If 2023 truly belonged to anyone, then it was undeniably Saddie Vybez. The up-and-coming talent dominated big stages, including the electric Trace Awards Festival, and the Move Africa concert, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda. Collaborating with prominent artistes such as Bruce Melody and even gracing the stage with the iconic Kendrick Lamar, among others. ALSO READ: Legendary singer Khadja Nin on musical journey, upcoming mission to Rwanda Saddie Vybez has become synonymous with unparalleled 'vibes'. From Instagram reels to Tiktok, she led the themes. But behind the enchanting energy lies a deep-seated passion, a self-disciplined feminist, and an advocate for mental health. In an exclusive sit-down with The New Times, we delved into the journey of Saddie Vybz - real name Saidat Uwase Rwagasana. A happy accident Born and raised in a culturally rich and diverse home, Saddie first fell in love with dance at the tender age of 10. As a hobby, she said to have derived from both her parents, she was a traditional dancer, way before we knew her for who she is now. Little Saddie, didn't know she would be a dancer. I can't really tell the reason why, but I was a very angry child. I started being joyful when I started dancing, she recounted. ALSO READ: Grammys 2024: Africa shines, Jay Z slams event, Killer Mike arrested and more Saddie grew up in a large Muslim family, surrounded by many distant cousins and siblings, with strong convictions. However, somehow along the way, she came to embrace her individuality and developed her own perspectives about life. Wearing the hijab is overrated to me. A person's worth should be measured by their character and beliefs, not their physical appearance, she exclaimed, stating that true beauty and goodness stem from inner qualities rather than external appearances. ALSO READ: Beauty queens that have represented Rwanda at international competitions Reflecting on her early years, the celebutante said, Back then, I wasn't very good at dancing, especially modern dance. My sister and cousin loved to dance, and sometimes I would join them. However, whenever I would, people would tell me to sit down and not embarrass myself. This made me believe that I was terrible at dancing, and I never imagined that I would become a dancer in the future.” “Besides, my parents were not really supportive of my passion, so I never pushed to continue pursuing dance. Despite being discouraged Saddie's love for dance continued to ignite her soul, leading her to later on, after graduation from high school, cross paths with Manzi Mbaya, a renowned dance teacher in Rwanda. Taking her first class at Club Rafiki, she experienced a unique connection with the children she danced with—children from diverse backgrounds, united by the sheer joy of movement. Saddie had found her purpose. Dance became her medium to spread happiness and make people's hearts dance along with her. In 2018, Saddie took her passion for dance across borders to China, where she pursued her bachelor's degree in engineering with a focus on mechanical design, automation, and manufacturing. Amidst her academic pursuits, she remained dedicated to her newfound love, dancing. Exploring various dance styles, she eventually fell deeply in love with Afrobeat, a genre that, she said, uniquely resonated with her spirit - hence becoming her signature style. Determined to make dance her career, Saddie acknowledges the value of her engineering degree but considers it a backup plan. Through dance, I have the power to impact lives in ways engineering never could. It has transformed my own life, and I strive to touch others with the same magic. However, I do have other talents and skills, such as translation and fluency in Mandarin, and Chinese, which I can always utilize for financial gains, she explained. Challenges and mental health Navigating the entertainment industry as a woman poses its own set of challenges, something Saddie bravely admits. I believe that being a woman in this industry can be quite challenging, considering that there are many preconceived notions and assumptions made about women who do this career, she said. Personally, I consider myself to be someone who is both strong and fragile. I'm not hesitant to acknowledge my strengths, but at the same time, I am also quite sensitive. My mental well-being can be easily impacted, and I constantly strive to prioritize my peace of mind. Nevertheless, the reality remains that it is undeniably difficult to navigate the stereotypes and expectations placed upon women in this industry, she continued. Advising, that surrounding oneself with positive influences and distancing from toxicity are essential aspects of self-care routine. When asked about her vision for the future, she said, that as the country emerges as a global destination for entertainment, new avenues for growth and opportunities beckon. Saddie recognizes the potential for financial success and firmly believes that every industry possesses its own wealth, waiting to be tapped into. By conducting meticulous market analysis, identifying unmet needs, and offering innovative solutions, aspiring artists can forge their own paths to success, Saddie asserted, advising Hard work, determination, and proving that what you offer is unique and valuable are key factors to accessing the wealth within your industry. More stuff Saddie is not only a dancer but also a dance instructor and choreographer. While 'Saddie' was coined from her name 'Saidat', the 'Vybez', (read vibes), has a story on its own. As Saddie shared, the name was born during a fun night out with friends. Her infectious dance moves caught the attention of her friends who praised her for having great vibes. Pushed by their words, Saddie embraced the name 'Vybez' as a representation of the positive energy she brings to every performance. Saddie's dance style defies categorization, fusing elements of various cultures into a blend of fluidity and expression, which she described as a fusion. Though she has only danced professionally for a short time, her exposure to various dance styles allows her to blend them seamlessly, producing visually stunning performances. The primary focus is on conveying the message behind the music, with choreographies that are not merely a display of skill and talent; but a medium to communicate emotions, stories, and experiences, she said. Adding, cheerfully, fusing different dances, letting them birth something that I don't know, but that looks good. For people to look at, understand the message but also see the beautiful body movement.