An Inspiring Lesson in Professional Poise and Personal Strength of Character; What “Supa Dupa Fly” Bosses Missy Elliott and Miko Branch Have in Common

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This year, the 4th of July was especially hot in New Orleans, Louisiana, when hip hop legend, Missy Elliott, took to the stage at 2015 Essence Fest, performing at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Missy’s set was beyond incredible, playing all her fan favorite hits, including Pass That Dutch, Get Ur Freak On, Hot Boyz, and even jumped off the stage to dance with audience members, during her performance of Work It. Unfortunately this epic evening was disrupted, when Elliott’s set was unexpectedly cut short, due to a technical malfunction.

Rather than storming off like a disappointed diva, immediately retreating back to her hotel suite, Elliott made the conscious effort to collaborate with Essence’s Communications Team, in avid pursuit of a solution, to rectify the error and ensure fans were not left confused, concerned, or disappointed. Ever the humble artist, the iconic MC did return to the stage, extending a sincere apology to fans for the unprecedented technical error, following the conclusion of Usher’s set, at 1:00 AM.

“I’m sorry I was cut off,” she said. “I came here to give 100 percent. I was cut off. I was disappointed. I thank you for coming out.”

The crowd embraced her, expressing their admiration for the legendary MC, with exclamations of, “We love you Missy!!” echoing loudly throughout the dome.


I was impressed but not surprised, by Missy Misdemeanor’s manner of handling this complication, because I know she has been forced to navigate far worse crisis’ than technological glitches, throughout her career. In 2008, the female MC announced to the public she had been diagnosed with Graves Disease, a chronic autoimmune illness caused by an overactive thyroid. Back in 2012, Missy Elliott discussed how she coped with this issue on the XM radio show, Sway in the Morning, crediting these medical complications for her hiatus from the music scene, in 2005.

Missy Elliott Opens Up About Graves Disease on #SwayInTheMorning

Source:, user: SwaysUniverse (2012)

“I went through a time period where God was with me, and I feel like he is guiding my footsteps. I want to be a leader. I want to be an inspiration. I don’t want to be in a bunch of foolishness. I don’t compete with people- I compete with myself.”
– Interview for Sway in the Morning, via

Rather than allowing personal struggles and failures of any of any degree drag her down or define her as a person, Missy Elliott navigated these challenges, using them as fuel to further motivate her continued aspirations for greatness. Missy’s trials and tribulations also allowed her to cultivate a grounded personal perspective and new appreciation for life, and selflessly hopes to spend her short time on Earth inspiring others.

A technological malfunction during a performance can definitely appear frustrating, especially when in the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, it is nothing but another one of life’s unplanned hiccups. With the right attitude, problems of this magnitude and the stressors associated with them, can be managed and eventually resolved, if you remain calm, focused, and do not allow the stress to cloud rational judgment. That is the difference between being famous and becoming a legend. Fame is short lived, burning out at the first signs of discourse, but legends are resilient. Legends stand the test of time because they are capable of adapting to the inevitability transformative climates of life’s changes, especially during times of hardship. Missy Elliott has achieved legendary status because of her relentless perseverance, and more driven and focused than ever before, she rises up from traumatic times of struggle, like a phoenix from the ashes. Anyone who witnessed her surprise performance at the XLIX Super Bowl Halftime Show this past February saw this first hand, as the emphatically energized artist hit the stage for the first time in a decade, without missing a beat.

Kat Perry & Missy Elliott – Super Bowl 2015; Super Bowl XLIX- Halftime Show

Source: NBC via, user: George loannou

I suppose I felt it necessary to share this story about Missy Elliott’s triumphant return to the spotlight, because not only is it inspiring, but this real life, modern day allegory exemplifies the miraculous resiliency of the human spirit. Recently, Miss Jessie’s has been faced with it’s own series of hardships- beloved Co-founder and CEO Titi Branch passed away, this past winter. A major loss for her family, friends, the hair community, and all of us at the company, this loss was especially difficult for Titi’s business partner, fellow Co-founder and CEO, Miko, because their relationship surpassed that of professional confidants, Miko was also Titi’s only sister. With only 15 months between them, the sisters experienced all highs and lows of life together, building the innovative Miss Jessie’s brand, as a team. One would expect a loss this great to completely throw someone off their game for good, but Miko continues to carry the Miss Jessie’s torch, leading the company onward and upward, all the while exhibiting immeasurable poise and strength of character.

“I am dedicated to my sister, Titi Branch’s legacy, implementing her principles and ideas, with emphasis on her grace, warmth, style, and of course, intelligence. Miss Jessie’s is my tribute to her memory.”

– Quote from Miko Branch


After Titi’s death, rather than crawling into a hole and completely closing herself off to the world, when confronted with this immense adversity, Miko has chosen to take the high road. Miko has honored her older sister’s legacy by emulating her vibrant, kind, generous spirit, making multiple donations to multiple organizations and non-profits in support causes that were near and dear to Titi’s heart.


That is what being a boss is really all about; a real boss is capable of overcoming adversity with gracious poise, processing every instance of life’s unexpected hiccups, hurtles, complications, and even serious misfortunes, as a valuable learning experiences, not as reasons to harden your heart, becoming completely embittered. These moments are opportunities to experience exponential intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth, and cultivate genuine enlightenment and wisdom, that will benefit you the rest of your life. Women who have conquered and survived major obstacles, like Miko Branch and Missy Elliott, use these difficult life lessons to inspire their drive, often leading them towards their most influentially creative, professional, and philanthropic pursuits.

“We don’t know what the future holds for us. Our story is still unfolding. Like all enterprises, we are a business with a beating heart. Miss Jessie’s is a living thing, constantly changing and evolving. But whatever happens, that change will continue to be on our own terms. The time-tested recipe that makes Miss Jessie’s a truly authentic brand will remain intact, as will the single most important ingredient of everything we produce- love.”

– Quote by Miko Branch, from Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch—Naturally.

Though you may be down for a little while, you must trust and believe in yourself that one setback, whether minor or major, is not the end of the world. These negative experiences may yield some scars, both metaphorically and sometimes even literally, but you should never allow them to completely deter you from getting everything good out of life you possibly can. Life’s little surprises may seem unfair at times, but the good news is you always have a choice; you can choose to be a victim of circumstances, OR you can choose to be a survivor and rise above. Having talent is only the first step in achieving success- it’s how you handle yourself when tested by life’s adversities that really measure your personal integrity and passion for your craft. What makes women like Miko Branch, Missy Elliott, and every other female in history who has been faced with their own series of seemingly unconquerable challenges, so inspiring, is because of their refusal to allow anything to completely break their spirit. This is what true legends are made of.

So my advice for you, Curly Queens, is to remember just that- you are a QUEEN. Life will never always be fair, always filled with unexpected twists and turns. When faced with a challenge or moment of defeat, you are entitled to a moment of cathartic ick; feel embarrassed, feel sad, feel overwhelmed, get angry, scream, cry,  grieve, punch a pillow, stay in bed and binge on ice cream and Netflix….. however, you CANNOT allow a momentary phase of distress or panic shake your overall poise or rattle your sense of self, for the long term. Know the age-old adage is true, “This too shall pass.” Keep your head up, brush your shoulders off, and just keep it moving. The show must go on- and so can you.




Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Branch, Miko, and Titi Branch. Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch—Naturally. New York: Amistad, an Imprint of HarperCollins, 2015. Pg 269. Print.