Leading Ladies Africa Interview: Sika Osei talks career, life and having BIG dreams!
Bold, ambitious, driven, brilliant and multi-talented, Sika Osei, popularly known as a co-presenter of Studio 53 Extra, is determinedly leading the cavalcade of young African women in Television, Film and Media. She shares her very inspiring journey, some of the major milestones she’s achieved, and gives great insight as to why stepping out of the comfort zones brings the most rewarding results.
Sika! All I want to say is “Welcome Home!” Honestly, you feel more Nigerian than Ghanaian now – how long have you been in Nigeria and how has the experience been for you?
Oh wow! You’re going to get my Ghana family to disown me lol. But yeah I do feel sometimes that I’ve adopted Nigeria as my second home and the love shown me here not just from my colleagues in the industry but the people has been so heart-warming. After being here for a little over 2 years, I think it’s fair to say that I’m over the culture shock and I’ve pretty much adjusted to the way of life here. But Lagos is always full of surprises; from just driving on the road to the people you meet, there is always an interesting experience once you step out those doors. Gotta love it!
But on the real though; what made you decide to take the big leap and move to Nigeria?
The truth is I didn’t have a choice. I had to move to Lagos if I wanted to work with 53Extra due to the nature of the job. But most importantly I decided to take that leap of faith and move because I was excited about the opportunities I could explore here and being that Lagos was and still is the hub of entertainment on the continent; I believed it to be strategic for my brand to have firm roots here too.
Your name has a nice, melodic ring to it; what does Sika mean?
Well thank you for saying that. Sika on the surface actually means money in my local dialect in Ghana called Twi. However it has a deeper more significant meaning from the specific region where I’m from in Ghana (i.e. the Ashanti region). It means wealth and prosperity. Yeah pretty deep. But I truly believe that one day I will embody the meaning of my name and impact people positively because of it.
As a young girl growing up, what were your major dreams and aspirations? And are you living that dream now?
It’s funny you ask because just the other day my father reminded me of how I would always tell him that when I grow up I wanted to be like CNN’s Christiana Amanpour. He wasn’t particularly pleased with the idea of me going to war-torn countries to report hard hitting news but he was proud of my desire to be a positive world changer even at a young age. So I guess it was clear that from the onset I’ve always wanted to be on TV in some capacity and to use it as a way of touching lives. In that sense then I’m living the dream I had back then. However In retrospect I don’t think my dream back then was big enough. It has definitely evolved and grown exponentially especially now that I know what I’m capable off as a young African woman in the media and entertainment industry. So from that view I’m nowhere near living my dream and being the influencer I know I can be.
Your CV boasts of an impressive repertoire of different professions – TV Host, Publicist, Magazine Publisher, Lawyer Actress, Producer – you pack it all in! How is it that you’re so fluid, and which of these comes first?
We might as well go ahead and throw dancer into the mix because I bust some mean moves too. Lol I digress. Yes it may seem that it’s the case of jack of all trades and a master of none but there is no doubt in my mind that each stage of my professional life has contributed immensely to where I am now in the oddest way, even the Law believe it or not. I also believe that with the exception of Law, each profession had an element of creativity and artistic expression which I’m very passionate about, and which I credit my ability to be fluid to. At this point however the acting and the film production comes first. I truly believe I along with my amazing team can make an indelible mark on the African film industry, that we can garner international recognition. It’s my prayer every single day.
You’ve lived in different countries at various times – India, Ghana, Lesotho, the United States, – has this impacted your outlook to life in any way?
Oh tremendously. My world view is what it is as a result of haven imbibed all the various cultures that I was exposed to and bringing that knowledge into everything I do. It’s made me easily adaptable in different situations and broadened my scope with regards to not only where I believe my brand can go but where I would want to help the African entertainment industry (i.e. TV and Film) be in the next couple of years.
Have you always wanted to be a T.V Host, and how did your journey into television begin?
My journey started in Ghana about 3 years ago as a host of a popular entertainment rundown show called Phamous TV. It was created by a Director, Gyo, who I had met during my days as a Magazine Publisher. He took a chance on me and gave me my first shot at TV presenting. 53extra followed right after, which came as a complete surprise and blessing and really like they say the rest is history. As to whether I’ve always wanted to be on TV, admittedly yes but initially was struggling to make that move because of how invasive the industry was. But I was encouraged by friends and people who believed in me and a few years later here I am beating myself for not taking the leap so much early. We will just credit it to Gods timing I guess!
So how has the experience been for you as co-host of Studio 53 Extra, and are you like BFFs with EkuEdewor now?
Ha ha! That last part made me smile. No Eku and I are not BFFs. Her twin sister Kes will definitely not let me take that title from her and I completely understand. But Eku and Ozzy have been great co-hosts supporting each other as we collectively work with the producers to churn out a good show week after week. It’s not as easy as it looks but we get it done. 53Extra has definitely been a great gateway to meeting the movers and shakers of the African entertainment industry. It has opened doors to further my career especially my acting and it has also taught me invaluable lessons in production and just how important team work is.
Would you say that there are any major differences between the Ghanaian and Nigerian Television industry? For instance, in terms of content, structure, and even people?
I always try and stay away from this question because sometimes the comparisons rub people the wrong way. Geez can’t we all just get along! Lol. The truth is there are more similarities than differences. Both industries create content primarily for the masses that have cultural relevance. However Ghana is a much small market compared to Nigeria and the numbers in the latter allows there to be more opportunities here for revenue generation and just for implementation of more creative ideas which are not always mainstream. Also networking opportunities are better in Nigeria for that same reason. But there are equally as talented people in both markets and it would really be great to see more collaboration across the border.
You produced a short film ‘Guilty’ in 2015, and another, ‘3NA,’ in 2016; how’s it like expressing yourself that way and being an actress?
It’s daunting but super fulfilling. As an actress you dream of the kind of roles you would love to embody as a way to challenge and bring out the best in you and sometimes it requires you stepping out of your comfort zone and making that happen. That’s what the experience of producing my own films has taught me. That I am not just limited to the character I’m given in front of the camera, that I have the power of developing that character in such a way that my voice can be heard unequivocally.
It has been such an amazing learning process that has allowed me see the entire film making process in a completely different light and has also birthed my new youth driven collaborative initiative called ‘The Creative Inc Initiative’. Finally, being able to have complete control of pre, during and the end product of a project is so assuring but requires faith, belief and strength in your own person and I’m truly loving discovering this new strength and insight I’ve discovered.
Well the struggle with short films is that you have to make an impact in such a short amount of time and usually to do that effectively the elements of a good unexpected story line, convincing acting and good directing and production value all have to come together. We wanted to achieve all of this with 3NA by shedding light on a topic which was prevalent in our society but hardly talked about and which could still form the basis of a great dramatic piece.
How would you describe or define yourself in your own words?
I find that it’s very difficult for me to answer this question because the honest truth is ‘ I DON’T KNOW’ how to describe or define myself because I’m still really in the process of discovering who I truly am and my exact purpose moving forward and I thinks that’s okay. I have a vision of who I want to be and what I want to achieve and that is to be one of the faces of this new wave of African cinema which is causing a revolution of sorts in the industry and trying to bring a fresh and positive change. In that vein then I would say I am a young, driven and passionate African woman that believes I have a lot to offer creatively to my industry and hope that in the process I can inspire others to do the same with the same integrity and resilience that I hope to do it with.
How do you stay real Sika? You’re in an industry where people are known to be notoriously fickle and fake; how do you stay grounded?
The irony of the outward fickleness and fakery of this industry is that behind it all, it actually has a way of humbling people and breaking them down because of how much rejection there actually is in the industry and how it has a way of highlighting your flaws and imperfections. But I guess when all starts to go good there is a false reality that it creates that most fall victim to. I luckily haven’t reached there yet and pray I never do. I try as much as possible to keep a small circle of friends most of whom are not in the industry and who constantly tell me as it is. I also live by the principle that life works in seasons and everything has its time so planning for the next season is extremely important. Evolution of who I am and my brand keeps me focused.
Name 3 women that you admire and look up to
- My mum for a sacrificial spirit when it comes to her children and her prayerful nature
- Oprah for her wisdom and her business acumen
- Ellen Degeneress for a selfless, genuine and generous spirit.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
Well from a personal stand point it would be nice to have more stability with regards to my home life (i.e. husband, two and a half kids and the White-picket fence). Professionally I would hope to have built the Sika Osei brand solidly on both a global and international scale to the point where I could also branch out of the entertainment world and enter others such as business, social activism and youth empowerment.
Last words for other women coming up the ladder?
I think my two cents for women coming up the ladder from my own little experience thus far is that challenging yourself and going out of your comfort zone brings the most rewards. Don’t be afraid to follow your raw instincts and go out of the box.
And finally… (you know we HAD to go there!) Ghanaian Jollof or Nigerian Jollof? 😀
Hahahaha! Either one is fine with me as long as it’s well spiced because I love my pepper and keeps me wanting more. Lol So I go where the tasty jollof is, be it in Ghana, Nigeria or even in Gambia where the dish originally hails from.
Follow Sika on social media:
Facebook: Sika Osei
This interview also appeared on Ynaija.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa; an initiative that seeks to effectively mentor and inspire women, with particular emphasis on the African continent.
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