Nigeria's Emma Nyra: From Local to Global Success
Arts and Culture Career

From Local to Global: How One Young Woman Followed Her Dreams to Win in Africa

What were the first three steps you took in moving from your hometown of Houston to Lagos?

First, I did my research. I went to Nigeria and performed in the NotJustOk concert as well as several other concerts during December 2011. I was able to learn firsthand what the industry was all about. The next step I took was to get my parents’ blessing, as they live in Texas and I wanted to make them comfortable with my transition. They supported me and made sure I had family to look after me when I arrived in Nigeria.

My final step was to decide what to take with me. That was really hard!

What challenges have you faced in your transition—especially as a woman in a male-dominated environment and as a U.S artist seeking to gain traction in that market? How have you been able to overcome or face them?

There are obvious challenges that a female artist will face in a male-dominated industry, such as inequality of pay, show availability and access. However, our industry is seeing such a breakthrough with female artists, so I really can’t complain. The change has evolved so quickly during these past few years, and with women like me who fight for equality and opportunity, I already see that change is gradually pushing through. Our society has been much more adoptive of the concept of female artists, within the past five years especially, as a culture.

Financially, what were three things you did to prep for transitioning to move to Nigeria from the States?

I saved enough money  [to cover my expenses for a period of time], budgeted for those daily expenses, and also budgeted for a stable place to rent.

What does a day in the life look like for you? Describe a typical work day.

My typical work day starts with checking on my promotions and projection of my online material. Next, I prepare for my day which typically includes radio, TV, or magazine interviews. This could take anywhere from three to six hours. The rest of the day is normally dedicated to studio time until the early hours of the morning.

What advice would you have for African women of the Diaspora who seek to take a leap and go for their dreams on the continent?

My advice for women who want to pursue their dreams in Africa are to first, mentally prepare for the job. There are many people— even friends and family—who may try to discourage your work and efforts. Also, make sure you pay attention to the sound of your music and make sure it is compatible with your region. This also applies with what is acceptable [as related to] traditions as to how women may be expected to dress in accordance with the area.

Above all, the best career advice that has truly helped me is to exercise patience. Every single step is achievable, but God’s time is the best time.