Sheila Akomeah: Filmmaker, bookworm, and storyteller

Mark Talmage-Rostron
20.12.2022·11 min read

Sheila Akomeah certainly has all her wits about her and a master plan to be the best that she can be. Not only is she an accomplished film and television producer, but she also has her sights firmly set on becoming a top-notch screenwriter too. We believe that she will accomplish that and so much more, but for now her short-term goal is graduating with a first-class MBA from Nexford.

 

 

Lights, camera, action!

Talk to Sheila and you can see that although she is concentrating on the task at hand, her mind is buzzing with ideas, something you would expect of a person that is working as a creative in a creative industry. A tough industry where you are only as good as your last film.

Sheila is a Jack, or in this case, a Jill of all trades and it would appear judging by her track record that she is a master of all. She is the whole package all rolled into one, a television and film producer and a writer to boot at the phenomenally successful Hylund Multimedia in Ghana. Not a bad place to be plying your trade at wouldn’t you say?

As we all know in the creative industry no two days are ever the same, but if cornered for an answer Sheila maintains that most days are spent collaborating with freelancers, a perfect way to get fresh ideas and keep the overheads down. A win-win for all.

We tried to be cheeky and get some info on the movie that Sheila has in production, but she just laughed and put her finger to her lips to indicate that it was top secret. What she did say though was that the movie is currently in post-production and is due to air in the first quarter of next year. Hopefully, when it breaks, we can get more information out of her to share.

Of course, we did chip away and Sheila gave us a little titbit saying, “A lot of people came on board to put the movie together and it is going to break in cinemas across Ghana first. It is a real slice-of-life film that we are sure many will relate to. Fingers crossed it’s a runaway success.”

She brings down the curtain on the movie conversation by telling us that her work is not always all stars and glitz and glamour, but that most of the time she must drive a desk when she is writing scripts and casting for crew and actors. That said, Sheila smiles and tells us that the leg work is part of the job, and she just has to continue to remind herself that it is not a hardship but rather a means to an exciting end.

A real bookworm

Growing up Sheila almost always had her nose buried in a book, so it comes as no surprise then that she is an accomplished scriptwriter and a highly creative one at that.

She remarks, “Growing up books were my best friends because I found them remarkably interesting. I mean, I could travel the world in books from histories, to biographies, to fiction, and everything in between. It was true escapism.”

Reading was only part of the agenda growing up as she was a true academic and had all her bases covered at high school. She had all the qualifications required to become a very accomplished scientist. But contrary to what her parents and friends thought, she did not accept that career path. Not because she could not do it, but that she did not want to do it.

Sheila instead chose a creative path and instead of science, she went into visual arts as besides reading a lot, she was also doing a lot of drawing and designing at the time.

But she always knew that she wanted to be a storyteller. So, she combined the reading and the drawing to good effect and is ever grateful that her studies led her down the path that she is on now.

Of her past and future Sheila says, “I was always a curious person. I was always reading, drawing, watching movies, telling stories, anything really that was not mundane or boring. At the time there were no smartphones to distract me, so we relied on books to keep us amused.”

Start as you mean to go on

Knowing what she wanted to do coming out of high school it was then a case of where to now? Sheila knew what she wanted to do, but what could she do to get there? Building on doing visual arts at high school, she continued to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology where she studied Communications Design.

The course involved a lot of graphic design, film, and animation, and web development. It was a lot to take in and learn about in a short space of time, but Sheila was up for it.

“It was quite a journey, and a very creative one at that,” she says. “Growing up I was always excited about learning new things as the world is a big place and you can’t afford to be blinkered in your outlook or you will go nowhere in life and your career.”

In her third year of study, the university wanted the students to gain practical experience and so Sheila was sent to work at InGenius Africa, a renowned film and television production agency. When she got there, they were about to start a TV series. They had just wrapped up the first season, and so Sheila was tasked with helping produce the second season. A task that she took in her stride.

That was Sheila’s introduction to TV production in Ghana. She was reading scripts and going through the production process and found it all very interesting. She did all of that until she finished university and then took the plunge to join the film industry and has never looked back. The agency was super impressed with her work and to her surprise they called her back and offered her a permanent contract. She worked there from 2015 – 2020 until Covid came and upset the apple cart.

Of her time there Sheila remarks, “I grew from being a lowly production assistant to being a coordinator, then I graduated to production manager and finally associate producer. I rose through the ranks and got several opportunities to write scripts and the like. It was very encouraging and gave me lots of confidence because I had the leeway to try my hand at so many things. From that internship I absolutely fell in love with film.”

Dad knows best!

Returning to the conversation about possibly entering the field of science we asked Sheila if it was something that her parents wanted her to do and were they disappointed that she didn’t.

She was quite forthright in her answer when she told us that it was not really that way at all. She made mention that although her father picked the high school she would go to, he then backed off and left the rest to her. Something that she is eternally grateful for as it showed that he trusted her judgement and life decisions.

Sheila exclaimed, “My parents were supportive. They allowed me to be myself and do what I wanted to do. If I did well, and I did excel in what I studied, they were always 100% behind me.”

You never stop learning

Although she had made her way by getting into the production house and moving through the ranks fairly quickly, it was interesting to us as to why she opted to go back to university again and further her studies by doing an MBA at Nexford.

Sheila turned her gaze skyward and with a glint in her eye remarked that she always knew that she wanted to one day run her own business and make a name for herself, as herself, and not under the mantle of the company she was working for. The only way that she was going to turn that dream into a reality was to substantially ramp up her business acumen.

On that subject she told us that over the years she has seen several creative people try and fail in the business world not because they don’t have the capability, but because they don’t know how to juggle the administrative side of things and manage the business side of their creativity. They could have succeeded; they just needed more knowledge of how the business world really works.

“That is why I chose to do an MBA,” she says. “I wanted to know how to strike that balance between creativity and business as I knew that ultimately, I wanted to run my own firm, but do it differently to others. So, I started to look at opportunities because I also didn’t want to have to stop working for an entire year to go to school, and then come back. That would have just derailed my young career where I was going places.”

Sheila wanted a business degree but did not want to put her career on hold, so the only option was to learn online. But where? She needed something local but wanted a degree from an international university that was of course internationally recognized.

Stay local. Learn global.

Now that Sheila knew what she wanted the search was on for an online university, as although she says that she would have loved to travel, she realized that she had something good going on and didn’t want to leave it.

She put the feelers out and quite by chance discovered Nexford on Instagram. Sheila said that she was doing a social media promotion for clients and then a Nexford ad popped up. Divine intervention we would like to say.

Not one to not look before she leaped, Sheila did some research into Nexford, and her first impressions were extremely positive. She looked at the testimonials and liked what she saw and heard.

“It was at this point that I just said to myself that I could not just continue debating and thinking about it. So, I decided to take the plunge. I signed up with Nexford in July 2022 and so far, it has been fantastic,” she tells us.

“But it has not been an easy path. I quickly realized that with a busy work schedule of 12 to 15 hours a day, I would have to do some juggling and serious time management, especially when it came closer to handing in my assignments. That said, I think that I have struck a healthy balance now. What I love about Nexford is the flexible learning. Being able to do things at my pace. So even though I have had a long day in production, I can squeeze in my learning in and around that. I would never have been able to do this at a traditional university in Ghana.”

Talk about the positives

Although it is early days yet in her studies, Sheila does say that she has already seen the fruits of her labor becoming more visible in her job. Just one is her increased knowledge of how global markets operate. Massively handy as her lofty plans are to one day run a business outside of Ghana. She says, we are all operating in the global village and have been for some time now.

Of that she says, “I’m looking to run a business that is going to resonate with the world. So, first things first I needed to improve my knowledge of how global markets work. So, I have gone to great lengths to relate every week’s lessons, modules, and assignment to my business. But I am not getting ahead of myself, I’m growing my business step-by-step.”

Sheila tells us that learning case studies from massive global businesses has also helped broaden her horizons and discover best practice which means she will not duplicate the mistakes that they have made.

Sheila also says that her newfound business acumen gleaned from her Nexford MBA has also helped with her interactions with people from other businesses and within the company. She tells us that she is more confident when she speaks.

“My conversations have changed,” she says. “My MBA is helping me loads already because I go to more seminars and conferences knowing how to engage with people. Not just creatives as I do that all the time but primarily business people because I’m running a business now. I’m just sort of, you know, happy and more confident now.”

The future’s so bright

When pressed about future plans outside of a thriving business, Sheila tells us that she does one day want to settle down and start a family, not only for the joy of having a family, but also to have someone to leave the business to one day. Pass on the baton and make sure that her legacy lives on.

But for now, it’s head down in the business. Sheila plans to expand into new markets in Africa such as Nigeria and South Africa where lots of her productions have gone down a storm. Then one day outside of Africa.

“There's a whole global audience to market my creative services to. My Nexford MBA will help me to take advantage of those opportunities.”

To get her to where she is now, Sheila has had a fair share of blood, sweat, and tears, but she has also had a large slice of inspiration.

She is really going places in Africa and abroad. We can’t wait to see her movie when it releases in the first quarter of next year and meet her at the 2023 Nexford graduation ceremony in Washington DC. A date that she says she has already circled in her calendar. We wish her well.

Seeing is believing, so check out Sheila’s video.

Ready to take the next step and discover how a Nexford MBA could increase your salary as a working professional in South Africa? Download our brochure or book a call with our NEXFORD Application Specialists!

About the Author

Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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