The story of Diddi Emah is one of the most inspiring stories you could ever come across from an African-bred celebrity. Having performed against some of the biggest names in the global music Industry, Diddi is a perfect case in point that hard work and patience actually pays in the long run. As we speak, the choreographer cum songwriter was awarded the best African dancer in the recently ended AFRIMMA awards in Dallas Texas. This is alongside the likes of Davido, Wizkid and Khaligraph Jones all from the black soils of Africa.
Actually, this is not the first time that Diddi is appearing in the spotlight. Her most epic performance was in Beyoncé’s iconic 2-hour long Coachella act that took place earlier this year In point fact, reading Diddi Emah’s Bio is one of those things that can leave you with balancing tears.
Who is Diddi Emah?
Edidiong Emah is a Nigerian born Artist, Entrepreneur, and Choreographer. She hails from Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria, though her father is a half cast between a Cameroonian and Calabar-an. Despite descending from mixed cultures, Emah can speak Ibibio, French, and English quite fluently.
Where did she grow up?
Even before she could barely walk, Edidiong’s mother, Momma Udoh relocated to America in search of greener pastures. When they immigrated to America, Diddi was only two years old. The only languages that she could speak were her mother tongue ‘Ibibio’ language and a little bit of French.
Diddi Emah’s school life
Elementary school couldn’t be any harder for Edidiong. Despite being fully aware of her daughter’s language constraints Mama Udoh still took her daughter to an American elementary school and this is where the drama ensued. Speaking in an interview with Defining Cultures last year, Diddi explained her ordeal with school life back then.
In school, Diddi used to be this unique African girl with long braids and a funny fast-paced English accent. Other kids in the school would make fun of her until she couldn’t take it more. At one time she even started whipping some of the kids that bullied her and this brought problems to her mother.
Proud to be African
At first, the artist wasn’t sure whether to let people know of her Nigerian roots. Nonetheless, people always found out about this in one way or another. For instance, her mother mama Udoh would occasionally dress her in characteristic African attires that left people asking questions. Nonetheless, Edidiong was later transferred to a uniform wearing school just to try and help her blend in perfectly with other American kids.
How Edidiong discovered her dancing talent
In Middle school, Diddi was not just your ordinary girl. She used to ace all the Mathematics and Science tests which actually meant that she was in her own class of students. Eventually, the teachers enrolled her for the gifted school program where she learned together with other similarly talented kids. This way, she was able to steer clear of bullies now that her new class had fewer students.
The move to art school
Over time, Diddi’s teachers noted the girl’s rare talent in music and dance and they eventually managed to convince Mama Udoh to enroll her daughter to an art school. This is how the artist landed a seat in one of the most reputable American art schools, The DeKalb School of the Arts. Her audition at the art school went quite well though they did not come without struggle. Nonetheless, Emah wasn’t new to dancing since she was already performing in her mum’s African dance troupe tagged Ima Cultural Dance Troupe, ever since she was about 3 years of age.
She was selected among 49 others to join the school keeping in mind that she still had her studies to keep up with. This is the same talent school that Childish Gambino, Lloyd, and Omar Dorsey went to. Here you must maintain a minimum of 3.0 GPA to avoid being kicked out yet Diddi was able to keep up with the competition.
How Diddi decided to do dance fulltime
By the time she was 16, Diddi was already choreographing for better-paying gigs. At the time she was signed to 411 South Talent under dance agents Sindy Schneider and Nefertiti Robinson. Her age, however, limited the number of dance gigs she could land. Instead, Diddi opted to do choreographies alongside popular artists. Her freestyle dancing talent gave her a rare confidence and she was no longer afraid to tell people that she was of Nigerian origin.
At only 16 video producers and fans were already requesting to feature Diddi in their videos. This is how she came to start her own private dance lessons to popular artists like Ciara and Keri Hilson. At 18, with the continuous support of her mother, Diddi decided to do dance full time.
Building her Choreography career in Georgia State University
Her exemplary performance at DSA (DeKalb School of the Arts) made it easy for her to land a scholarship into Georgia State University. Georgia State University was just the perfect place for Emah to study, now that her managers at the Atlanta-based 411 South were just within reach. Diddi now had a very busy schedule, trying to balance school and Choreography performances alongside the likes of Sean Garret.
At times the artist had to do her school assignments on board a flight to hit the deadlines, whereas the rest of the dance crew was asleep. As the dancer puts it, things weren’t easy at all. As if she wasn’t grinding enough, her parents compelled her to change her majors from Accounting to Biology. This turned out to be a ‘kick in the butt’ now that she had to study more.
Diddi Quits University to Tour the world
2010 was Diddi’s breakthrough year. Just one year shy of graduating from university, Edidiong resolved to quit school. She was already feeling cornered for being forced into a course that she really wasn’t into. Despite scoring A’s in almost every other test, Emah took a leap of faith and quit school to join Luda Chris and Black Eyed Peas in their tour of the world.
At this time she was only 20 years old and still bewildered by the youthful indiscretion. Turns out that her gamble was right. In just one month of touring, Diddi made over $15,000. Lucky for her, the hype for the song “How Low Can You Go” was just building up. Since then the artist has never looked back.
View this post on Instagram
Touring the World and live performances
After the Black Eyes Peas Tour, Edidiong decided to settle in for music but got stuck in a really bad relationship. She already had decided to quit dance and do music but this wasn’t working out. Therefore, she moved back to Atlanta to figure out her next move. As usual Mama Udoh remained instrumental to the dancer until she finally got back to her feet again.
Where is Edidiong Emah now?
Currently, Emah is working on her brand Ima Afrique where she has already launched an Afro fit as well as other related products. She is also doing great in her choreographies. She recently appeared in one of Davido’s videos.
Which are some of Diddi’s Video appearances?
Here is a number of videos that Diddi choreographed in:
- Missy Elliott- I’m Better ft. Lamb video (2017)
- Beyoncé’s Coachella fest performance 2018
- Co-choreographer at the FOX TV series, Star alongside Sean Bankhead.
Diddi has also worked with Usher, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Lopez, Tinashe, Fifth Harmony, Future as well as Davido. We only pray for the best for this African-born dance queen.
Images Courtesy of Diddi Emah’s Instagram
Emah also did a song in October 2018 tagged Dakada. Watch below