“From a small village in Nigeria to the big stage with Beyoncé!!! You can’t tell me God isn’t real! This one is for all the small girls in villages back home in Nigeria. God is alive and kicking! Dream as big as you can-and then believe it!” – Diddi Emah
I am very excited about this next feature of “When Dance is LIFE: Africans/Nigerians Taking Over the Dance Scene One STEP at a Time” – with Diddi “BatonBae” Emah. You may recognize Diddi as the baton twirler who had the spotlight shine on her as she graced the stage during Beyonce’s 2-hour-long set at Coachella when she performed to Beyoncé’s hit song “Party.” But this is not the first time that she has rocked the stage. She has worked with various artists such as, ” Davido, Missy Elliott, Ciara, Usher, Ludacris, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Derulo, Tinashe, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussy Cat Dolls, and much more”. Diddi is indeed a triple threat as a Dancer, Choreographer, and Musician, creating her legacy to be a household name. Her story is amazing, and just a testimony to keep fighting for your dreams, even if no one else believes in you. Check out my interview with her below! Enjoy!
1. Hello! Please let everyone know who you are! What is your full name & what are you normally referred to as?
Hello, my full name is Edidiong Emah. My industry name is Diddi Emah
2. Where were you born & raised? Did your upbringing have an influence on how you dance today?
I was born in Akwa Ibom State Nigeria but was raised in Atlanta, GA. When we came to the United States my mom started a traditional dance troupe; which I became a member of by default. I just wanted to dance like my mother. Luckily, dance is also a big part of the culture in Atlanta. Most of the songs released from Atlanta have a dance that accompanies the hook. So it’s safe to say, combining the different styles have made me sought after in the entertainment industry.
3. Did you go to school to enhance your knowledge of dance? If so please explain, if not what degree did you pursue and why?
The high school I attended was the Dekalb School of the Performing Arts, however, my mom was solely interested in their excellence in academics, not dance. That school changed my life because I had my first taste of being on a true stage. I learned about body placement and control through several dance disciplines such as Ballet, Jazz, and Modern. I also learned how to sing and act. And from then on, I fell completely in love with the arts and never looked back.
4. What inspires you to dance? What should the viewer take away or interpret when watching you dance?
I love being creative. Dance is one of my ways of expressing what I am feeling. I let it all out on stage or on any dance floor. That’s why Choreographing comes easily to me. I get to create movement. When I dance, I’m showing my heart, my pain, my love, my joy, my strength, my sex appeal-I get to be completely emotional and vulnerable; which makes me so happy.
5. What is your favorite genre of music to dance to?
6. Are there any upcoming projects that you are involved in, that we can look forward to seeing?
Absolutely. For 8 years now, I have been developing myself as a performing recording artist. It’s finally time to transition, to be able to represent my country and my culture and to ultimately inspire on a larger scale. I have been on a wonderful path to finding my purpose. I’m happiest when I can be myself and still make someone else smile. Writing my songs, allow me to be even more expressive because I can add words to my natural movement. I am a far better dancer when it is to my own music. I look forward to headlining tours real soon.
7. Who are some of your favorite artists that you have worked with in the Industry and why?
Ludacris: He is a smart businessman, family oriented, pays on time, and treated us with the most respect.
Missy Elliott: She is hilarious, super humble and one of the greatest writers, producers, and performers of life. I admire her courage. She made the world fall in LOVE with her multiple talents. She has been a big sister to me ever since we’ve met.
Beyonce: I’ve never met anyone who works as hard as her. She is MORE than I imagined her to be. I was blown away by her work ethic, grace and powerful voice!
8. What “monumental” moment in your dance career have you had that made all the long days and nights of practice worth it?
Beychella. That Baton solo changed my life
9. We all know most African parents who are only aware of the “main three careers” of being a “Doctor, Lawyer, & Engineer” … what advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in dancing, but their parents insist that they go to school or get a “normal job” instead of following their dreams?
I would actually like to broaden the question to anyone pursuing a career in entertainment. Whether it is to be a music producer, dancer, choreographer, musical director, lighting designer, screenwriter, director, artist- I would first ask them, “Why do they want to pursue a career in entertainment? If their answer is money, I would immediately advise them to listen to their parents and to be an Engineer. Because going to school for those typical African careers, will always lead to money. Every parent wants what ’s best for their child. Most parents believe that money will solve that. But- If the answer is that they feel a career in entertainment is fulfilling God’s purpose, then I would tell that person to Keep God first, maintain their integrity and work to be the best! It will never be easy, it’s certainly not glamorous, times do get hard and money does get short because success does not happen overnight. You will have to sacrifice and invest in yourself, but it will ALL be worth it and your family will learn to be proud of you.
10. At the end of the day, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind for people to remember you by?
I want my legacy to be full of HOPE. I want my people to believe in themselves. Believe and understand God’s promise. I would like to have a scholarship fund in my mother’s name, an International Arts Academy that allows kids from Africa to work around the world in entertainment and much much more. I want them to know that dreams are real.
11. How can people get in contact with you via email or social media outlets?
Through my social media handles: @diddiemah on facebook, twitter, and Instagram.