin are still here

"I just really thank everyone for the continued support throughout my career," she said. "Just watch the show, and let's enjoy this ride together."

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Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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