WHY I DO WHAT I DO
WHY I DO WHAT I DO
An Interview With The Fabulous Anita Erskine, An Entrepreneur & Radio/TV Hostess
I have been married for 8 years now and I have 2 children. We are a family of 4 and we are going to keep it that way. Honestly on any given day, my hobby is to spend time with the kids and play their games. So whether it is a dancing competition, a spelling game, a computer game, chasing them or anything, what they bring out is what I play with them so my hobby becomes whatever they want that day. I used to read 2 or 3 novels every week but now I would be lucky to read 1 or 2 novels a month. I love to dance and model when nobody is looking.
How my career started…
Once when I had become as skinny as a pin, I met Mr Kofi Ansah of blessed memory. I remember meeting him at the car park of Ghana International School even though I didn’t know who he was at the time. He stopped, looked at me and said ‘you are going to be a super model’. This just amazed me and made my day since that was the first time anyone had told me something like that.
Later, I met him again and this time he told me that he wanted me to be his muse. I was then a size 8 with a perfect height of 5’11 and I was so ready. I literally almost went into modelling for Kofi Ansah but something stopped me. I was in Canada until 2004 and when I returned to Ghana, I was very ill and had lost a lot of weight. I was invited to audition for a show called “Cat Walk the World” and it was going to be Kofi Ansah’s production.
A day before the audition, I got a call from DSTV asking me to come for an audition for Studio 53 on the same day as the modelling audition. So I had to make a decision between Kofi Ansah’s audition which could have easily made me a model and Studio 53 audition which was an opportunity for me to work with Multi Choice(M-NET). I had to choose between what I genuinely saw myself doing for the rest of my life. On that day, I remember it was about 9am in the morning and the auditions were at 10am for both DSTV and Kofi Ansah’s production.
I was still confused so I started to weigh my options. My main problem with modelling was the fact that I had never been a perfect size and I was literally starving myself to maintain my current weight. Thinking ahead to 5-10 years down the line, I was not sure if I would want to be a model. I also looked at the fact that I could be out of a job if I couldn’t keep my weight stable. And so I decided to go for the audition for Studio 53. Whilst I was there, Kofi Ansah kept calling my phone but I didn’t pick up even though it wasn’t my turn and I was panicking. Some few days after my audition, I received a call with the good news.
I met Kofi Ansah later and explained myself to him; he understood my reasons saying he wouldn’t have done it any different. He was only angry that I didn’t pick his calls and it would have been better if I had explained it to him because he wanted me to be his muse for his new collection. Two years down the line, I became pregnant and my body changed so yes, I would have been unemployed had I pursued modelling. I still practice my poses and model when no one is looking. I want to be a different kind of model one day.
How I stay in the game…
We live in a world that is evolving every single day and even though your mind is on something now and you want to make it good, your mind has to be literally split in two where one side is focusing on what you are doing now, making sure it is good, and the other is thinking of what you are going to do next. For instance, I could be working on a production on fashion because Christie Brown just became Ghana’s best fashion designer and while I am interviewing her, I get information that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has become the first female president in West Africa. I immediately have to start thinking of a segment that will suit her position. So I am always on the go and I get to do that because my mind is always telling me that the world is evolving. I never want to stay stagnant because I always want to be where the action is occurring.
I constantly thank God for the amount of positive energy He has given me. As a business person, I have made tons of mistakes that have gotten me into serious trouble either socially or financially. Like having debtors calling every day because I worked on a project that didn’t go according to how I envisioned it but it doesn’t stop me from taking future jobs. If I don’t like the outcome of an experience then it means there was something I didn’t do properly, some research I didn’t do well or some counsel I didn’t seek which has caused that outcome.
How I get my energy…
I had to learn it; I wasn’t always so energetic and I have seen so many disappointments along the way. It has been a long road towards reaching this point in my career which literally started in 2007 when I returned to Ghana after university studies and the energy you see now started at such a late time, which is why I always call myself a late bloomer. This is because if I had this amount of energy earlier on when I was younger like at 15 or 16 years old, then I would have been far ahead. I could have even been the first young president of Ghana if that was possible. Along the way, you learn lessons and the lesson you learn today will bring out new perspectives tomorrow. Thus by morning I could say that this is what yesterday taught me so this is how I am going to use that knowledge today.
Since I am involved with two or three businesses at a time, there is always a problem somewhere so I tell myself that if I don’t adopt a positive attitude or if I don’t grab any positive energy I can find I won’t excel. And I might as well pack my things and just go sit in my corner and not make any impact at all. The fact is, there is no rule against being in your own corner and not impacting society but I cannot influence someone without impacting myself despite the horrible hard times that I have been through.
Lessons from my failures…
The one failure that I remind myself of every single day was when I worked on a production called “Fashion Code”. It was my first ever major production that I was working on by myself and I was the producer/director. And the idea I had in my mind as to the reaction of the world as the best production ever, never materialised. This is because I was so caught up in one part of the business – creating the product, that I completely neglected all the other parts including money, talent, public relations and even inspiring people on a consistent and daily basis when they come to work, etc.
It was at a time that everyone was talking about African designers and that was why I wanted the opportunity to tell their stories from when he or she was seen as a ‘nobody’ to the current status of the designer. This is the product that taught me how to be a proper business woman. And it taught me the fact that you can’t just say you are creative and hope that everybody cruises into your creativity and call it a day. You have to be creative and you have to learn how to delegate.
So the idea was in my mind, I woke up one morning, I went to see some people who could give me the money and I pumped some of my savings into it. In the end, I came up with a very nice show but the problem was, it received minimal attention because I didn’t know that in business, you have to think about all the angles of what you are putting out there. I ended up with a good show but I lost a lot of money to the point that I literally had to pick myself back up.
As a business person, it is not just that fact that you’ve thought about something, you wake up and you start doing it. Rather you have to look at the entire opportunity and what it does for you, your country and the continent as a whole. The moment you take yourself out of your creation and start looking at yourself as a business woman, you are able to answer all the necessary questions and you don’t disappoint yourself and everybody else. So, my first production taught me that I cannot just be a creative person and live off of that. I have to be smart and a strategic business person if I want to make money.
My advice to women…
We have to understand something as women, nobody was born the way you see them today. I wasn’t born like this, I have evolved to get to this point and in 10 years, God willing, I will become a global brand. By God’s grace there is a degree of talent, initiative and I practise what I do. I practise how I speak, I practise my words, I discover new words every day, I rehearse them, I practise using them before I go on any stage for any programme. So everything I do is by God’s grace and hard work, not because I was born like that.
I do what I do because I don’t want to be left behind. And, when I had my kids in 2008 and 2009, my career literally became non-existent. My career dwindled since nobody was calling me. Nobody was encouraging me to do anything because nobody really cared. It was as if they were telling me that you are a woman, you have babies and you’ve gotten married so move along and let somebody else come.
And when I came back to work, everything had changed. Social media alone had set pace and it was no longer about how good you are, rather how effective whatever you are bringing to the table is for the current world you’ve come to meet. That’s the bottom line.
So you always have to rehearse how to do whatever you do. I mean public speakers for example; don’t do so well because they can speak. No! They rehearse and rehearse and rehearse it until they feel that not only are the words stuck in their mind but they can actually feel the spirit in whatever they are about to say. That way, they know that you are going to put your best foot forward and that what you will say will impact people and make them believe in what you are saying. Believe in yourself.
Source: The Fabulous Woman Network Facebook page
Interview conducted by Ama Duncan, Founder of The Fabulous Woman Network
While The Fabulous Woman Network strives to make the information on this page as accurate as possible, it makes no claims or endorsement of the accuracy of the contents of this interview and hereby expressly disclaims liability for any errors or inaccuracies contained therein.
This interview was sponsored by Corporate Training Solutions. Call us on 0244721062 for all your organizational training needs.