I wonder if there is ever a dull day in Flavia Tumusiime’s life, her flagship smile is definitely her biggest accessory. The charisma in her voice is more distinct when she smiles. This, she says, helps her to loosen up and calm down whenever she gets nervous on air.
I waltzed into Capital FM studios at Kisementi for the interview on a chilly Monday afternoon both anxious and excited to meet Flavia. I gathered my courage so fast for it is not very likely to come face to face with greatness.
Flavia Tumusiime is a full package, she needs no introduction. Her face and voice are etched in the minds of many. She is one of the faces on NTV news at 9pm and voice behind the AM-PM show on capital radio. She is a corporate events emcee, an actress, voice over artist, model, producer, director and a VJ (Video Jockey).
Flavia boosts of fifteen years in the media industry. She is one of those few that set out to secure a future from the murky uncertain waters of media at a very young age. At only fourteen years, she was a Teen’s club presenter, a youth show that aired on WBS television.
Her calm demeanor is a far cry from my expectation and this immediately calms my nerves. We chat during her radio show breaks.
Twenty nine years ago at Nsambya hospital, Flavia Tumusiime was born to a Ugandan Father and a Rwandese Mother, she is the only child for her parents. Flavia was raised in Kampala Suburbs where she first attended school at St. Theresa Kisubi girls’ Primary School.
Life was normal for little Tumusiime until she lost her father at only eight years, she was left with only a mother to lean on and this humble beginning made most of her growing life story. “Life totally changed after my father’s death, the school I went to and the house we lived in changed” she narrates.
Growing up, Flavia was not certain of what she wanted to be, “I did not know what I was good at or my talent and I only thought I was studying to one day sit behind a desk in someone’s office”. It was until a family friend suggested that she goes for a television interview where she landed her first presenting job.
While on television, she focused on improving herself because she was working for school fees and was never bothered about fans. After four years on the show, she quit and tried her luck in radio.
However, her first knock on Sanyu Fm doors was not successful. “It was hard for any employer to trust a seventeen year old to do anything.” While looking for a radio job, she worked as a voice over artist for Roger Mugisha.
“I was now a senior six candidate at Kitante Hill School studying during the week and recording radio ads over the weekend.”
She later got her first radio job on ‘Hot 100’, however, six months later, Capital Fm advertised for presenters where she auditioned. “I walked into capital fm for auditions as a joke because Capital Fm was a big thing back in the day, but I got it”. She says.
The excited Flavia ran home that day to break the good news to her mother. “I later signed the contract and eventually I could take care of myself, my mother and afford my university tuition”. Flavia narrates with a satisfied voice.
Since childhood, she was always focused, she always knew what she wanted and so the Capital Fm job wasn’t the end for her. After completing high school, Flavia joined Makerere University Business School for a Bachelor’s degree in International business and later joined Cavendish University for a Bachelor’s Degree in Public relations.
Flavia did not stop, she became a top entertainment figure in Africa, being the first Ugandan VJ for Channel O Africa, she also became the first Ugandan to co host Big Brother Africa, She hosted the Guinness African Challenge, and other big shows on the continent. She has also acted in two Ugandan movies and a series.
For the love of media, Flavia put up a production company that produced her own show ‘Reserved’, a life style show that featured profiles of celebrities. “I did not want to get completely detached from media after retiring from casual media work, so I invested in a media company.”
Her transition to news anchoring
In 2015, social media was a blaze over Flavia Tumusiime’s first debut as a National television news anchor. From this feedback, Flavia seemingly played the ‘alluring’ and ‘secondary’ role, she attracted more men to NTV news than women and some confessed to watching Flavia and not the news.
“Did you see yourself cross over to journalism or you were as shocked as we were?” I ask her. “People just saw Flavia on news in a flash, but for me, the journey had started five years ago and even before my debut, there was signing of a contract and a month of intense training that people never get to see.”
“So what has the transition been like for you?” I ask again. She takes a deep sigh and then chuckles before telling me about it. “It wasn’t easy, it was tough; I am not saying that the entire journalism career is tough but the way I walked in made it tough for me.”
Flavia walked in to a group of people that did not trust her, “my colleagues did not trust that I could do the job, and they did not think that I had a place so they treated me like I was lost.”
It is this environment that forced Flavia to learn the hard way. She enrolled for an online course at the London school of journalism to learn a few basics. Eventually she proved herself worthy and even started to push for more interviews. “They did not understand my strength and so they treated me that way but as time went on they started to trust me, advise me and listen to my questions, though no one was willing to tell me about anything at the start.”
Even with such a tough beginning, Flavia did not give up. “When you work for a radio like Capital Fm, you are your own producer and editor and so that helped me to be an overall informed person, I also had confidence that I would eventually make it.”
Also, for a long time, Tumusiime thought journalism was mere talent. “I was wrong about the way I thought of journalism, so I struggled so much, but now I am not slowing down, I love journalism and it has taken a whole new meaning for me. I want to do my best in it.”
The ambitious Flavia now looks up to be the next Christian Amanpour, “I want to not just present the news but to tell the story and bring it to life.”
The unfair representation and presentation of women
She tells me of many instances a producer has let the guy do a certain job and not her. “And surprisingly even a female producer will prefer to give the job to the man than the counterpart who is female”. She says with an assuring voice.
“I have been side lined a lot because I am female, the bosses will prefer to speak to the man and not the lady. Even a lights director will rather tell your male counterpart where to stand but will not tell you directly.” She also wonders why they always think of a woman with less substance.
She recalls that when she had just got her capital radio job, media reported that she was dating her boss because people do not think a woman can qualify for a job professionally.
People also make it hard for women in television because they want to see you looking a certain way, they want to objectify you and so at the start of her career, she struggled to stay true to herself.
There are many instances where Flavia has stood her ground and boldly spoke for herself though this has not worked. “Instead, people thought of me as rebellious and proud because I confidently spoke out, so they even refused to hire me again.”
But over the years, she has learnt that when you patiently work hard, with time, the work speaks for itself and that has been her best solution. “Deliver your job well, be professional as much as you can and that will speak for you.”
She also says that self respect is very key, “You also need to know your role and definition as a woman and respect yourself and those in your life, so they will in turn respect you.”
To the ladies pursuing a career in journalism, Flavia says that patience, confidence, humility, hard work and having a prayerful life are key values.
Thank you for Stopping by,,,,,,,,
Photos: I (Mazing Photography)
If you have read this story till the end, thumbs up for am sure you have picked a few lessons from Flavia’s rich personality