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Benoni Tagoe Builds Digital Empire One Web Series At A Time 

The Internet has opened up a number of opportunities for young people. Some have created a livelihood for themselves by creating web series that have gone viral. Ghanaian Digital Entrepreneur Benoni Tagoe   falls in to the above category, ”I consider myself to be a digital entrepreneur; I’ve worn many hats in the world of digital, from producing to being a curator of content.

“The web is an open platform when it comes to content! Not only that, but as a content creator there are tons of liberties that are given. I love being able to put out the type of content that I want to see. There is no other way that I would do things.”

Tagoe is the brain behind “The Bizz Plan,” which highlights entrepreneurs as they explain their thought processes and motivations in everything they do. The first season featured Fashion/Lifestyle Blogger Taye Hansberry, Vine/YouTube Personality King Bach, Entrepreneur Lisa Nicole Bell, and Editorial Director Julian Mitchell.

Tagoe’s series has garnered more than 42,000 views and counting.

Now production for the second season has started and will feature entrepreneur and media personality Jabari Johnson, CEO and founder of Happy Baby Vending Inc.; Erica HarrisIssa Rae, creator of “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”; Rapheal Saye, co-founder of Royal Dynamite; and Miss Diddy of the Brand Group.

Tagoe is also the founder of YouTube network Volume Visual. On why he decided to start the network, he says, “Working in the music industry I realized that there was a disconnect between artists and the only social media platform that pays them in YouTube. Since I had a strong social media background (specifically as it relates to YouTube), I figured I tie in both of my passions of music and social media and create a company that ultimately assists the music industry as a whole with their digital video presence.”

The network is the first and only all-hip-hop YouTube network and helps hip-hop artists increase their online viewership by using analytics, strategies, and proven theories.

“For our larger channels we then start helping them work with brands. If a brand is looking to target a hip-hop audience, our network is made up of only hip-hop influencers, so in a sense, our goal has always been to take up the hip-hop real estate on the web and the brands work with us to reach that audience.”

Volume Visual has a partnership with Pharrel Williams’ “I Am Other.” Tagoe adds, “At the end of the first season of ‘The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl,’ Google came out with a $100 million initiative, where they were looking to program channels similar to the television model.

“There were channels created for comedy, cooking, sports, and more! At this time, whenever someone was looking for urban programming, they would come to us first because we had the biggest urban web-series out. After multiple offers, we decided to work with Pharrell because, well, he’s a genius and you just don’t pass on an opportunity like that. Period.”

Tagoe has been producing digital content for five years plus, starting with “Awkward Black Girl” and has gone on to produce other web series with Issa Rae productions, such as “The Choir,” “TKO Series,” “Peter Quillin,” “Black Actress,” “First,” and “How Men Become Dogs.”

On his future plans, Tagoe says, ”I’m working on a series of workshops that will highlight my different theories in both business and digital content; I’d love to present and teach in Ghana! Be on the lookout for that to happen real soon. The Bizz Plan is out now! It’s only the beginning; it’s cool to be smart.”

Viola Davis on The View

Nana Serwaa Adu Boateng Makes A Mark As A Plus SIze Model 

Being a plus-size model in an industry that prefers skinny ladies is a difficult one, but that fact hasn’t deterred Ghanaian Nana Serwaa Adu-Boateng  from pursuing her passion.

“It’s quite difficult being a plus-size model, because most designers work with sample size models. I think it’s because our modelling industry here in Ghana hasn’t ‘expanded’ itself enough to fully embrace diversity,” Adu-Boateng says.

“It can be very disappointing, but you have to love [modeling] to really keep going.”

Inspired by Ghanaian plus-sized model Philomena Kwao (pictured above), Ashley GrahamRobyn Lawley, and Ajak Deng, Adu-Boateng started modeling in 2012 forBenjamin Annang of Occasions photography.

And she hasn’t looked back since.

In fact, Adu-Boateng was a part of Coca Cola’s advertising campaign during the 2014 World Cup, GCB’s His and Hers campaign and Sierra Leone’s Telco, Smart Mobile.

On the runway, Adu-Boateng has had a number of fashion events, including Expressions of 
Accra (2012) organized by Citi FM, a Charity Fashion Show organized by Miss Malaika (2011), Retro Fab Fashion Show (2013), and Trash Talk (2013) by Vintage Ghana.

She’s also modeled for Ghanaian designersSarah ChristianJustGlayFannyAnn Creations, and clothing label Oplus Mavazi.

A degree holder in Human Resource Management and law, Adu-Boateng is studying to become a lawyer in the very near future.

MIKA ABRAHAM TALKS CAREER, AFRICAN PRIDE & POPULARITY OF AFROBEAT IN U.K.

U.K.-born Ghanaian Mika Abraham   has gone on to become the radio presenter/DJ/voice-over artist she has always wanted to be.

Growing up, she showed early signs of wanting to chart a path in broadcasting, with her fascination of how presenters and DJs interacted with their listeners.

And while Mika’s first choice of a career was to be a historian – she initially wanted to study African/Black history  — her love for radio took center stage.

Currently, the 22-year-old has been doing radio for six years, working with Choice FM, Rinze FM, and Reprezent FM.

In the coming months, she will be operating her own radio show, which the public can access through her website.

Abraham has also deejayed at art festivals, including Wireless, Love Box, Brick Lane, Acoustic Live UK, and at fashion PR parties.

In addition, her voiceover clients include BBC Three, Channel 4, BBC Blast, E4, and Urban Development.

And as the face of “Heart & Soul U.K.,” Abraham hosts a monthly event, where an artist performs a live acoustic set for their fans and then has an intimate chat about music and life.

Of her most-memorable moments in her career so far, Abraham says, “Hosting a stage at one of the biggest festivals in the UK (Glastonbury) – just the fact that I was chosen to represent London was amazing, which helped elevate me in to the mainstream side of the industry.”

“Also being acknowledged by the Ghanaian High Commissioner His Excellency Kwaku Danso Boafo for my work in the creative industry,” she recounts.

“Everybody around me knows that I’m always waving the flag for Ghana whenever I do anything, so for him to notice my work within the community made me feel like everything I’m doing is not in vain.”

Ghanaian DJBlackTim WestwoodAngie Martinez, and Delay (Deloris Frimpong Manso) are media personalities who inspire Abraham to aim for the very best in her career.

As for how Afrobeat music is performing on U.K. charts, Abraham says, “You have the likes of SarkodieAtumpanFuse ODGMista Silva, and more being played on mainstream radio in the U.K. People who are not Africans are listening and reciting their lyrics. This is amazing. You also have Ghanaian artists being flown [in] to perform at sold-out shows and festivals. GH music is on the rise in the U.K.”

Who are her favorite Ghanaian musicians?

“My favorite definitely has to be Joey B; his approach to music is fresh and new. His verses are host. He also knows how to work the stage, which I love. Big things are definitely coming his way. I love FOKN BOIS as well: their artistry is captivating and unique.”

Abraham has a diploma in Media and Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing a degree in Events Management at Greenwich University. Explaining what’s next in her career, she says, “My future plans include crossing over in to the Ghanaian/African industry and definitely go to Ghana and do radio. I will be launching some new projects that will be coming out soon on YouTube and hopefully African TV networks this year. I will be launching my official website and releasing an official mix as well. I’m really excited about that, just working toward creating a strong brand and being the young voice of Ghana.”

Feature: Fashion Publicist Senam Faith Ocloo

Fashion and the love for African prints is on the rise globally, and Ghanaian Fashion Publicist Faith Senam Ocloo  is determined to play her part in ensuring the continued growth of fashion in Africa.

Founder of E’April Public Relations, Senam speaks about her decision to become a fashion publicist, “I chose fashion PR, because I noticed that businesses in this industry lack the exposure and advancement needed to gain the desired attention simply because there aren’t many PR firms specialized in this industry.

“Fashion in sub-Saharan Africa is beginning to receive global attention, hence my decision to  
focus on Fashion PR to support those doing great and exceptional work and offer them the kind of exposure that will live on forever. [My focus is] a kind of public relations specifically designed to offer opportunities to young businesses who crave resources to grow their fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and artistic brand. Every business needs PR and the fashion industry is no exception.”

Therefore, her Accra-based PR agency handles product brand promotions and strategies, publicity, social media management, press releases, and product development. E’April Public Relations also performs customized product and personality branding in order to give clients a competitive advantage.

“Social media and publicity work hand in hand, thus making social media very relevant to me as a PR specialist. I can’t live without a Smartphone or Internet because I believe a lot happens on the World Wide Web every second. Brands are reaching millions of their targets every now and then, [and] Incorporating social media and traditional public relations tools maximizes brand visibility and growth and that is certainly the future trend for the fashion Industry.”

Ocloo’s agency was launched in April 2012 on a part-time basis until mid-2013, when it was fully rolled out to serve as a platform to promote and publicize businesses in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and arts industries in Ghana and beyond. It has a workforce of four employees who work in various capacities to meet client demands.

I will say it hasn’t been easy starting a solely fashion PR agency here in Ghana. My foremost hurdle is having to sell the whole idea of public relations to potential clients, especially in the fashion industry where many are perceived not to be making enough income to engage the services of a PR firm.

“Most of them are skeptical about the relevance of PR to their business and think it’s only the reserve for large corporations with huge budgets. Nonetheless, PR is essential to every business, be emerging or established.

And for Ocloo, the future for her and her company is only getting brighter, “E’April PR is here to bring that exposure to those businesses through publicity, promotions, and development. We are ready to offer the most-dynamic and result-driven communication strategies for our fashion clients in Ghana, Africa, and beyond.

“[Ultimately,] I believe that when you love what you do and [are] passionate about it, you will work hard to surmount every hurdle that comes along [your way].”

Ocloo holds a degree in Strategic Communications (Public Relations and Advertising) from the African University College of Communications.

#WCW Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Feature : Spoken Word Artiste Cynthia Amoah 

“My name is Cynthia Amoah   and I’m a Spoken Word Poet. I put my heart into everything I do so I know you’ve seen it pulsating to the ends of the earth. I view myself as many things: as a poet, as a sister, as a woman. I’m journeying and I’m not afraid to say that I haven’t yet reached my destination, but I’m extremely blessed beyond all understanding. And I thank God for all things.”

The above statement is how the U.S.-based Ghanaian spoken word artist describes herself. An Cynthia Amoahintroduction to the National Recitation Project by her high school English teacher marked the beginning of Amoah’s blossoming career. Competing in the national competition twice and losing out on both occasions taught her the art of recitation, the true essence of spoken word, and also how to overcome defeat.

What influenced the decision to take up Spoken Word as a career?“Spoken word poetry aside from just poetry as an entity is what always resonated with me. There is something about the tune of one’s voice, the tone — its influxes and invasions until it arrives at one thought that always fascinated me. There, in that moment is where I live. On the boundary between what I write on a page and how it sounds when I say it, it always means more. And because I’ve always wanted to mean more to the causes that I find dear to me, I thought it best to speak on them so that they can mean more to people unaware of them. There, lies the answer.

“My poetry is political, and I am its messenger.”

Amoah has been writing and performing on stages for five years and counting. She performed throughout her undergraduate period as a student at several events, from a candle vigil for the victims in Haiti hosted by her Alma Mater, local gigs, and recently at the African Arts Festival.

“I’d like to think of my poetry as political, at times, but also as spiritual pieces that come to life when I discuss topics that hit home for my audience. As a result, I’ve discussed anything from ‘Stop and Frisk’ laws and rape in the Congo to young women who ought to believe in and respect themselves.”

Her most-recent piece is a poem titled “Honam” that discusses the need for brown girls to love themselves, especially with the recent success story of actress Lupita N’yongo. “Honam” raises an anthem and calls for Africans to love each other as well.

Amoah is inspired by the late-Maya AngelouLauryn HillJoshua BennettSaul Williams, and other accomplished spoken word artist.

Born to Ghanaian parents on July 2, 1991, Amoah graduated with a B.A. double major in Political science and Africana Studies and hopes to pursue law sometime in the near future.

Meet Ghanaian fashion Editor , Danielle Kwateng 

Growing up, Danielle Kwateng  , had a connection to magazines focused on lifestyle and entertainment, so it’s no surprise that she’s currently a fashion journalist.

She loved the beautiful escape magazines gave readers and relished in the ability to takereaders to another place through words.

Now as a professional, Kwateng is the senior editor of fashion website StyleBlazer, reporting on fashion and entertainment news, editing copy from freelancers, promoting copy through social media, and attending shows.

Before StyleBlazer, Kwateng wrote for Glamour Magazine, People StyleWatch, Ebony, and Uptown Magazine.

And throughout her career she has interviewed a number of A-list Hollywood celebrities, including actress Tracee Ellis Ross, celebrity hair stylistTed Gibson, model Selita BanksSolange Knowles’ stylist Chuck Amos,singer Miguel, actress Nia Long, rapper Common, filmmakerSpike Lee, and rapper Drake.

Her most-memorable career moment?

 
”Interviewing civil rights activist and American icon Dorothy Height  not long before she passed. [At the time], she gave her unique perspective on the recent election of President Barack Obama in 2009.”

On what motivates her, Kwateng said, ”Honestly, my desire to continue to diversify the fashion world and opens doors for other women of color; there isn’t enough of us representing in the right way. “

Kwateng holds a B.A. from Howard University and a Post Bachelor’s from Columbia University.

Interview with Clara Amfo 

BBC 1Xtra’s Clara Amfo talks  about joining the radio station and hosting the Red Carpet at the MOBO Awards 2013.

Q. When and where did your radio career start?

A. My radio career started at KISS FM UK. I joined as a Marketing assistant and left a presenter.

Q. Was joining BBC Radio 1Xtra a dream come true for you?

A. Absolutely. I’d been a fan of the station for as long as I can remember.

Q.  How many years have you been a radio personality?
A. This is my fifth year.

Q.  Names of celebrities you’ve interviewed?

A. Pharrel Williams , Drake , Nicki Minaj , Mary J Blige ,Taylor Swift , Alicia Keys , Brandy , Gwen Stefani , Jessie J , Neyo , Solange Knowles , to name a few.

Q. You were nominated for ‘Rising Star’ at the Sony Radio Award 2012, what did it mean to you then and now?

A. It meant a lot to me then as it was nice to be recognized by established figures in the industry and even though I didn’t win, the nomination was so appreciated. Today, it still means as much to me probably more as it is a reminder of something great that I never expected to happen as well as a reminder that I have the potential to achieve what I want!

Q. September 2014 is a year since you joined 1xtra, any memorable moment(s) so far?

A. There have been a lot! Obviously my very first show as I had not been on air for three months prior. It was great to push up the fader and get on with it. Interviewing Pharrel Williams was special as he is one of my Top 3 musical heroes … and luckily he was nice.

Q. Name of music festivals that you’ve reported from?

A. LoveBox , Wireless , NASS , SW4 , 1Xtra Live , Radio 1’s Big Weekend

Q. Names of your Voice Over clients?

A. I’ve done work for MTV, London Live, Nike, E4, Motorola, Ariel … a lot!

Q. Describe what it was like hosting the red Carpet at the MOBO Awards 2013?

 

A. I was reporting live from the red carpet for 1Xtra and it was the first live OB (Outside broadcast) I’d done since joining and it was being simulcast on radio 1 so I was a little nervous! Even though, it was pouring with rain, it was so much fun. We managed to get all the interviews from all the nominated artistes so it was a (very wet) success!

Q. You were in Ghana in 2011 for a charity project with Plan UK: do you plan on returning anytime soon?

A. Yes, Ghana is on my mind! I’m hoping to go back in the first quarter next year. I’ve been in touch with the fair trade chocolate company Divine Cholate since last year and hopefully check out their work with the Kuapa Koko Farmers.

Q. Last words/future plans?

A. I just want to keep on doing what I love and not limit myself!

DZYADZORM TACKLES SOCIAL ISSUES WITH SPOKEN WORD

The ever-growing Spoken Word/Poetry community in Ghana boasts of many talented acts. One of these artists is Vanessa Akua Medie . The Ghanaian–Liberian Spoken Word artist goes by the stage name Dzyadzorm, which is an Ewe name meaning, “I am happy.”

Dzyadzorm’s journey as a spoken word artist began with the writing of her own pieces as well as watching performances from J.IvyBlack Ice, and Sunni Peterson, which encouraged her to give Spoken Word a shot.

It’s been a year and few months since her first performance on Y FM’s “Poets on Y FM,” a local radio station.

So far, she’s performed at Jojo Abot and the Phunky Phew concert; Ehalakasa Talk Party’s Pepublikasa; Open Mic Night at N’Daba Music & Acoustic Poetry; Elikplim Akorli’s book launch for A Heart’s Quest, where she has been featured on several episodes of Chorkor Heights’s Live on the Terrance; Live In Accra Jazz festival Cadence; and most recently, at Fashion Fuse’s night of fashion and poetry.

Dzyadzorm’s debut spoken word piece was “Phases,” an expression of self-growth, pain, and a resolve to transform. Then she followed it up with “Hush,” a piece on the confusion that can sometimes surround female sexuality.

What other issues does she address in her pieces?

“Mostly social issues stemming from personal experiences and aspirations. My plan is to expand my horizon as far as themes are concerned in order to be seen as a diver artist rather than a just a romantic one. [To] date, one of my pieces I’m most proud of is ‘War’ and its implications on a body of people.”

Dzyadzorm’s main goal is “to be better. Live better, write better, and perform better. I believe that the opportunities to go beyond Ghana and Africa will present itself.”