In a matter of 10 seconds as she sat speaking to me, she sterilized a pretty popular perception that a strong local language proficiency translates into an English language deficiency.
She used the language fluently - as mindlessly as practiced crocheting or much like lawyer Ken Attafuah if you like –except of course without the law degree.
So I had to re-adjust quickly, this was not going to be as simple as I thought. And got ready to listen to the story about the making of Adom TV’s award-winning and iconic host Nana Yaa Brefo who bagged Popular host of the year at the Ghana Television Awards.
Dark and yes – lovely, the short but tough presenter has boxed her way up to the top. She tells me, she won’t stop short of becoming Ghana’s Oprah Winfrey – mirroring the stories of the weird, weak but willing in society.
“I want to be Oprah in Ghana”. She said. You couldn’t detect wishful thinking in her statement. Or feel she was trying to convince herself first. It came out much like Napoleon’s next announcement of a military strategy – a war against opposition with victory firmly in mind.
Nana Yaa holds a Diploma in Journalism from Ghana Institute of Journalism. It is an academic crown cork sitting on a pressurized coca-cola bottle of latent talent.
Open it and you would see the forceful fizzle of her passion, her energy and her skills splash all over your TV every morning on Adom TV.
After a stint with Twin City radio in Takoradi in the Western region, Nana Yaa worked nearly 9 years at Peace FM as a reporter, a sub-editor and producer for at least four top radio programs from early morning Kokrokoo with Kwame Sefa Kayi to late night sex show ‘Wu ba adaa ana’.
Nana with Kwame Sefa Kayi
And together with another colleague, she was the plug through which that game-changing presidential election in 2000 was fed live to the nation on radio.
She quit Peace FM in 2009 to focus on a saloon she was operating. “I am never afraid to quit because I am never afraid to also give it my all”, the outspoken lady told me.
But with that kind of results her industry had produced at Peace FM, the scent of her availability was sweet perfume for management at Multimedia.
Asempa FM managers covered in black hoods, broke down the door to her saloon BNI-style while she was supervising work there, bundled her into a company car and sped off into the studio for her next job.
Well not exactly. Just erase all that. Without the violence and the bundling and speeding off and the BNI part - that pretty much what happened.
After some psychological pressure she began her new job as producer at Asempa FM in 2010, producing ‘Eko Si Sen’, a late afternoon political talkshow.
When Multimedia took that bold step to branch into T.V, Nana Yaa was tapped to co-host on ‘Badwam’, Adom TV morning show.
“I had never done T.V” she said of her initial reluctance. But after helping other pick up awards on radio, it was exactly at T.V that Nana Yaa Brefo would earn public recognition for her work.
At radio she was the wind that made leaves whisper but on T.V, a peacock that blossomed in her full colours.
So that for example, her first love - acting - could now be fused into her presenting skills – making her well animated host capable of holding her audience to stand just a little longer in the hall, long enough to want to sit for a while and a while enough for you to ask that your breakfast be brought to you – because you are going nowhere.
A fuller package of her was now released on T.V. Nana’s animated way of telling stories, or interviewing a guest or reading a news item is too noticeable.
Never laid back. She would sort of drag you to watch her talk or stop your conversation in the hall to watch her continue her conversation on set.
Surprisingly Nana tells me, “ I have never applied for a job”.
After working for Statesman,TV3,Peace FM and Multimedia, Nana has never written an application letter.
A shocker right? No. It’s a strategy.
She tells me that her secret to getting her a job was that she volunteered to do the things that nobody wanted to do – making her needed.
It basically started with internships. These jobs were without pay anyway. And because she always picked roles or responsibilities that were not sought after, nobody has asked her to write an application letter. And for an industry like the media, a good work you do anywhere could be all the good name you need for a shot at something big.
While interning at Peace FM, she was asked to help with the production of a new program ‘Pampaso’.
‘Just try your hands on this one’, her manager would have been thinking while he gave her the shot. But Nana gave it her all. Two weeks into it, they left the production of the whole show to her.
She tells me that success in life is finding what releases your passion. Until you find it, disatisfaction will be normal. Nana Yaa Brefo has gone on to interview great personalities spending some TV time with former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and former president John Agyekum Kufuor.
The TV Presenter said her parents and teachers all had different ideas about what career she should pursue. And she has had her fair share of doing what she did not like.
But after she took the advice to study journalism and stepped foot into a studio, something must have unlocked inside her.
The same thing that turns a cheetah rolled up lazily in the savannah grass into a unique, awesome killing machine at the sight of prey.
A dawning of purpose.
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