Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 6/01/2021- Anita Erskine is ranked one of the top 100 most Influential Women in Africa and one of the top 100 most Inspirational Women in Ghana, and one of the most inspirational Ghanaian public figures. In 2020, she joined the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative – Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic entrepreneur program for African Entrepreneurs, as Host and Advisor. Anita has lent her voice and personality to numerous social impact projects, due to her unwavering belief in the SDGS mantra of not leaving anyone behind. Her show, Sheroes of Our Time, in its eight-season, features some of the Continent’s most prominent fighters for Gender Equality.
Building an empire isn’t always glitz and glam. What challenges have you faced?
My voice is my power, my voice has a texture, it has a volume, and I’ve worked hard to ensure that it’s not just the esthetic of my voice but it’s the message that my voice, you know carries and not everyone likes that message, not everyone is comfortable with that message because in addition to the message also comes a personality that, yes indeed, depending on the door you’re walking through, depending on who you’re addressing doesn’t always sit well with the environment, and that is what being a fighter is truly about. Being a fighter for me is about looking at what the environment needs and telling yourself that yes some elements in the environment aren’t really going to like what you’re about to say, they won’t like what you’re about to do. You’re about to kind of break culture, you’re about to break tradition a little bit but it is needed at that point in time if you want to lead a movement. And that’s what building an empire is like, you’re leading a movement, you’re leading a cause, and you are creating a shift, and we all love to live in our comfort zones and for me even, I created a major shift in my life, let’s not even talk about anybody else let’s talk about me. The person who’s speaking today is the person who has aggressively created shifts in her life and these shifts don’t always go hand in hand with culture, with society, you know, and to change people’s minds or perceptions about something, it takes a lifetime. So if you want to build an empire, do know that you are about to create a shift and a shift also means putting yourself out of the comfort zone that you’re so used to, that comfort zone that almost protects you, it shields you, it covers you, and you’re just about to say you want to break out of that shell and that’s what I’ve had to do at every single turn of my life, I’ve had to break out of a shell that has then exposed me to one thing or another but the preparation for that exposure also is the patience, the tolerance, the focus, the learning, the neverending learning, and to some extent applying a lot of wisdom to a move, applying a lot of personal conversations, personal master classes, literally, to prepare myself, so I’ve built the kind of empire and I continue to build, I’m building the kind of empire that is not just for myself but it’s also to teach the generation of girls after me that there is nothing like, nothing comes easy, nothing comes easy and once you believe in something once you want something, once you feel that that something is owed you, you owe yourself that aggressiveness, and that’s what building an empire means, and that’s what it means to me.
What does it take to become a media mogul?
5 years ago I would have said it takes skill, talent, and passion to be a media mogul. Today, given the company that I own, and its ambition to propel me as a global media icon, and it’s the commitment to ensuring that I am well prepared for that, and you know this preparation spanning the past 20 plus years from being an intern at a radio and TV station, to auditioning for many, many TV shows, to hosting TV shows that kind of project and propel the beauty of Africa, to creating content that highlights and heightens awareness of women empowerment and girl education.
I would say that what it takes to be a media mogul today is that intentional ambition, is that clear plan, and ultimately that never-dying fire, you know, in your mind, in your belly, in your heart, that helps you just literally blaze through various challenges that come your way from rejection, you know, to literally, sometimes even abandonment to sheer confusion, and then ultimately to just the challenge of being hugely competitive, and in a hugely competitive space. It’s important today, now that I know what I know, to be almost intentional, that’s really, that’s what it takes to be a media mogul to be so intentional, to be intentional to a fault, because you know what you have to offer the world, and you know exactly what the world can benefit from your dreams, your ambitions, and your wildly sharp focus. I have worked from Radio to television, particularly in these two spaces. I have spoken publicly At a plethora of events. I have been affiliated with numerous global organizations, and it all comes together to create this, you know, as you call me this media mogul I’m becoming, I wouldn’t say I am, but I’m becoming. It furnishes me with the knowledge and it just refuels that desire to be a powerful force within the media landscape, both within the media landscape around the world. That’s what it takes to be a media mogul.
“You need a certain level of humility. It allows you to see just what others walk past because it is too low for them to band down and pick it. That’s where the real money is.” Expound on this idea.
I discovered from a very, very early age, the importance of listening. Listening has the ability to help you to think, formulate, become wiser, and sometimes even smarter. Humility requires that you listen, it requires that you pay attention. You know, often we walk past the little people, what we call the little people, the insignificant people, you know, the people we probably won’t sit down and have a coffee with and talk to about life, but it is in the hands of these people that any kind of socio-economic problem lies. Whether I face the same problem, whether they face a problem, but they are the ones who will indeed tell you how grave the issues are. I have an African dream, and it doesn’t matter that I’m a global figure. My focus is to bring Africa’s emergence to the world using the platforms that I have, using the tools, the skills, the resources that I have, using my work for women and in general, to bring Africa to the world. It’s only in paying attention to Africa’s problems that I can curate and own that story that I am telling the world. And by the way, it’s not only talking about Africa’s problems it’s also about paying attention to what you believe, but the solutions to any challenges we may have are also so that we can create a purpose so that you can create an answer so that when you pay attention to the problem you become part of the problem solvers, you become part of the key decision-makers, you become a leader, and that is what humility allows you to do. Leaders must listen, leaders are the ones who pay attention and who help find the solution to the problems, and truth be told, in my field as an entrepreneur, my job, you know, is not to talk, my job is to listen and then formulate the solution to that problem, and that’s where my true business is. When I call myself a businesswoman, I don’t call myself, I’m not referring to how much money I make or how much, what’s in my bank balance, no. I’m referring to the business of finding solutions to my continent’s problem, and the business of helping the world see the power and the beauty of my continent,.and it is humility that allows me to listen to the everyday problems that require everyday solutions that ultimately project and propel the continent to be as extraordinary that we believe it is. So that is what that statement means.
You have put time and hard work into building your personal brand, tell us more.
It always sounds really nice to talk about accomplishments, you know, to talk about awards, and to talk about hurdles and challenges that you’ve overcome, and to talk about how many people say all the nice things about you.
I’m grateful for this question because my journey to where I have come to now is literally filled with and dotted with so many different kinds of failures, that’s what it is. My power is in my failure, truth be told, and it’s really in seeing how difficult any kind of conquest was and taking on the challenge of overcoming that conquest or winning that conquest. I mean, when I became, I remember so well when I got pregnant with my daughter is 2008, it was literally just at that moment when I was just about to breakthrough on the pan African continent, I was splitting my life between North America and Africa, which was difficult enough as it is, and then I just kind of realized that, you know, I was this pregnant woman on TV and nobody knew how to deal with it. A lot of people would really say really nice things, ‘Oh you’re pregnant why don’t you just take two steps back’ and ‘Why don’t you just, you know, kinda relax’ and I kept thinking to myself ‘well yes I’m pregnant, but god forbid, I’m not dying.’ And that’s one of the moments when I realized that women in media, ‘women in media’, but there is, or there was a kind of box, and I refuse to find myself in that box and that’s really what part of my experience in media has been about. If you say, I’ve been intentional about my personal brand. If you say I’ve worked hard and spent time on it. It’s primarily experiences or moments of refusing to box myself into what society categorized as you know ‘A woman in media’.
My personal brand is synonymous with power, with boldness, with unapologetic raw ambition and I refuse to be anything but these things because I’m on a path that is really not easy, and I’m on a mission that is really, really dotted with so many different kinds of challenges and at any point in time, I could come up with the best excuse not to break through, the best excuse not to do more, but the reality is I have an ambition, I have a dream and that dream and ambition is my responsibility.
So this is what I call my personal brand. I take the responsibility in ensuring that I breakthrough, I take the responsibility in ensuring that I bring whatever message it is to my followers to my viewers, to my audience, and I take the responsibility to ensure that my audience understands, not just the journey I’m going on, but what I want to do for them to be better people or to be better at whatever it is what they’re doing. So a lot of people say well you know what Anita you do inspire, and I love that I inspire, but I don’t want it to end at the inspiration, I don’t my word to just speak to somebody’s spirit or someone’s soul, I want my actions to inspire someone to go the next hundred miles beyond mine, that’s truly and honestly what my personal brand is all about, and to be honest with you nothing less you see. Nothing less. So that’s what building my personal brand has been, really not boxing myself, or reducing my hope and dream to what society really expects me to be. I believe in the power of evolution and creating a revolution with every single step and that’s who I’ve become and that’s what I am.
“I want to be one of the most influential voices, making visible change” Share a few stories
One day a wonderful friend in a conversation said, “So how do you feel about your life,” and I thought “oh well, I’m just doing good enough” and he said “You need to be better than good enough” and it struck me because I said good enough is my standard. Better than good enough is the standard the world needs so that you can reach more people so that you can do more for people. Not just do more for yourself but do more for the world and see a visible change by being intentional about what you say, being intentional about where your voice goes, about being intentional at what you’re focusing on then seeps into other people’s lives, that then creates the kind of change that you’re looking to see. My TV and my radio careers were great, but they were good enough and I needed to be better than good enough. So I did need to look at the kinds of issues around the world that appealed to me, that I felt genuinely passionate about, and mold them, and read them into my purpose, read them into my career, read them into my skills, read them into my talent so that I could not just use my voice to say the great things, thus then inspiring ordinary people to become extraordinary, probably even more extraordinary than I am, and that is what being one of the most influential voices means to me, as in being able to make a visible change. What are you saying to people that makes them believe that they can do more, they can be more, they can go further, they can probably end up being greater than you? That is what’s really important to me, as a matter of fact, more important to me now than ever before because the world is changing, and our girls need us our women need us, because indeed as being attributable to 51% of the population there is so much more work to be done, and if I find it within my strength to share the fire that burns in my belly, I will use my voice to do that. I will use my voice to help another woman pick up the pieces and run, run the hardest she has ever run, so we can all get to that finish line together. We are leaving absolutely no one behind and that is my purpose of having this voice that I want to see visible change out of.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the continent of Africa. The continent of Africa has me in it, it has a plethora of peoples so eager, so committed, so powerful, so true, so real, to turn its entire image around it has all these young people who understand what their rights are, all these young people who know the value of their voices, who indeed know what they want for the continent of Africa, know they want to best for the continent of Africa. And in that entire mix, I’m most proud of the fact that I am working for my continent to also push its image forward in everything that I do, and its image notwithstanding, its people, its image is a subset or a product of its people, It’s women, it’s girls, and I’m most proud of the work that I do right now that has a very sharp focus on women in leadership, girls, education, women being empowered, women taking on the responsibility of ensuring that they leave their legacy, or they build their legacy that is what I’m most proud of. My work on the continent, for the continent, and really and truly around the world for the continent, around the world, my global appeal that helps push the global appeal of Africa even further.
What are your dreams for acting?
So I’ve got to be honest circa 2019, I was watching Black Panther for maybe about the 4th or the 5th time, maybe the 6th or 7th time and I was seeing the representation of this different kind of Africa, albeit fictional, but I was looking at the actresses, the actors, I was looking at the beauty of the accent, I was looking at the beauty of the color of their skin, and I was feeling proud of the global relevance about in telling young people the story about heroes from an African perspective and even at that time, even though I hadn’t really put pen to paper to write what my goal would be for acting, there was something that was really birthing in me or there was something that was really unearthing itself in my spirit. So acting is a path I’m going to go down, I’m going to explore it fully, from TV series to full-length films, to documentary series, I’m going all out, I am an actress. I’m a woman with a talent for acting, and I’m pursuing the skill for acting as well in my everyday work on set. I have one of the most extraordinary producers Shirley Frimpong-Manso has held my hand and I… You know what, this question says I owe her that gratitude for really taking what is raw talent and really applying what is a skill that can help me reach every single corner of the earth, and that’s what it is ‘cause talent alone is not enough, so that’s what my goal for acting is. I will pursue acting aggressively from now on and I will indeed cross boundaries with my acting. I will tell more stories through the roles that I accept for myself, and that’s what it is. I’m not turning my back on something that has been sitting in my soul for all my life, I’m going to explore it, I’m going to use it, and I’m going to really take advantage of my love for acting.
Tell us about your acting role in the hit African soap opera, “Dede.”
The silver lining of COVID was that I was compelled to find myself again, and I found myself in a soap opera created for the African continent, telling a very important African story about family, about legacy, about power, about money, about fighting hard for the people you love, and about fighting against the injustices that sometimes the world will throw at you. Rama Robertson is the matriarch, she’s the money, she’s the power, she’s the voice, but at the same time, she’s also the weakness, she’s that really weakening pillar, or that pillar that sometimes is quite weak, and that sometimes her environment takes advantage of, but she’s also the brains, she’s also the creativity, she’s also the life of her family and of her community. And I love this role because it allows me to show the weak side of power, and the great side of power, where sometimes power attracts the people that truly do not want you to succeed. And at the same time where power usually kind of rears its beautiful head and reminds you of who you truly are, and the kind of influence you have, and that’s the Rama Robertson role.
Dede is the title of the soap opera, and it airs in all 53 countries on the continent of Africa. And it speaks to cultures, it speaks to traditions, it speaks to men, it speaks to women, it speaks to children, it speaks to business, it speaks to money and power, and it’s a beautiful story. And I started acting in this role in October of 2020, and our first episode aired in March of 2021 and the reviews have been extraordinary, and gosh that’s another covid story for another day. The power of reinvention when you are truly faced with a situation you can not control.
Tell us about Sheroes and bringing the show to North America
Sheroes of our time helped me mold my journey as an entrepreneur. I didn’t want to become a business owner for the sake of it, I wanted my business to speak to a change, to inspire a movement, to be at the forefront of a revolution, and that change and revolution and evolution really as well is for me lies in the hands of the world’s women, women and girls, you know because they are coming into that space of learning and understanding and appreciating the power that they hold.
Sheroes of our time tells the story of the African woman, the women of African descent and women, global women working for and on the continent of Africa. Africa is at the center of Sheroes because I needed a springboard, I needed a place to start telling the story.
Of course, I call Africa, both Africa and North America home. So one of the things that also occurred to me was, it’s beautiful to work on the continent or for the continent, but I also wanted to create a bridge. So Sheroes also will work to create that bridge between Africa and North America through the commitment of the women on both continents. And that’s why after seven years of creating and curating content for Sheroes on the continent of Africa, I’m bringing it to North America to bridge the two extraordinary continents, and these two continents have played such a huge role in molding me, as the leader that I believe I am.
Sheroes is an ode to these women, it’s a salutation to the challenges and hurdles that these women face that women jump, but more so their stories that inspire generations, that will keep inspiring generations. I am building an ecosystem a place where women come to share, where women come to listen, where women come to be better versions of themselves, and an ecosystem that will one day be referenced as that which contributed to the extraordinary emergence of Africa, the continent of Africa, the Continent of North America, and the emergence of the women in these continents, I guess that’s what I want to say. A project that will one day be a reference point for the emergence of Africa’s women around the world, that’s what Sheroes is.
So it’s a combination of television, radio, online, products, books, it’s so many different things and so many different tools and resources that we, my team and I have come together to create, that each help to be a channel of that storytelling that is so imperative to our world’s women.
What can we expect in the upcoming months?
Wow, in the coming months, we can expect on Sheroes, you can expect a lot of stories of African women living in North America, women who are blazing trails in their own small way, in their own big way, and women who to some extent are just about to be discovered and who are really about to shake some tables, shake some global tables. It’s for me, it’s essential that whenever women or a person move away from what they may call home and create another home somewhere, that you follow them, because there’s a trajectory and these people do have that very unique story to tell, and they really do also serve as ambassadors of their home, home country, home continent whatever it is. So in the coming months, that’s really what we’re going to see in sheroes, we go global with our conversation. We go to Canada, we go to the United States of America, we go to Europe, we go to Asia, to talk to these women who have found, and who is changing and moving their communities. And these women whose communities are really truly so proud of. On the continent of Africa, you can see Sheroes on DST which is across 53 of the African countries across the continent, and also soon to come to North America and Asia.
You were named one of the top 100 women in Africa. How are you influencing young women today?
I think regardless of what you spend your life doing, regardless of what your commitment to yourself is, your career aspirations, your family aspirations, whatever it is, that you really need to look at building a legacy, and the funny thing about legacy is, a lot of people think that you can only build a legacy when you are a global icon or one of the world’s most powerful people, but you can really build a legacy in your community.
It’s important to me that my legacy be about sharing the wealth of my knowledge, sharing my wisdom, being able to inspire the next generation of women to understand that there is nothing that comes easy but that commitment to yourself to your aspiration to your dream whatever it is really and truly depends on you and that space between your dreams and the reality is indeed effort and hard work, and commitment, and honest, and humility, and all these values that make you stand tall wherever you are, and it is important for me to teach this, it is important for me to be able to be committed to the next generation of women because I don’t want to do what I do just for myself, or just for my own growth, or just for my own breakthroughs, or just for my own good, I want to do it for the good of my world, and that’s why when I look at the kind of work that I do, the kind of work that I do, talks to young women about living their best lives, being the best version of themselves, regardless of their community, regardless of their society, and how I influence them is by using the platforms that I have, the TV, the radio, the online platforms that I have, to reach out to them, to teach them the lessons and values of life, to teach them the importance of facing the challenge head on, and indeed telling yourself that you’ve got to be bolder, you’ve got to be wilder, you’ve got to be more aggressive, you’ve got to want whatever you’re doing bad enough to make it happen.
So I would say it’s all well and good, and I love to be named one of the top influential people in Africa but that title is useless without the next generation of women using my name as a reference point for how great they have become, and that’s why it’s so important to me.
What is next for you?
Wow, what an important question. What’s next for me is kind of like a cycle I’ve created which is definitely focusing on my film career, definitely elevating my TV career, definitely accelerating my presence in media, but with the mind, with the focus on becoming a global storyteller, a global oral narrator, and someone, and a custodian of extraordinary culture and tradition who wants to share that to show the beauty of our world through the world’s women, or through the eyes of the world’s women if I may call it that. And this is truly my passion, this is truly my calling. 2020-2030, is really the decade of women’s financial empowerment, women’s financial breakthrough and it’s my hope that women are given the seat at the table that they so deserve. So I will, what’s next for me is to continue to contribute to those conversations, make huge contributions to those conversations using myself, using my voice, using my platforms, using my work, using my business, using my network, and using my partners and my affiliations to tell that story and to help push the agenda forward. So there’s a lot going on and I’m so grateful to the good Lord for giving me these opportunities. I mean, God has been so good to me I can not even begin to explain how, many lessons learned, many opportunities that are coming through, and many partners and support coming from the people around me, and I’m so proud, so, so, so proud of all of this.