I am all that I am because I stand on the shoulders of strong women, Nigerian women to be exact. They have been my role models and have exclusively raised me to be the woman that I am. Indeed it is why I appreciate strong women from diverse groups and backgrounds and have consistently celebrated them, for almost five years, through my platform Ladybrille.
Within Nigeria’s creative industries, when I look at the fashion industry, I am greeted with so many women making things happen. In film, the same applies, although there is room for more roles behind the camera as film directors and producers. However, when I look at the music industry, I’m not feeling what I get back. To begin with, those in front of the camera, the artists, are far and few between. Further, those behind the camera are simply non-existence; and to the degree you hear about or find one or two, very few are in managerial or executive positions, much less own music businesses.
Also, I hear more stories than from other creative industries about how women in the music industry are asked to put out (sexually) in trying to achieve their dreams. I do not know how much of an epidemic, if at all, this is. But clearly, I am so not feeling that.
Finally, when I interact with the industry, majority of the time, I am interacting with the fellas. That is cool but I am not satisfied with the status quo and refuse to accept it. As a woman of Nigerian heritage and an executive, when I look at my music counterparts, I need to see people that I can resonate with.
If I crave for that, I can only imagine how the much younger ones within the industry or those looking to get into the industry feel. Since I am NOT satisfied with the status quo, it only makes sense to do what comes naturally i.e. step in and say “we finna do sumthin’ ’bout dis.”
How? Well,one thing we have seen is the power of social media and blogs, especially in Africa’s creative industries, to help drive change. Drops of water,they say, ultimately makes a mighty ocean. So, going forward, I am introducing a new feature AML’s Nigerian Women in Entertainment Who Rock™ to inspire, push, demand excellence, support and hopefully build a network of strong Nigerian Women in Entertainment (specifically music) shutting things down.
If you are a woman and Nigerian and you are in the entertainment industry, whether in Nigeria or outside of, I want to hear from you.
I need the following from you:
First, I need your bio (you tell your story). I will edit for grammar etc. Please let me know the clients you have worked for( past and present), what your role is in the industry, why and how you got into the industry and what your vision is for the future. YOU MUST ROCK i.e. make things happen in your own corner. So, please do not send me a feature request just because you are female. It doesn’t count.
Second, I also need 1-2 picture(s) (good picture quality) maximum of you.
Send your bio and pictures to ([email protected]).
Persons I want to hear from include: Music journalists, choreographers, stylists, makeup artists, chefs/cooks, costume designers, music executives, music managers, producers, music video directors, publicists, label owners and lawyers (those involved in signing and negotiating some of the bigger deals we have seen on the continent).
Now, let’s set it off with our first feature of a Nigerian Woman in Entertainment Who Rocks. She is Nkiru Asika, the Director of Storm 360. Below is an excerpt of an interview Asika granted to Allhiphop.com a while back.
Introducing – AML’s Nigerian Women in Entertainment Who Rock™: Nkiru Asika
If a woman has a creative bent, coupled with the traits women often possess – good people skills, team management skills, ability to nurture talent, passion and commitment to a task – then a career in media and entertainment is a natural fit. I certainly havent felt disadvantaged in anyway. However it is true that women have more challenges simply because we have so many responsibilities. A career in media or entertainment is never a 9 to 5 job and this can be very difficult to balance with raising children or being a daughter, sister or fulfilling other family roles. Basically you have to hope for an understanding family and also have faith that God will not give you more than you can handle.
As regards my academic journey, in some ways I feel it prepared me enormously for the types of work I am involved in, but on the flip-side, I now see crucial gaps that were missing in my academic background. I was fortunate to attend some of the best schools in the world – Wycombe Abbey School in the UK for secondary school; Oxford University for my first degree in Modern History and Syracuse University; Newhouse School of Communications for my Masters in Journalism. This education imparted in me the intellectual curiosity, the ability to analyze and synthesize facts, great research and communication skills and a strong work ethic, all of which have proved invaluable to my career. However, while this classical western education was fascinating – I studied literature, history, latin, even ancient greek! – I had absolutely no training in the core skills that really make a difference to your career . I never took a class in financial management, negotiation, project management or marketing. I had no training in managing people, sales or entrepreneurship. These were all skills I have had to learn the hard way.
I have a very diverse worklife and while that has its own challenges, I wouldnt have it any other way. As a director of Storm 360, in the same day I could be developing a concept for a multi-media platform, shooting a TV show, planning an event or brainstorming on digital media applications for our content. As the founder and CEO of Enterprise Creative (http://www.enterprisecreative.org/), I have the exciting task of birthing an organization with a vision to be the foremost organization dedicated to building capacity and providing business support services to the Nigerian creative sector. Its pioneering work, so it can be frustrating but overall, I am blessed to be doing what I enjoy and to be doing work that I believe in. Also I am working in a sector that is only just coming of age, so everything is very dynamic. Nigeria can be a crazy place to work and Lagos is a very stressful city, but once youve tasted the energy in this place, its hard to let go. New York is probably the closest you can find to Lagos in the West. I spent 5 years working at Smart Money Magazine in New York as a financial journalist when the stock market was the hottest thing happening in America. So again, it was fast-paced, fluid and very exciting. At Smart Money I learned how to get a story no matter what, how to craft a story and how to pitch ideas and sell to a very tough audience.” – Allhiphop.com