“I started to trust a template of success without realizing that the true answer was within me all along”
On the Rise with Zehra Merchant
Rapper, artist, creative director… there is no one title that can hold down this rising star. Sana Dawood chats with the multi talented Lady Pinki$h to see what makes her tick.
Could you please introduce yourself to us?
Since I was young, I’ve had a burning desire and passion to find the truest form of myself. What am I the best at? What makes me special? In order to find my true self it was important that I experiment – so I tried everything from writing, acting and producing, to directing, rapping, comedy, dance and modeling. And while I enjoyed the different aspects of each outlet, I also enjoyed the lessons I learned. These experiences taught me that I should try to hone in on the one creative outlet, the one that is the truest expression of myself, and grow from there.
How did you get started in exploring your creative outlets?
I was born and raised in Pakistan, and during my schooling here I was always very interested in drama and acting, which became a true passion of mine. I landed the lead role a couple times, which helped me grow as an actor and as a person – teaching me responsibility and true hard work. I was confident that no matter what happened after high school I would continue to follow my passion, and I did. I studied and graduated from New York University where I further grew my artistic abilities, however, my education in the classroom was not what helped me grow – but rather my experiences became my education
What made you decide to create an alter ego? How has it helped you?
My whole life I’ve grown up with rules and restrictions – on what I can wear, say, who I can meet, and where I can go. I decided to create my alter ego, LADY PINKI$H because I was sick of the way I was “meant to behave.” Lady Pinki$h has given me a freedom I never had before – she has helped me attain a new level of fearlessness; I can finally say whatever I think or feel instead of worrying about offending the rules and people of my community.
What are the main difference between between Zehra and Lady Pinkish?
Everyone has always said, “Zehra you’re too nice!” and I soon came to realize they were right. Zehra is polite and considerate of other people’s feelings, she doesn’t want to hurt anyone – she wants to spread joy and light – she is kind and forgiving. Zehra prefers to focus on projects relating to charity, philanthropy, community building, and making our world a better place. Lady Pinki$h on the other hand is an outspoken daredevil, a rule breaker and a risk taker. My alter ego, Lady Pinki$h, is a way for me to hold on to both sides of myself – my kindness and my savageness. Lady Pinkish is fearless – if you cross her she does not forgive or forget – she gets even. Lady Pinki$h is the artist in me, she is my muse, she sparks my creatively and allows me to freely express myself without any worry.
What is something Lady Pinkish would talk about, but Zehra wouldn’t?
That’s a good question! I suppose Zehra would never discuss controversial topics such as alcohol, sex, drugs or money. Whereas Lady Pinki$h does touch upon these topics even though they are so socially taboo and discussion on them is frowned upon. Lady Pinkish recognizes our youth as it is now and speaks out on relevant matters – because the truth is a lot of people in Pakistan do certain things that no one is allowed to talk about. Lady Pinki$h invites discussion and conversation on taboo topics.
You have begun to venture into the world of music. How would you describe your style?
That’s a hard question because as I grow my style constantly changes. But, right now I would describe my style as hip hop, rap, and trap music.
What music have you been listening to these days?
I have a special playlist I made on Spotify called “Used to This” which consists of 67 songs I’ve handpicked to help me visualize my success and my future. I’ve filled the playlist with motivational and inspiring music such as “Congratulations” (Post Malone, Quavo), “0 to 100” (Drake), “Best Life” (Cardi B, Chance the Rapper), Fall (Eminem) and many more.
Tell us about your last project, and why you decided to remove it from social media.
My latest project, Project Z, was a production I directed, edited, produced, wrote and starred in. Project Z is a visual album consisting of 8 videos total, each video with its unique story and sound. Project Z touches upon independence, ownership, and success. Project Z taught me hard work, attention to detail, human relations, persistent and dedication. The reason I decided to remove it offline was because I came to realize that it was not the truest form of myself. I got caught up in the New York hip hop scene, and started to lose the parts of myself that made me unique and special. I started to trust a template of success without realizing that the true answer was within me all along. Now, I am secure with who I am and how I want to succeed. The lesson I learned from Project Z is to make sure any future work of mine truthfully reflects who I am and what I stand for, which means being true to myself, my religion, and my country.
Who are your current favourite rap artists?
Kanye West, Eminem, Drake, Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar.
Your Instagram features a lot of comedic content. Have you always been a jokester, and has that become a big part of yourself as Lady Pinkish?
Yes! I have always been a jokester but I never ever shared that part of myself until very recently. Lady Pinki$h made it easier for me to experiment and put myself out there. I LOVE exploring my comedic self because it’s so fun for me as well, and I believe that’s the most important ingredient in art – having fun while you’re doing it!
Whats up next for you?
I’m working on a couple of things, some music related and some new things. I will say that I’m trying to write and I’m focusing on a different aspect of my creativity. Stay tuned with me at @sheszehra on my Instagram, where you can find what’s up with Lady Pinki$h and Zehra.
What sets you apart from other people in the industry?
I am 1 in 400 trillion – just like you! We are all special and unique miracles of Allah! No one can be me, and I can be no one; I’ve figured that out now. I have to be myself, and that’s all any of us can be.