BREAKOUT: When Cinderella Sanyu sang about running this city, we had no idea joining film was part of the plot. The self-proclaimed king of dancehall music had a breakout role in Bella and now shares the experience plus more.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have been working on a movie titled Bella, my first movie role. I am also shooting a video for my new single Whine Yo Waist.
How did you land the role in Bella?
I auditioned and I was taken on.
What was your experience on set?
It was challenging. I had to be onset by 6am for make-up then start shooting at 7am, and I am not a morning person. Even when I worked at a show the previous night, I still had to be on time, so for many nights I did not sleep at all. I also trained while acting. Sometimes I did not know what I was doing. I had never had to step out of myself for that long. But it was worth the sacrifice.
What lessons have you learnt on this initial film project?
I have learnt to concentrate and focus because that is the only way I knew I could achieve my full potential. I have also learnt that there is power in teamwork. Everyone onset taught me something because they were all pros and I was really new at acting.
What did it take for you to get into character?
I took time to read and internalise the script and the character I was given. I got the script months before we started shooting.
How demanding was your role?
I played a lead role. I had to act and act for real. I had to dig so deep emotionally and even physically, it was exhausting.
How much do you identify with Bella, the character you portray in the film?
I came from nothing too. I lost my dad when I was two years old and my mum had to raise seven children on her own. It was hard but I am an international award winning artiste now. I know what it is to work hard, to be abandoned by relatives. Bella is also an artiste.
From the trailer, we see a girl that goes through a lot yet is gifted with a beautiful voice, did this get you carried away?
Sometimes I would get caught up in Bella’s pain and I would cry even after walking offset.
Do you have plans to keep acting?
You have stayed the course as a musician and grown into a live performer, how much planning and focus do you dedicate to your career?
I give it my all. I cannot quantify it.
When did you start the band?
I started my band in 2013.
Why did you choose to start doing live performances?
I started performing live because I grew up singing in the church choir and worship was always me. Live music is how I know music.
What was the reception like, from the public, when you started doing live performances?
People doubted me as a live performer because of the genre of music I do. They think dancehall artistes cannot sing live but everyone who experiences my live performances loves it more than my CD performance.
In your opinion, how important is it for an artiste to be able to perform live?
If you cannot represent your music live then you are not an artiste.
How much work goes into the choreography and preparations for stage performances?
My girls and I always spend about three weeks choreographing a song. We enjoy the experience a lot.
How many people are in your band?
There are five instrumentalists, two back-up artistes, four dancers and a sound engineer. We are 13 people.
How do you manage your team?
I treat them like friends and I pay them well.
Apart from music, what fun things do you do as a band?
We hang out together and have a beer or muchomo. We also genuinely care about each other. We try to remember each other’s birthdays.
What has been your most memorable birthday?
It was this year. I got the biggest gift ever. It was a huge painting of my face from a secret admirer.
Do you have someone in your life that takes care of you affectionately?
Lol. I like how you twist that question, ha ha ha. No, I am single.
Are there men or fans who have held you to some of your lyrics?
Yes. People ask me what I meant by certain lyrics in my songs. It is good to know they are paying attention.
Which songs have attracted a lot of attention?
Ayokyayokya, Sample Dat, Ndi Mukodo and Run This City.
How real do those lyrics get?
Oh, they are real. I write my music. I mean what I am saying. It is always from a personal experience or from a very close source.
Your stage performances are provocative, how do you deal with the attention it fetches or attracts?
I am a big girl. I know how to deal with attention. I can’t explain it. It is a woman thing.
Your dress code is eye catching and tantalising too, who handles your wardrobe?
My stage wardrobe is all designed and styled by Kyaligonza Fashion. They have been doing it since 2009 and they are still the best for me. They are creative.
What is the most fulfilling thing about the musician you are?
I get love from all over the world. People are generally nicer to me because I am an artiste. There are also people who are horrible to me for the same reason but I do not care about those ones.
What goes on in your mind when you are performing?
I perform to individuals, not crowds. There is always that one or two people who are so happy to see me on stage so I start with those ones then slowly move to everyone else. I totally bling myself to a dull crowd; I focus on my moves and my dancers and just have fun.
When not singing, how do you take time away?
I sleep. I sleep a lot and watch movies, series and also play with my daughter among other things, sauna and the gym.
What series are you watching at the moment?
If Loving You Is Wrong.
What is that one thing that calms you, and how?
The sound of water calms me. I cannot swim but I love to sit by a lake or river and just listen and watch water. It calms me.
What do you do when things are not going according to what you have planned?
I withdraw and kind of reprogramme myself according to what is happening then I get back if need be. Usually I will walk away.
Who is your favourite local artiste, and why?
I have many but if I had to mention one, I would say Maurice Kirya. He sings so well. He writes amazing stories and he performs like a superstar.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given or shared with you?
Be content with what you have-my mother told me this as a child. When you are content you avoid jealousy and envy which can destroy your soul. When you are content, you can be happy no matter the situation. When you are content you are in the right mind-set to see what God is doing in your life.
Cindy’s biggest disappointment
Being a woman in the music industry makes things much harder. You have to prove yourself twice as hard as the guys. You have to fight for respect. Be a queen and a beast all at the same time. Be strong and fearless from the inside but appear womanly and vulnerable on the outside. It is crazy but we do it. My biggest challenge so far has been the leaked nude pictures. I still deal with that hurt till this day. Bad press is there every day. I choose to ignore it and focus on my art.