Itumeleng Modise: Becoming a muse happened organically and gradually

Itumeleng Modise
Itumeleng Modise is a creative at heart who wants to contribute to the arts Click To Tweet

“Art”, “self-expression”, “spiritual awareness”, and “muse” are some terms which best describe aspiring actress and TV presenter Itumeleng Modise, aka Solar. Originally from the East of Johannesburg and currently based in Pimville, Soweto, Solar is exposed to a peculiar yet balanced mix of subcultures which she uses for inspiration.

She spent most of her working life as an Online English Teacher, a role that heightened her communicative skills and compassion towards those willing to learn. Solar is a creative at heart who wants to contribute to the arts. She is particularly interested in telling stories through the eyes of a young, urban black woman.

Solar believes that having awareness, of yourself and others around you, helps you navigate through life a lot better.  She shares her passion and journey with SLA, inspiring women to persevere and never give up on their dreams.


How would you best describe your passion?

My passion is communicating through speaking, writing, photography and acting. I’m also passionate about telling stories, my own and those of others, and helping people become more aware of themselves.

My stint as an intern copy-writer at an advertising agency also gave me the opportunity to explore my creative writing and thinking in general. Because I believe that I am here to serve others, everything that I do and want to do includes the development of others, especially black women. I would love to work in sectors exposed to platforms that expose me to this. Currently, I am exploring the TV and film industry as an aspiring actress and TV presenter.

I believe that I am here to serve others, especially black women @MsSolar8 Click To Tweet

I like to believe that I am a grounded person who with the aid of yoga and meditation can tackle life with clarity and peace of mind. Also I aspire to learn how to teach yoga and meditation to others. Especially in communities that are not exposed to this.

When did you realize that you are meant to be a muse?

I can’t single out a moment or time I realized that I am meant to be a muse. It’s something that just happened organically and gradually.

I wasn’t even really aware that I was until other people started to point it out to me. It just comes naturally to me.

Itumeleng Modise 3

Itumeleng Modise 2What messages do you always try to portray through your craft?

I always try to portray authenticity. That it’s okay to be yourself and that it’s enough actually.

You don’t have to be like someone else to be liked or appreciated or to be influential.

What is the hardest thing about breaking into the entertainment industry in South Africa?

I would say the hardest thing is gaining recognition whilst totally being yourself. You are constantly told how you should look to be noticed and given a chance.

It can be quite shallow because your looks or physical appearance are judged way before your talent is considered in many instances.

The hardest thing is gaining recognition whilst totally being yourself - Itumeleng Modise Click To Tweet

What has been your most memorable modeling/tv job?

My most memorable TV job was filming my first lead role as an actress for a TV film that featured on Mzansi Magic. It challenged me to bring certain emotions out.

The process really humbled me and challenged me to dig deep to bring those emotions out. I was left amazed at my ability to do so. Acting is not easy, whether or not you have received formal training for it.

Itumeleng Modise: Acting is not easy, whether or not you have received formal training for it Click To Tweet

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Itumeleng Modise 4Where do you go to find yourself?

Finding myself is a process I’m still undergoing. So I wouldn’t say I go somewhere to find myself. However meditating helps me a lot with that process.

I meditate to center myself and gain clarity and peace.

If you were to recite a poem to strangers, what would the first three lines of the poem say?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Lebohang Monyatsi: The first South African woman in a wheelchair to be a runway model

The fashion industry ignores diversity and inclusion - Lebohang Manyatsi Click To Tweet

“The main goal is to break the stereotypes associated with people with disabilities in the fashion/entertainment industry and to pave the way for those to follow and succeed me.”

Those words come from Lebohang Monyatsi, the first South African woman in a wheelchair to be a runway model. Lebohang was born and raised in North West Province, in a small town called Vryburg.

She is recognized for representing her country in the field of Wheelchair Basketball. Lebohang is extremely passionate about the needs of children, disability inclusion and accessible features for all.


Tell us about your journey as a model, what made you fall in love with modelling?

I have always loved modeling. As a teenager, I did mostly pageants, but at some point, I gave up. This is because the fashion industry especially in South Africa, ignores diversity and inclusion. In SA, and other parts of Africa, many people have a belief that people who are differently abled are only good for office work or sport.

I intend on making people see that we are capable of doing other things. We have other abilities beyond sports activities and office work. I wanted to embark on this from a young age but couldn’t because of lack of opportunities for people with disabilities in the entertainment industry.

Lebohang Manyatsi: I am work in progress and on the hunt for who I am yet to become Click To Tweet

What kept you going?

“Be the change you wish to see”, that quote keeps me going. I believe that whatever change you wish to see in the world, you should be the first one to act on it, lead by example.

As the first South African runway model to do so in a wheelchair, I believe my work speaks a lot of volumes.Lebohang Monyatsi 3

What are your goals as a model?

My goals as a model are to do international modelling, to inspire/be a role model -especially to those who think “it’s not possible”.

In addition to those two, I want to open doors for others to follow and surpass me.

Lebohang Manyatsi want to open doors for others with disabilities to follow and surpass her Click To Tweet

What have been your greatest accomplishments so far?

So far my greatest achievement is being a finalist for Face Of The Globe and of course modelling at Soweto Fashion week which appeared on Selimathunzi. Also, modelling at Maboneng Fashion week and GeeJunction Fashion show.

How do you define success?

For me, success means being very happy and content with what you do.

Success means being very happy and content with what you do - Lebohang Manyatsi Click To Tweet

What do you think needs to be done to make the fashion/entertainment industry friendlier to disabled people?

People want to see diversity in the fashion/entertainment industry. The industry needs to keep this in mind and actively work towards being inclusive and diverse at all time.

Lebohang Monyatsi 2

What is your motto in life?

Be happy with what you have but never give up on what you want.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Webinar with Pryse: Breaking into the music industry (Dec. 13)

Pryse Music

The Nigerian music industry is booming! While there are a few female artists in the game, there are hardly any female rappers. Pryse is changing all of that around. She has smashed her way into the music industry and is playing no games. Within her relatively short career, she has already done collaborations with people like Burna Boy and has created her own record label, ICON.

Join us for a 30-minute webinar with Pryse on December 13th, 2016. We’ll be discussing what it takes to get into the music industry and the Nigerian music industry in particular. If you are an artist, or anyone interested in any aspect of the music industry, you don’t want to miss this.

Register below to get the exclusive link to the webinar.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • What the music industry is like for solo female artists
  • What it’s like to be a female rapper in Nigeria
  • Staying true to yourself
  • What is takes to create and run a record label
  • What’s next for Pryse and her record label, ICON.

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Tuesday December 13, 2016
  • Time: 8:00am NYC // 2:00pm Lagos // 4:00pm Nairobi

Watch this Webinar:

About Pryse

Princess Esindu, popularly known as Pryse is regarded as one of the best female rappers in Nigeria. Born in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, Pryse is a graduate of media and communications from Nottingham Trent University, UK. She started her career in the Nigerian Music Industry with the release of her debut single, “Eleto” featuring “Kolewerk” singer, Koker in 2013. She later released “Niger Delta Money” and “Kolo” featuring Burna Boy. After the expiration of her recording contract with former label Chocolate City, Pryse launched her own record label ICON in October 2016 and released “Queen Kong” featuring Eva Alordiah as part of her Pryseless Freestyles Series. “Queen Kong” is currently receiving reviews and airplay on major radio stations across Nigeria. Her first official single under ICON, “Her Excellency” will be released later this month.

 

Adelle Onyango: Live your best life

@ADELLEO is the true definition of keeping it real, don't @ us Click To Tweet

When it comes to keeping it real, Adelle Onyango is the true definition of just that. A successful radio personality, a poet, an actress, a social activist and all round advocate for youth and women empowerment, this young Kenyan is a woman of many talents but manages to remain her true self despite the fame.

Adelle’s humble yet infectious nature has millions tuned in everyday and she has used this platform to give a voice to the voiceless, initiating projects targeting the youth who she believes have the power to change the world.

Get a glimpse of life according to Adelle Onyango in the interview below, conducted by SLA contributor, Diana Odero.


Why did you decide to join radio? Was it always something you wanted to do?

I guess it was subconsciously. I’d record myself speaking over my sister’s cassettes. I studied journalism but my concentration was public relations.

I really though that’s what I wanted to do but since day 1 of being on radio, I think I’ve found my home.

In light of your new position as host of the Breakfast Show on Kiss FM Nairobi, how did you prepare for such an important yet challenging role? What lessons can you share with us on taking risks?

Well I didn’t know I was preparing for it, but all my days in radio have prepared me for this.

Even the challenges I thought were unnecessary have proved necessary now. I think we should all strive to live our best lives and take each opportunity that lands on your path. Because that’s how you learn and that’s how you grow.

Adelle Onyango - I think we should all strive to live our best lives Click To Tweet

As a radio presenter and social media influencer, you have made your name into a full blown brand – #TeamAdelle. How do you keep your audience engaged and ensure the growth of your brand?

This is going to sound cliché but honestly I keep it REAL. There’s no real formula to being you. You just BE YOU.

I meet up with members of team Adelle and we even have leaders and various departments. I’m passionate about the youth and getting them to work with each other in changing the world and so I try and work with them towards that.

What does team Adelle have to look forward to in the coming new year?

Intimate mentorship sessions and a brilliant fashion collaboration that I’m so excited about!

@ADELLEO - There’s no real formula to being you. You just BE YOU. Click To Tweet

You recently launched the ProjectSHE campaign. Can you tell us about it and what inspired you to start this movement?

I wanted to share stories of conquests. So many times, we get stuck in an abyss of negativity thinking the issues we’re battling are unique to us. But when you hear that someone faced the same issue and overcame it –it’s inspiring!

So, my team and I gathered stories of conquests from Kenya, France, Australia, South Africa and shared them with the world online.

Your journey to where you are now has not been a walk in the park but you have managed to come out stronger and better. How do you find strength to face difficult days and/or overcome difficult situations?

After losing my mother, I am very aware of how fleeting life is. So, everyday I just want to live life to the fullest but also live my best life. That motivates me.

What has been the proudest moment of your career?

Honestly, I do not think I’ve achieved half of what I want to achieve in life. When that happens I will have a proudest moment. Until then, I’ll keep mastering my craft.

@ADELLEO - I do not think I’ve achieved half of what I want to achieve in life Click To Tweet

What are 3 things about you that most people wouldn’t know?

  1. I’m extremely shy –quite the introvert really.
  2. I love baking.
  3. My fave pastime ever is reading and analyzing poetry. A little strange but that’s me!

Lastly, what mantra do you live by?

Live your best life.


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Tania Omotayo: Watching my father work so hard, I couldn’t imagine doing less

tania omotayo
Discover @TaniaOmotayo's #MotherlandMogul and boss side in this interview Click To Tweet

Tania Omotayo is officially our WCW and general #MotherlandMogul goals. The half-Nigerian and half-Austrian beauty is a well-known personality in the Nigerian entertainment scene.

Like many enterprising young women, Tania Omotayo does not put her hustle in one basket. On one hand, she is a Senior Creative Analyst at the Temple Management Company (TMC), a leading talent management and events company. On the other, Tania is a model and an entrepreneur. She never stops moving forward and we can thank her dad for that.

If you’ve heard of Tania Omotayo and always wanted to know more, or if you’re curious to know the insights of working in the Nigerian entertainment industry, what are you waiting for? Read on!


What would you like the world to know about Tania?

I would like the world to know that I am a hard-working and focused young woman. I am a Senior Creative Analyst at the Temple Management Company (TMC) which is a leading talent management and events company. Also, I am a model and an entrepreneur.

I don’t think I ever stop. If it doesn’t have something to do with my regular 9-5 job then it’s my personal business. I am always up to something. I learnt from my father, watching him work so hard my whole life, I couldn’t imagine doing less. And
it is something I am extremely proud of.

Tania Omotayo: If it's not my 9-5 job then it’s my personal business. I am always up to something Click To Tweet

What legacy do you see yourself leaving in this world?

It’s weird because it’s not something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. But I do hope to leave my mark on this planet in some way. I hope to be remembered as one of the pioneers at the Temple Management Company, that brought change to the Nigerian entertainment industry.

I hope to be remembered for doing amazing things for charity, impacting people’s lives and for genuinely making a difference.

tania omotayo
Tania Omotayo at Lagos Fashion Week Source: Tania’s Instagram

Tell us more about the Temple Management Company. How did it come about?

The Temple Management Company was founded by Mr. Idris Olorunnimbe at the start of 2016. TMC is a child of necessity, the company was started to bring structure and change to our entertainment industry. We are a 360 full-service talent agency and talent management company.

We specialize in the representation of personalities with African heritage from all over the globe in the entertainment, sports, media, public and arts sectors. Also, we specialize in the management of events in the entertainment, sports, media, public
and arts sectors.

I am proud to say that I am part of the nucleus group that helped build the company from the very beginning.

@TaniaOmotayo hopes to be a pioneer that brought change to the Nigerian entertainment industry Click To Tweet

How do you plan to scale up the Temple Management company in the next few years?

We have so many big plans and projects we are working on. I think the main thing is we are focused on changing the game, and we do things differently and properly. We have a lot of extension plans which we have already started with South Africa, Kenya, United Kingdom and the United States.

So, in a few years I am sure we will be leaving our footprint worldwide.

What’s one thing about the industry you work in that you would like to change?

If I had to change one thing, it would be to create a platform so that we have the same
structure in place as the rest of the world. Nigeria is one of the few countries in which talents do not really get royalties or adequate compensation from our hard work. I think it is unfair and dispiriting.

If I only had one thing to change, it would definitely be to improve the welfare
of our talents when compared with the rest of the world.

If I only had one thing to change, it would definitely be to improve the welfare of our talents @TaniaOmotayo Click To Tweet

What’s a typical day like for you?

I actually do not have a typical day. My weekdays are completely different from my
weekends. I have crazy weekdays, and more chilled days. On my crazy days, it can be waking up at 5 am and finishing work at 10pm, on days like that I really can’t do anything else. But on my more chilled days, I start work at 9 am and finish between 5 and 7pm.

On days like that, I have time to watch a favourite TV show or a movie. On the weekends I like to sleep as much as I can so I am fresh for the week. So I usually spend most of it in bed.

tania omotayoWhat motto(s) do you live by?

I have so many, but these are some of my favourites and I’ll explain why:

  • “Someone else is happy with less than what you have” – This helps me to remember to appreciate what I have.
    “Success is the best revenge”- This is pretty self explanatory when people don’t believe in you or try and water down your dreams, the best way to get them back is to succeed at it.
  • “Happiness is yours to choose or reject. So embrace it.” – This took me a while to fully understand but now I am a pro at choosing to be happy. You should never let other people ruin your happiness.

What can we expect from you in 2017?

For 2017 you can expect a lot from me. Outside of working for Temple, I am working on a really exciting fashion project that I cannot wait to reveal. It is something that I have been working on for over a year now and I am super excited.

I am also working to solidify my brand as a model and I have some projects coming up that I am also very excited about.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Sihle Hlophe: The film industry still largely sexist, and at times racist

Sihle Hlope chooses the stories that she wants to tell through her communications business Click To Tweet

In a modern world of film, deeply ingrained and out-dated sexist misconceptions are still stamped on film scripts and video cameras. It wouldn’t be a truthful to say the women working behind the scenes of some great productions, worked with smiles on their faces from beginning to end. In South Africa, there are some really talented women directors who do not get enough recognition.

Sihle Hlophe is a rising 30-year-old film director who is challenging the ingrained sexism of the industry through storytelling. Sihle has openly spoken about sexism in film. She is a holder of the current ICA fellowship and the chairperson of Writer’s Guild of South Africa.

Journalist, Khethiwe Mndawe got to interview Sihle for SLA while she was in London for the Screenwriters’ Festival with the Writers’ Guild of South Africa.


Briefly describe how running your own business in the film and production industry has been for you as a young black woman.

I started my company, Passion Seeds Communications in order to promote minority languages and make a contribution towards the alleviation of youth unemployment. I also wanted to give a platform to marginalized female technicians such as cinematographers, editors and sound recordists.

Although the journey has been rocky, it has also been very fulfilling. The biggest challenge is the difficulty in accessing funding for films. However, the government has progressive incentives in place to help young entrepreneurs.

Another challenge is that the industry is still largely sexist, and at times racist. One has to be persistent; knocking on doors and getting rejected repeatedly is not for the faint-hearted. The best part about owning my own production company is creating jobs, training young people and of course, getting to choose the stories that I want to tell.

Which film production projects have you done that closely targets stories related to Mpumalanga or the neighbouring borders, eg, Swaziland?

Both of my short films are SiSwati films. You can see some of them on my Twitter page. I have not had the opportunity to shoot in Mpumalanga. This is due to lack of support from the province, even though both my films are ‘set’ in Mpumalanga.

I shoot in Gauteng because that is where I get support. I must mention though that I was deeply touched when the Department of Arts & Culture recognized my work by presenting me with a ‘Best SiSwati Film’ award at the Mpumalanga Provincial Arts & Sports Awards in 2015; I just wish that support would extend to actual productions.

Also, I did a short documentary a few years ago based in Swaziland. Its topic is related to the reed dance of virgin girls.

One has to be persistent in face of the challenges in the film production industry Click To Tweet

Which countries abroad have you visited and what were you representing there?

My film ‘As I Am’ has been screened at prestigious film festivals in the USA, Switzerland, Tanzania and here in South Africa. With support from the Department of Trade & Industry, my company Passion Seed Communications has been to film festivals and markets in France, the Netherlands, the USA, England, Germany and Canada.

I was also an exchange student in Helsinki, Finland during my final year as a film student at Wits University. Other countries I have visited include Brazil, Kenya, Lesotho, Poland, Estonia, Holland, Swaziland and Botswana. I would like to visit Asia next.

sihle-hlophe

What unique experiences did you come across in these countries?

I have experienced many unique things in many different countries.

One of my greatest experiences as a filmmaker is when I am afforded the opportunity to share my story with people from different walks of life. To see that story resonate with those people is the most powerful thing a storyteller can experience.

@NubianStorytela's films have been screened at prestigious film festivals in different countries Click To Tweet

What changes would you like to see in the industry when it comes to opportunities for African women directors?

There are some really talented women directors who do not get any work or recognition because of deeply ingrained and outdated sexist misconceptions. It’s truly sad. Some directors are also subjected to sexism and sexual harassment. I would like to see this change! Enough is enough.

I would also like to see the government of Mpumalanga investing in its talent and supporting filmmakers like other provinces do. I have more chances of getting support from the Durban Film Commission than I do in my own home province. For me, that is a tragic situation.

What have been you greatest achievements so far?

Finishing my Masters degree under very trying circumstances and writing and directing two SiSwati films. I am an advocate of minority languages.

In fact, the title of my Masters paper was, “The Underrepresentation of Minority Languages on SABC 1: The case of SiSwati“. I have been passionate about promoting my mother tongue for as long as I can remember.

You were recently granted the ICA fellowship, congratulations! What is it about?

I was one of the fellows chosen by The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) for 2016. The opportunity is awarded to creative thinkers and doers in diverse disciplines. ICA fellowships encourages collaborative dialogue around issues of urbanism, community, historical legacy and the postcolonial imaginary.

Fellows are encouraged to test boundaries, engage with new publics, and to explore the critical potentialities of live art. The ICA is particularly excited about the diverse contributions and imaginative ways of thinking presented by this year’s fellows –from performative writing, dance and music, to art, curatorship and interdisciplinary research. Conversations, exhibitions and public interventions presented by fellows will be announced in due course.

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Tell us briefly about “Nomfundo”?

“Nomfundo” is a short film about a conflicted, young woman whose life is irrevocably changed when she has a transcendental encounter with someone from her past.

The film is currently in post-production. It is my second SiSwati film and it stars Lucky Khoza. Lucky is one of the few SiSwati actors who has gained recognition for his hard work over the years.

Sihle Hlophe is an advocate for minority languages and shoots films in SiSwati Click To Tweet

What current project are you working on or promoting?

I have just started filming my feature-length documentary, “Lobola, A Bride’s True Price”. The documentary interrogates the idea of lobola (the bride price) from both a feminist and Pan African point of view.

I am also a national fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Institute of Creative Arts and the Chairperson of the Writers’ Guild of South Africa.

Your latest film sounds like very enthralling and personal topic. Can you tell us more?

In “Lobola, A Bride’s True Price”, I will be turning the camera on myself, and sharing my journey to becoming a married woman. I am a proclaimed feminist and someone who is both ‘Westernised’ yet deeply rooted in African identity. Through this unique perspective, I will be unpacking the notion of bride price in a way that can only be done by someone with extremely close proximity to the subject matter.

I describe it as, “vacillating between the scientifically sound written history of the West and the oral history of my elders”. The documentary will navigate numerous ethical and cultural landmines, challenging feminist beliefs about marriage as well as my identity as a South African woman of Bantu descent”.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

5 life lessons we can learn from Becca

One failed option does not mean all is lost! Lesson learned from @beccafrica and her career Click To Tweet

Becca’s first appearance into the spotlight was on the second season of the TV3 annual singing competition, Mentor, where she was selected to represent the Ashanti Region, Ghana. The music mogul who barely had fame then, however had to pull out of the contest.

This was after discovering that participants had been secretly tested and cleared of HIV/AIDS without their knowledge and consent. Also, because the terms of contract were not up for discussion and rather was a ‘take it or leave it’ affair.

Upon quitting the show, Kiki Banson, under EKB records signed her and released her first debut studio album “Sugar” which got five nominations at the 2008 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.

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Today Becca is a multiple award winner (Kora Award, one National Youth Achievers Award, four Ghana Music Awards, and three 4Syte TV Music Video Awards) and one of the most influential women in the country; a status she may not have acquired if she had not been bold and daring enough to stand her grounds.

Here are five life lessons we can learn from Becca;

1. Know your rights and fight the system to do the right thing

Many people are being taken advantage of and have had their rights infringed upon because they themselves are not aware of their civil and human rights. Becca knew her rights and knew they were being trampled upon when her consent was not sought before the HIV test was conducted.

If you do not speak up against infringements and injustices, the world will assume you are okay with whatever treatment given to you.

Know what you are about and never accept just anything Click To Tweet

2. Know what you are about and never accept just anything

People who usually say “anything goes” are seen as indecisive, unfocused and complete pushovers. They are also often taken for granted.

Knowing and expressing explicitly what you want and deserve will convey the message that you are not a pushover or easy prey to sleazy commitments.

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3. Never be afraid to pull out of a negative environment

When Becca found out that the contract she was given was not going to help her reach her goal, she pulled out. As humans, we sometimes adapt to a toxic place or an unhealthy environment not due to the lack of options but mostly due to fear of the unknown.

Eventually, we end up paying dire consequences for our actions and choices. You need to learn how to let go of things, people and situations that can be a breeding ground for retrogression.

4. There are other ways to succeed

There isn’t one formula for success so if going one way doesn’t help, try the other. Identify and if need be, create avenues to thrive; what matters is reaching your destination.

Becca left a reality show and ended up with a record company which guided her to success and catapulted her to 5 nominations in the 2008 VGMAs. One failed option does not mean all is lost. In fact, it could be for a greater good or just the boost you need to get to your green land.

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Resolve issues amicably and in the best and most healthy way possible Click To Tweet

5. Always be the bigger person

Life will always kick your butt; that is something we cannot control. What we can put a rheostat on however, is how we react to difficulties and problems we face.

Don’t dwell too much on the past that you lose focus on the future. Resolve issues amicably and in the best and most healthy way possible so you can move on without any demons of the past.

Arit Okpo: I call myself a socially adept introvert

arit oko she leads africa
@menoword presenter/producer of @TheCrunch_EL is a socially adept introvert Click To Tweet

You may have seen Arit Okpo on TV and marveled at her grace and poise. Arit currently produces and presents The Crunch, the flagship news show for Ebonylife TV. On The Crunch, she discusses and analyses current affairs issues and stories.

When she’s not producing content or presenting shows, Arit writes prose, opinion pieces and discussions on current affairs. And she doesn’t stop there, Arit has also functioned as facilitator and event MC for a number of public functions.

With all this, it’s kinda hard to believe that Arit is an introvert. For someone who is constantly in front of the camera (whether at work or on her very active Snapchat), Arit has found a way to make her shyness work for her as she forges her path in Nigeria’s media industry.


How did you come to be a presenter and producer?

I had been thinking about going into media for a while, but thought it was going to be purely behind the scenes as a Producer and Director. One day in 2013 however, I got a call from my now CEO Mo Abudu, informing me that she was launching a new show and that she thought I would be great for it.

I had participated in her reality show The Debaters in 2010 and she had remembered me. Even though it was totally unexpected, I knew immediately that this was the opportunity I needed and I said yes to the job!

As someone who is shy and an introvert, how do you appear so comfortable in front of the camera?

I call myself a socially adept introvert, meaning I have learned how to engage actively in social settings. I bring this to my work in front of the camera, I try to chat and engage as if the people I am talking to are friends sitting right there in the studio with me.

When I’m in front of the camera, I talk and act in the very same way I act in my everyday life. In a nutshell, instead of stepping out of my comfort zone, I take my comfort zone to work with me.

Instead of stepping out of my comfort zone, I take my comfort zone to work with me - @menoword Click To Tweet

What is the typical day in the life of a producer like?

I produce a daily news show and so my day usually consists of; previewing the episode going to air that day, then checking that all the other inserts of the show are ready or being prepared (we produce these ahead of time). I check invitations to events and say yes to the ones that align most closely with our direction as a show and send these off for scheduling.

Then, I review the work we have to shoot and try to craft a direction for it. I check the news for the next day and send it off for recording and finally, I scour the web for possible stories and guests that we can feature. This is aside from the meetings, budget preparations, planning and general craziness that is all in a day’s work.

What do you think other young women can learn from you career path?

There is no one way to achieve your goals. My career path is very varied but each time a new opportunity came up, no matter how out of the way it seemed, I always looked for (and found) a thread tying it to the past and leading to my future.

Don’t be afraid to say yes to unexpected opportunities and don’t be afraid to try things you’ve never tried before.

Don’t be afraid to say yes to unexpected opportunities @menoword's advice on career paths Click To Tweet

Do you have a career development plan? If so, can you share it with us?

I am very excited about curating and sharing the everyday stories of the continent. Whether it’s our food, our habits, our people or our politics, Africa is a very interesting continent.

I look forward to creating content that celebrates the very fabric of who we are –our similarities, differences, hopes, failures and successes.

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You’re very active on Snapchat. Do you use this medium to actively build your brand or is it something you do for fun?

It’s pure fun for me. It’s a chance to share my everyday life, my thoughts and my activities.

I enjoy the chance to share with people a little bit more about who I am away from the camera.

Your hairstyles and clothing choices on The Crunch are always on fleek, what’s your favourite clothing item?

I have a fantastic styling team that does such an awesome job of making me look good and they’ve given me some incredible looks.

For my every day look, I’m crazy about my ankara pants of which I have quite a number; they’re comfortable, versatile and made in Nigeria!

Do you always have a good night’s sleep?

Nope! I only get a full night about 2 nights a week. I am very nocturnal and so my brain starts to wake up around 10pm at night and goes strong till 2–3am.

Sadly, this lifestyle is not very compatible with a 9 to 5 job, meaning that on average, I get about 5 hours during the work week.

I look forward to creating content that celebrates who we are - @menoword Click To Tweet

How do you find time to write while working full-time on The Crunch?

I have to say that it is not always easy. Sometimes I am tired, other times I am simply not in the mood, especially because my job makes me associate writing with work.

Deadlines help though, once I have a submission deadline I make it happen. I’m going to work on writing more next year though (I say this every year).


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Jabu and Gugu: It’s difficult finding women in film to take up crew positions

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Jabu & Gugu from @TheFoxyFiveTV team clue us in on feminism and self-care Click To Tweet

We all know the challenge of getting African parents to understand what you’re doing when you’re not in a typical 9-5. Now, imagine if you were making a webseries?

The Foxy Five is a hot web series that brings lessons from intersectional feminism in post-Apartheid South Africa through five characters. It draws creative inspiration from Blaxploitation cinema and based goddess, Pam Grier.

SLA is excited to see gorgeous women bringing magic to our screens. We were doubly excited to speak with two women from the Foxy Five team. Jabu Nadia Newman is creator, writer and director while Gugu Radebe is the show’s producer.

With them, we uncovered the joys of being part of a production team that is all-women and why South African women are at the forefront of change. We also got Jabu and Gugu to share what should be inside a self-care toolbox.


Why use a 70s edge to tell the story of intersectional feminism in post-Apartheid South Africa?

Jabu: I used a 70’s edge to create a cinematic world for the characters. I knew that a lot of what was going to be in the narrative would be real experiences but wanted to stay clear of, like a documentary style.

I wanted the world that The Foxy Five live be influenced by The Black Panthers, Blaxploitation cinema, all of Pam Grier’s bad ass womxn characters and 70’s fashion. Fashion is a huge inspiration for me and I want all by work to be connected by a particular style or era.

What has been surprisingly easy about making your production team solely women? What has been difficult?

Jabu: The most amazing thing about working with womxn is the ideas that we come up with. Because we’re all relatively going through similar experience, we always seem to read each other’s minds and understand each other’s viewpoint and vision.

It has been a blessing to have these womxn trust my vision and understand what I’m —and we’re all— trying to do. I don’t think many men would have supported me when I first started The Foxy Five.

The most difficult aspect of working with womxn, is finding womxn in film to take up crew positions. Like finding a womxn sound recordist and engineer proved to be very tough. Oh, and getting time in everyone’s schedule to just meet and shoot is fucking hard. Like wow, black womxn are doing the most so we’re always busy.

The most difficult aspect is finding womxn in film to take up crew positions - @JabulileNewman Click To Tweet

Gugu: It has been surprisingly ‘easy’ in the sense that we are all womxn that know each other from different spaces and circles however when the call to begin the project came, coming together was effortless.

Creating a kind of sisterhood came naturally to us. With that mentality alone, it made it easier to come across different womxn that would want to be part of the project.  What has been particularly difficult is finding a predominantly black womxn team to fulfil production specific roles, however after a lot of researching we were able to find more womxn to fulfil the core roles in the production team.

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In your interview with OkayAfrica, you mentioned that South African women can add much more to the rest of the world regarding feminism.

Can you share what issues South African women deal with today and how they navigate them?

Jabu: Right now, South African womxn are leading the revolution and are at the forefront of bringing change. Plus, these womxn are also having to make sure that the movement is intersectional and call out all the misogynistic and patriarchal bullshit that is evident in the movement.

(South) African womxn also draw so much power and strength from their ancestors and pre-colonial history that when it comes to decolonizing feminism we need to be playing a huge role.

What particular challenges have you faced as South Africans making a web series?

Jabu: The biggest challenges as with any independent film-making is funding. And then next is probably getting our parents to understand exactly what we’re doing.

Gugu: What has been particularly difficult is sourcing funding. Considering that this web series medium is fairly new, not enough funders cater for this specific medium here in South Africa.

As intersectional feminists it’s hard to portray these five archetypal characters- or any others- without projecting our own individual thinking around topics that are raised.

Not enough funders cater for the web series medium in South Africa Click To Tweet

What can we expect from The Foxy Five in the next six months?

Jabu: Firstly you can expect the last 3 episodes of this season and then only bigger and better things for next year!

Gugu: We will be releasing our last three episodes soon and we’re still to unpack many layers of intersectional feminism all the way up to the finale.

In the interim we’ll be hosting fundraising parties come November in Cape Town CBD, keep your eyes on our Facebook Page for more information.

What do you think young black South African women need in their self-care toolbox?

Jabu:

  • Coconut water to quench the thirst —because the thirst is real
  • Long hot baths for our aching muscles
  • Vaseline for our lips
  • Flowers for our rooms
  • Shea Butter for the skin
  • “Girl Without A Sound” by Buhle Ngaba for lonely nights
  • Pap Culture for the laughs
  • And of course The Foxy Five for healing and feeling loved

Gugu:

  • Water
  • Good music
  • A book to write thoughts
  • Mom on Speed dial
  • Coconut oil

We want to know what amazing things young women are doing in your communities. Tell us about them here.

Twitter Chat with Patricia Kihoro: Building a career in entertainment

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Do you have dreams of big lights and sold out concert halls?  Are you trying to convince your parents your love and talent for singing is a viable career? Many people make a living as entertianers but it’s hard to know where or how to start.

Join us Thursday Sept. 29th for a twitter chat with Kenyan singer, actress, radio presenter and improv comedian, Patricia Kihoro. If you have ever considered a career in the performing arts, then you don’t want to miss this chat.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • How to decide your talent is marketable
  • Making the right connections
  • Your African parents and your career in entertainment
  • Breaking out without selling out
  • The fastest route to killing your career before it starts

Twitter chat details

  • Date: Thursday Sept. 27, 2016
  • Time: 7am NYC // 12pm Lagos // 2pm Nairobi
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats

twitter-chat-patricia-kihoroAbout Patricia Kihoro

Patricia Kihoro is a singer, actress, radio presenter, improv comedian and sporadic blogger from Nairobi, Kenya. She has dabbled in just about everything in the entertainment sphere.

Soon after completing her Psychology degree in 2008, she joined a reggae band, and then participated in a regional televised singing competition where she emerged a finalist. She has since acted in numerous musical stage productions, as well as in a few TV series and a couple of award winning films. Patricia has written articles for magazines and websites, emceed at events, released radio singles, been in a few friends’ music videos, hosted a popular radio show, participated in a Nigerian reality series, anchored the news on radio, and shared a stage with musical artists such as Just A Band, Aaron Rimbui, Harry Kimani as well as American Jazz great, Gerald Albright.

She has also been on tour in Europe, singing and dancing on stage 6 days a weeks for 3 months. Her biggest achievement so far has been writing, producing, directing and performing her own stage show, “Life In The Single Lane”, which was a surprising success, and sold out all six times she put it up.

She currently is part of an improv comedy group, because You Said So, that puts up a show every two months at Nairobi’s popular Carnivore Restaurant. She is also currently a judge on a talent show to be screened on KISS TV. She’s not done yet, however, as she still has some albums to work on, a TV series to create, a book of short stories to write, and 12 children to bear. She will however, never go sky diving. Ever.