Despite landing a So So Def record deal before her 21st birthday, YouTube sensation Dondria (Ms. Phatfffat) recently took a break from stardom to find herself, mature and return to humble beginnings–a decision she’s happy to have made.
“When I first got signed I just kind of followed what everybody said to do—I was kind of spoiled like a spoiled brat so having the opportunity to be signed and make music that didn’t help it added to things being handed to me.”
Seven years since signing with Jermaine Dupri, she’s dropped her former persona Ms. Phatfffat and is reintroducing herself as Dondria Nicole. Unlike other artists, she learned her mistakes early and hopes to catapult her music career to new heights.
During our “Digital Dish” segment, we got a chance to chat with semi-independent artist (“This particular project, the single and EP that will be following is all me and my team but I’m still signed”) about her beauty transformation, newly formed confidence and the fans.
Flip the page to learn more about this former Youtube sensation.
*We “Vixen Verify” HerNailsRock for always supplying professional nail services with impeccable nail art to our celebrity guests.
Dondria: I will credit that to just growing up, being more mature, owning my newfound sexiness and my fierceness and just being confident. New music as well; more mature music, more sassy music. I don’t want people to be stuck on “little Phatfffat” or the younger Dondria.
Are you grateful for Ms. Phatfffat or is that an era of your life you want people to forget?
Not necessarily– I just want them to appreciate that [Ms. Phatfffat] but have a new respect for this [Dondria Nicole] because I’m definitely grateful for all of that.
How was your hiatus from dropping music?
I never stopped working. I was always in the studio, always writing but you can just say that I was finding myself. When I first got signed, I just kind of followed what everybody said to do- sing that, sing this, wear that and not that I’m not grateful for because it has gotten me to a place but I just got a chance to really get to know who I am. I mean I was pretty sheltered young and I never really had to do or be responsible. I was kind of spoiled like a spoiled brat so having the opportunity to be signed and make music that didn’t help it added to things being handed to me so having a hit single and it not being a hit no more and falling back down to the bottom and looking around like where is all those people, it kind of showed me how to be more responsible, how to manage my money, how to speak up more for myself and just grow up.
Was that reality call what you needed?
I’d definitely say that I needed that on a much lower scale than what other celebrities may experience on a higher one because I think that makes people depressed but I think it happened to me in the right moment. I also think that my time wasn’t necessarily then. I’m grateful for it to have started there but I think that it was supposed to happen later cause I don’t think that I was ready for it.
Why are you ready now?
I’m ready. I’ve done a lot of experimenting, I mean from head to toe I’ve tried everything so I just think I’m ready, my looks ready, my sounds ready, I know exactly what I want and what I don’t want and I’m a better business woman cause you know before I’d be like ‘alright cool’.
Are you apart of the entire process?
Are you still with So So Def?
I am. I’m still with him [Jermaine Dupri], this particular project, the single and EP that will be following is all me and my team but I’m still signed.
Is it easier or harder?
It’s a little bit of both; the easy part is me being able to call every single shot and do exactly what I want to do not that I don’t take advice or criticism from anybody because I do, but I’m just so hands on. The negative thing, which is not totally negative but it’s harder than just having somebody provide you with whatever you need and you just run with it.
Would you change this independent journey?
No, the journey is always the hardest but when you do things independent the reward is, I know it sounds cliché, but the reward is better.
So you also see a financial and personal benefit?
What songs are you working on? What’s the sound like?
I am still staying true to like the authentic R&B. I mean that’s my baby, I would never leave that but I am going to add more sassy more attitude and swag to appeal to everybody because I know you don’t want to listen to a ballad all day everyday.
What topics will you be discussing?
I’ll be discussing the being in love, the breaking up, the I’m feeling myself, the F—that ni—a and lets work it out, lets makeup.
How are you currently feeling?
Well currently I’m feeling myself laughs, we’ll get into the love and all of that later but right now I am feeling myself.
So we’re single.
We’re feeling ourselves [laughs].
What kind of women do you want to listen to your music and get inspired?
I want everybody to. I want the grown woman that has their 9-5, maybe married, maybe a kid but needs that record to sometimes pep them up. It can be draining to have a routine life so I would love to have that record for them to kind of pep them up and feeling themselves. I want to appeal to women my age to be in the club be with their friend and dance and I mean the young girls. I think this particular single that I’m dropping, it’s for everybody because it’s about confidence and owning who you are, knowing that you’re sexy and that you don’t need anybody to tell you or show you that.
On Youtube you seemed uber confident–how hard was it to recapture that in a new way?
I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t confident I would say that I didn’t necessarily know who I was. I was that person that I’m just going to go with the flow like lets just do it. I just wanted to do what everybody else wanted to so I think it’s more that I found myself because I didn’t know.
Tell us about constantly switching up your look.
When I first started everybody was confused–they didn’t know if they wanted to put me out in sneakers as the young OMG girls or if they wanted to make me mature and be my age. which was 18-19 at the time and then when I turned 23,24,25 it was just I still didn’t look my age so that was the main thing. They wanted to baby me out, they had me in sneakers and all these bright colors and I wasn’t feeling it because I just was older than what they were making me.
What’s one fashion trend that you love and one that you hate?
I hate when girls do that highlight [on their eyebrows] and they don’t blend it out and it’s like on the top and on the bottom. I know it’s not necessarily fashion but you’re face completes your whole look so you could be dressed fly but if you’re brows look like that I don’t take you seriously and wedges, I’m over wedges. I love layering and like a grudgy-chic style.
What person would inspire that look?
Teyana Taylor does it pretty well and she does it very often, she’s good at. She’ll have the sneakers and then switch it up real quick. Ciara does it, and a stylist—her name on Instagram is—AndrogynousDouby, I love her style and she definitely embodies what I’m trying to say.
Do you look at your comments on Instagram?
I do in a sense. I don’t read every single one but I think I do when I initially post something because that’s when you get the biggest response. I might look through just to see where it’s starting to go.