Thembi Terry has made a name for herself as the go-to woman for all things creative.
You may have bumped into her blog covering some of the trending issues with insight and wit. She’s written for various publications and is currently employed as a copywriter at an advertising agency in Harare. Bulawayo born Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu is the personal blogger that you’ve come to know as Thembi Terry. Here’s what you probably didn’t know about the energetic Zimbabwean blogger.
How did you start your journey to get to where you are today?
My blog is a homework assignment that just never ended. We had to take New Media as a module in Varsity and for me it took off and there was no way I was gonna let it go. I continued to grow with it and a couple of revisions later I think I’ve finally nailed it.
What is your creative writing process?
I love to create content on the go. Most of my blog posts are drafted on my phone. There’s something daunting about typing on a laptop, it feels a lot like work but when I’m texting on my phone, it’s like I’m texting a friend and the story just flows out of me. Plus, I’m never without my phone so I can text in bed, in the kombi or in the fuel queue.
I find most of my content ideas on social media and TV. I’ve found that articles that I write on trending topics do much better than ordinary posts. I’ve also started incorporating the Twitter content leads into my blogs to cite the source. Hopefully the people I follow on Twitter don’t block me.
How would you describe your blog what are the main issues you write about?
My blog breaks all the rules, it’s the rebel without applause. Most blog sites will tell you how you need to zero in on a niche and stick to it but I threw caution to the wind and decided to have a personal blog. This means I can blog about everything that matters to me that is. I’ve categorised my work into 4 so that you can quickly find the topic that interests you from the jump. I write for women but ironically majority of my readers are male. I can’t wrap my head around that.
How would you describe the Zimbabwean creative industries?
The TV show that best describes the Zimbabwean creative industries is ‘Survivor.’ Its literally survival of the fittest. Creating content in Zimbabwe is hard work and many people jump on and fall away along the way. It looks easy but all that glitters isn’t gold. It almost feels like there can only be one winner. If you’ve been following the #OpenUpTheIndustry hashtag in South Africa, the creative industries in Zimbabwe are something like that. It’s a damn shame cause quite literally, together we achieve more. You can’t build an industry on your own. That’s not how it works. We need to open up the industries and have more creative players.
Can you tell us more about the work you do as a social influencer?
Let’s start with I’m picky AF! I am unable to pretend, so if I am not into a brand, I won’t waste their time or mine. I’ll let them know straight up that it’s not for me. In my blog post about being an influencer, I cover the basics on how to do it right and if you’re doing it right, you’ll have to turn down some jobs to preserve your street cred and the trust you have built with your audience.
Can you tell us what is Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe?
Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe is a social club for women and girls in Zimbabwe. I have an obsession with seeing women win so that’s the main reason why Girl Grandeur was founded. It’s like my own little way of countering the Big Boys Club by creating a safe space for women and girls to come together and share ideas, opportunities, and personal experiences in order to have meaningful discussions about life as a woman living in Zimbabwe.
As a social entrepreneur what is your driving force and what causes do you support?
There are three causes that I am passionate about women and girls, new media and the arts.
As you work in advertising would you think that gives you an edge to how you develop engaging content?
Being a copywriter has given me a platform to learn the trapeze between the brand’s expectations and the content that my readers would like to see. If the swing between these two isn’t calculated, someone is gonna eat concrete and that someone will probably be me. I now know how brands think and how they pick the influencers that they use and that’s definitely given me a leg up. I use my platforms to try out new tricks that brands are too conservative for. When I’m on my blog best believe I am peacocking! Letting the brand know that this could be you but you’re playing – start paying.
What is your favourite blog post on your website?
I can’t pick just one. All my blog posts are a part of me. If I published it, it was something that I felt was worth sharing. I can’t overlook how going through the #SheHeals challenge changed me as a human being. What people didn’t realise is that majority of those blog posts were written with my face drenched in tears. I had never been so vulnerable and honest with my readers. I took them through some things which was different from what they were used to. I think during my time of healing, they got to really know Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu. They were so emotionally charged that I never revisit them…. ever.
Can you share with us what your experience moderating at the Women Wine and Words Festival in Harare?
The Women, Wine and Words Festival was amazing. When Steph from Enthuse emailed me about it, I knew I had to be there. I’ve always attended Intwasa Arts Festivals and this was the first time it was coming to Harare and to have been a part of that was an honour. I moderated the discussion about Body Positivity with a star-studded panel. I remember being so nervous right before cause these were women known for being smart and opinionated. I could have easily made a fool of myself. I researched a lot on the topic and the panellists and that led to an exciting conversation. The panellists didn’t hold back which made it even more saucy! I had a great time and I got to network with like-minded females in the creative industry.
How would you describe your fashion style?
I’d hardly call it a style. I just wear whatever is comfortable and won’t get me harassed in the street.
What is the one thing you always travel with?
Money! Where would you be going without it? You can buy everything else if you at least have money.
Who are your heroes or people you look up to?
My mentor Thembe Khumalo has been a dream come true. I followed her for years, before I even completed my degree in Journalism and Media studies. She is the epitome of what I want to be as a mom, business woman and media mogul. She doesn’t know this but she started mentoring me way before we formalised it. I watched her on the social media streets and mimicked the way she’d handle her brand. I nearly died when she DM’d me on Twitter for a coffee date. I was so star-struck I ignored it for days. (Reply those DMs people.)
Can you give us your favourite quote of your own?
“No one is coming to save you,” when I had this epiphany, my life changed and I went and got me everything they had deprived me of. Like Tearra Mari once said, “When it comes to that rent, that whip. That check, ain’t nobody gonna protect your neck like you!” If I need to remember this, I play Iggy Azalea’s Team and I’m right back on top of things.
What do you do to unwind?
In typical celebrity fashion, I sleep to unwind. When my back hurts from oversleeping, I’ll do some adult mindfulness colouring. I can do this for hours on end. When things come right, I’ll set up an art studio and start producing pieces again.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Normani is at the top of my list because my other faves think it’s funny to not put out new music right now. Her fire is undeniable. The girl can sing and dance plus she makes the best music videos that look like art. I can relate a lot to Cardi B so she is definitely one of my favourite musicians. Her hustle is exciting. I wanna write a dissertation on that girl’s road to success. That’s a brand built right! This is gonna be a shocker but Enzo Ishall is another one that sparks me. He is funny and I like that. It’s nepotism but Asaph has been my chart topper since back in the day and I am in awe of what he has done and how far he has come.
What is on your music playlist now?
So Amerie is making a comeback and her ‘Curious’ song is stuck in my head! I am in love with that song, it’s amazing.
What new projects, collaborations, shows can we look forward to?
Let’s revisit this when I’m back from the United States of America!