Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: Tell us about yourself. Who is Musa Cooper?
Musa: First and foremost, I am an entertainer. Displaying my talent at any chance I get allows me to provide enjoyment for people. I am a dancer, choreographer, actor, fitness model, and a personal trainer who shows his heart through his talent. Though I am very confident in myself and my abilities, the humility I carry with me comes from my humble beginnings.
QFTD: Have certain people or experiences had a major influence on your career? Tell us about them.
Musa: You know what? That's interesting because I never had a mentor to drive me in the direction I have taken in my career. I guess I'm just a different person. When I wanted to get my feet wet in the entertainment/dance industry, I just jumped in the pool and started swimming. I always felt I could hold my own, while I can't admit to having any idols that I used as a reference point in my career.
I think the experience of being a foster child really helped mold my character. As a child, because my mother had a drug problem, I was placed in a foster home in Camden. Then, when I was 13, my foster family moved to Mount Laurel. At that point, I was just happy I didn't have to visit a soup kitchen anymore or share clothes with my brothers. Being where I am now shows that you can come from nothing to something. I am proud of that because I was able to prove to myself that there's a way out of a bad situation no matter what.
QFTD: What has been your proudest accomplishment in the realm of entertainment?
Musa: I have two proud moments to share. The first came soon after I found out about a dance audition for a Beyoncé Knowles performance at the VMA's. Without any formal dance training, I went in there with the confidence to land a spot in the dance line-up. When it was all said and done, I earned my way into the performance, edging out 1,000 other auditioning dancers. That experience made me believe that I had a unique talent. I figured right then and there that I really could pursue a dance career. That catapulted my career, instantly. The second proud moment goes like this: I auditioned for the television show So You Think You Can Dance? and was able to beat out 8,000 nation-wide contestants. Being on stage in front of the judges, and proving I had the talent to participate in their competition, changed my life. Knowing I stood out like that among so many great dancers boosted my confidence so much. After that, I was able to garner world-wide recognition.
QFTD: What gives you the drive to do all that you do?
Musa: A huge amount of my drive comes from a passion to entertain. Plus, I'm really happy to earn a living doing what I love to do most. I feel like a little kid on a playground sometimes who gets rewarded just to play. In addition, it is important for me to provide for my family. My wife and my daughter mean everything to me, and I like being able to pay the bills to support them both. The last thing that drives me is the idea that I never want to feel like I am helpless; making money gives me the power to get things for myself, and my family, that I never had when I was a child in Camden.
QFTD: Once the stage is set and the spotlights come on, what makes dancing so pleasurable to you as you perform?
Musa: I love the reaction of people when I dance. My performance itself provides pleasure because I can bring a smile to all the faces in front of me. The praise I receive feels good because I work hard for every opportunity I get, despite not having any formal dance training.
QFTD: What are some current projects you are working on that could soon hit the television screen?
Musa: What's funny is I never know the next thing that I am doing until it's done. When my agent books me, the opportunity just comes up. Then, after auditioning and the whole nine, there's a waiting period. Recently though, I did audition and get a call back for a health insurance commercial.
QFTD: With over a decade of experience as an entertainer, in what direction would you say your career is headed?
Musa: Knowing that the career of a professional dancer is usually done at 26, it still does not deter me from going hard in dancing. I've been saving money since I was 25, so I would be able to ease back a little in the future. As far as other avenues in the industry...I will still be acting in movies and commercials, while staying engaged with fitness oriented ventures. I'd like to reproduce my style by maybe opening a dance agency one day. Currently, I hire other dancers to perform at events where I cannot make it. If the opportunity presents itself, I would also like to direct music videos. To stay successful in this business, you have to be able to reinvent yourself, and that's something I am willing and ready to do.