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Why did you choose YouTube to debut the series, and how did you market it?
When you have a dream, there will be 101 excuses not to do it. It was that way with the dream of “An African Cityâ€. Â If I would have waited around for a network to buy into the vision, I don’t know how long I would have waited. So, I used Youtube to avoid making the excuse of having a dream but not having a network backing it. With Youtube being accessible and having limited barriers of entry, I opted to use it.
For marketing, Mille Monyo, [the second] executive producer [for the show], sent out traditional news releases, but the project took a life of its own. My plan was to release it on Youtube, get a couple thousand hits an episode and then use it as a tool to talk to networks about the production quality, writing and actresses, but somehow, people started to hear about it, sharing it, and it eventually grew beyond my expectations.
What lessons have you learnt in the journey from creation to production?
I started out with a pilot and tried to crowd source [for funding], but it didn’t work. I made mistakes in that pilot. I had not gotten what audiences wanted right. After that, I took a break and learned from the experience. Finally, one day, I was ready to pick up the scripts again. Now, if we were to crowd source again, there would be family of friends and supporters who would be ready to support it.
What insights can you share about transitioning to the continent as a professional?
Speak up. The first time I moved back to Ghana in 2005, someone advised me to be quiet as a returnee because returnees think they know it all. So, I started being quiet and holding back my views. But when I returned to Ghana again in 2009, I realized that I had gone away to get an education for a reason and the purpose of being back was to contribute and not be silent. So, I think it’s important for returnees to know that it’s okay to speak up.
What advice do you have for women who want to move to Africa to pursue their career aspirations?
Just do it. Pound the pavement. There are so many reasons not to. I just said I am going to Ghana in 2005. I had no idea what I was going to do, I just did it. If you either have family in a country or have a little bit of savings, just make the move.
I did not want to be like one of my aunts or uncles that wanted to move back to Ghana but didn’t do it because of different obligations. I didn’t want that for myself, so I said, ‘Despite all the challenges I see about going home, I’m still going to get on the plane.’
Nina Oduro (@NinaBasiwa) is the founder of AfricanDevJobs.com, a platform for Africa-based development job opportunities, professionals’ voices and career advice, with a special focus on highlighting the contributions of Africans and the African diaspora. Committed to women’s empowerment, education and youth leadership development, she serves an adviser, trainer and facilitator for programs and initiatives aimed at positive youth development in the U.S. and Africa.