Nigerian-born fashion-addict Rhoda Wilson is the TV presenter of The Rhoda Wilson Show she created 7 years ago. It is broadcast on BEN Television and is now expanding into Africa.
Winner of the BEFFTA Award for ‘Best TV Presenter’ in 2009, Rhoda is also engaged into promoting a positive image for African women. She has subsequently launched the African and Caribbean Women’s Achievement and Leadership Foundation. She talks to Myriam O’Carroll about her journey to success.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was great. I come from a very large family; we were 19 children (there was no TV at the time!). We used to ride our bikes; it was fun. We all were very close and we had a great life.
What did you want to do growing up?
I was a prefect at school and I was the head of a debating society. I was quite good at arguing and debating and used to win lots of awards. So at the time I really wanted to do something in politics or become a lawyer.
So how did you become a TV presenter?
I used to be a music promoter of world music, mainly small African bands. I used to travel a lot internationally to get some groups to play in England. During that time I met someone who I wanted to sponsor my events and he said to me:
‘You try to promote African bands and give them the accolade they need, when you are the brand yourself. So if you could get out there, you can make changes to these people’s lives, not the other way around.’
This is how my career shifted.
What is the DNA of The Rhoda Wilson Show?
It is the inspirational topics and the type of people we feature. We also give visibility to small businesses on the ‘Business of the Week’ programme and we also promote them through Twitter and Facebook. We get 10,000 hits, which is not bad.
You have been in the TV business for 7 years now. Was it easy to get into that world?
No, it was not easy for me by any means. It was difficult, but I believed in it. It is hard work and people don’t appreciate that, when you are famous – and also being a black Nigerian presenter – you are under constant pressure to do the right thing.
You have also launched the African and Caribbean Women’s Achievement and Leadership Foundation? Why that?
I set up the ACWAL because I wanted to show African women doing very well. I wanted to demonstrate that African women are not necessarily cleaners or nurses, but actually CEOs and high-profile women.
Who has inspired you along the journey?
My dad. He always told me:
‘Women are going to change the world. As a woman, you can do better, so pursue your dream and do something for yourself.’
Sadly he passed away, so he has not seen my success. Oprah Winfrey has been a great inspiration for me, as well as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia. They are people who are making changes to the world. Closer to me, I am inspired by the people I am working with and I learn a lot from my guests too.
What projects are you working on?
We are expanding The Rhoda Wilson Show into Africa. We go out to Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. We continue to do our show here, in England, because it’s very important for us and we have a big audience. What is beautiful about media these days is that you can see the world from a different angle. You can tell people’s stories in a more creative way and this is why it is important for me to continue to show the positive side of Africa.
What advice would you give to people who have a dream and want to make it happen?
If you have a dream, 90% of the world is not going to believe in it, but the other 10% are the ones who are going to turn things around for you. So don’t let anybody put you down, be steadfast in your pursuit for success and find people who will help you to succeed. You need to survive financially, but I would say that you have to do things more for the passion. That would then transfer to money.