Wana Udobong is a Journalist, Writer, Poet, Filmmaker, Curator and an amazing person! I caught up with her recently for an inteview about her journey, hosting Sharing Life’s Issues on radio and so much more. Pls enjoy.
1.You are a lot of things! A writer, journalist, poet, so many; pls tell us a little bit about your journey?
Well, I studied journalism at University but majored in radio broadcast and production with minors in features writing and photojournalism. So, most of my working experience has been radio and writing. I have written poetry since I was 16 but I would say actively performing about 7 years ago. So from what I can remember, I have always done all of it just to varying degrees.
2.You have so many projects, from Culture Diaries, to Presenting and Producing for various media institutions to being a filmmaker. How are you able to handle all you have before you?
I pretty much look at everything as a project. For each thing I am working on there a timeline and a deadline. I try not to work on more than two things at a time. It’s just that most people see them released around the same time so everyone thinks I do so many things simultaneously but really I don’t. I am quite disciplined and time conscious as well. I will admit I don’t always excel at it all but I try to keep getting better.
3.What drives you to be involved in these various causes/projects?
For the most part, things connect with me from a personal place. So it’s either I have experiences that connect with the cause or I know people who have. But also there are causes/projects I think are important and require urgency. But I try not to spread myself thin with those as well. I must be emotionally invested in something to be involved. Personally, I don’t really take a shallow stance or else, I would rather not be involved
4.Why did you return to Nigeria? Many won’t care to. Others are leaving…
If I got a Naira for every time I got asked that question! The truth is that, I still haven’t been able to articulate a response to it. All I remember was that I wanted a break and I wanted to explore. There was something brewing creatively in Lagos at the time though. I have come for about a month in 2007 and did an internship at Rhythm 93.7. At that time attended a ‘Sundays at the bay’ event and met all this wonderfully creative and inspiring people. There was a kind of artistic renaissance happening and meeting all these people felt like I had found my tribe. We were all dreamers who wanted to change something about the world we were living in, even if we didn’t know how and it was a very moving thing to experience. It was a very ideological time for many of us. Reality hit and some dropped out along the way and others have been soaring.
5.You hosted Sharing Lives Issues on Inspiration FM for a number of years, what was the most remarkable thing about working on that show?
I think just having people open up themselves to me and the rest of the listeners was remarkable. We are quite a closed society and to host a show daily where people where blowing up the lid on every aspect of their lives was a moving and humbling experience. It requires trust for people to let me, a total stranger ,into the interiors of their worlds and it is a very vulnerable thing to do. I was asking people to let me in daily and they did. It is something I can never forget. I still wonder how I deserve that level of trust.
6.From dealing with a myriad of subjects on the show, I’m sure you have made a number of observations about human nature especially around here. What have you observed?
I think ultimately everyone wants to be heard really. Trying to survive in Lagos means that sometimes we become de-sensitized from a lot of things going on around us. People just want to feel like they exist, that they are valid and someone can hear them out.
7.What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I am most grateful for the fact that there is some kind of impact from the things I do. It may not be grand but even receiving one email, or tweet or a comment after experiencing something I have created for me is a wonderful feeling. Whether it is a poem, radio show, tv programme, article on the internet or a short film. The work connecting to a single person is good enough for me.
8.Have you ever had body image issues, whether within yourself or with others especially in your line of work? How were you able to overcome them?
Well I think everyone has dealt with body image insecurities at some point or another. I always remind myself that I am a work in progress and I continue to do all I can to always ensure that I am in a place of good health. With regards to body image in the work, I really just focus on the work. I think that is the most important thing. I can’t control how people choose to perceive me and it is a very unnecessary distraction as well.
9.Have you ever had seasons when you struggle as to whether you are making a difference or successful at what you do?
Most certainly, you always have one of those ‘what is the point?’ days but I am learning to constantly redefine success. You find that as you grow and evolve, the goal post is constantly shifting. So, it’s always important for me to remember why it is I have chosen to do certain things in the first place. But I’m also learning to be present which for me means that I try not to get to bugged down by any kind of expectations but just stay grateful that I set out on a mission or task and I see it through to the end.
10.Arts and Culture may not be popular around here, most just want to associate with Foreign trends and Pop Culture. What’s your view on that?
That’s a difficult one to answer. I don’t know that you can force anyone to be interested in something but I hope that we continue to open our minds to more that is available to us. I honestly think we are more open minded than we are given credit for. All over the world there will be mainstream and niche communities. We just hope to build bigger communities and audiences as well.
11.With your hectic schedule, how do you relax?
I like to cook for friends and just have great conversation. I listen to a lot of music and dance whenever and wherever I can, even in front of the mirror!
12.Tell us one fun fact about you that many don’t know.
I don’t know that this is a fun fact but I am quite good at impersonating people and doing accents
You can find Wana Wana poems and videos on her youtube channel www.youtube.com/MissWanaWana and website:www.wanawana.net . On Twitter, she’s @misswanawana on Instagram, @mswanawana
Interview conducted by Ayodotun Rotimi-Akinfenwa