Meet the 19-Year-Old Whose Racism Prank Fooled the Net

Zaida Pugh, aka Ms. Muffin, explains her thought-provoking pranks that often provoke intense reactions.

Zaida Pugh, aka Ms. Muffin
Zaida Pugh, aka Ms. Muffin

“It really makes me laugh seeing how people react to it. But I know. This time I actually noticed someone really was pissed off,” she says with a laugh. “I guess he stayed up all night trying to do a video [about the incident], and then I guess he was about to finish editing it. He did some more research and he realized it was a prank. I try not to pay people no mind. This is just something I do. I’m a prankster and I’m just taking it to a different level. Nobody’s getting hurt. Nobody ever gets hurt. I get everything sorted out. It’s kind of like the show What Would You Do?

So how did all this get started for Pugh? She says she wanted to do something different and to bring a little extra excitement to her fellow New Yorkers, while doing something she loved.

“I actually was 16 after I had my son, and it was very depressing. … My mother was telling me I need to do something with my life, [but] I didn’t know what to do,” Pugh shares. “I felt like I was nothing, but then I asked myself one day what is it that I can do, what do I like to do, and I’ve always been into acting.”

As so the pranks were born. But things are still hard for the young mother, who just turned 19 last month.

She helps out at her church in Brooklyn and is looking for a job, but it’s difficult to care for a small son with no income. She doesn’t receive any money for the videos she posts. Her mom helps her out for the most part, and she receives child support for her boy. She’s looking into taking the test for her high school equivalency diploma so that she can enroll in college.

Pugh describes herself as goofy and silly, though early on she shied away from being her authentic self because she thought others didn’t like her goofiness.

“But I was watching Steven Jo … I found it real funny,” she says regarding another prankster who posts videos online. “That actually inspired me to do pranks, but I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to go out there, act silly and have no meaning for it.”

“I noticed that when I’m on the train, no TV, no nothing, people just looking at one another, and I’m like, OK, [my pranks] should bring some excitement,” she says.

“That’s how it started. I wanted to do something different.”

Breanna Edwards is a newswriter at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.