Born in Trinidad and Tobago on December 8th, Onika Tanya Maraj experienced a childhood filled with abuse, drug-addiction, and violence. It would be these struggles that led her to fight for her own empowerment. Along the way, she was helped by a variety of personas including Cookie, Harajuku Barbie, and eventually Nicki Minaj. Always having a flare for performance, she went on to author her first rap at the age of twelve. After her graduation from high school, the determined Minaj went on to back-up sing for many local rappers. After her MySpace was discovered by Dirty Money’s CEO, she was quickly signed to his label. She released her first debut album in 2010 at the age of 28. She has gone on to win best hip-hop female, judge on American Idol, and appear in the 2012 super bowl. The New York Times has gone on to name her the most influential female rapper in history.
Did you know she attended one of the best music and acting schools? schools in the country? The school featured in Fame, LaGuardia has taught celebrities including Liza Minnelli and Al Pacino about the art of acting and performing. Nicki Minaj become an alumni of La Guardia School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts in 2002. Contrary to what many might believe, her academic interests had little to do with music. She chose to pursue a major in acting; videos from those days showcase Minaj as the fiery independent woman we know today. Her jaw-dropping stage presence likely benefited from her time spent in all those drama classes. While she never had the opportunity to attend college, something she commonly laments, the superstar encourages other young people to do so.
She believes that education is key to empowerment and independence. Marie Claire quoted her as saying the following in 2013: “My fans send me pictures of their diplomas; the younger ones send me pictures of their report card. Whether I had this platform or not, I would be telling little girls and little boys, stay in school. Always depend on yourself. Make a name for yourself. That’s how I treat my nieces and my little brother. They’re 15, 13, and about eight, and I never want them to get to a place where they have to depend on anyone else.” As should be obvious from her stand out style, Minaj truly values the independence that an education can bring.