Today I speak with multi-talented and award-winning Journalist and Presenter Joanna Abeyie. She gives us an insight on how she started her social enterprise Shine Media and some valuable advice from her experiences.
Hi Joanna, welcome to YHP Online, how are you today?
I currently have a cold, but aside from that I’m good! lol
Can you give me a bit of background to yourself:
I grew up on a council estate in South London and studied in Catholic education before I went to university. I have two degree’s one being an undergraduate in English and Sociology and then I did a Masters in Magazine Journalism.
I’m 26, from a mixed-heritage background. My mum is from Windsor in Berkshire and my dad is from Ghana. My brother is an international 100m, 200m, and 4 x 100m relay sprinter Tim Abeyie who has represented Great Britain, Wales and Ghana in major competitions for the last 12 years. My sister is a Primary School Teacher and has the biggest heart in England.
I’ve always wanted to be a success, make my family proud and make their lives easier. Their happiness is what drives me and the promises I made to myself are what keep me going when I’m struggling through the day on 3 hours sleep and a horrible flu.
Tell me about Shine Media and the inspiration behind it?
Shine Media is a social enterprise business that specialises in training and recruitment of 18-35 year olds who want a career in the journalism and media industry. We aim to increase diversity within the journalism and media industry because it bothers me so much that those companies and professionals who create TV, content, magazines and advertising etc unfortunately don’t reflect the diversity of the audiences they serves. I think companies have a huge responsibility to make it a priority that their workforce is as diverse as society itself. Inclusion means equality and it’s also representation. Everyone should feel like they relate to the content they create.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting up?
Finding a good team was the toughest challenge for me. Your business is only as good as the team behind it. It’s important to have a team of reliable, professional, creative and proactive people.
How did you/do you plan to overcome that challenge?
To some extent it is unavoidable, people are good at selling themselves and you won’t always know what they are really like until they actually start working for you. My experiences have made me better at spotting a blagger. Its easier for me to tell when someone has a false motive or ulterior agenda. I’m more savvy to the tell-tell signs.
How did you initially get into the media industry and where was your first 'big break'?
I started doing work experience on a magazine called 'Now' when I was 16. I did a week of work experience and loved every minute of it and decided that’s what I wanted to do. Then from there, I networked and worked really hard to make sure I gained as much experience as I could in radio, TV, print and even in the US. I made things happen by really going for it!
What has been key in helping you get to the position you are today?
My friends and family have been fantastic – I call them my main team. They give me the strength to keep going when sometimes I’m faced with what feels like the worst of situations. I can feel their love from miles away sometimes and when I find myself in various situations I can hear them saying things in my head. I owe my friends and family my life.
Mentors have been crucial to getting me where I am today. Their professional advice, encouragement and support has been second to none and one day I hope I can repay the huge debt I believe I owe them all – and I say all, because there are SO many people that have supported me on my journey so far.
Thirdly I’d say that trying to emulate the success of those who inspire me like Michael Parkinson, Dotun Adebayo, Cat Deeley and many others really helps me to stay determined and focused. I am a VERY hard worker and I’m really self-motivated and determined. I really push myself and try to think out of the box. I’m a good networker and always try to create my own opportunities and I think that’s really helped me to get where I am today – I rarely take no for an answer and I genuinely believe that there isn't anything I can’t do if I put my mind to it.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Yes, ever since I was about 14 years old I've wanted to be an entrepreneur. I've always dreamt of being on TV and also of having an office in the City with it’s name at the top of the building. I’ve always envisaged a tall building, very much like those you see in Canary Wharf. I’ve always wanted an office on the 10th floor of my own publishing and production company. All the staff will be those people I have supported, trained or advised through Shine Media and we will be the first Media publisher with a workforce that is representative of the society it serves. It will be achieved - it may take 20 years but I believe Shine Media will be the change we all need to see.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
In five years time I would like to have my own TV chat show and also be on a prime time radio station discussing all things news and showbiz. I’d like the Shine Media journalism trainee scheme to be in it’s fifth year and I’d like to see at least another 300 people from diverse cultures recruited within the media industry. I’d also like Shine Media to win an industry recognised award for it’s contribution to recruitment and diversity.
I also want to buy an estate in Pangbourne, Berkshire and live there with as many cats, dogs and horses as I can manage.
What advice would you give to any aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be proactive, create opportunities, never give up and always, always believe in yourself because if you don’t know-one else will. Also, no-one is above you – doesn’t matter how many awards or accolades they’ve won. Respect is due certainly for achievement but what’s more important is how you treat others and that you have a kind heart and help everyone you can on your own journey. If you are nice and warm and helpful to people, they will ALWAYS remember that and always help you out when you need a hug or words of encouragement. Don’t ever feel that your dream is too big – you deserve everything you want in life and lastly – this I know is true: The only person holding you back is you.
Thanks for being on YHP, I'm sure our readers will be hearing the name Joanna Abeyie a lot more over the next few years!