Watch the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards Live From The Red Carpet on Monday, 16 November on E! (DStv 124) at 02:00.
Watch the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards Live From The Red Carpet on Monday, 16 November on E! (DStv 124) at 02:00.

2020 E! People’s Choice Awards African Social Star winner Elsa Majimbo talks about fame

What’s it like to have the famous follow you online? Why does everyone think they can tell you what to do? Find what it’s like being Instagram famous with the hilarious Elsa Majimbo

The fans have voted, and in advance of the E! People’s Choice Awards’ live broadcast in the early hours of Monday, 16 November, Instagram sensation Elsa Majimbo got an early taste of the glamour and excitement when she found out that she’d been chosen as the African Social Star of 2020.

She beat fellow nominees like South Africa’s International Emmy Award-nominee and actress Thuso Mbedu, magician and TikTok star Wian van den Berg, and reigning Miss Universe Zozi Tunzi (who came in 3rd).

19-year-old Elsa, a former journalism student, has recently broken through the 1 million followers ceiling and her numbers keep rising thanks to her comedic ability to pinpoint our secret thoughts and attitudes during the global pandemic. Beauty brands like Fenty and MAC are knocking down her door, and the rich and famous want to interview her!

We spoke to the charming, sweet and funny Elsa about her 2020 and what she’s doing next…

More on Awards Season

All that and a bag of chips

When and how did you find out that you’d been awarded the People’s Choice Award for African Social Star?

Elsa: I was just in my room. I thought I was entering an interview, so I was prepped for an interview. I was told I had won, and I was so, so, so happy! It was insane for me. I didn’t exactly expect this because the category had so many amazing people who’ve done so many amazing things. I thought, “Okay, the competition is stiff. Even if I lose, I won’t be mad.” But I woooon! I am really happy.

What form does the award take? 

I don’t know. I am just like you, I don’t know. I am hoping it will be something small that I can just look at every day and think (she sighs), “I won the E! People’s Choice Award.”

How will we see you celebrating on your Insta?

It’s a surprise. I can’t tell you what I am going to do. But it’s definitely not something where you’re just like, “Hey guys! I won.” It has to be. “Hey. Guys. I Won!” It’s going to be that big and amazing.

What was it like to read Vogue’s feature on you, and to get someone’s impression of you from the outside?

First of all, when Vogue was like, “Heyyy, we wanna speak to you,” I was like, “Ah, Vogue!” I couldn't sleep that night. (Elsa performs a few quick Vogue dance moves with her hands). And when I got to speak to the journalist who was doing the whole piece, they really spoke to me about amazing things. They spoke to me about how it was growing up and everything that’s been happening in my life. You know, most people talk about my comedy. They spoke to me about what it’s like being a dark-skinned woman and how it’s been for me and the challenges I’ve faced. It was definitely something different that it brought light to about me other than the comedy and eating chips perspective. I posted it on the family group and then that night I was like, “I don’t know if they’ve read it, I don’t know if they’ve seen it’.” At night I switched the cables on the TV and I put it on the whole night in case anyone didn’t read it, they could have read it then.

What was it like as a journalism student to have journalists around the world like Anderson Cooper asking you questions?

I am no longer a journalism student. But Anderson Cooper, you know, the first time he followed me I was (Elsa gasps loudly). That’s when I was doing journalism and I told him, “Everyone in my class would die if they even knew you followed me, if they even knew you like one of my videos.” If they knew he even watched any of my videos, and I just told him, “You’re so amazing and you’ve done all these amazing things, and being able to create a name for yourself.” And he was like, “What? I love you. I would love to interview you!” And I was like, “Stop!” Just having that interaction was such an amazing moment for me. It’s Anderson Cooper, you know. He’s one of the biggest journalists in the world and he loves what I do. And in journalism, he is such a huge name. He is our Beyonce.

Who are a few of your favourite famous followers on Instagram? 

Oh, there are so many. Zendaya. Oh! Zendaya, I love her. Zendaya definitely took the cake from everyone. I lost it. I was like, “This is it, guys. This is it, you’ve done it.” I think Zendaya, Katy Perry, Kehlani , Keke Palmer. So many of them have showed me massive support. Keke and Kehlani and Sza have really supported me. Even Yara Shahidi and Chrissy Teigen. They’ve just been so amazing. You know Lilly Singh, every single time I need something or I am stuck, she is always there for me. It is so amazing to have that kind of support around, even from people I’ve been able to look up to in the past.

Who was the first person who started following you that shocked you?

Olympic superstar Usain Bolt! (Elsa laughs) You know in my comedy I am always, “Eat junk food, never exercise, don’t do any of that ever.” And that is literally the opposite of what he does. So when I saw him liking my content and he texted me and goes, “You’re hilarious,” I was like, “What?! Are you serious? Okay, unexpected, but thank you.”

What do strangers now think they can tell you to do because you’re internet famous?

Let me tell you, this is actually the most frustrating part. Everyone thinks they have a say in what you do. People will tell me, “Do this. Do that. Laugh less. Say less. You should have cancelled this part. Remove this.” I am always like, “Guys, guys? Okay, relax. I can’t do what everyone wants.” Everyone seems to want to have an opinion, out of good intentions or malicious intentions. But I feel like people don’t realise that content is so personalised. That it’s from me, it’s from my heart. You can’t dictate how I feel or how I want to feel.

What are some of the more intriguing offers that have come your way because of this?

There are so many offers from brands, I have been offered tonnes of money, which I never saw myself making for another good 10-15 years. I knew I would make that kind of money, I just didn’t think now. So I’ve been able to see crazy money and work with really cool people. I am part of the [Fenty] family, so they always treat me like family. It’s so amazing. They’re all so nice.

What do you understand better about reality and social media stars now?

Let me tell you, I always had this thing where I think celebrities are fictional. We see them but they’re not real people. But now I know they are real. I just think we are all living the same lives. It’s just for people who are in the spotlight, every single thing you do is out there in the public. I just realised how stars, if they get drunk, it will be recorded and everyone will be like, “Oh, look, she’s going off the rails!” But in reality, that’s what so many people do all the time, every single day. Even if you’re just very chilled and unproblematic and someone just sees you sipping wine, everyone will be like, “Oh, now she’s a drunkard!” You know! I feel like they always stay small because they’re in the spotlight. I’ve also learned to be very careful with what I do and what I say, how I carry myself. I have to be extra careful. It’s not like I always go doing crazy stuff that would shock people. But I’ve learnt that even when I have good intentions it might not be taken as such, so it’s very important that I be careful with everything I do. That’s what I’ve learnt from this.

What would you like to do in the next 6 months?

I am definitely getting into long-term contracts with some brands. That’s something I’ve been looking forward to. I am also looking forward to making a good amount of money, which makes me really, really happy. I also really want to get into acting and I want to do stand up. And I also want to do writing, so those are the things that I am focussing on right now. I am just working towards my goals. Focussing and working hard.

Finally, have you been able to work out what prompted some of the big jumps in your number of followers? 

Oh, let me tell you. It just happened. The numbers I have keep on going up and up. It’s not something I can explain. People don’t understand that I am just as shocked as they are. It’s shocking for everyone including me. I am grateful, of course, but I don’t know how it happened.

How does Elsa really feel about fame? Head to her Insta for her “When I get 20 Likes” hot take! “I didn’t go looking for Fame; Fame came looking for me,” Elsa declares while slipping on those trademark street vendor sunnies.

Watch E! Now

  • Watch the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards Live From The Red Carpet on Monday, 16 November on E! (DStv 124) at 02:00
  • Watch the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards Ceremony Live on Monday, 16 November on E! (DStv 124) at 04:00

Both will be repeated throughout the following day on Monday, 16 November on E! (DStv 124).

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