Ebele the flutist (Source: Ebele Ezeamakam)
Ebele Ezeamakam, known as Ebele the flutist is a versatile, creative, innovative musician and personal development coach who believes in the power of music and its ability to induce progressive positive transformation in an individual. Although her parents wanted her to study accounting so she can work in the bank. According to her, they would rather prefer her to be a banker than a musician. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she elaborated on how her experience playing flute and culture influenced her career journey into the superstar performer and Nigeria’s foremost female flutist she is today. Excerpt.
Alaba: When did you start playing the flute? Why did you choose the instrument?
Ebele: I started playing the flute at age 14. I was exposed to music at a very young age and we learn music in general. I have a very high pitch voice (Soprano), and when it comes to choosing a musical instrument, flute blends with my high-pitched voice. Also, my teacher was a Philippine lady who plays the flute, she motivated the flute playing also.
Alaba: As a Nigerian-African, would you say your culture influenced your love for music in any way?
Ebele: In a way I’ll say yes. But the truth is; music is a gift, an ability given by God. Many learn and are being trained to know music, but you can’t compare something you learn to do with another person who is born with the ability to do so. Notwithstanding, even if one naturally poses the ability, one still need to master your craft. It’s a God-given ability to me.
Alaba: When did you transcend to become a professional musician?
Ebele: For a long while playing the flute was just something I love to do. While working as an accountant in an Oil Firm, I attended musical training for contemporary music because my background was classical music genre. Even developing myself on contemporary music, I still didn’t know I’ll be a professional musician. It all started when I never felt fulfilled as an accountant anymore, and didn’t mind how lucrative my job was, I left to pursue where my heart is music.
Alaba: Did you always want to be an orchestral flutist? Can you imagine your life as a non-flutist?
Ebele: I am not an orchestral Flutist, am a contemporary musician who plays and sing different genres of music, i.e., classic, R&B, high life, gospel etc. this makes me a professional Flutist. An orchestral Flutist is one who plays in an orchestra setting only. I was like that, but I break the norm that Flute cannot be used outside orchestra setting. I used the flute to play different genres of songs, this makes me a professional Flutist, and the First and Foremost Female Flutist in Nigeria. I can’t imagine a life as a non-flutist, I thank God I pursued my passion.
Alaba: You’re also a personal development coach? Kindly tell me more about it and which came first?
Ebele: I started playing the flute in a very young age, never actually supported by my parents. I normally escaped from extra moral classes to learn the flute. A time came when they set an example for us to qualify us a Flutist, my parents were invited. They saw me play the flute so well and my dad bought me my first flute at age 14. Even after this, they refused I further much on music, they insisted I read accounting so I can work in the bank. They would prefer me be a banker than a musician. I did their bid but never left music. I continued learning and mastering my craft. In the long run, this is who I am.
I choose to help young men and ladies discover and develop their gift on time because I was graced to do so for myself. I help them by organising and attending Personal Development Coaching.
Alaba: Can you remember how you felt the first time you played it?
Ebele: Great really! Especially when my parents were amazed at my playing.
Ebele the flutist (Source: Ebele Ezeamakam)
Alaba: How are you keeping yourself positive and inspired in the current crisis? Can you share your thoughts
Ebele: It’s really not been easy going through 2020 lock down, but somehow, we survived it. So far God has been faithful to me, hence I still get involve in some training online and some program’s still call me to perform, though with high restrictions due to covid19.
I believe “This Too Shall Pass”. I believe we will get through it but much more I pray we learn and step-up, to be a better people and nation who succeeded and overcame such crises.
Alaba: How do you feel as Nigeria Foremost Female Flutist?
Ebele: It feels great but with much responsibility. I believe I should do more and especially invest in others so we can have more Flutist. Am doing that already and in not much time a lot of Flutist will emerge, female ones also.
Alaba: What is your plan for the year? Any new projects you’re working on?
Ebele: Oh yes, my long-awaited album. Planning and trusting God it’s going to be a national one because it’s really taken some time. Planning on releasing some singles as well in addition to my previous once.
Alaba: What causes are closest to your heart?
Ebele: I love helping the less privilege, I have been involved in A lot of program’s were I assisted in less privilege works. We had one very beautiful one we did for the patients in Lagos state university some time ego, titled “Music and Medicine “. It was a musical concert for patients.
Alaba: Your top picks to read, watch and listen?
Ebele: Hmm! Hard to answer really because I have a lot of them and don’t really know which to mention. I’ll plead you spare me on this one.
Ashley McArthur on her new films and exploring the African market
Ashley McArthur is a highly sought after millennial film producer, screenwriter and director based in Atlanta, Georgia USA. For the last several years she has focused on independent projects working with up and coming actors starring in Judah and the Black Messiah, Step Up, All American, The Godfather of Harlem and many more. But, Ashley first garnered attention for her work on the hit youtube Side Chick Web Series. A show focusing on millennial relationships which gained over 4 million views and 35K subscribers. In our continuing series of interviews with key industry professionals, we welcome Ashley who sat down with our own Alaba Ayinuola for some quick insight of her new films, goals and perspective of the filming industry. Excerpt.
Alaba: What film project are you currently working on?
Ashley: I’m actually in post production of a short film, Goodbye, which I’m excited to share shortly. I think I’ll release it on my instagram page first to give my followers a chance to check it out. However, I’m currently in development of a new summer romance dramedy feature film. It’s pretty much about a medical student who joins her boyfriend’s family on vacation, where she’ll be meeting them for the first time.
Overall it’s a fun film with a unique plot that’s relatable to the Black community.
Alaba: Did you write this film?
Ashley: I did. I wrote this film earlier this year. As a writer, I always think my stories are amazing. But, I knew this story resonated well with people after receiving feedback from a service I use called, We Screenplay. They’re industry professionals who pretty much grade your script and give feedback. Well, I received incredible feedback with encouragement to move forward as they truly believe it will be successful. If you enjoyed films like Just Go With It, Guess Who, Roscoe’s Family Reunion, The Peeples, then you’ll enjoy this film.
Alaba: When you write, do you have actors in mind or do you just write?
Ashley: It truly depends. There are stories where I may write a story for a particular actor. I have this thing of wanting to contribute to the advancement of an actor’s career. To create that breaking role for an actor and/or just a role that I know an actor has been wanting to play. So there are times I do and times I don’t.
With this particular film, I had one actress in mind the entire time. Nicole Ari Parker. I have been watching her work since Dancing In September. Also, her performance on Soul Food definitely had me hooked to where she was an actress I knew I wanted to work with in the future. Her performances are so believable. On top of that, I believe she’s genuinely a kind and loving human being and character is important to me.
So prayerfully she connects with the script and enjoys the character I created with her in mind.
Alaba: The film industry is highly capital intensive. How are you funding the project and who are the investors you’re talking to?
Ashley: I have a great network of seasoned industry professionals who have been guiding me and connecting me. I currently have the interest of two investors which is a blessing being that this budget is over $2 Million. That may not sound much for some but as a Black indie filmmaker in the United States, that’s a great start.
Alaba: What are your goals with this film?
Ashley: Wow, I have a few… I definitely want this film to be a great summer film that people enjoy and reference in the future. I’m a very conscious writer/filmmaker but this film is actually light and fun. We had two years of trauma with this pandemic, we deserve to have joy and laugh again. I want to create a high quality, cinematic, Black film with great acting. A film that talent is proud to be a part of and the Black community is proud to support. We can be a tough bunch. LOL.
I want to give up and coming talent an opportunity to get more exposure. Collaborate with the African film industry.
Lastly, continue to prove that films with Black talent sell internationally.
Alaba: One of your major goals is the African film industry entry. Why and what’s the attraction?
Ashley: I have this goal of intersecting cultures. I already planned for this feature film to have a part two which I want to film in Africa to incorporate the culture within this story. It’s important for me to break the stereotypes that our film industry and government have created about Africa. A lot of the propaganda has caused many people to remain distant and it’s unfortunate.
Black Panther didn’t do well because it was a “Marvel” film. It did well because we saw our reflection. It was African inspired, it was a depiction of what we have known Africa to be from the beginning.
Alaba: Who are your favorite writers, producers and directors in the industry?
Ashley: Okay, so I’ve always admired Mara Brock Akil as a writer. Her stories are authentic and relevant. She uses her pen to change the narrative of Blacks in America and she’s a conscious storyteller. Most of all, I love how I hear her voice in every story she tells. She’s been in this industry for like ever and she’s never lost her voice.
I respect Spike Lee as a director because he was always using his art to address real issues. He was always trying to keep the Black community awake and alert. Most importantly, I respect him for remaining true to himself. Despite all the negative coverage, the lack of Hollywood support, little to no funding, Spike wasn’t going to change. He walked in integrity and in my opinion he didn’t sell out for money and fame.
As for a favorite producer, Ava Duvernay. She too uses her platform to uplift, change narratives, be inclusive and overall create a better atmosphere for her team and talent to create. She’s very purposeful in the stories that she tells and goes against the norm. She’s a change agent who gives voice to the voiceless.
I just laughed out loud, literally because I realized everyone that I named are all conscious creators who are truly what I would consider positive disruptors in the industry. They have a heart for people, truth and they have respectable human beings. I told you, a person’s character is big to me.
KAP Academy partners MasterCard Foundation to train 300,000 young Nigerians in film production
KAP Academy Building (Image: KAP Academy)
KAP Academy and the Mastercard Foundation in a landmark partnership announced today, 300,000 young Nigerians will be trained in film, television, and motion picture production over the next three years.
Mr. Kunle Afolayan CEO and Founder of KAP Academy explained that the Academy focuses on growing the next generation of skilled filmmakers through the tutelage of veterans and film professionals who provide hands-on experience in diverse aspects of filmmaking to enrolled students. According to him, the KAP Academy will leverage smartphone technology for the training program, and teaching will be conducted through a learning app.
“The KAP App is a mobile learning application where multimedia content – which includes video and audio lessons, visual presentations, video simulations, and interactive testing – will be delivered to the students. It will allow students to have access to interactive learning content, industry professionals, community forums, an electronic library, a job board, financial support, contacts, and links among others,” Mr. Afolayan added.
KAP Academy’s training program will include The Masterclass Series, a virtual series of 20 episodes providing e-learning to aspiring filmmakers, covering several aspects of filmmaking from directing, cinematography, and the business of film using Afolayan’s acclaimed movie, ‘The Figurine’, as a case study. The virtual series will be free to watch on KAP TV’s YouTube channel.
The program will also include two levels of certifications from professional institutions in the areas of screenwriting, sound, editing, directing, cinematography, and production design, among others as well as practical hands-on training. It will also link participants to employment or gig entrepreneurship activities, not only in the film industry via placements and internships, but in related sub-sectors such as fashion, make-up, music scores, editing, and scriptwriting.
To ensure young people enrolled in the program have access to the tools required for digital learning, free tuition and smartphone devices will be offered to students from less privileged backgrounds. These tools are being provided through a partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and its Young Africa Works program in Nigeria.
The Africa Channel Brings Nollywood Films to US and Global Audiences
The Africa Channel (TAC), the longest-running independent, minority-owned media company focused on presenting pan-African content to global audiences, announces a wide-ranging licensing and distribution deal with ROK Studios, a Canal+ company, bringing premier Nollywood films to US and global audiences.
The licensing and distribution partnership will encompass current releases and hundreds of hours from the catalog of Nollywood releases ranging from 2015 to 2020. Popular movies premiering in North America for the first time, include The Secretary, Ovy’s voice, Picture Perfect, Dear Mummy B, A Woman‟s Scorn and more.
Select premium content from over 370 licensed titles will be programmed on The Africa Channel platform cable platform in North America and the Caribbean, while majority of the catalog will be made available on Demand Africa through subscription video on-demand (SVOD) as well as the Free AdSupported Streaming (FAST) platforms globally outside Africa.
“We are delighted to partner with Rok Studios to bring North American audiences this expanded selection of content from Nollywood – the second-largest movie industry in the world‟ said Narendra Reddy, Executive Vice President & General Manager, The Africa Channel. “Canal + and Thema TV‟s commitment to presenting multicultural content to global audiences aligns with our own, and this is a first step in building an expanded relationship with one of the preeminent media companies in the world.”
The deal was facilitated and closed by Thema, a Canal+ group company and leading distributor of thematic and multicultural content.
“We are very excited to have teamed up with the Africa Channel and ROK Studios on this content partnership for the Americas. TAC‟s robust library speaks to the understating of the need for change in U.S. which will allow us to better respond to the ongoing conversation surrounding content diversity and multicultural productions,” said Patrick Rivet, CEO Thema America. “At Thema America we believe that content with a strong cultural identity is crossing boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations.”
Launched in 2005 and 2017, respectively, The Africa Channel, and digital streaming platform Demand Africa, showcase the African continent’s most outstanding English-language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies, and cultural and historical content. The channel aspires to build bridges between cultures while reinforcing positive narratives of Africa through diverse content and programming.