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Estifanos Berta-Samuel, a lifeline to Ethiopian arts and entertainment

Beautiful Ethiopia is known for many wonderful things; splendid culture, striking women and a civilization rooted firmly in African history. It is the dream of model/dancer/actor Estifanos Berta-Samuel to add to that by starting a corporation that will build a world class industry for arts, fashion and entertainment professionals in his home country and across […]

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Beautiful Ethiopia is known for many wonderful things; splendid culture, striking women and a civilization rooted firmly in African history. It is the dream of model/dancer/actor Estifanos Berta-Samuel to add to that by starting a corporation that will build a world class industry for arts, fashion and entertainment professionals in his home country and across Africa. Judging by his determination and journey through the industry both overseas and on the continent, he may very well be on his way to achieving that.

Estifanos hails from the Amhara Tribe and with his impressive physique – 6 .5ft height, brown eyes and caramel skin – he has dazzled on the stage of several runways and graced the pages of print publications across the globe.  He currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and shuttles between New York and Los Angeles under his agency, HEADS MODELS in Johannesburg www.headsmodels.co.za.

He started modeling rather unwillingly in High School at the 10th grade but today looks back on his journey with pride, having worked with some of the best stylists, photographers, and designers in the industry. He has worked as an assistant to the in house stylist at ENYCE, and appeared in several campaigns like: Absolut Vodka commercial in Paris, France; History Channel commercial in Hollywood, CA;  Los Angeles Fashion Week; and BET Awards Fashion Show just to name a few.

I caught up with Estifanos, who lists Tyson Beckford, Tyra Banks, Kimora Lee and Iman as his role models in the industry, to find out about his journey into the world of fashion, his spirituality, his ambitions and personal battles.

Ameyaw Debrah: How did you get into modeling?

One of my younger sisters was into modeling in high school and I would take her to castings and fashion shows. Every time I arrived I was asked by the organizers and agents to model for them. I never accepted any offer or gave the idea much thought because in my culture modeling was just not something that men did. After hearing so much from every one “you should be a model, you have that look” I entered some nationwide model search competition only to be scammed out of my money. I thought this whole modeling thing is just one big convoluted mess. I went back to my life thinking “I can’t believe those judges chose people that clearly looked like they crawled from under a rock”.

In my sophomore year of college, Howard University, a guy that lived in my dorm was a photographer for a local upstart model agency. Every time I saw him, he suggested to me that I speak with the agents because I had the look that they wanted but of course I declined each time. One day while returning to the dorm from dance class, as I was sweating and breathing like a beast, I saw that guy and the CEO of the agency leaving the building. As fate would have it, I was stopped and questioned about modeling, and then asked to meet later with the agency. I did after several weeks of thinking it over and was given my first contract for representation. The rest is history

Ameyaw Debrah: What kind if modeling are you into?

Currently I primarily do runway and commercial print modeling. I think I would like to try my luck at fitness modeling as well. However, I’m afraid that getting so big would damage my opportunity to keep my career going for runway and commercial work. I would simply be too big and muscular.

Ameyaw Debrah: Do you think African models have the opportunity to succeed internationally while back home?

I personally think and believe that any African model worth his/her salt can hold it down anywhere on earth contrary to popular belief from the “powers that be”. It is very disheartening to be in this industry and see that everywhere outside of Africa black models are disappearing and getting less and less work. We have to fight three times as hard to be recognized in markets that are saturated by models from every corner of the earth excluding Africa. It hurts to sit in a fashion show and see twenty to forty models pass on the runway and not one face looks like my own and what’s worse is that I’m expected to buy and parade those garments around proudly. I do know that among our own in the Western world there are many opportunities to be taken advantage of. However, it remains a dream for so many models here in Africa to go to the West and work but it is more than possible!

Ameyaw Debrah: What else do you do aside modeling?

Currently I am working as a wardrobe stylist, I have designed a course for fashion show production/coordination and thankfully I will be lecturing at fashion institutions in the near future. I dance and choreograph (East & West African, Ballet, Modern, Jazz, some Hip Hop, & Salsa). I am also working to lay the foundation for the corporation that I’m breaking ground in the very near future. I was working for the U.S. Government while “doing my thing in fashion & entertainment” and decided that I would leave that job and country to come back home to Mumaland and make it happen here! The best decision yet!!

Ameyaw Debrah:  Do you have any other ambitions, say acting etc?

Well, I would love to work in the U.S. as an Actor on the silver screen, television and Broadway. I do dance so that is a good a place as any to do the same. I simply love being creative and choreographing pieces for stage, Theatre is my first love there is nothing like it! Aside from my career in the arts I do desire to be a powerful business man a force to be reckoned with.

Ameyaw Debrah: What have been your highlights so far?

Spiritually, I would have to say above everything else discovering the true me and finding out what my role is in the life of God on earth. In the natural sense, attending and graduating from Howard University; traveling internationally and living my dream in the fashion/entertainment industry, being a back up dancer for the South African Sensation Khabonina Quebeka , starring in a television show on DSTV Africa, writing scripts for Cartoon Network’s Dance Club, and acting in two films in the U.S. last year.

Ameyaw Debrah: What have been some of the challenges for you?

I think by far the most challenging entity for me has been the fight to be myself and not allow other people, their opinions and or good intentions build walls and hurdles for me to jump over. Once I decided that I would be my own man and live in my own world in way that is pleasing to both me and God “all hell broke loose.” I’ve observed that people are “ok” with you as long as they can figure you out or predict your next move, and manipulate you. They do so because of their own fears, inadequacies and failure to manifest their highest potential. In the presence of greatness & truth those areas are highlighted & magnified so it warrants that weaknesses need to strip you of your personal power. The moment one decides that he will sell out to the greatness, to the eternal inside himself every force of opposition arises to resist you. However, that which is inside you is greater than any opposition because it is the living God himself!

Another challenge for me has been the fact that I had no one physically to “hold my hand” and show me how things are to be done in order to accomplish goals and dreams. Well, that accompanied by the all too occasional person underestimating my strength and potential and resolving that I’m just another “pretty face” and that “there’s not too much to me.” In my pursuit of “pouring out myself” I’ve had to learn things the hard way by being left behind because I didn’t know what to do, say or where to be. I also had to educate myself about every aspect of this business, its functions, and how that affected me and how I was to respond accordingly. Through it all I learned to be resilient, proactive and not reactive. I learned how to live on the attack and stay ahead of the game! That experience really made me very strong and built me to last in this industry.

Ameyaw Debrah:  What’s the fiercest or wildest photo shoot or job you ever did?

OMG! I was shooting once at the beach in Los Angeles and the photographer said she wanted shots of me sitting on a chair in the ocean. I thought, “Well surely there’s going to be one of those glass stands that don’t show up on film or a small pool in front of a backdrop of the ocean” ha! It was nothing of the sort. I had to sit in the ocean on a chair and pretend not to be bothered by the waves that constantly crashed from behind me without warning. Every time we set up the shot I would be catapulted to the beach and buried under what felt like tons of water before I could come up for air and that was the nature of that shot all afternoon. My God, this must have gone on for what seemed like hours until she said “Ok I think I’ve got the shot I want!” Major relief for me!

Ameyaw Debrah: Who is your favourite photographer?

Nigel Barker and Lope Navo

Ameyaw Debrah: What is the state of fashion and modeling in Ethiopia?

According to the models at home it sucks! There are barely any jobs that would pay a model a salary worthy of saying I’m a professional model and that’s all I do. There is somewhat of a fashion industry regarding the fact that there are models, designers and factory facilities to make any quantity of clothing upon order. I’ve learned also that some models are not very professional due to a lack of proper training that is. They have been known to go to the client directly and attempt to make their own deal under the table even if they have representation. That is a major NO anywhere in this industry!

I have observed that there are several emerging Fashion Epicenters in Africa and I personally intend to make certain that Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is one of them! I have designed training courses for models, wardrobe stylists, fashion show production and coordination, and currently I’m building one for agents and public relations. I plan, within the next five months, to collaborate with local agencies and modeling schools to implement these courses for all industry hopefuls and lay a strong foundation for world class fashion industry. I’m determined to do so and God has blessed me to know some really awesome and over qualified people at the top of their games from Los Angeles to South Africa to assist me in pulling this off!

Ameyaw Debrah: What is a routine day for you like?

I start at 5:30 am with prayer, scripture reading and worship to cover my day in God’s presence and so my mind and spirit are in alignment with Him. Then I’m off to the gym for an intense workout; after that I could be anywhere from rehearsal for a concert performance, on set filming a TV or Film production, going to model castings, go see’s and fittings with designers. My schedule does at times change by the minute. I have been on set wardrobe styling one day, then on location for TV, the next morning on a plane across the country to meet designers and sign contracts etc. and that night I’m back in Johannesburg to do it all over again the next day. I really believe that if I do not stay spiritually sober and connected to God at all times I won’t be very productive and humble.

Ameyaw Debrah: What is your training or exercising regiment like?

It is brutal! I must work out at 6am before I eat anything. My workout consists of weight and resistance training which includes exercises that incorporate two or more muscle groups at one time for maximum muscle response and sculpting. I try to do as many reps of any one exercise as possible in each set before moving on to the next exercise. I’m in the gym only three days per week to allow the body proper rest for muscle growth and when not there I do stretch, Pilates, and dance for cardio. I hate running on the treadmill it is an absolute bore but if I don’t have any choice I make it do what it do!

Ameyaw Debrah: Any special diets or habits to stay in shape?

I eat only all organic foods absolutely no processed foods, white flour products, refined sugars and starches. For meat intake I only eat fish, turkey, and chicken grilled or baked. Red meats and deep fried food are categorized as saturated fats and are a major no for my diet of keeping very trim at all times. I do eat six small meals per day two of which are protein shakes that have enough calories to substitute a meal and multi vitamins. At each feeding I have two glasses of water and then a small portion of fruits and vegetables. This keeps the body well hydrated, suppresses the appetite, and boosts the metabolic rate. It has been a very good practice for me as well to do a total body cleanse every three months which promotes healthy organ and muscle function, a strong immune system, clean colon, and clear beautiful skin.          

Ameyaw Debrah: What’s your favourite African food?

Of course I’m partial to Ethiopian Food but Nigerians, Moroccans and Tunisians have some pretty good dishes also!

Ameyaw Debrah: What do you hope to achieve with your career?

I really want to simply live the life of a champion and open doors for so many others coming behind me that do not or may not have the opportunities that I’ve been blessed with. It is my dream to start my corporation that will build world class industry for arts, fashion and entertainment professionals in Ethiopia and across Africa; also build economically sound businesses that serve the Ethiopian population and possibly other countries in Africa. At some point I would love to open a conservatory for the arts in my country that will train and prepare artists in a pre-professional setting for the world of arts abroad. On a personal note I just want to work and do my thing as an Actor, Dancer, Model and Wardrobe Stylist in Africa and the U.S.

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Gospel singer QueenLet share how her SOKAAT music genre is making impact on lives

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Rising gospel artist, QueenLet, is gradually making waves on both local and international music scenes with her Soaking and Atmospheric (SOKAAT) music genre. (more…)

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How American tour operator, Rashad McCorey found a creative solution to tourism during COVID-19

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The tourism industry was one of the most affected during the COVID-19 pandemic but for American tour operator, Rashad McCorey it was a blessing in disguise.
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INTERVIEW: From Ghana to Italy and back, Shadowboy Myzic recounts his almost decade-long journey, new single ft. Kelvyn Boy and more

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The Ghanaian-Italian Afrobeat star may not be one you’ve heard enough of, but with his new single ‘Better’ out now, the floodgates are officially open. He’s keen on bridging the gap between Europe and African music; particularly through Afrobeat and his latest release featuring Kelyvn Boy is the plug.
Join us, as Shadowboy Myzic expounds on his enigmatic name and self, all down to a fiery Italian freestyle.
Enjoy.

Thanks for making time for us Shadowboy Myzic. It’s always a joy to host a new face. We can’t help but ask, why Shadowboy Myzic? What’s the story behind such an enigmatic name?
The name Shadowboy Myzic is spiritual blessing from my lovely mother. She used to call me (sunsum) when I was a child simply because my mother is very known in the city of Palermo and a market woman. She owns African shops and restaurants in Palermo. In my childhood, I was the personal assistant to my mother, whenever she goes out of the shop, I assist her until she returns. During that period, being a child growing I need time to play with my friends so as soon as I see my mother returns, I have to vanish to join my friends to play and the old woman will look for me everywhere but will not find me then she will be like you are indeed (sunsum) because you can vanish in a twinkle of an eye. From there I got ‘’sunsum’’ attached to my name.

Looking for a stage name, I felt ‘’sunsum’’ was a blessing from my mother because our shadows follow us everywhere. That’s where I got Shadowboy and Myzic simply means in our own interpretation, (my music). That’s where Shadowboy Myzic was generated.

You featured Kelyvn Boy on your new single, ‘Better’ and some fans may be wondering; “Who’s this new guy?” Mind telling us about yourself and Myzic Empire?
Daniel Kyei is my name, I was born in Ghana and raised in Palermo, Italy. I started writing music at the age of 9 but I got my first opportunity to record at the age of 18 – my first mixtape which then gave me the energy to do more and also set up a record label called Myzic Empire Records. Thanks to my first mixtape that I launched in 2012, I got some attention from my community Palermo where I got lots of compliments but no one was ready to give me a big push so I continued slowly with my friend, Kwamzizy who was the only one who supported me in when I needed to shoot videos for my mixtapes back then. In our little ways we managed to get noticed by some people in our city where we grew up but it wasn’t enough to get to the big platforms.

Despite these difficulties, I continued to push my music 24/7 through the DJ nights and shows I use to play in Palermo. Thank God in 2017 my manager, Mr. Kenneth decided to take me, my music and Myzic Empire to another level. The same year 2017 I released my first single recorded in a professional studio with a music video which revived everything. The single was titled ‘Higher’.

In 2018, I launched an EP titled ‘’Genesis’’. With that EP, the whole Team Myzic Empire and myself went on tour in Ghana for some works and radio tour. In Ghana we managed to connect to some artists and people in the industry where we did some jobs and many other things. In 2019 on our return to Italy, though, we stopped releasing due to studies and some other things, I always continued to work hard for my music and on many other projects that soon the world will witness.

In 2020, I released some freestyles whiles planning on releasing my new projects, all of a sudden Coronavirus shut the world down. The pandemic got me paused, but at the same time got me work harder on many other projects at home. During the pandemic, I was at home with a Ghanaian producer called, Almighty Streetbeatz whom was in my city at that time we worked and created a lot of good music for the world.
This is a little about me and Myzic Empire.

9 years is a long time to be doing music. Any experiences or advice you’d like to share?
Absolutely, yes 9 years is a long time, but as I said in my previous answer the main reason was because, I did not have enough support at that time and I think everything has it’s time and God was still preparing me for the world. My little advice to all my fellow young artist is, do look down on yourself, give you your talent a chance to work though you, be humble and respectful.

Is there any other artist in the diaspora you’re keen on working with soon apart from Kelyvn Boy?

Yes, I would like to collaborate with all the possible artists with whom I can. I’m opened and ready to work with any artist so we can explore the Afro music in Italy, Europe and the globe.

How receptive have Italians been of your music and Afrobeat in general? Enlighten us.

Doing Afro songs in Italy was very difficult back then. The majority of the population of Italians was ignorant about our culture, the rhythm of the Afro songs sounded very wired to their hearing because of the language barrier. Now thank God things are changing, new things are being learnt and the Italians are ready to accept the Afro music in so many ways, that’s why my team and I thought of strategizing the ways of productions by mixing multiple tongues to also make it favorable for everyone to understand my communications with them through my music.

I can gladly say I’m welcomed everywhere I go in Italy especially in my city (Palermo) where this adventure of mine started. The new generation have accepted and embrace Afro music, thanks to our hard work now you can hear Afro music playing in Italian clubs, parties, restaurants, bars, shopping malls etc. I’m so grateful for this day.

We doubt learning Italian was a walk in the park, especially coming from an Anglophone and Asante background. Gist us.

Hehehe :). Oh, frankly speaking, Italian language one of the most beautiful, sexiest and jovial languages I’ve ever known on earth, though it’s difficult to learn, I love and I’m very proud of myself that I can speak, read and write this language. The importance is knowing how to eat and dress Italian will bring your back from the park into an Italian classroom, hahahahahahaa.

Now, the moment everyone’s been waiting for. Mind free styling in Italian for us?

Sputo fuoco come un drago Sono cercato come un ladro Non mi prendi fossi mato Nella moto vado vrom
Con gli amici vroom vroom

Sono il nero siciliano
Suona strano, molto strano Sono il nero siciliano (huh)

Ho visto la morte lo visto sul ponte
Mi ha reso forte c’è scritto sulla fronte

Divina commedia e stato come Dante Non parlo tanto tu sai chi hai di fronte

Haha. That’s a mouthful. Any big plans before 2021 ends? What moves are you making and how can fans keep tabs you?

Yes, I have many projects in progress. I am working on some projects which will be released soon. This one with Kelvyn Boy is one of the first but after that we will fly with lots of other works. Though I still have a long way to go, this does not disempower me because my mind is made up to do good music and my new projects are something new in Italy, Africa and it will be new in the whole universe soon so I invite all my fans and everyone to supporter and fasten their belts, we are about to start.

Listen to Shadowboy Myzic’s new single ‘Better’ featuring Kelvyn Boy here: https://afrisounds.lnk.to/ShadowBetter and watch the video below.

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INTERVIEW: Dove Nicol opens up on her adventure so far, debut single and more

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Dove Nicol, a new and probably the most exciting artist to grace the Ghanaian music scene is confident in winning fans over with her debut single ‘Calm Down’. She’s dedicated to becoming one of Ghana’s most streamed artists and with a voice as authentic as hers, the songbird is all set.

Dove Nicol’s rise from Sierra Leone to Ghana is a unique adventure worthwhile and in this exclusive interview, we take time to explore her very lively character as she updates us on the adventure so far and her debut single, among other gists.

 

Hello Dove and welcome. It’s great to have you around. Like every music fan out there, I’m quite curious. Who is Dove Nicol? Blow our mind.

Dove Nicol is a creative, a pioneer who believes in the power of the African sound, music, culture, heritage and its influence in the world stage. I believe Africa is on the rise and we are living in the era of the African creative industries global domination and worldwide takeover and as a creative blessed by God with the talent of music, I am merely just playing my own part in the fulfillment of this reality.

You’re finally out with your debut single ‘Calm Down’, mind sharing the story behind it?

‘Calm Down’ is a song about love and relationships. The idea behind it places focus on the internal struggles we go through as lovers. It places focus on two sides of a spectrum. On the one hand, you hear the willingness of both partners wanting to love each other and be loved. And on the other, the anxiety and uneasiness that comes with the feelings of mistrust and insecurities that they have both experienced from past relationships which overshadows their ability to fully love and fall in love with each other. The chorus then comes in to serve as a stress reliever telling both parties to calm down, just be at peace and fall into love with each other. The song generally gives a soothing peaceful feeling to the ear.

It seems you were destined to have a career in music growing up. How is it going and what has your greatest challenge since taking it head on been?

Yes, I do believe I was meant for music and it has been the source of my livelihood since I was a child. If I’m been honest, I have received several challenges along the way to getting here. The biggest challenge I believe is getting others to believe in your dreams as much as you do. I can see the vision of where I want to go and who I can become but because I do not have the resources or avenue to get people to see that possibility, it’s hard and sometimes almost impossible to get others to believe in that dream too.

Alot of people only want to be a part of your success, when you have achieved it but are not willing to help you get there. The journey can really be a great struggle for a lot of aspiring artists who have the talent for it but no external backing to let their voices be heard. For me, I was only able to defeat this challenge through perseverance, the Grace of God and my belief in myself to continue going-on no matter the odds.

Are there any Ghanaian artists you admire and hope to work with sometime soon?

There are a lot of Ghanaian artists out there that have really helped shape the future of Ghanaian music and their relentlessness and tireless efforts have paved the way for emerging artists like me to go after our goals. People like Efya, Sarkodie, Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, Kofi Antwi, Bibie Brew, Wiyalaa, Kwesi Arthur, King Promise and many many more talented souls I will definitely see myself working with during the course of my journey in the industry.

Beyond the world of music, where else does your passion lie?

Beyond music I have always aspired to become a philanthropist and a humanitarian. I want to create charitable organizations and help children that are less privileged to achieve a better future. Africa has the largest youth population and majority of them are multi-talented in areas they themselves are not even aware of. If only we had more institutions that can cater to the needs of less privileged children and our youths growing up, our economy will flourish immensely.

What is a day in your life is like?

A day in the life of Dove is typical – wakeup, pray, shower, eat and eat a lot, do my daily routines, some reading, attend to any business calls or meetings I may have during the course of the day and make time to speak with family before the end of the day. Oh, and go to the gym at least 4 times a week to keep fit.

There’s still a lot of ground to cover in 2021. What are your plans? Should fans expect more?

Yes, definitely. Expect a lot from Dove in 2021 but expect a lot more from Dove in 2022. I want my supporters to know that I’m ready and prepared. ‘Calm Down’ was just the ice breaker. I have a ton of creative content ready to flood the market. It’s just a matter of timing. But in due time they shall receive all that I have to offer and will get to know more and more about me as my story unfolds.

I can’t wait to meet the world and for the world to meet Dove. It’s going to be a productive year definitely.

 

Dove Nicol’s ‘Calm Down’ is available on all digital streaming platforms globally here: https://lnk.to/dovenicol-calmdown/

 

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Onyeka Nwelue captures E.T Mensah’s pioneering role in highlife music in controversial biopic, ‘Other Side of History’

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Nigerian author and filmmaker, Onyeka Nwelue continues production for his upcoming biopic, ‘Other Side of History’, after wrapping up with additional scenes shot in Ghana. (more…)

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WATCH: How Ghanaian drummer, Abass Dodoo became a regular choice for the British Royal Family

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Abass Dodoo became a regular choice for the British Royal Family

UK-based Abass Dodoo is professional Ghanaian musician, performer and music teacher, whose skills earned him several opportunities to perform for the British Royal Family. (more…)

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