From humble beginnings in Leibo sichuan China, Ayi Jihu has risen to become China's first real crossover R&B star and icon. She is now ideally poised to integrate the East and the West and I had the opportunity to interview this international sensation.
You are a very interesting lady people should know about, tell the world about the "Chinese Star" Ayi Jihu & who you are.
I was brought up from a
village called Leibo in Sichuan, China, after I lost my father my aunt was determined to get me to come to England and have more opportunities in life and by the grace of God, I was able to come to England, later along with family to live here permanently. I've always loved music singing and dancing, was always involved in anything that was related to entertainment while I was at school in China.
I've always wanted to be a pop star but after coming to England without speaking a word of English and having to start a new life I had to start from scratch and put that dream aside. I was young and with the hard discipline and push from my aunt I learned English very quickly yet I was old enough not to forget my Chinese.
Living in England has opened up my eyes and mind, learning about different cultures and different ways of people, and experimenting with different types of music. I found my love with RnB, Hip Hop, Dancehall and Reggae, because when I hear them I just automatically started dancing. So I sneaked out to clubs learning to dance like the sisters lol, and eventually many would come up to me and compliment my dancing.
It was through a friend's invite to a video shoot that opened the door of Ayi Jihu. It was my dancing that caught my now manager/producer's eye, and later on we talked and realized I was what he was looking for as a crossover artist and he was who I was looking for to be my mentor. We started recording music and very quickly the Sands in Macau invited me to do shows and from there, we never looked back!
We've always believed that I will reach my Chinese people as well as the western people, because I’ve been blessed to absorb the cultures and try to understand people's different customs and still have my Chinese roots. So hopefully I can be a voice for the minorities. (I am also one of the 55 minorities from China called Yi)
Let's talk about your many talents. Modeling, being an actress singer & an ambassador. When did you decide to make a run at all levels of the game?
Pretty much from the start, we build our foundations on all levels not limiting ourselves to what we can do. I see being in the public eye has the responsibility of many others whether deliberately or not, it's all good to be fun but we also need positive role models, those who are willing to inspire give hope and help others.
Tell us about the premiere of your first film in London and how it made you feel. Are you currently working on any films right now?
I am definitely proud to have my first part in a film. Doing something new is always exciting, and I'd love to learn much more about acting. We have a film called “Fear Chaser”, it will be something that everyone can relate to, partly based on my experiences of my journey, fighting my fears and doubts, having faith and belief.
Being of Asiatic decent, a Chinese woman, how has being from that culture helped or even enhanced your creativity? What motivates you?
Being Chinese and doing what I do is exactly what makes me unique and stands out. I am a true China born Chinese who talks Chinese read Chinese writes Chinese and eat Chinese! Which also means I have many fears of what people think of me and how others see me. I was taught not to do anything unless I’m perfect at it and don't embarrass yourself. Make mistakes in front of people. That is the biggest mountain I have to climb is to not self- doubt and not be afraid to make mistakes, this constant fight has enhanced creativity especially with the people around me, bring my own culture into what I do, or just being me really adds something different to the table. I have some people around me who always encourage me, motivates me and people who are very far away from me who motivate me by showing their support and love, as I know that my people would love to see 'one of them' succeed and make them proud.
This is my question: How do you handle your haters, I know you got plenty being out there in the limelight.
We all have hater’s lol even if you are not in the limelight, but plenty visible ones when you are in the public eye. I used to be someone who lets negativity affect me, but now they really don't affect me, as I have put my faith and trust in God. People who hate really wish they were doing what you are doing, they usually aren't happy with themselves and their own lives, but it's easier to blame someone else than to look at the man in the mirror. So don't let their hateful words put you down as misery loves company and they want you to feel the misery they feel.
Who do you idolize in the entertainment world? Is there anyone that you model yourself after?
I wouldn't use the word idolize, there are people who inspires me and great role models for people. Artistically Michael Jackson is a huge inspiration to me, from the beginning it was from watching him that made me want to entertain and be on stage. His music crosses over to all parts of the world and brings people together. India Arie is also another artist I love to listen to, her words are so true and she sings to my heart.
Let's talk about some serious issues, SISHA & SHE, and how you & some U.S celebs are battling back against the campus rape situation.
Sisha is a human rights organization that strives to ensure justice and the protection of human rights for victims of abuse around the world. Sisha international works with local officials to provide victims with immediate assistance and after care, to prosecute offenders and to ensure that judicial process protects the community.
Sisha is based in Cambodia. In those countries the weak the poor have little human rights and protections. We live in privileged places should not forget to help those who are oppressed and don't even have the basic rights. SHE encourages those who were abused, raped and assaulted to speak out as Silence Hurts Everyone. Speaking out seeking for help will start the process of healing, speaking out will not let the offender get away with it, thinking he/she is invincible and go offend even more people. It is important to stand for something, and bring awareness to people who have many advantages and privileges in life that someone somewhere else, is needing the basic needs.
I heard through the rumor mill that you are currently working on a project with Steve Russell form the legendary R&B group Troop. Is that true? If so tell us about it.
Yes working on it, how excited I am to work with such legend! He is truly amazing, and I can't say too much more about this beautiful song but it's in production and soon will be released!
Let's talk modeling. What are some memorable photo shoots that you loved to do and who is your favorite photographer or agency to work with?
I've been taking photos constantly from day one since I've started my journey in this industry. I lost count the amount of photographs I’ve taken! But I have to say my favorite is Stevie Eagle E, as he knows me the best and therefore knows how to make me look the best in photos! I enjoy many of the photo shoots done with him as I’m totally relaxed and the result always shows.
Being extremely multi-talented, I'm sure you have had many highlights in your entertainment career. Care to name a few?
The highlights for me might be different in others' eyes. The first time I performed at the Sands Macau, I was so nervous and wished I was never on stage but I got over it. I’ll never forget! first time being interviewed for magazine, T.V and radio, too see myself on magazines, T.V and hear myself on radio was quite the highlights, become ambassador for FAAVM and SISHA,I realize what I can do to help others and encourage myself and others to do more.
What does the future hold for the "Chinese Star" Ayi Jihu? What should the world expect from you?
I'm heading to the States to start my other adventure! Continue with what I've done and take it up another notch! It's exciting times for me. I will be completing my new album, The Rebirth, finish shooting all the videos, and the movie Fear Chaser. And much, much more, so keep an eye out for my updates.
Lastly, any advice to the ladies out there trying to get it and make it happen like you are on all levels? Any thanks or shout outs?
There's no secret formula but to work hard and be dedicated. Be aware of how strong your mind can be. We are all stronger than we think. Never give up your dream, don't pick and choose to do what you like but to do all the hard bits around as well, you will learn quick. Be true to yourself, as when you are real and genuine people will feel it they know, and no one will bring you down.
Big shout out and thank you to my team in USA, Thailand China and UK, without them I cannot do it myself, and they have been supporting me constantly, I appreciate all my friends family fans from all over the world, who always shows love and support keep me going and motivated and my mentor Eagle E who believed in me before I believed in myself and guided me.