NTA'S DAYBREAK NIGERIA MADE ME - MARION AMANAMBU, FORMER TV GAL AND CEO, NIGERIA CELEBRITY NETWORK
Her upbringing prepared her for the challenges life threw at her on her journey to success and fame. Former TV gal, Marion Amanambu, may not reside in Nigeria, but she eats, breathes and sleeps Nigeria. With determination to prove the world wrong that Nigerians are all fraudsters, Nigeria Celebrity Network was born in 2008 in the United States.
In an interview with Daily Sun, Marion relived her days as a broadcaster on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and the price she paid to get to her present position in life. Excerpts:
How prepared were you for fame when you became a broadcaster?
I was not prepared to say the least though I knew that God had destined me for greatness because I knew I excelled in things that I did even far back as High School. I knew that in comparison to my mates, I always stood out, so when fame came with Daybreak Nigeria on NTA, I just took it as a blessing that was well deserved. I welcomed and appreciated it since I had worked hard to get there.
You were the host of Daybreak Nigeria on NTA, what doors did it open for you as a broadcaster?
Daybreak Nigeria was the first of its kind on any African television station at that time, comparable to the Goodmorning America in the USA. It was a vision that became a reality for the late veteran broadcaster, Yinka Craig. It certainly put me in a better position to aspire for greatness and did open a lot of doors for me. I would honestly say that it made me what I am today. I became a public figure because of that blessing in my life and am grateful for all the opportunities that it presented and hope to continue giving back to Nigeria because of that.
What qualities do you feel are missing in today's TV hosting?
I think television hosts today are doing a fantastic job, but there is always room for improvement and they need to look around them and see how their counterparts in developed nations are performing. Training and development are very important and will definitely help any good broadcaster become their best. Rather than sit back and rely on your God's given talent to see you through, you can definitely polish it and make God proud for blessing you with such a rare talent.
You also pioneered your TV show, The Environment, what propelled it?
At the time I came up with the concept of The Environment, I had asked myself how I could give back to my community for supporting my career. I could have done any program that I wanted on TV, entertainment, sports etc, but I knew people were doing them already. I wanted to do something original and unique. Something that could help change people's behaviours and at the same time, preserve our planet. I noticed that little was being done in the area of climate change and the environment. People were not even aware that what they were doing was depleting their immediate environment. I wanted to do something to create the much-needed awareness so that people will know that they can help reverse global warming by changing their attitude towards the environment. I also wanted to represent the public eye on such matters and take a closer look at various local government areas in Nigeria and what they were doing to help their environment and make their community a better place for the people who put them in power.
Challenges as a broadcaster?
The challenges then were myriad and included limited access to information, transportation, computer technology, editing studios among others. We managed to be the best on television everyday despite all these odds; delivering media content that educated, informed and changed viewers lives.
Why did you relocate to America?
I relocated to the United States in 2001. I just wanted to take myself talents to a higher dimension and explore on a new land.
Why did you set up Marion Entertainment and Consultancy and Nigerian Celebrity Network?
Both organizations were established in 2008 in the United States. Nigerian Celebrity Network started when I saw Oprah Winfrey 'DissÃ® Nigerians that label us as fraudsters. It really upset me because I knew that Nigerians are hardworking, educated, honest and endearing people, contrary to public belief and opinion. I knew I had to do something, I could not just sit back and act like nothing happened. I remember calling Ras Kimono on the phone really frustrated and upset and when he asked me what I was going to do about it, I just blurted out this idea that came flowing in my head. This idea gave birth to Nigerian Celebrity Network. We now have over 500 celebrities as members and we are still growing.
We use this medium as a means of bringing Nigerian talents all over the world together under one umbrella. I discovered that many of our artistes are scattered all over the globe doing their own individual thing to portray Nigeria in a positive light. This Network will surely go places as I am seriously contemplating relocating back to Nigeria and taking it to another level; charity they say begins at home. We are making an impact internationally and I would like for Nigerians to directly benefit from this impact and global change that we are making.
As for Marion Entertainment and Consultancy, it started as an offshoot of the Nigerian Celebrity Network because I realized that as an artiste manager and Public/Media Relations professional, I had clients that were Hollywood actors as well as Nigerian celebrities and knew that I had to manage these celebrities separately from the Nigerian Celebrity Network.
How do you wish to project your positively?
By intensive Public Relations campaigns aimed at making them a household name globally. We realize that the internet is a very powerful media tool and utilize that by being very active on social network sites where we continuously put our artistes out there for people to relate to.
Your driving force in life?
That would be determination, the need to excel and succeed. I want to be the best in what I do and also be the voice of the people who cannot speak out. So, I will continue to strive to serve my community no matter what part of the world that I find myself. I will not allow myself to be a push over but will do what I can do continue putting NigeriaÃs name out there to whoever cares to listen. We are a nation to be reckoned with and negative publicity will not discourage Nigerians from reaching and grabbing the stars, period.
What do you wish to do differently this year?
In 2011, I would want to dedicate more time to my career because last year was a very busy year for me, I had my hands in too many things at the same time and realized that specialization leads to perfection. So, I would like to work towards perfection this year. I know this might not happen in a year but will definitely bring me closer to my goals and objectives.
What price did you pay in your career to get to where you are today?
Persistence and hard work which really are not a price but an expectation for anyone who would like to succeed in their chosen career. Standing against all odds by persisting and working relentlessly will surely get you there.
I had a very strong Christian upbringing. When you teach a child the way of the Lord, he will not depart from it so that defines my upbringing and I am a better person for what morality my parents helped instill in me. I put God first in all that I do and know that by his grace, success is guaranteed. My parents also taught me that education makes a lot of difference in oneÃs life and I found that helpful as I faced lifeÃs challenges especially in a foreign land.
How did it contribute to making you the person you are today?
I know it is easy for someone to say I have not changed at all without realizing that they have over the years. I am a better person today because of my upbringing. Living in the United States has made me see the world from a different perspective so that I can compare that to my Nigerian upbringing, and carefully determine which aspect of both cultures I need to imbibe and those that need to be discarded.
What else do you hope to achieve in life?
As long as there is life, I would continue to aspire for greatness. I would like to someday be able to say Ã¬I did it. To say I was able to contribute to the broadcast and entertainment industry and help put Nigeria on the map and finally showing that Nigerians are creative and talented people and rank amongst the best in the world.
How do you handle difficult artistes?
Every artist is unique in their talents and I deal with each according to their uniqueness. I develop a personal relationship with my clients and get to know them so that I can decipher how to help them achieve their hearts desires so thereÃs no conflict of interest. We are on the same page and this will eliminate difficulty. All my artists are not difficult to work with at all. They are easy going people who trust me to do the best job for them and they listen and value my opinion and it works for them.
Advice to women?
Women in today's society are doing great things and no longer relegated to the background. We are continuously proving that we are a force to reckon with and the society is finally acknowledging that a woman can do almost anything that a man can. Women should continue to excel in their careers and remain focused and determined. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you cannot because there is no such word; it should be a motivation instead. When someone tells a woman never or cannot, that woman should look at them and say, watch me prove you wrong, go out there and get it done.