On Monday nights, hip-hop lovers all over the city head to the open mic at Wine Up to get their fix of deep bass, lyrical word play and hot local talent. The crowd there, known for being brutal to ill-prepared artists, is definitely not for the faint of heart. Yet week after week, one New Jersey native manages to be a crowd pleaser without even spitting eight bars.
Kimya Dew is the almond-eyed beauty who hosts the weekly event, as well as her own television show, Kimya's House of Stars, on Time Warner Cable. In addition to shining light on some of the city's hidden talent, Dew is also a model, novelist, playwright and poet with her eyes set on the big screen.
Creative Loafing: What's it like being a female working in the nightlife and entertainment industry?
Kimya Dew: It's hard being a female in this industry and being taken seriously, but the sleeping around thing is not happening with me. Why would I want to jeopardize my name like that? That's a challenging thing for me right now. People will approach me, talking about business and then next thing you know, it's "You got a man?" What difference does it make? Are we going to do business or what?
You moved here from California. Do you feel living there affected your drive for success?
Living there definitely helped. I looked at the passion that people had in Cali, and they were just willing to do whatever. People out there are sleeping on the streets to try to achieve their stardom. But the thing about being out there is it's so hard because of all the nepotism. It's like one in a million chance you're going to become a big star out there, and it's sad. When I came back here, I used the passion that I saw out there as motivation.
What are some personal pros and cons you've seen since working in Charlotte?
The South is supposed to be home-oriented and family-oriented. But I've noticed a lot of people here don't want to connect and do stuff together, and they will definitely try to discourage you. Once someone told me they thought I shouldn't have my own TV show, that my name wasn't big enough. I didn't even ask him. I smiled and was like, OK, that's your opinion. What am I supposed to do, stop now 'cause you feel that way? I don't stop, and I don't quit — that's what I don't do. I may pause or regroup but I do not quit. Never have, never will. On the other hand, I love that the opportunities here are limitless.
On the menu for every great night in the city is the perfect cocktail. What's yours?
Moscato when I'm working, blue motorcycles when I'm partying and mojitos when I'm out with my girls.