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Rising star Erica Cody on how singer Samantha Mumba was her role model growing up

Erica Cody was just 15 when she opened for Wizkid in Dublin to thousands of fans.

Erica Cody during one of her performances on RTÉ’s Dancing With The Stars. Photo: RTÉ

Samantha Mumba

Julie Ann

She has been hailed as one of the rising stars in Irish music, and with her distinctive voice and star quality, it’s easy to see why.

Erica Cody was just 15 when she opened for Wizkid in Dublin to thousands of fans.

The now 26-year-old continues to make a name for herself, having presented RTÉ’s The Main Stagewith The Coronas frontman, Danny O’Reilly, and reaching the final of RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars last year.

Speaking at Hayu’s The Real Housewives of New JerseySeason 13 launch in House, Dublin, the singer says it was noughties Irish sensation Samantha Mumba who was one of her greatest driving forces in life.

“Me being a young black Irish woman, I really looked up to her growing up. She was all I had here to look up to as a role model, so to be in her house in Los Angeles and having dinner, was a really full circle moment,” she says of the Gotta Tell Youhitmaker, who now resides in the US.

Cody – who has an Irish mother and African American father – says it was a mutual hairdresser who introduced her to Mumba initially.

“We have the same hair stylist, so I used to always ask how Samantha was getting on, and then I met her at an event one night and we’ve kept in touch ever since,” said Cody.

“She’s been so supportive and during Dancing with the StarsI dedicated week six to her.”

Asked if the representation of black and mixed-race girls here is becoming more widespread, the Billie Barry alumni said: “It’s getting better. Representation is everything – if you see it, you believe it, and that was one of the main reasons I did Dancing with the Stars.

“I wanted to see people who looked like me on TV, and so to witness the response it had on so many black and brown girls – and boys – was bigger than a trophy for me.

“I loved that I made it to the final because I got to do all the dances and make an impact on the young, impressionable people.”

Reflecting on life as a youngster in Baldoyle, north Dublin, where she grew up, she said: “I was one of very few people of colour who lived in my area at the time, and we’re still a minority in my area so naturally you’re going to stick out.

“Luckily I had parents who encouraged me and made sure that I embraced who I was, even when it came to my natural hair, so those things stick with you,” she said.

The musician’s new single, Cry Babyis released on February 10, and despite priding herself as an RnB and pop artist, she isn’t ruling out The Eurovision Song contest.

“I’d never say never. If you’d have said that to me a couple of years ago my answer might have been different, but the industry changes all the time,” said Cody.

“I think with every opportunity that comes your way you’ve to make it your own.”​

Cody’s dad is a former professional basketball player, and it was a career path she very nearly followed too, although sport still very much flows through her veins.

“I played sports my whole life but then I got injured playing basketball and that was the end of it,” said Cody.

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