We tv's Growing Up Hip Hop premiered on Thursday (Jan. 8), exploring the ups and downs of children living with legends of the music industry. The reality series stars a diverse group celebrity offspring looking to create a career in music, fashion, food, and film. We spoke with youngest cast member, Egypt Criss, for an exclusive interview. She revealed her initial reaction to participating in the show, the college she desperately wants to attend, and details surrounding her upcoming jewelry line.
Growing Up Hip Hop follows the lives of Egypt (Pepa and Treach's daughter), TJ Mizell (Jam Master Jay's son), Angela Simmons (Rev. Run's daughter), Kristinia DeBarge (James DeBarge's daughter), Romeo Miller (Master P's son), and Damon "Boogie" Dash (Dame Dash's son). Simmons, Miller, and Master P all serve as executive producers on the show.
Egypt's parents played a huge role in hip hop, as Salt-n-Pepa were one of the first all-female rap groups in the game, while her father's trio, Naughty by Nature, were New Jersey natives who went on to win a Grammy and an American Music Award. Despite being raised under a hip hop umbrella, Egypt is looking to create a different path for her future. At just 17, she's determined to achieve her goal of becoming a big time Hollywood actress.
A photo posted by Egypt Criss (@egyptcriss98) on Jan 4, 2016 at 10:49am PST
Read the full interview below to discover the steps Egypt is taking toward stardom, what she's hoping viewers will learn about her from the series, and how her parents' celebrity status has led to misconceptions of her actual wealth.
Morgan Murrell: Did you have any hesitations about doing the show?
Egypt Criss: I was actually very excited about it! My mom presented the idea to me. She told me there was an idea floating around about a show similar to Empire, but the real deal. I just loved the idea, because it was so creative. It's always been my dream since I was a little girl to be in this industry, so I didn't hesitate at all. I jumped right on it!
What are you hoping viewers learn about you from the show?
For me, still being a young girl, I hope people know that I'm getting pretty far in life just by being motivated and not giving up. I want young people to learn from me, see my story, and say hey well, "if she can do it, I can do it." I know my parents are legends and everything, but I want people to view me like any other kid trying to make their dreams come true.
A photo posted by Egypt Criss (@egyptcriss98) on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:29pm PST
Because you're still in high school, do you have any plans after graduation that are outside of the industry?
Yes! I really want to attend Montclair State University in New Jersey. They have an amazing performing arts program. I would love to go there and gain more acting experience. I want to take acting classes and then one day become a film actress or have my own TV show. I'm making a jewelry line called Forever E. I also want to create a brand called Be.See.Own., which simply stands for: "Be what you imagine, See where you want to go, and Own it."
Are there any moments on the show that you're nervous or really excited for viewers to see?
I'm nervous and excited. My mom and I argue a lot and I feel like people are going to think I don't listen to her or something, but that's not true. I love my mom and it's only when I'm trying to get my point across that it might seem like I'm not listening. The exciting part about the show is people now recognize me as Egypt instead of Pepa or Treach's daughter. That's the best thing about it so far.
What three words would you use to describe the show?
I would say hilarious, family-oriented, intriguing.
You mentioned possibly receiving backlash because of your last name. Have you ever experienced any bullying solely because you're the daughter of a celebrity?
I've never experienced physical or verbal bullying, but I have had a lot of fake people in my life who have tried to use me. There are people in school who assume I have it all and that's not true. They'll ask me to buy lunch for them at school and then the next second they pull out a stack of cash. So it's like, "why did you need me to buy this if you're pulling all that money out of your pocket?" They assume I'm rich and that money doesn't phase me, but they're wrong. Money doesn't grow on trees for anyone.
What's next for Egypt Criss? How are you preparing to become the next big actress?
I've auditioned for this film and I'm really excited about it. I can't really say too much about it, but I pray that I get the part. As for my jewelry line (Be.See.Own.), it delivers luxury quality through fashion products and lifestyle experiences. The line is dedicated to young women who get their own money, ultimately celebrating women's independence. Diamond rings are typically marketed toward men to buy for women, but I want to see my ladies buying their own jewelry. Today's women work, they run their own businesses, and they buy their own gifts. I want to launch rings, bracelets, and earrings with it.