by Steven Snyder

Samantha Mumba believes fate works in mysterious ways. The 19 year-old hit singer, Grammy nominee, and film star of The Time Machine is the first to admit that she could not have predicted five years ago where she is today.   

“What people normally ask is ‘where do you see yourself in five to ten years,’ and I think, ‘hang on, if someone had asked me that five years ago, this is the last place I would have said. I mean, this kind of stuff just doesn’t happen.'”

But, for Mumba, it did. At the age of 15, she left school in her native Dublin, and snuck her way into a Dublin club pretending she was an R & B singer from New York. There, she met her future manager who secured a record contract and initiated her success.

“It’s a bit scary,” she says, following a day of publicity appearances throughout the twin cities, “Everything happens for a reason. If I wasn’t in the bar the night I was, I wouldn’t have met my manager. I wouldn’t have gotten my record deal. If I wasn’t in People magazine, I wouldn’t have gotten the movie. At the time you’re doing them, things like that don’t seem very big, but they can actually change your life.”

Elaborating about her early days as a tap dancer (she started at the age of three), her schooling and her accelerated ascent to stardom, she was humble and to the point. She was also more engaging and excited than what you would expect from film stars – she was giddy to visit the Mall of America that night.

She spoke of her passion for music, the inspiration for her single, “Gotta Tell You,” that reached #4 in America, and about her work on The Time Machine. “It was a great learning experience,” says Mumba, who was on location for four months. “The hardest thing was the language,” a dialect created for her character who exists in the distant future.

Her race, the Eloi, live on the walls of a canyon. It is a wondrous sight to behold and I was curious about the difficulty of interacting with such massive special effects. To my amazement, Mumba detailed the massive seventy-foot canyon that was constructed to create the scene, the hundreds of bamboo trees which were individually planted, and the attention to detail that made the film a delight to work on.

She also talked about her plans for the future. A new album will be released soon. She is also planning to continue her pursuits of both film and music. “I find the balance really refreshing. After (a movie), I’m looking forward to getting back and singing and performing. And, when that’s gotten tiring, it’s great to think again about movies.”

However, she is cautious about the next projects she chooses. She wants to avoid singing roles in films. “If I’m going to do the two, then do the two and do them right. How can I say I was acting if I’m a singer (in a movie). You’re not really acting then, you’re playing a scripted cameo.”

Her advice to others who are starting down the same path she took is simple: “Everything really does happen for a reason. I’m a firm believer of that. And if you go for 100 screen tests and don’t get them, there’s that one that’s perfect that you will get. What I find surprising is that a lot of people, if they get turned away from auditions, they get really depressed and down. That just drives me more.”

What she would call destiny has indeed treated her well. “I’m really really happy about where I am at the moment, so if this continues I’ll be chuffed.”

Chuffed. Wondering what chuffed means? I later discovered it means, “pleased, as if a person is dead chuffed.” For Samantha Mumba, “chuffed” is surely an understatement. – Steve Snyder