Founders Spotlight with Co-Founder and CEO of TNC Africa
TNC Africa is a start-up on a mission to take original African stories to the world. Wale is an experienced entrepreneur and marketing professional who has spent the last 15 years working in various roles across different industries.
Lawunmi Nwaiwu caught up with Olawale, as he shares top tips on work-life balance, his start-up journey in the film industry and how TNC Africa us changing the narrative of storytelling.
Q: It'd be great to know how you were able to start this business?
I've always been an entrepreneur. I've tried my hands at different things, but one thing I'm always passionate about is telling original African stories, making sure that we in Africa can take our stories to other parts of the world. Having been privileged enough to go to different parts of the world, one of the things that's consistent is that not a lot of people really know about our realities as Africans. So, I've always wanted to create something around that and when the opportunity to do that through film and TV presented itself, I jumped at it with my co-founders. We went into the Nollywood film industry as it were; to start learning and eventually create a global production company where we now tell original stories using TV series.
Q: Sounds like an amazing journey so far. How are you able to balance a corporate job as well as being a co-founder at TNC Africa?
Well I have different sort of passion points but one of the reasons why I've still kept my corporate job is I always tell people funding within the sort of media and creative industries isn't great. So someone had to stay behind to ensure that at least we still had some sort of income coming in from somewhere else to balance the things out as our business continues to grow. In terms of balancing it or managing it is down to time management, being prescriptive about what you want to achieve and being very transparent about it. Any organization I work with, the very first thing I tell them is, look, this is my passion and been doing for a few years now. As long as you're transparent about it, you can then figure out how to balance your time management. There's nothing wrong if you work a 9 to 5 and then you set aside a couple of hours later in the day to do what you're really passionate. So for me, that's really how I balance things.
Q: That's awesome. What sort of movies are you into?
[laughs] I watch everything! You never know where inspiration will come from. You never know where the next big idea will come from. So I watch anything and everything. I do have a personal preference for indie movies and things like that and I'm also sort of a musical nerd which is strange but I really do.
Q: What film of recent has been very inspiring to your why? I saw two musicals in the last few months that really caught my attention. The first was Cyrano which sees Peter Dinklage doing his thing, fantastic actor. And the second one is called In The Heights. So again, screenplay was written by some of the guys on Hamilton, the Western End or Broadway sort of show. So it really got me inspired just to see how people can combine two genres. It's like music and film and visual to tell compelling stories. And I really love those two productions.
Q: TNC Africa is on its mission to produce films that represent African stories made in Africa by Africans. And we've also seen a couple of movies that have stood out on this recently. So how is TNC Africa changing the narrative of storytelling?
I think what is key to us is telling original African stories. And whenever we say that, the first thing people ask us is, what do you mean by original African stories? So for us it's any story that is relatable to the average African. When you tell that story from an African perspective, and when we say African perspective, it's not something completely different from what you would see in the west because that exactly, is the stereotype we're trying to correct. The same way people go about their day-to-day lives in the West is the same way we do in Africa or in any other region. We're not different. Of course, culture is different. The way a teenager or someone in that early adulthood would live their life in an African society will be slightly different because of all the cultural nuances. As long as that story is true to anyone who's African or of an African decent, they can see themselves in that story. Those are the kind of stories we want to tell and take to the rest of the world so that they start learning more about us.
Q: If it's one thing that could make the film industry much better today, what would that be?
In my opinion, it will definitely be capabilities, learning and acquiring skills. One thing that was very shocking for me coming into the sort of film industry is to realize that the capability level was still quite rudimentary. So a lot of stuff that you'd see people in other markets miles and years ahead, we're still struggling with the basic things like lighting, even storytelling. Ensuring that we develop our level of capability, acquire those skill sets that we need, I believe is the biggest thing. Secondly, transparency. A lot of people have interest, but they aren't aware of what's going on in the industry. There isn't enough literature, not enough books, not enough documentation telling people this is the way to go and not to go. So I think these are some of the things that could really bring about change in the industry.
Thanks Olawale, from everyone at The Moment of Truth Nigeria.
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