Vanessa Valerie Ifunanya Olachi Alily aka NANYA THE ARTIST is a 23-year-old Nigerian born creative currently residing in Johannesburg, South Africa. Vanessa is multifaceted and wears many hats; She is a indie Vocalist/songwriter and rapper and her music has been featured on Transradio Africa, caps radio, implus radio, blazon magazine, sachh and music we make to name a few. She is also a graphic illustrator and creates her own unique African comic books with her family for their company Vanimax Comix. She is the illustrator and creator behind the fabulous Amina angels, four fierce African female spies that overcome all odds and fight for equality. Her work has been featured in several global platforms. She is a TV Presenter/Host and a budding social media content creator.
Vanessa founded The QUEEN’S GOALS at the age of 20, as a personal initiative to create positive change in her community. She has since been featured on various online platforms for her work. In October 2019, she was awarded by The Nigerian Voice Newspaper for her work and presented with the most “Inspiring Nigerian personality in South Africa award.” LLA Corners Vanessa to know more about her and she had exciting things to share, scroll down to read.
Who is Vanessa Alily?
Vanessa Alily is a Nigerian born multifaceted creative and a multimedia personality who currently resides in Johannesburg South Africa. She often wears several hats as she is an artist, Musician, illustrator, writer, poet, TV Presenter, Model, and a budding social media content creator.
Vanessa is also a social entrepreneur, who founded, and self runs an initiative targeted at the upliftment of African youth called, The Queen’s Goals.
Let’s talk about your initiative “The Queen’s Goals’ and what impact you’re making with this?
The Queen’s Goals is a socially conscious initiative targeted at empowering and educating young African Queens (African Youth) in high schools. Our main areas of focus are in the mental, emotional, academic, and physical wellness of the girl child. We help create a safe space where young queens can feel safe to freely express their thoughts and emotions. We organize outreach programs, career workshops, motivational sessions and one-on-one “Talks -Tos” in schools across the Guateng region.
Through our programs we have impacted over 2600 girls. We have had many success stories some which are;
– Our 2019 Matric Dress Drive where we raised over 100 DRESSES to donate to girls from under privileged backgrounds who were not able to afford dresses for Matric Dance (prom).
– Our 2018 Solar Lighting Project where we donated solar lamps to students in remote areas with absolutely no electricity.
– Our 2020 Book Drive where we donated 1000+ books and 9 Book Shelves to a school in Cosmo City.
– Our Youth Month Out Reach Program were we took a Road Trip to a rural area in Rustenburg, to pay a visit to a High School within that area with 1000+ grocery items for their staff and students as well as 1500 books for the school’s library.
– Our 2019 Girl Power School Tour in collaboration with LEANNE DLAMINI and her END GIRL HATE ORGANIZATION.
– Our 2018 Examination Motivation Session with HIGH COURT JUDGE; Judge LEBOHANG MODIBA as our keynote speaker.
– We have also been honoured to have the CYRIL RAMAPHOSA FOUNDATION present at one of our events.
– Lastly, I was awarded by the Nigerian Voice Newspaper just last year, for my work when I was presented with THE MOST INSPIRING NIGERIAN PERSONALITY IN SOUTH AFRICA.
Tell us about ‘Vanimax Comix’ and what the mission is?
Vanimax Comix is the great creative institution that was started by my parents, Jessica Alily and Valentino Alily, and our incredible family; my brother David, sister Christabelle and myself. The ‘Fabulous Five’, as my family is called in the creative sector, began the South African-based comic group that has spun so many online mega characters under the title of Vanimax Comix in 2010.
Our niche area is in content creation; storyboards, scriptwriting, illustrating and character design as well as graphic novel and comic book production.
Our mission is to redefine the African narrative that has too often been represented with poverty, primitivity and “backwardness”. We hope to help change the way young African see themselves by telling stories that portray us as modern Super Heroes who are aware of their history/heritage and wear their “Africanness” with pride.
What is the idea around the comic books you create at Vanimax Comix?
Our stories are based on the African stories that have been buried with history. Our stories have a blend of facts (real people, real historical events) and fiction.
The themes of our stories explore, Unity, The Spirit of Ubuntu, the political and economic issues of African countries, the historical, spiritual and dynamism of the African heritage.
Any upcoming projects that you’d love to tell us about?
Yes! I have an exciting Musical Project coming soon, I can’t say much about it, but I’ll drop a hint; IT’S A MUSIC VIDEO, MY VERY FIRST ONE! And I tell you this; y’all ain’t even ready for it.
What challenges have you faced on your journey and what lessons have you learnt?
The struggle of “Balancing” is real Sis. I do so much and work in so many different fields that learning to balance and decide what deserves my attention and time has been one of my greatest challenges. However, I’ve learnt to let my spirit lead me even in my professional ventures and since I decided that I am always directed and focused. I hardly get overwhelmed these days, I know how to manage my time and most importantly I work smarter not necessarily “harder”.
What do you do when the going gets tough and how do you handle failure?
I cry at first ALOT (mostly in private though, I hate people seeing me cry) lol but truly, most of the time I cry in prayer to God. I just let it out and I feel the Holy Spirit counsel and comfort me. Women are spiritual creatures, whether we like it or not it is FACT. Our “faiths” may vary but one thing is certain, we cannot do this thing called life solely on our own capacity. When one is aware that there exists a higher power at work in their lives and that higher power is moulding and crafting their lives for a grand vision, they will ultimately begin to view “failure” as a TEST to help further sharpen their skills rather then a representation of “inability” or “unworthiness”.
I also talk to my parents a lot. They are my closest friends and they both have different methods of advising me when I come upon “difficult times”. I am blessed to have them and grateful for their wisdom and guidance.
How do you practice self care?
LONG BATHS is where it’s at girl! Also, I DANCE a lot, sensual movements are great for my feminine energy. Reading is my go-to as well (My current read is The African Progress Initiative by Ekos Akpokabayen published by my Dad’s company; John Bull Publishing.) I meditate, listen to Jazz music, eat Ice Cream (it’s therapeutic), Drawing as well helps to totally relax and get my mind off “things”. Lastly, allowing yourself to be pampered and spoilt by somebody’s son is a form of self care sis. (*sips tea*)
What Life mantra or philosophy has brought you this far?
“I am obsessed with the prospect of my own perfection.” Which simply means; I am obsessed with the prospect of my own growth, my own evolution, my own ‘becoming’. This prospect propels me, it consumes me. It keeps me seeking, asking and always learning. It is enough to keep me focused and always hungry.
Any advice to women in our community?
The Time has come to take your rightful place. The world is seeking AFRICA, our culture is being sort out, our history is being sort out, our heritage and our identity as a people is being sort out. And we are the ones to tell OUR stories, we can no longer allow our narrative to be misrepresented or untold.
As WOMEN, we are the custodians of our people’s heritage and we have never needed to throw our power around because we know who we are but our humility has been mistaken for complacency so AFRICAN WOMEN TAKE YOUR PLACE.
Write that business proposal, releases that song, send that book to your publisher, launch that product. It is our time to TAKE UP EVERY SPACE, it is our time to build a new Africa. We are the Architects of our future, it can not happen without us so do not underestimate your power.
The Leading Ladies Africa weekly interview series 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.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to lead@leadingladiesafri