Leslie Kasumba -“The biggest challenge has been being underpaid because I was a girl/ woman. And this has been propagated not only by men but women too.”

 

 

Hi Leslie, you have such a strong personality that we admire so much, please tell us about yourself.

I am not so sure if I would describe myself as being strong as much as I would be someone who is passionate, persistent and somehow manages to get up, reinvent herself even when the odds are against me. I am Ugandan by blood , South African by nurturing and pan african by heart. In terms of my journey in media and creative sector – I started officially I guess my first year out of high school while studying a BA Dramatic Arts degree at Wits University, I was on a radio station called YFM and was part of the hiphop movement in South Africa, I was also the youngest editror for the award winning magazine YMAG and then fast forward ended up beong the host for Channel O’s Emcee Africa, traveling around the continent doing what I loved the most talking to rappers and hosting battles – yes me a whole Uganda girl! I later found myself getting the unique opportunity of being the Head of Channel O Africa traveling across the continent but of course Nigeria was the head office so I spent so much time there, while there I was one of the executive producers for Big Brother Africa and I was responsible for curating and selecting talent from around the continent for the Sunday night shows. Fast forward I went back to radio in South Africa on 702, this time it was talk radio and I managed to carve my niche sharing African stories and insights and got to travel from projects like Standard Bank Africa Connected telling stories about Africa and simultaneously I partnered with 702/ Prime Media broadcasting on my first podcast Africa State of mind. I know am Ghana based, which happened by chance, I had come for a week and the world shut down. While I was here I got some many opportunities including getting to start my company, officially. And since then I have had clients ranging from Multichoice Africa, Platoon Music, E! Entertainment/ NBC Universal, Gates Foundation, AUDU Nepad, Canal + and most recently joined Wild Aid Fund as the Ghana representative. As well as being a patron for TADS Fashion Institute. I also have my podcast The Africa Whisperer that got international nominations and I am just excited at what is possible.  So strong perhaps not – maybe more sure of what I believe , clear of what my purpose is and in love with Africa,her people and her potential and understanding of the fact that soft power – ie creative industry, tech etc can do and has done more for brand Africa than any government policy ever could. 

What is it like being a voice actor as a woman in Africa?

I LOVE that you called me a voice actor, because I don’t think I have thought of myself as that. But I suppose since I did study theatre/ acting/ drama in University, I just took a different path. I think its interesting because in my opinion voice acting is not a lucrative career path in Africa, not to say that there arent people living off it but those you can count on maybe your ten fingers, if at all. But it’s not properly regulated and so forth. So when it comes to what the rates should be, royalties and even just understanding the value of what the right voice can do for brands. Then when it comes to animation movies we are not producing those enough in Africa, which we definiately should be doing  and add to that the inclusion of African voice in global animation films we don’t see this which I hope willo change soon. There is definitely room for development and growth. So with that in mind when it comes to being a woman in this, it is challenging because men are more likely to get the big campaigns, because its based on the assumption that people relate more to male voices than female. So there are so many challenges and opportunities within this creative discipline before you even get to the gender balance. But personally I love being able to use my voice. I guess when you consider I grew up on radio and the whole idea around theatre of the mind, its almost like reading a book everyone can read the same words but we all imagine it a bit different. That is like radio and voice acting, everyone can hear the same voice but our minds pieces it together differently for all of us. That’s powerful, and plays with the imagination I love that. 

 

As an African woman, what are the major challenges you’ve faced in your career?

This is always such a tough one to answer, because I know that there are biases and we are so far in terms of the balance. But I havent had issues from my peers or anything like that. The biggest challenge has been being underpaid because I was a girl/ woman. And this has been propogated not only by men but women too. Oddly enough its only in the last few years that I realized I was always underpaid because I was a woman. So yea it is definitely down to the numbers.

Give us insights about your podcast and how you’ve been able to tell African stories from a global perspective through this.

We are in such a beautiful time in the world where its become clear as day that Africa is really the golden child. So much of what the world needs and wants is in, from and about Africa. As far as I am concerned we hold the keys to the future and Africa is in the driving seat, mainly because of our soft power and because we have the youngest most dynamic and passionate population in the world. There are so many amazing things happening in Africa yes there are challenges, that is world over but our people are dynamic and our spirit relentless, the podcast aims to hopefully capture all of this. 

 

What’s your take on the equality of African women in the entertainment space right now?

I said it before and I will say it again, the numbers. We don’t see the money that male counterparts do. 

Has having female mentors played a huge role in your career and how?

Yes, my boss Biola Alabi who used to be the MD of Mnet Africa was definitely a mentor. Whether she knew it or not. I learnt so much from watching her, sitting in meetings and seeing how she handled herself. As well as some of the hard questions she always asked around my overly colourful ideas. She taught me how to get my point across in a way that would make sense to the other party without loosing my essence. 

 

As a young entrepreneur, what’s your take on the African mentality toward hiring young female entrepreneurs?

Well I think the whole premise of entreprenuership is around job creation. I think that african girls/ women are entrepreunial by nature its inherint in who we are. 

 

 

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