Creative executive, author, producer, filmmaker, voice actor, activist, and entertainment branding specialist Thembisa S. Mshaka has been in love with words, music and media for as long as she can remember. She founded Mshaka Media to house all her creative endeavors. A contributor for POISED, ShineYourCrown.com, Okayplayer.com and the Huffington Post, her newest work is featured in the acclaimed anthology UnCommon Bonds: Women Reflect on Race and Friendship (Peter Lang). Thembisa’s writings have been published in print and online, in textbooks (25 Hip-Hop Icons, Edited by Mickey Hess, Greenwood Press), anthologies Sometimes Rhythm, Sometimes Blues (Edited by Taigi Smith, Seal Press), and in business non-fiction through her own book, Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business (Grand Central Publishing), named among the Top 15 Hip-Hop Lit titles by AOL and slated for its Second Edition re-release by 2024. In 2021 she was selected as part of the inaugural Black Muslim TV Screenwriters cohort by the Hollywood Bureau, Muslim Public Affairs Council and The Blackhouse Foundation. Her first feature screenplay, Islamic Speed Dating, is complete, and she has pilots in development for multiple TV projects.
As Senior Advertising Copywriter for Sony Music, Thembisa created the award-winning global ad campaign for Lauryn Hill’s solo debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (now celebrating its 20th anniversary) along with multiple campaigns for Will Smith, Destiny’s Child, Beyonce’, Wyclef Jean, NAS, Jill Scott, Wu-Tang Clan, Maxwell and others, contributing to the sale of over 170 million units worldwide in just 5 years. Prior to joining Sony Music, Thembisa was the first Black person and first woman to hold the position of Rap Editor at GAVIN magazine, where she coined the phrase ‘Generation NeXt’ and broke many of today’s world-class hip-hop and soul artists (The Roots, Busta Rhymes, D’Angelo, Common, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, The Lady of Rage, Timbaland). Her campaign work led her to voiceover, where the 7-time Voice Arts Award nominee has acted in commercials for Ford, Xfinity, Publix, SunTrust Bank, and the voice of Aussie Shampoo. She is most proud of her breakthrough work as a voice actor in sports as the voice of The NY Liberty 20th Season, The WNBA, and the Muhammad Ali Center’s Legacy video, and the Women of Team USA during the 2021 Olympics for NBC’s Peacock streaming service.
Honored to be appointed the first copy director in Creative Services for BET Networks in 2005, Thembisa contributed to the 2008 Emmy-winning Rap-It-Up HIV/AIDS awareness campaign and conceived campaigns for top rated shows including The BET Awards, BET Honors and BET Hip-Hop Awards, and conceived campaigns for several original programs including The New Edition Story, and Being Mary Jane. A skilled talent director, she has been blessed to work with a broad array of greats, from the late Don LaFontaine (King of Movie Trailers) to Janelle Monae, and Academy Award® winners Mo’Nique and Jamie Foxx.
A frequent on-air guest, Thembisa is asked to share her insights across all platforms, including local television news across the United States, Water Walker Wednesdays with Brely Evans, TK in the AM, Hot 97-NY’s Street Soldiers, Sway In The Morning, and TV One’s Celebrity Crime Files. She has presented or delivered the keynote address at Bethune Cookman University, University of Maryland, Howard University, Delaware State University, and UC Berkeley. She is an advisory board member of the Universal Hip Hop Museum and non-profit organization, GiveLyrics.
A Los Angeles native, Thembisa is a proud alumna and donor of Westridge School’s Class of 1988. holds a degree in International Relations and Ethnic Studies from Mills College in Oakland, California. A graduate of the film producing program at New York Film Academy, Thembisa is a multiple festival selected writer-director and producer of three short films.