Ojy Okpe: Inspiring Change Through Media

Women are making incredible progress in the dynamic field of journalism, shattering stereotypes and changing the media landscape with their innovative approaches. They have forged their paths, elevating the voices of the marginalised and bringing about significant change with tenacity and fortitude. Women journalists are not only covering the news; they are actively influencing narratives and establishing new benchmarks for excellence in the industry due to their passion and hard work.

Ojy Okpe is a remarkable illustration of women’s effect and influence in the media. Okpe transitioned smoothly from modelling to becoming a powerful force in television presenting and filmmaking thanks to her dynamic experience in communications and film production. Her acclaimed show, What’s Trending With Ojy Okpe, is evidence of her indomitable dedication to social impact and her love of storytelling. Okpe uses her platform to illuminate current events, start vital discussions, and encourage constructive social change through insightful and engaging content. She continues to make a lasting impression on the media landscape with her unique viewpoint and limitless creativity, serving as a constant reminder of the importance of creativity, impact, and inclusivity in fostering a better future.

In this interview with THEWILL DOWNTOWN’s Dorcas Akintoye, Ojy Okpe talks about her journey in the media industry, the challenges she has faced so far, her hopes for the media industry, and the importance of inclusivity in the media.

Can you share a pivotal moment that inspired your transition from modelling to becoming a television host and filmmaker?

I had always wanted to be a filmmaker; I never envisioned being a journalist because I studied film in school, although I took some courses in journalism. However, my journey in journalism began when I got hired to work as a producer for Arise News Flagship Show, ‘Arise Entertainment 360’, anchored by Lola Ogunnaike and Shannon Lanier, which was back in 2013 in New York. At the time, I also analysed fashion and entertainment stories, and as a fashion model, I would cover ‘fashion week’ across the globe. Eventually, I began producing short features and short documentaries for our documentary unit. After working for a year with the documentary unit, I was promoted to the position of assistant director. The documentary unit produced a bunch of specials, and in 2015, we won a NY Emmy for the documentary, Game Changers: How the Harlem Globetrotters Battled Racism. That was the pivotal moment; it was the game-changer in my career. I instantly knew that I was drawn to human-angle stories. I knew that I wanted to do more along the lines of journalism, news production, and anchoring.

What inspired the concept behind What’s Trending With Ojy Okpe, and how do you ensure it stands out in the crowded landscape of television shows?

The concept of What’s Trending With Ojy Okpe is derived from telling stories that are not usually told or covered in mainstream media. I treat human-angle stories, reactions to current affairs, the economy, sports, music, film, and the arts and I also report news within Africa and across the globe. The aim is to raise awareness and to highlight achievements. I think What’s Trending with Ojy Okpe stands out because of the unique relationship I share with my team. My team comprises renowned journalists, including veteran anchor/journalist Dr. Ruben Abati, Rufai Oseni, and Ayo Mairo-Ese. They are all wonderful in their unique ways, and their contributions to the stories on What’s Trending with Ojy Okpe is what sets the show apart from any other show on the continent and across the globe.

How has your hosting style evolved since the beginning of your career, and what lessons have you learned that have influenced your approach today?

I think my anchoring has evolved in ways that I cannot fully describe, but I know that I am a lot more confident than when I started. The first time I anchored a program, I had little or no experience reading a teleprompter, and so I had to improvise a lot. The good thing is that I write my scripts and I produce the entire show, so, at the time, it was easy for me to improvise. I think being the executive producer of What’s Trending With Ojy Okpe has kept me grounded and made me a better journalist.

How can media contribute to fostering a more informed and engaged citizenry in Nigeria and beyond?

The media is the fourth pillar of democracy, and its main purpose is to provide accurate news to all types of views for public consumption. I think the Nigerian media has done well in providing necessary information to the public; beyond our challenges, we continue to put the interests of the Nigerian people first, and now, with technology and social media, Nigerians have been engaging in citizenry journalism, and that is why What’s Trending With Ojy Okpe is so important because it provides an avenue for viewers connect to with the public, as I highlight reactions to public discourse, especially conversations that can shape the nation. I also highlight amateur videos that expose the rot within our society for the panelists to analyse and proffer solutions for change. So, it is a collaborative effort between the media and the Nigerian public, and I think that the collaboration is what we truly need to move the nation forward.

Are there any specific goals or projects you aspire to achieve in the coming years in your career?

Definitely, as the only thing that is constant in life is change, and based on that premise, I am constantly looking for ways to improve myself, evolve, and even transition to doing bigger projects like making films and documentaries and perhaps maybe write a book or two in the near future. I think journalism will always be a part of my life; I would like to continue telling stories, especially human-angle stories. I see myself doing more in the lines of charity work and really helping the underprivileged, especially vulnerable children and motherless babies. I am very passionate about children; if I had my way, I would have 100 children live in my house. So yes, I would like to do more feature-length documentaries highlighting the plight of the underprivileged in a bid to raise awareness so that we can find ways to support them.

How do you envision the future of Nigerian media, and what role do you see yourself playing in its development?

The future of Nigerian media depends on our young journalists, what they perceive as ethical reporting, the type of stories that they want to tell, and whether or not they are interested in stories that shape our future, our economy, or even stories that drive the agenda for good governance and prosperity. My advice to young journalists will be to focus on the mission to make Nigeria great again by highlighting issues that will re-shape the mindset of our politicians, our religious leaders, and those that are in charge of making policies that can revamp our economy, and re-position Nigeria to become the giant of Africa like it has been touted. I would like to see young journalists, take up the mantle to replicate the format of What’s Trending With Ojy Okpe and tell stories that set the agenda for a better Nigeria.

Beyond your professional life, what hobbies or interests do you pursue to maintain balance and inspiration in your personal life?

I like to travel, I love to visit places that I’ve never been to before. If I had my way, I would be on a plane, a boat, or yacht everyday. I love the ocean, and I love to meet new people. I love to learn about new cultures and new languages. If I weren’t a news anchor, I would probably be a travel journalist. Growing up as a model, it was always so refreshing to be able to visit different cities during fashion week, which was my favourite period as a fashion model, because I got to travel to different cities around the world. Travelling around the world gives you a sense that you are not alone in the world; when you encounter cultures that are similar to yours, that is when you realise that the world is a global village. So, yes, travelling is my favourite hobby, especially when I get to travel with my two beautiful children.

As a woman in the media industry, have you faced unique challenges, and how have you overcome them to achieve success in your career?

As a woman in the media industry, I have faced a couple of challenges, especially from women. I would say that men have been more supportive of my career than women. I have had to overcome some of these challenges by sheer resilience, and always just raising the bar, never giving up, never taking no for an answer, and making sure I don’t become the story. The most important thing for me is telling compelling stories, telling stories that drive the agenda for good governance, while making sure that my stories resonate with my audience.

Have you noticed positive shifts in the representation of women in media throughout your career, and what more can be done to amplify women’s voices?

Yes, I have noticed positive shifts in the representation of women in the media. When I began my career with Arise News in New York, the ratio of female journalists to male journalists was small; the newsroom was male-dominated. But when we moved to Lagos, Nigeria, in 2017, I did notice a shift; we had more female anchors and more female reporters, and our Managing Director was female. Even just looking at some of the women who have shattered glass ceilings in the media space, when we talk about Nollywood, we see women like Mo Abudu, Funke Akindele, and Kemi Adetiba. Nollywood is dominated by women who can amplify our voices through movies. Women must continue to advocate for bridging the gender gap, and as we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day theme; which is ‘invest in women, accelerate progress’; we must also embrace the fact that we have the power to to instill positive change, by using our voices. Implementation is key, so as much as we speak, we must also find solutions by making sure that what we are advocating for is set in motion.

How do you balance the demands of a high-profile career with your personal life, and what strategies have helped you maintain this balance?

I guess by just being positive, having a positive outlook on a day-to-day basis helps me keep in touch with reality. I am on television six mornings a week, and so you can imagine how demanding that is for one’s state of mind. Some mornings, I may not be feeling up to the task, either from mood swings or sickness, but when I remember that my viewers are out there and that I have people looking up to me, people who want to hear what I have to say, I would have no choice but answer the call of duty. And so having a positive mindset toward work and your daily activity helps to shape how your day will turn out, and I think that has been one of my greatest strengths in terms of just finding ways to have that work-life balance between having a high-profile career as a news anchor and being a mother; and for the record, my greatest achievement in life is being the mother of two wonderful children, Oz and Mela.

As a trailblazer in your field, what advice do you have for young women aspiring to pursue careers in media and entertainment?

My advice to young women aspiring to pursue careers in the media would be to study the craft. It is important to be able to arm yourself with the information that you need to excel, and make sure you take one or two courses in journalism; if you can study journalism in school, then do that. Also, try to familiarise yourself with public speaking, attend seminars, engage with people, and get as many contacts as you can because, as the saying goes, a reporter or a journalist is only as good as his or her sources.

If you could have a different career other than what you are doing right now, what would it be?

It would be filmmaking of course! I believe film is another medium used to tell stories on a larger scale. Like I said, film is my first passion, I studied film in school, it is a career path that I intend to pursue in the near future.

As a TV host, you must be very conscious about your fashion style. What is your most valuable fashion item?

I’ve loved fashion since I was a young girl. I was born into a fashion home; my mother was a fashion designer. I modelled for many years, so fashion is second nature. I love simplicity in fashion, and I consider every fashion item that I own very valuable.

If you had the opportunity to change anything about yourself, what would it be?

Fortunately, I love everything about myself. I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a sister, I am an aunty and a strong advocate for a better world.

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Dorcas Akintoye is a versatile writer with a passion for beauty, fashion, relationships, and culinary delight. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, she adds a touch of elegance to every topic she explores. She is a writer at THEWILL DOWNTOWN.

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About Author / Dorcas Akintoye

Dorcas Akintoye is a versatile writer with a passion for beauty, fashion, relationships, and culinary delight. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, she adds a touch of elegance to every topic she explores. She is a writer at THEWILL DOWNTOWN.

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