It began with a dream, and involved a whole load of hard work. British artiste Jorja Smith started her life in music from a young age, and that conviction got her from YouTube covers to now, award nominations and being a superstar in her own right. While she mentions she didn’t have a real plan in place, her headstrong ethos meant she went with the flow and never looked at others for comparison: “I work hard and just get on with things.” At the time of writing, Jorja was nominated in the International Female Artist of the Year category at the NRJ Music Awards 2019, and notably, she was announced as Dior’s Global Make-up Ambassador.
With a voice packed with emotion, and versatile in a range of styles, Jorja can take you on an emotional melodic ride like in “Goodbyes” and “The One”, then be edgier in tunes like “Be Honest” which features Burna Boy. There’s even more coming up as we found out, and here, Jorja goes into when she started out, how she was discovered, what beauty from within means, and how quitting music is out of the question.
Tell us your story as regards to your career and what advice would you give aspiring artistes today?
I have been writing since I was very young and properly since I was 11. I did not think that this is what I would be doing. I do not like being disappointed, so I do not plan things. I never planned what I would be doing in 10 years, five years, when I was younger. I go with the flow and I work hard and just get on with things. If I have to do this today, then I will do it, because that gets you places. If you are passionate and have a really good ethic, you will get to where you are supposed to go. I did not question things; I just did it. I do not watch what other people are doing either, what awards they are winning or their positions in the charts, etc. That is just not me and I think you will be unhappy if you do that. People, aspiring artistes, just keep grafting, working, writing in your room, etc. Be in the studio. Get good people around you, whose opinions you trust and do not compare yourself! Keep going and see what happens.
How did you start?
I met my managers when I was 15. They found a video of me singing on YouTube. I think that this is the issue. Maybe I came at a good time. I was 15, so that was 2014 maybe and I did not feel that social media was that big, that YouTube was big. I wanted to be like Justin Bieber, who put videos on and got huge from that, so that was what I was doing. I feel that now we are so consumed by social media, there is a lot of stuff out there and it gets very saturated. SoundCloud and YouTube are full; everyone is a singer and artiste. Everybody is online so that everyone can see everything. Although it is harder to be heard because there is so much out there, good music will always be found!
ON JORJA: Rouge Dior Ultra Care Liquid in 808 Caress, Dior Forever Skin Glow – 4W, Dior Backstage Contour Palette – 001, Dior Backstage Glow Face Palette – 001 Universal, Diorshow Pump ‘N’ Brow in 002 Dark Brown, Diorshow Pump ’N’ Volume HD in 090 Black, 3 Couleurs Tri(o)blique 553 Earthy Canvas
Growing up, have you always known you wanted to be a singer? Did you have an alternative career ambition?
I used to write stories and poems, but I never finished those stories. I would design front covers and blurbs, but then I would do chapter one and that would be it. I learned to play the piano from the age of eight and then I just used to sing with that and I have not really stopped. There was one point when I was 16 I thought I would quit music, but it was never going to happen; that lasted about a day.
When did you realise your music career was taking off?
Probably when I got to go to America and did my first show out there. It was just so crazy. I am from this very small town in Walsall in England and just being able to go all the way to America to do some shows and for people to actually come to see me perform. I did a headline tour in America that was all sold out. It’s still so surreal to me!
Do you get sensitive about the comments you get on social media, or have you learned to ignore them?
I used to. If I had seen those comments six years ago, I would probably have been so upset and done all sorts to kind of reverse comments and make people not think that about me. I would have done silly things. You just have to realise that everyone will always say something, and it does not matter if you love what you do. No matter what you do, someone will always have something to say about it. It comes with age really — caring less and being less sensitive to these things.
“Do not compare yourself to me or anyone you see in magazines. You need to find beauty within yourself and be comfortable with yourself.”
What do you consider as your greatest achievement so far?
That would be life. I get to share my life with so many of my friends and family and just go places I never thought I would ever be able to go. I am travelling the world and every day is like a new achievement.
What makes a woman beautiful in your eyes?
A nice level of confidence! It is how someone carries themselves. However, I do not want to say that confidence is the only thing, because sometimes I am not confident, but I still hope I look beautiful. Confidence, strength and just believing in themselves, that is what makes women beautiful — believing in their movements, choices, decisions and just doing what they want! From your perspective, what kind of beauty do you think young women should aspire to achieve? Beauty within themselves, I think. It is so difficult, and it is easier said than done. Do not compare yourself to people you see on TV. Do not compare yourself to me or anyone you see in magazines, etc. You need to find beauty within yourself and be comfortable with yourself. And I know it is hard because I had troubles doing that when I was younger, but then you grow, and I think when you grow you learn that you are beautiful and people love you for you. You just have to go and do that.
How did you feel when you were chosen by Dior to be a make-up ambassador?
I was over the moon. I did not really know what to expect from it as this is all very new to me. One thing for sure is I felt very honoured.
What are your favourite Dior make-up products?
I love the Dior Iconic Mascara because it makes my lashes look really long and full. I also love the Dior Backstage Foundation because I do not like anything too thick on my face, especially when I’m performing. I used to really like tinted moisturisers and this foundation is giving me just the right amount of coverage without being too heavy. I also really love the lipsticks. My absolute favourite that I can no longer live without is the Dior Lip Glow. I love how it enhances your natural lip colour. I also sometimes add a lip gloss on top to make my lips extra shiny.
What is the best make-up advice you have been given?
Carol [Carol Lopez Reid, Jorja's make-up artist] always makes me look great. The best make-up advice? Hmmm ... Putting concealer on top of your foundation was a great advice that I still follow today. Oh, and the importance of blending with the Beauty Blender. I think that is so important, to just check and make sure that everything has sunk into your skin properly. Also, sometimes get ready a bit earlier, then your make-up has time to live on your face and when it sinks in, it is warmed up. If you do not have time for your makeup to warm-up and set on your skin, setting sprays are really good and they do make a difference, I feel.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
There are loads of stuff people do not know about me. I am crazy and multifaceted (laughs) ... I am also very caring — I care too much about everyone else. It is so weird because I think people get my music and my videos, but my Instagram is my life, even though I do not post that much. Before on Instagram, I used to post so much random stuff. Now, I have more followers I am a bit more reserved. I am mad and very sensitive. People do not understand how sad I get if someone does not text me back (laughs). I care you know… That is the thing, I care too much about everyone else. I think I am nice (smiles and looks at her make-up artist Carol in the other side of the room)… right Carol, I’m nice?
Can you tell us about anything exciting coming up?
New music or anything else you care to share? I have been writing more with my band. I need to write more because last year was so busy, I did not really have time to write, so I am writing more now. I want to work on a little project, but I have yet to know what it will be. There will definitely be something coming out this year...
Jorja shares her routine and beauty with meaning.
• Her morning ritual would be… “I exfoliate my face twice ... Then I put on a day cream, eye serum, and finish with the Miss Dior Silky Face and Body Mist.“
• Her favourite beauty accounts are… “I like Adwoa Aboah, Paloma Elsesser, my make-up artists Carol and Peter Philips and Barbie Ferreira. I also love photographer Nadia Lee.”
• Her earliest make-up memory was… “When I was 14 I took a mascara from my mum’s room. It was dry but I wore it and thought I was transformed.”
• She always carries with her… “The Dior #001 Lip Glow, a nourishing face cream in case anything gets dry, and the lip colour I have on that day.”
PHOTOGRAPHY DEXTER NAVY FOR PARFUMS CHRISTIAN DIOR MAKE-UP PETER PHILIPS STYLING CHARLOTTE COLLET HAIR ZATEESHA MANICURE ELSA DESLANDES INTERVIEW COURTESY OF PARFUMS CHRISTIAN DIOR