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Quick Q&A: Adanna Oji


ASPIRE 2 INSPIRE is a motivational documentary web series that gathers movers and shakers across different industries and asks them about the trials and tribulations of being black, self-employed creatives.

To celebrate the first season of the motivational series, creator Adanna Oji spoke to The Voice about her favourite moments, working with family and why Issa Rae is her ultimate inspiration.

Q: What inspired you to create Aspire 2 Inspire?

A: I really find people fascinating and they often have a story inside them that is full of insight, which can inspire others to be great. I wanted to create a platform to share these stories, that can relate to anyone and will inspire people to be amazing.

Q: How did you find the production process for creating each episode of Aspire 2 Inspire?

A: It has been a lot of fun and so interesting to create. The interviews are by far the most enjoyable aspect of the whole process. It’s very humbling to listen to someone share their life with you, and a lot of the time the interviewees were able to use the experience to reflect on all their achievements, too. It’s also been a tough journey, with a lot of hard work and long, long nights editing, planning, re-planning and organising. We found effective ways to navigate around all of the tough times and everything has been a learning curve. In hindsight, it’s been a rather immense project for just two people to embark on, yet we’re both very determined individuals who strongly believe in what we’re creating and in our ability to succeed.

Q: Which episode is your favourite and why?

A: There isn’t a favourite episode per se, yet there was one particular interview that resonated with us. Whilst filming Joel Artista, a famous mural artist in New York, he referred us on to his wife, CJ, who happens to be the first Samba Queen of New York. CJ referred us on to Ty Black, an activist and rapper whom we also interviewed. Then, as fate would have it, we bumped into a musician, Martin Perna, who has played with Beyonce, Bill Withers and features on the Bruno Mars Uptown Funk song.

Q: You worked with your brother on this project. What were the dynamics like when working with a family member?

A: I’m really proud of what my brother and I have achieved thus far and I’m excited for the wonderful adventures, our company, Romololo Films will continue to embark on. Uche is a fantastic business partner and I feel very blessed that, as siblings, we are able to combine our talents and create.

Q: What inspired you to go into the industry you’re currently in, and what struggles did you experience getting there?

A: I realised at a very young age that acting was something I had to do, because it was exhilarating and so much fun for me. Initially, there was a little resistance to my choice – I had to reassure my family that this was a genuine passion and not a phase as acting is not the most secure industry and they wanted to safeguard my wellbeing. When I graduated from drama school, I realised that the industry is fraught with a lack of roles available to women of colour. A few years on and these issues are still just as prevalent. The difference between me at the beginning of my career and now is that rather than expect change, I’m creating the change I wish to see and writing roles that better represent my image and offer my fellow contemporaries a more varied spectrum to play and perform with.

Q: Following the first season of Aspire 2 Inspire, what are your plans for 2017?

A: We’re very excited about season two and all the wonderful people we’ve yet to interview. We have plans to start filming later this year and we are currently in discussions about which platform this will be launched on, television or online. We want Aspire 2 Inspire to become a staple platform where we connect with communities and collaborate on projects in an open, fun and creative environment.

Q: Who inspires you?

A: My family has been there from day one, and I’m constantly inspired by their love and support of me. I also have wonderful friends who challenge me to be my best, everyday. Also, Issa Rae is my go-to inspiration when looking at her journey.

Q: What would you like people to take away from watching Aspire 2 Inspire?

A: Firstly, guidance. One aspect of the Aspire 2 Inspire series is for it to be used as a database where people can gather information on particular industries that they either would like to venture into or simply have a curiosity to know more about. Secondly, to be motivated.These stories are relatable, and each episode features people who are down to earth and honest. We wish audiences to see that and understand that they can achieve their goals and aspirations too.

Discover more about Romololo Films by following them on Instagram and Twitter @Romololo_Films

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