It’s 1:00 pm and former TV host Pepita Little has clocked in for lunch at Digicel Jamaica’s headquarters.
It’s quite the contrast from her glittery life as host of popular entertainment show Intense more than nine years ago, but as she shares, a lot has changed since then.
“I like it (working in corporate) because it’s refining my character,” she told BUZZ. “At first I couldn’t wake up in the morning to go to work. When you’re in the media, you don’t have a schedule really; midnight is your daytime so it was really difficult to transition from that lifestyle.”
But she hasn’t discarded her passion for entertainment.
Little has been working on a music career, and the singer gave social media an inkling of her talent in a recent post where she performs her unproduced single, Never Give Up.
“Sometimes you feel like what you’re going through is so overwhelming but when I look back on life I’m like ‘I am going to be 30 in June and I made it through all of everything so why give up?’ I’ve read so many big actors’ and big celebrities’ testimonies and a lot of them got popular when they were like 50. I’m not saying that should be a standard that anyone puts themself to, but I use that to say ‘never give up’ and continue.”
Growing up in the historic town of Port Royal, Little was determined to pursue a career in entertainment.
She got a head start performing alongside the venerable Fab 5 band at the annual Christmas concerts held at her childhood Wolmer’s Preparatory School.
Her limelight streak continued as a member of the Holy Childhood High School choir, which yielded several Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) trophies.
“I used to stand up in the mirror and talk to myself and read the newspaper… I don’t know where that love came from ‘cause I was a very sheltered child. My father was very strict. I used to be locked in my room for years. I couldn’t speak to anyone in the community… Because I was very sheltered I just stayed home and entertained myself and sang. So nobody really knew I liked those things until they saw me on TV one day when I was a teenager.”
Little’s vivacious personality was a hit with local audiences every Saturday night, but her fame was disrupted following an altercation with a female co-worker which caused her to be terminated in December 2011. Little said she has since forgiven the parties involved.
“I wasn’t like this couple years ago when I was popular. I was very confused, I was very reactive. I would explode immediately if I got angry but now I’m more temperate and loving and happy and joyful,” she said.
She attributes this to finding God.
“I’ve been through a lot of stuff… My mother became mentally ill when I was younger, so I never really learnt much from her because she was never really here-here,” she recalled. “My father was very bitter against the world… He didn’t learn how to heal and forgive so that’s why he ended up committing suicide. It’s very hard to live in the world without parents… I found myself going on a journey with the Lord alone. I’m just trying to know Him for myself.”
With her media popularity, one would assume a transition into music would be relatively easy. Little said she has shared her genre-fusing work with a myriad of producers but is yet to make serious progress.
“I don’t know if I’m not putting enough effort into it or what, but when I do get voiced, I usually don’t get called back. They just bench me,” she said. “I have a little problem reaching out to ask for help, I guess I need to work on that, but because I’ve been rejected so much I want to be careful who I even approach to ask for any help. Looking on the outskirts at the moment, you don’t really hear anybody helping other artists, especially the woman. They talk about unity all the time and they don’t really help anyone.”
She’s using social media to promote her talent, and intends to do a live online showcase in hopes that it will attract experienced industry players. She’s also planning to feature aspiring artists from her community on her Pep Talk JA YouTube channel.
Along with her nine-to-five, music, and YouTube ventures, Little has also partnered with the town’s benevolent society to reach out to youth. It’s a busy lifestyle but she maintains balance with a tight schedule.
Would she return to traditional media?
“No,” she responded firmly. “I’d like them to buy my show and say, ‘We need you to put your show on our channel Pepita’. I have a dream of owning my own production company, TV station and radio station one day and I don’t want it to be (just) Jamaica… For now Pep Talk is Pep Talk JA but I do intend to extend it internationally.”