The Untold Truth Of Jamila Mustafa

Not yet 30 years old, as of this writing, Jamila Mustafa is already thriving in her chosen career. In September 2019, All Hip Hop pondered whether she'll be "the next Oprah Winfrey," and it's not hard to see why. Mustafa is a tenaciously hard-worker who you can see hosting BET Breaks, MTV's TRL reboot, walking the red carpet, or interviewing your favorite celebrity. We'll let Mustafa herself explain her success:

"I don't get complacent, that's number one when you're in this business you know there's a thin line between work and unemployed," she told Rolling Out in 2016. "That's the only way to be that good because we live in such a popcorn society celebrities will be big, and the next minute we don't even know who they are. My motto is 'even if you're the boss you gotta work like you're an intern.'"

With her stage presence, charisma, and work ethic, there's no doubt Mustafa could give Oprah a run for her money. But what else do we know about this millennial powerhouse? Let's peek behind the studio curtain and see the untold truth of Jamila Mustafa.

Jamila Mustafa made history

In May 2020, at the age of 27, Jamila Mustafa "became Bennett College's youngest commencement speaker in the HBCU's 147-year history," Black Enterprise reports. "They said 2020 was the year of clear vision," Mustafa said during her virtual speech, "but I don't think any of us saw this coming." Agreed.

Mustafa then told her story: A "small-town girl" from Delaware who saw the bright lights of New York City as the best place to achieve her goals. "Fast forward three years later and that show that I helped to launch on BET became BET's top digital daily series," the MTV host told the graduates. "I, personally, had grown to become a desired talent not only by BET Networks but by the majority of the media platforms surrounding the globe."

Her grandmother, Fannie Carroll, graduated from Bennett College in 1949, and Mustafa shared her "wise words" of advice with the young graduates eager to start their lives. "Never let success get to your head and failure get to your heart," she said. "See this game called life will teach you, but you have to play to learn and understand that whatever won't fold you will mold you." It's pretty clear that Mustafa heeded her grandmother's sage wisdom. 

The drive for success came early for Jamila Mustafa

Jamila Mustafa knew what she wanted to be at a young age and made it happen. According to Delaware Online, she was the extra-curricular arts queen. As a student at the Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Mustafa competed in dance competitions, hosted Fox Philadelphia's Philadelphia Eagles Kids Club, and did commercial work. After being crowned Miss Teen Essence in 2011, she earned a one-year scholarship to Delaware State University and quickly made the dean's list.

She also found time to be named Miss Middletown and Miss Delaware State University. What, no Miss Universe goals? (We kid.) "My back was up against the wall. I had to succeed. I like to say, 'Good things come to those who wait; great things come to those who work,'" she told the outlet, adding, "I knew it was all or nothing. When I'm focused on something, it's life or death. My focus as a child was my talent, not school. Now that had changed."

Her mother, Andrea Mustafa, who worked several night jobs for over a decade so she could drive her daughter to auditions, couldn't be prouder. "I'm so excited for her. There aren't many people who get to do what they love for a living," she said, adding, "It's all been worth it. I'd do it again if I had to."

Failure was just 'a part of the game' for Jamila Mustafa

During a 2016 interview with Rolling Out, Jamila Mustafa was asked what made her unique. Her answer was very clear. "I'm not afraid to fail because I've failed so many times. A lot of people are afraid to fail because they're scared of looking bad," she said, adding that failure is just "a part of the game." 

She also credited her "old soul" for allowing her to think differently than her younger peers. "It's like what Jay Z said: 'I play chess while a lot of people my age play checkers.' Even though I am a millennial, I carry myself so old," she explained, adding, "I still listen to Marvin Gaye, I listen to old school music and I'm able to bring that more mature approach to a younger generation."

Mustafa also claims the dedication is what led her to find success at such a young age. "That's something that a lot of people skip. They may like it, they may want it, but they're not really dedicated." Her advice for up and comers? "This industry is that it is controlled by influence," she said. "Jobs are few, if you take the traditional route you might be waiting, but you can create your own and let them come to you."

Jamila Mustafa lives by the grind

There's busy, and then there's Jamila Mustafa. During a June 2018 interview with xoNecole, Mustafa laid out her daily schedule at the time. Be warned. "I wake up at about 4-5 a.m. each morning. I head to set to shoot BET Breaks after a night of researching, writing, editing, and requesting photos for each news story," she explains. Wow, that sounds terrible. But wait, there's more!

"After that, I may have an interview, another hosting gig, audition, or call back, and some days, I will have all four in one day," she continued. "Also, I travel a lot to host or cover events, which is fun, but it can get hectic depending on the type of event. In the midst of that, I am currently traveling across the country, on two HBCU speaking tours to help raise and give scholarship money to students, one of them I launched called 'From HBCU to Hollywood."

We assume you're tired after reading that. Obviously, this doesn't leave enough time for self-care, which Mustafa admits is a constant "struggle" to find the time. She says that she exists on "power naps" and "healthy snacks" during the day to keep her energy up. But sometimes that isn't enough. "It's great being the plug, but sometimes you gotta take yourself out of the socket to cool down so you don't burn out, you know," she said. That's one bit of advice we're not sure she takes.