As the face of multiple hair-product campaigns, the inspiration for the wig subscription service Wigdazzle, and the creator of the Hairnista Chronicles blog, The New Atlanta’s Africa Miranda could make a tidy living from her enviable locks alone.
But Miranda is also a creative force of nature with a sultry voice and a love of stage performing — which means that the Alabama-born stunner is always on the go in her adopted hometown of Atlanta. So when a friend told her about a new unscripted series set in the city and suggested she might be perfect for it, Miranda decided it could be a great opportunity to challenge herself on a personal level and spotlight her live concept show, The Lipstick Junkies, in the process.
“At first, I was like ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do on a reality show?’” Miranda admits. “But the more I thought about it, Bravo is such a great network and they caught me in the right pocket of life where I was just like why not? Let’s do something different. Maybe being so private all the time isn’t the answer, so let’s just give it a go.”
We talked with the singer, actress and entrepreneur about what it’s been like to open her life, her home and herself to The New Atlanta‘s cameras and her fellow cast members.
CGM: Did being an actress and stage performer make having the Bravo cameras follow you everywhere easier — or was there still some adjusting to do?
AM: Honestly, I thought it was going to make it easier, but it is not. Was I familiar with being on a set? Yes. But my house is not a set and I was like, “Oh God. This is really my home and my life and my friends.” So there was definitely an adjustment period, but it was good for me, because it was something I honestly probably wouldn’t have done, and I think it’s good in life to push yourself and get out of your comfort zone.
So for me — now that I’m on the other side of it — I’m a much better person, much more open to new experiences. I’m so glad I did it.
CGM: How well did you know the other cast members prior to filming — because you have some pretty interesting interactions with some of them and you have to react on the spot to circumstances you might not otherwise have preferred to be a public matter.
AM: I did know most of the cast — not necessarily in my super-close circle of friends, but even though it is a big city, Atlanta does have a small-town feel, and if you are pretty social and active in a city, you will have at least run across most people. So I knew everyone on the surface. But not to the degree where you’re, like you said, here we are in these situations and you’re on camera and you’re going through these interactions — and, oh by the way, there’s a camera right here. So it definitely was a new experience to go through the emotions and the roller coaster of life and things that normally you would keep private, but you know the camera is there and you have to stay in that moment because that’s what’s happening.
It’s interesting to form these deeper connections to people on camera. Because there is nothing that can prepare you for that!
CGM: From what I’ve seen so far, you appear to be the most poised — or, at least, the least temper-driven — of the crew. Is that a lifelong trait or earned by experience? Both?
AM: I don’t know if it’s the Capricorn in me, but I’ve always been someone who is able to stay pretty level-headed. But I don’t claim by any means to have it all together and that there aren’t going to be times where you do lose it. What you see on this show is that all of us have very strong personalities and we’re living real life and there are moments where everybody can handle themselves and there are moments that happen to all of us sometimes, where maybe it’s a bad day or maybe it’s a situation that pushes you to the breaking point and the house crumbles to the ground [laughs]. And you’re going to see that on the show.
CGM: You have so many irons in the fire — singing, blogging, modeling, Wigdazzle. Tell me what we’ll see you doing on the show.
AM: I am one who likes to keep a lot of irons in the fire. But music has always been my first love, and a project that is near and dear to me that you’ll get to see launch on The New Atlanta is a concept show call The Lipstick Junkies. Myself and two partners have created the show and launched it here in Atlanta and Bravo has chronicled that. As you’ll see over the season, it’s a mix of Broadway and Vaudeville and Vegas — singing, acting, dancing. It’s a scripted show and it’s something that is not happening in this city at all and I’m so excited for everyone to see it develop over the course of the series.
CGM: Since it does incorporate so many genres, describe a typical performance.
AM: We say we’re Vegas and Vaudeville meets Cotton Club. We play ourselves, so we’re scripted characters and we all have alter egos and when you come to the show you’re transported to the quote-unquote Lipstick Lounge. Once you cross the threshold of our venue, that’s where you are. So you see the backstories of how each of us landed at The Lipstick Lounge, and it’s really like a trip down the rabbit hole of Alice in Wonderland. It’s a mix of original music and cover material that mixes in with the story. So it is very much a roller-coaster ride of fun and it’s very dynamic and very interesting and a lot of fun. It’s kind of like dinner and a movie, but you’re seeing a live-action movie play out in front of you. Every person who has come to the show has said, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen anything like this and I can’t wait to come back.”
So we’re really proud of it and for three women to have the chance to create something like this — because in this business, you don’t always get a chance to do that — and see it flourishing, it’s such a good feeling and I’m so glad that other people are going to get to see it.
CGM: Now that a Bravo audience is going to be introduced to The Lipstick Junkies, is it something that you would consider taking on the road or launching in other cities?
AM: Our goal is to have The Lipstick Junkies in Vegas and on the road. Atlanta is our residency, so when you come to the Atlanta show, we can tweak it every month and you can see different things, but we do have a full Broadway version of the show that absolutely can travel. So that for a person in another city, in one night you can have the whole story of what it is to see The Lipstick Junkies at The Lipstick Lounge.
CGM: Sounds like getting that rolling could make for a great TV show in itself …
AM: From your mouth to God’s ears [laughs].
CGM: You don’t exactly have a 9-5, Monday-Friday job. Tell me what we’re going to see as far as how that affects your personal life.
AM: I have a Monday through Sunday, 24/7 job. So it definitely is challenging and you will see my struggle and my concern of sacrificing what I want in my personal life for my career. And also, most of the people I’m around are people I work with. Can you work with someone and have a relationship with someone and not ruin everything — and not ruin both? So that’s definitely something I’m trying to juggle and figure out, and something that you will see play out on the show.
CGM: What are you most excited for existing fans and new fans to learn about you as a person, as just Africa?
AM: I’m excited for people to see more of the real me. I am someone who likes to have fun and is a little bit quirky and I like to hang out with my friends — so just more of my personal life. Because as much as I am on social media, it’s still very much a promotional tool as opposed to me showing things that I do in my day-to-day life. So I am excited for people to see how I spend my time, and the ups and downs, and the pieces of my personality that you don’t get to see in a photo on Instagram or a post on Facebook.
I’m excited for people to have more of a real connection with me.
The New Atlanta airs Tuesday nights at 10/9pm CT on Bravo.
MORE FROM THE NEW ATLANTA:
• The New Atlanta‘s Alex Dilworth: ‘My mom inspired me to be a trophy wife’
• Meet Jevon Sims of The New Atlanta
• Tribble Reese: From ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ to ‘The New Atlanta’
• Emily Lipman is The New Atlanta‘s business-minded beauty