Embracing Black womanhood through local Black and queer entertainment company

Melissa Muganzo Murphy on becoming ‘The Living Legend’


Kamelia Varasteh

“Living Legend” Melissa Muganzo Murphy teaches an Afro hip hop dance class at the Sacramento State Union on Feb. 17. The Sac State alumna is the CEO and founder of Muganzo Entertainment, the first Black and queer entertainment company in Sacramento.

Kamelia Varasteh, staff writer

Boom, boom, boom. 

The floor of the University Union Ballroom at Sacramento State shakes as students express themselves through Afro hip hop dancing under the direction of entertainer and boss, Melissa Muganzo Murphy.

Murphy is the CEO and founder of Muganzo Entertainment, which is the first Black and Queer entertainment production company based in Sacramento.

According to her, she has been an entertainer her whole life. She said that she has been dancing, singing, writing songs, and acting from a very young age, and then took the step to make it her profession. 

Murphy said she started her entertainment journey as a young girl. Whether it is singing, dancing, or acting, she has found her place on stage and life calling in entertainment, according to her. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Muganzo Murphy)

Born in Florida and having grown up in southern California, Murphy moved up north at 18 to study community and regional development at UC Davis. Continuing her education, she then attended Sac State for her graduate studies in higher education leadership. 

After earning her degrees, Murphy said she decided to turn her focus around to give back and help college students with their transition into the real world.

In 2016, the self-proclaimed “living legend” created a scholarship for college seniors to help them achieve their goals. 

“I saw this need for college seniors [who] need financing for them to even experience post undergraduate life,” Murphy said. “So if you want to go to grad school but can’t afford the application, that is a missed opportunity.”

Murphy said that her work in philanthropy is what caused her to start  calling herself a “Living Legend.”

“I realized that you can be a legend without being elderly,” Murphy said. “You can be a legend now.”

According to Murphy, she was insecure and ashamed growing up and became someone who talked poorly about herself. This continued until she found her place in entertainment where she grew into her confidence.

“Entertainment gave me a space to be myself,” Murphy said. “Once I got a taste of that feeling, I never wanted to go back. I found my voice and I feel the most strong here. I feel empowered. I feel loved. I feel supported, and I feel confident.”

CEO of Muganzo Entertainment, Melissa Muganzo Murphy acts, sings, dances, choreographs, hosts, and directs projects through her entertainment company. She recently taught an Afro hip hop dance class at Sac State. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Muganzo Murphy)

Whether it is through her work as an entertainer or public speaker, Murphy focuses on expressing herself, and Black and queer stories and experiences, according to her. 

She said that her goal is to showcase the beauty of the Black community by amplifying  their voices, especially the overlooked ones. 

“Black trans folks, Black queer folks, you know, that are in spaces sometimes where those identities get left out due to shame or religious expectation, family dynamics, sometimes cultural dynamics,” Murphy said. 

Murphy has collaborated with Sac State on numerous occasions like working for the university, sometimes hosting, performing and creating content. On Feb. 17, she taught an Afro hip hop dance class in the University Union Ballroom at Sac State as a celebration during Black History Month. 

“Melissa’s energy is ‘off the roof,’ meaning she gave everyone the vibe of positivity but with a classic edge,” public relations major and attendee of the event Salynne Colobong said. “Her confidence is also what gave me and everyone who participated [the ability to] have a great time.”

Attendees of the event varied from students and alumni, to families. Throughout the lesson, Murphy encouraged the dancers to have fun and be confident through dancing. 

“I would describe her confidence as bold, beautiful, brave, elegant, dramatic, artistic, proud, bountiful and full of positivity,” Sac State alumna Tiffani Wilson said. “Her charisma to love a crowd while at the same time being so patient is a skill in itself.”

Melissa Muganzo Murphy teaches an Afro hip hop dance at Sac State’s University Union on Feb. 17. Around 60 students attended the event and learned how to embrace their confidence through dance. (Kamelia Varasteh)

At this time, Murphy is preparing for the premiere for her company’s inaugural documentary “The Big Hysto: A Black Womb Revolution. According to Murphy, the documentary is set  to air on July 9 and focuses on female reproductive justice and restoration. The featured stories are said to cover topics like fibroids, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovary syndrome, and endometriosis in Black women. 

One of Murphy’s main focus points is to represent stories that reflect the life of the Black community in a positive manner, according to her, as she believes that Black people are underrepresented in the media, especially when it comes to a true representation of real life relationship dynamics and lives. 

“We are all really the same deep down, we all have hopes and dreams, and we want to be surrounded by love,” Murphy said. “There’s enough negativity in this world. We also want to feel like our families and our interests are represented on camera.”

Looking at all of her accomplishments, Murphy said she likes to encourage her audience, especially the Black community, to embrace themselves through the world of entertainment. 

“It is ours for the taking. Entertainment is a beautiful space to be yourself, but it is also this really transformational space to give people the opportunity to show how normal we all are,” Murphy said. “That is what Muganzo entertainment is all about, just like, normalizing the livelihood of everyday being.”