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Q&A with author and media maven Vuyo Joboda

Vuyo Joboda is a force to be reckoned with. At the tender age of 22 she is a global author, entreprenuer, speaker, filmmaker, radio DJ, and TV producer.

Her passions lie in many things but mostly, she is an “activator of purpose”, helping people fulfil their destiny while telling stories, and championing black excellence.

Her book 21 - which she wrote at the age of 21- has just been released world wide, while her multimedia platform, VN Streaming continues to grow from strength to strength as an incubator for young African talent to thrive.

Ultimtaly, Vuyo Joboda is determined to make a positive change - be it in the life of one person or society as a whole - as she using her voice and strong work ethic to do exactly that.

Congrats on the global release of your book 21. Can you tell us a bit about the book, for those who haven’t read it yet?

Thank you, I am so honoured to have been selected by my publisher 13th and Joan as their Global Ambassador and the first African at the Publishing House. I am looking forward to sharing the voice of Africa in America and the world in authoring capacity.

My book 21 is a book about three things: The realisation of purpose, the manifestation of purpose and the maximisation of purpose. It offers principles to a purposeful life and shares real life experiences on the journey to purpose alignment. The book is currently available at the 5 major bookstores in the US: Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target and Books-A-Million.

You are passionate about storytelling and speaking engagements. What type of messages/stories do you aim to impart onto people?

I am an activator of purpose, passion and destiny and I aim to continue to do so through impactful storytelling on screen and on the stage. In every story that I tell and every speaking engagement I do, I aim to remind every audience member about the power that they possess inside of them. I want everyone listening to me or engaging with my stories to borrow my unapologetic spirit and to live their own truth and stand firm while sharing their voice with the world.

You founded the movement Young Bold Black in 2018. Tell us a bit about this platform?

Young Bold Black identifies and celebrates young people between the ages 18-35 who are 'leaders in their industries and pioneers in their fields'. Every year 20 young black people who are outstanding in their industries are selected to be part of the YBB Campaign and they become recipients at the annual YBB Awards. The platform is about celebrating Black Excellence. It is a community of young people who are working hard to stand out in their industry, enabling them to network, share ideas, collaborate and inspire each other. I am very proud of this movement. In the past 4 years it has gone on to change the lives of so many young black people by giving them the confidence to be young, bold, black and successful.

You’ve mentioned previously that you aim to rebuild and reshape the African media industry. In which ways do you want to do this?

I am very passionate about the rebuilding and reshaping of the African media industry because I believe that it is time for change. We are a continent rich in talent and I think we need to reshape our industry positioning in order to maximise that talent. We need to see the innovation, implementation and ignition of structures that will enable talent possibilities for the growth of the industry. We need to rebuild strength to the essence and role that the industry can play in the transformation of our economy.

I would like to mention three ways that I am currently working on implementing the solutions to industry growth: The first being, African media digitisation. I am actively participating in creating media and entertainment content that has digital presence while working and collaborating with other creatives to ensure we all grow in this mission. The future is digital and we need to be active in that future as an industry. The second being education and support. The lack of information and insights on the industry has stagnated our growth. I have started the #VNMasterclass which aims to educate younger creatives on practical topics that can help them understand the industry and be inspired to grow the industry. The third being the recognition and celebration of talent. Award ceremonies play a big role in industry growth because it encourages excellence and hard work.

I founded the VN Awards which aim to put African talents on the same platform as talents from other countries to encourage industry excellence in a global capacity. Currently there are 42 nominees from 5 countries globally part of the awards. There are more other ways I am implementing change but these three come on top. There is still so much work to be done and I am standing in the forefront to lead this generation to a brighter future with a striving media and entertainment industry.

You are also the CEO of VN Streaming. What does this platform do and how is it different to other multimedia networks?

VN Streaming is a globally Inspired, African ignited multimedia platform aimed at implementing our vision of digitising African media. VN is a streaming platform that airs TV, Film, Music, Podcast, and Live Performances content. I founded the VN Streaming platform in 2020 with my iPhone 8, a ring light and a desk all which I saved up for over 3 months. It now shares content from creators all across Africa, to London and soon the USA. We are one of the first streaming platforms to be founded by a 22-year-old Black Woman globally. What stands out about our platform is that we are not just creating a platform but a home and an ecosystem that gives creators support and audiences authenticity and value. We are creating a platform that the African creative industry can be proud to call their own.

You have achieved so much at such a young age. How did you start out in the media industry?

I have always been interested in the industry as early as age 7. I discovered my talents then and knew that the media industry is the only way I could express those talents. Since then I have been very intentional about the choices and decisions both for my life and my role in the industry. My first industry-related business I founded at the age of 16 and I have been deliberate in asserting my voice both in front and behind the camera. I spent a lot of time in my teens learning, researching and developing my skills and worked on strategically sharing those skills to the greater vision of rebuilding the industry. I believe everything I have done thus far is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited about the transformative work my platforms are going to continue doing.

You have a very influential voice. What is your ultimate goal with the platform you have created?

I am unapologetic in the power of my voice and I understand the importance that I don't hide the light that I possess because many need this light. My ultimate goal is the amplification of my strength unto other groups of people who are under-represented, misrepresented and have limited opportunities in spaces they are in. I want every other young black woman like myself to be confident enough to stand in rooms they have denied a voice in. I wish to continue my fight in my digitization and globalization of African talent and content whilst bringing real tangible change and solution driven impact. Awards-Winning actress Viola Davis once said "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity." I have heard so many times where I was told that I won't be given opportunities because I am a young black woman. That is why today I stand tall in my power because I gained the strength to create my own opportunities and share those with others around me because no one else will. My mission is not only to create opportunities for myself but for those under-represented and misrepresented like me. I want every young black woman to receive the opportunity to live their wildest dreams without the world asking them 'why?' or the world making them believe they cannot. Because, one thing about a black woman, SHE CAN!

What can we look forward to seeing from you next?

The next phase of my career is globalizing. I am working on growing my brand internationally. The Vuyo Joboda Brand motto is "Going Global" and next up are some projects that will manifest that motto.Coming up soon, I am working closely with my publisher to present a USA book tour and later to other countries for "21". There's more international projects coming up, but we will keep it there for now,lol. I am in the journey of building an empire and legacy so what's next is more building blocks of this empire and legacy being put on the strong foundation it sits upon.

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?

It would definitely be Harriet Tubman, I see myself in her, I find my motivation in her. Creating a revolution and changing the face of history to create strength for the future is a legacy I want to leave behind like she did. Having dinner with her would be so impactful and inspiring for me in my journey to cultural revolution, to voice amplification and to asserting myself in the positive transformation of a continent.

Lastly, we know that you are self-made, and started many of your ventures at home in your living room. Do you have advice or messages of motivation for other young people wanting to kickstart their dreams?

Ow yes, a lot of my ventures I started at home, in my living room and bedroom and I must say creating those ventures was some of the best moments of my life!The one lesson that 'not having' taught me is that "when you don't have you have a better opportunity to create." When no one wanted to give me opportunities, I learnt to create them. My advice to any other young person is that: 'We are in the most beautiful era in the history of time because a lot of things have been stripped of us, we have found ourselves stripped of our former knowledge of living, we find ourselves hopeless in the presence of possibilities. I say hopeless in possibilities because there is a new found sense of hopelessness but it is now accompanied by possibilities, I propose we investigate those possibilities to regain hope. I propose we stand tall in our truth and begin to reshape the earth because now 'we don't have' what we had and therefore that is an opportunity to create. We can create what we want to see, who we want to be and what we want to say. Let us innovate, let us create things never created before, let us be brave, we now have the ultimate power to decide where the world is going and that my friends is exciting to know.'

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