Isabella Akinseye is not just a pretty face, she is a blend of wits and brains. As a media entrepreneur, she has passion for creating Afrocentric educational and entertainment content.
She also hosts/produces 'Correct Student', a radio show on weekdays. Asides this, Isabella writes and edits for NollySilverScreen.com, an online magazine covering Nigeria's film and television industry.
She has her educational background in Education with English and Drama from the prestigious University of Cambridge. Her work experience cuts across corporate communications, public relations, media, publishing, editing, broadcasting and acting.
Omote Ro Dhe had the pleasure of chatting with this bohemian personality. Isabella Akinseye talked about her background, career, entrepreneurship, role models, hobbies and more.
Read excerpts below:
1. You studied Education with English and Drama, would you say you are applying that knowledge?
Yes I am. I have worked in jobs that have required different aspects of my degree. My first job out of school was in corporate communications and public affairs at a multinational. After that, I went on teach in two different schools. I have also acted in a Kannywood film and a TV series. My current role running my media and PR company, Yellow Tamarind Productions sees me drawing from my Cambridge University experience which is beyond the degree itself.
2. Do you think school is a scam?
Nope. I have schooled in Nigeria, England and the United States of America. It’s the approach that matters. Abroad, they make learning fun and so I found school enjoyable. Besides, we can’t ignore the social aspect of school.
3. At what point did you realise you had to leave your corporate job to set up your own company? And why?
When the freelance work I was doing in the evenings, at weekends and during my leave began to demand for more of my time and give me more fulfillment. I knew that I owed it to myself when I was still young to give my dreams a chance. It’s better to try and if it wasn’t working, I could always dust off my CV.
4. What are the major highlights of your career as a media entrepreneur?
The first time an idea that I discussed with my former colleagues became a reality and premiered as a show on TV. The way I danced during thanksgiving service, you would have thought I had a billion dollars in my account. It was like the birth of my first baby. I see my productions as babies because they all start inside me and are nurtured before they are finally, birthed into the world. I’m also very appreciative when I get feedback from viewers and listeners of my shows. As a compere, when I got my first six figure cheque even before I did the job. I didn’t want to pay it in. Also, the first time I hosted a live television show on national TV. There are so many highlights – award nominations, hosting an event with former presidents in attendance and travelling abroad for work among others.
5. Do you experience down-times in your work? How do you deal with them?
Yes. It’s not all chocolate and roses. Entrepreneurship is hard and can be very lonely. Sometimes, you genuinely wonder, who send me message? Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and you’re disappointed. Let’s not get started with clients who won’t pay on time. Personally, I try to focus on the glass half full and take joy in the small victories. Other times, I take a break. I also have a support system of family and friends who have been there for me through thick and thin. God has been faithful and He always find a way of encouraging me and reminding that I am on the right track. It could be a sermon in church or a message from a stranger.
6. What do you love about the job? Do you follow routines?
It allows me to be creative and satisfies my natural inquisitiveness. I have also met a lot of people in the course of my journey. I have learnt and grown on the job. I love the fact that it pushes me to constantly strive for and pursue excellence. The feedback I get from clients go a long way. I don’t follow routines every day but some aspects of my job lend themselves to a routine, for example, a media production.
7. You wear so many caps, do you find time to relax and how?
I make time. I have learnt to be intentional. I also appreciate the quiet periods when things slow down and allow myself to rest and relax without feeling guilty. I enjoy spending time with loved ones, reading a good book, swimming at the beach, travelling, eating out, watching TV and attending events.
8. Who are your role models? What qualities endears you to them?
My mother. She has gone over and beyond for our family. She is there for me and encourages me. I know she always has my back. In the media industry, my role models are Bola Atta, Biola Alabi, Toni Kan and Shaibu Husseini. They are intelligent, hard working and have shared generously of their experience.
9. As a woman media entrepreneur, what would you say has been some of struggles/challenges you have dealt with in our patriarchal society?
People putting a glass ceiling over your head; telling you know how far you can go. Sometimes, people will just want a man to do a job that a woman can do and they don’t come out to give you any real or cogent reasons. Then there is the gender gap when it comes to pay and sometimes, you might not even be aware.
10. What kind of books do you read? Which one strikes you mostly?
I try to read widely. I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction. I read about people and things that I am interested in. I try to read a lot of work coming from Africa but I am also a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks. I love a good story that is well written.
11. What advice do you have for young aspiring females who look up to you?
To count the cost and give their dreams a chance. Don’t give up on yourself.
12. What's your favorite quote/mantra?
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
Photo credit: @isabellaakinseye