Updated: Sep 11, 2022
Tope Akintayo, a writer, art and culture reporter, anthologist/curator, and web designer, founded The Moveee to contribute to reports on the creative industry in Africa and the black diaspora.
In an interview with Prazzle, he explains the need for more effective collaboration amongst black-owned media brands so we can represent ours better.
“See, if we have double the media platforms we have today, everyone would still thrive because the market is so vast both in terms of the creative population to cover and in terms of possible profit (because, of course, everyone wants to make money). We need to build bridges and collaborate more.”
The Moveee launches the first issue of her print magazine. Conscious Art aims to answer questions about the creative industry through interviews and portfolio spotlights. It questions the role of the creative in a crumbling world and how the creative adapts to the ongoing shifts in culture, tradition, norms, values, and policies in all aspects of society.
Here’s the interview below:
So do you do this work yourself, or have you got a team? If yes, please let us know in detail what qualities make up your team and what keeps you all going.
I have a small team. While I’m editor-in-chief, Basit Jamiu is the literature editor; two editorial assistants work closely with me daily. Then there is a team of 20 writers who contribute to the magazine through the first cohort of our 3-month writing internship.
I’m comfortable with Basit as a literature editor because we’ve worked on several projects together. I am very confident in his judgment and the quality of his work.
The entire team works remotely now, and we are scattered across Africa. One quality that underlies every one of us is the passion for the creative culture and literary industry. That’s about it.
Thanks! Do you have any media planning experience? If yes, how did that impact making your work easier? If not, did you learn it along the line?
My experience in media is entirely nonconventional. I have no educational background in media, communication, and journalism, but over the years, I’ve worked in a couple of media teams, which has shaped how I work.
Awesome! You said you started The Moveee to contribute to reporting on the creative industry in Africa. Do you feel there's a misrepresentation of black creatives from Africa and the world?
Yes. And not only misrepresentation but underrepresentation. At least until recently. This is now changing since the leadership shift in specific leading media platforms. For example, Dazed Digital and Vogue have black people in their leadership. This has resulted in increasing coverage over the past few years. But we still have a long way to go.
Africa’s creative industry is rapidly growing, and if we do not meet that with sufficient and accurate media representation, the contemporary industry players will fade away without a footprint.
I agree. You've had incredible growth with The Moveee. What four key values do you attribute this progress
I might not be able to mention four, but here we go:
A key to our growth is focusing on the people. The first few months of the platform were focused on profiling and interviews. Somehow we could bank on the existing audience of the people interviewed.
Secondly, I’ll say my background in digital marketing also played a role. I never shy away from known marketing practices. Talk about paid advertising and SEO, and I am having this conversation with you as part of our press outreach efforts.
That's intentional, one could say intentionality as well, and SEO is a topic on its own for growth in the social media space, so it all comes together, which is excellent!
Yes yes. I agree with you.
My next question is, How do you cope when you feel like giving up? What's the motivation behind driving harder daily and making it work?
My first motivation is the importance of this work. I browse the internet often and see hundreds of creative talents daily that need coverage. Social media makes everything go viral but going viral is different. There are just too many stories to be reported.
Then, I started several media platforms in the form of blogs and podcasts in the past, and I lost steam along the way. With this, I feel differently. It started from a real need. And I can’t afford to watch it suffer the same fate.
Lastly, there are other platforms in the same space as us, and sharing similar goals makes it less lonely. When I see the likes of Prazzle magazine, my motivation is renewed.
Quite inspiring, thank you! Do you believe any publicity is good, even bad publicity? What's your take on it?
I won’t say, “any publicity is good.” Of course, we have to consider ethical and moral standards, but beyond that, I believe that every form of publicity leads to expanded brand awareness.
If the goal is brand awareness, even publicity stunts that appear bad will make the organization more known. But to what end? Beyond brand awareness, how about brand image?
This is a fascinating topic because it has layers. When we’re talking about multinationals, lousy publicity can affect critical things like stock prices. But when we focus on influencers, for example, seemingly bad publicity will make them more widely known and will most likely not leave any dent in their image (in that companies will still sign them up for gigs, and people will still keep following them).
What's one culture in the Black creative media space that you'll like to correct or see an improvement on?
There might be different detrimental cultures, but the culture of unnecessary competition tops the list. This is not the time for unnecessary competition amongst creative media spaces. We need more collaborations and partnerships. See, if we have double the media platforms we have today, everyone would still thrive because the market is so vast both in terms of the creative population to cover and in terms of possible profit (because, of course, everyone wants to make money). We need to build bridges and collaborate more.
What's one mistake you've learned from on your course of running The Moveee
A mistake I’ve learned is trying to do everything on my own. When I started the platform, all activities were handled by me only. It was not only very stressful, but the progress was so slow. So I quickly created a plan to recruit a team.
I hope to be able to increase the team capacity in the coming months so we can do even more.
A question I should have asked earlier is what brought about the name "The Moveee" What does it mean or stand for? Is it a movement?
The Moveee. Yes, you could say a movement, just like the name suggests. I wanted a name that would depict the growth in the industry. It’s like an indicted progression that can never be stopped. The name is inspired by a term that trended sometime ago, We Moveee! I believe you’ll remember it.
Where do you see The Moveee in 5 years following the consistency you're putting into it?
In 5 years, The Moveee will reach at least a million monthly readers, and we’ll be able to commission creatives in different fields to create important cultural projects. Ultimately, The Moveee will have as much authority as the likes of the more prominent media platforms you can think of, and everyone will be very proud to have their stories reported by us.
Alright! That's beautiful! What's your favorite thing about being an African from Nigeria? What would you consider as a flex about this?
The most outstanding flex would be the quality of our creativity. We have a few representations here and there, but we are not currently leading in the place of industrial and scientific innovations. But you see, in terms of creativity, Africans, and especially Nigerians, are significant stakeholders globally.
I agree there. What advice do you have for young creatives yet to be discovered?
Do not stop improving your craft. We are awaiting the golden opportunity but are we prepared? Document the entire process. This can lead your helper to you.
What type of collaborations would you love to see in fellow media brand owners like you in Nigeria and across Africa?
Specifically, it’ll be nice to create an intentional project together. I recently stumbled on what gal-dem, an emerging UK media company, did with Guardian.
They call it the gal-dem weekend take-over. It’s a series of stories published in the Guardian but edited by a gal-dem staff and commissioned to gal-dem writers.
Guardian is such a big platform, and gal-dem is small. Still, collaborations between bigger and smaller media will aid the cross-pollination of the audience, and the great work in the space will become more profound.
Something similar, but maybe not exactly like that, could be done.
Finally, this is a fun one. Would you rather go into the future or the past, and why?
Well, more than anything, I’m learning to be present. I said I’m learning it because I’m someone whose mind always drifts to both the past and the future. It affects productivity, and it has mental health effects. But if I have to choose which to go to, I’ll want to go into the future. I’m so excited about it and can’t wait to enjoy all the “glory” that awaits me there. While it’s prepared me for who I am today, the past is full of darkness I do not want to revisit.