In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re excited to present a series of profiles on incredible women innovators. At Fahrenheit 212, we believe that the exchange of ideas and inspirations is a crucial piece of the innovation equation. We hope that each profile we share serves to inspire you to not only join us in celebrating the accomplishments of women innovators, but also to inspire your own thinking.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am a producer, documentary filmmaker, and entrepreneur.
I started out with the mission to empower young people, especially in Nigeria where I am from. This focus allowed me to move back home a few years ago where I encountered a lot of really great and inspirational people, yet I didn’t see an outlet to share their amazing stories. To change this, I created a platform called My Africa Is – it is a space where anyone can share the stories of everyday individuals living on the continent. It gives people who aren’t living on or have never been to the continent a first-hand glance at what it is like to live in cities that you just never hear about.
I focus on telling stories that you never would hear, whether stories on Africa, stories on the diaspora, or stories of normal people just living.
Why do you do what do you do?
I crave experiences that aren’t the norm. I think that if more of us experienced things outside of our day-to-day routine, we would have less fear of things that we don’t know. I wanted to put myself in a position where I get to share this with people.
I also come from a culture where there is a very strict line between youth and adults. Youth (at least when I was growing up) should be ‘seen and not heard.’ This culture can mute the voices of young people. There is so much that they have to add - I wanted to share their stories because of how powerful they are! When youth recognize their power, and share it, allowing other people to see it, it spreads energy.
My platform is really about sharing tales of inspiration as means of empowerment across generations, with a focus on getting young people from around the world to understand and use their power.
What are the life moments that most influenced who/where you are today?
I went to an all-girls boarding school in Nigeria. Our principal was the backbone of the school. She was there at a time of huge corruption in the country – people were bribing their way to get kids into school. This was the best school in the country at the time, and she argued that it would bring down the quality if people were bribing their way (so that only people that had money could go there, rather than the best and the brightest). As a result, the government had her removed. Instead of backing down, she announced the whole story at our daily assembly. Everyone was screaming in shock. We were just 10-16 year-olds at the time, and we ended up protesting. Ultimately, she still left, but that was my first protest – there was no adult that told us ‘this is what to do.’ We all stood up together and said “this is unacceptable.” That ingrained a spirit of rebellion in me.
What is the first thing you do every morning? The last thing at the end of every day?
I try to work out every morning, read the Bible, stay off Instagram, and read the news.
At the end of every day, I read a book or watch TV to slow my mind down and tune the world out.
What do you never leave the house without and why?
My glasses because I can’t see! As well as a book for the subway.
What is the last book you read and why?
The last book I read was Swing Time by Zadie Smith. I also recently read The Sellout, the first book written by an American to win the Booker Prize. It was hilarious. I’m currently reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – there was a lot of hype around it, and it has not disappointed. I picked them up because all three had really good reviews.
What is your favorite app?
Instagram — I go on Instagram to laugh. That is my ritual for the middle of the day.
What is your greatest life hack?
I travel a lot for work, and sometimes have crazy early flights. I typically pack everything the night before and lay out the clothes I plan on wearing, just in case I wake up late. It saves me a ton of time and stress.
What is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?
Last weekend, I went to a concert. I had a crazy good time, and after the concert there was a huge line to retrieve coats. I was walking down some steps to stand in the corner and I tripped and my heel broke (for the first time ever). I sat down nearby, waiting for my friends, and I started talking to this girl, and told her my heel just broke, and she’s like, “oh yeah, I saw. I was laughing hard over here.” I loved that she was honest about the fact that she laughed at me!
What do you think will be the next big wave in innovation?
I definitely think we’re going to see even more innovation with Bitcoin. There has been constant change in this space, and there are a lot of new players in the market.
There is also a lot happening in virtual reality – though, practically, I don’t know how big it is going to be. It is exciting in terms of film, because people will be able to immerse themselves in experiences, whether it is for therapy (for example, to treat PTSD) or just to have an experience to drive deeper empathy.
What product, service, or industry do you think is most ripe for innovation?
Media. There has been disruption in this space, but there needs to be more disruption. The news right now is so skewed – for example, it is so geared toward clickbait (clicks and advertising). Unless it is trending, the big news organizations that we rely on for news aren’t talking about it. That is dangerous. Additionally, the media is spreading misinformation. We need more voices, more platforms, more people who are telling their own stories and sharing their own news.
What makes a great innovation?
Being aware of who your product is for, and knowing what they want. Seldom do we stop to ask the community what they want, when that should be the first question.
What do you think the biggest disruption of the next year will be? What should we have our eye on?
Again, media. I think a lot of people are realizing that they can be their own storytellers.
What is your favorite quote?
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” - Maya Angelou
This may be cliché, but as a filmmaker it rings so true.