Afua Adom, is a more than a rising star, as she’s been steadily working in media for over a decade.
But as we have all learned it takes a while for special talent to get noticed. Currently hosting a slew of radio and TV shows, about to edit a prominent magazine and a mother of a young daughter Afua somehow found a moment to speak to #TBB10 about the new season of her new show on CNBC
1# Please introduce yourself
My name is Afua Adom and I am a broadcast journalist. I produce and present the Metropolitan Mix on ABN Radio and Young & Rising and Entertainment Weekly for ABN TV. I also present Sustainable Energy for CNBC and I’m guest editing the next issue of Glam Africa Magazine. I live in Hackney, east London but I was born and bred in Glasgow. Both my parents are from Ghana.
2# So the first episode of the brand new season of Sustainable Energy is on CNBC, Thursday 15th February at 10 pm – how does this feel?
It’s so exciting! We have so much fun making each episode and it’s so satisfying seeing it on screen. I make this with Equal Productions an awesome young company, with a real ethos for being inclusive, and they make some great programming. Daniele Rispoli is the MD and Executive Producer and he’s the one who brought me on board. I met him when we both worked for different companies in the same building, got talking and when he branched out on his own and set up his company he remembered me and we started working together on the CNBC programme Sustainable Energy. We did season 2 last year (I wasn’t involved in season 1 so this is our second year working on the show. My co-presenter Ashley House is really seasoned – he does all sorts of amazing projects outside CNBC so it’s a real privilege to be working with him. I’ve learned a lot from him and we’ve become good friends too – we all have! I love to see the show on screen but it can be overwhelming when you think of all the people that will potentially be watching!
3# Tell us a bit about the process of putting together each episode.
It all starts with the idea for the episode. The first one in season 3 is all about sustainable ways of individual mobility, so we looked at cars, bikes etc. We have VTs in the show which we film all over the world, from Kenya to Denmark to the USA. The team pull those together and then there is the expert interview. Ashley and I will talk to an expert in the field we talk about. It’s always at somewhere super-impressive like the UN Building in Rome or Penn State University. It’s great that we get to travel to all these amazing places to talk to people who are doing really life-changing work in their fields. It can be intimidating but I always end up learning so much. We have to do links and interviews with no autocue and everything is from memory. It pushed me right out of my comfort zone but I’m getting used to it now.
4# Travelling for filming, and meeting high profile people in the sector can be intense – how you deal with that?
I love the travelling part of the show. I saw Rome and ran around New York with a broken foot last year, it was so much fun. It’s a real privilege. It also means being super-organised with packing and with childcare too. I always have to make sure I pick up a snow globe from whatever city I have been too for my six-year-old who is obsessed with them. The night before filming I like to hole up in my hotel room, watch CNN in the bath and prepare for the next day. Being a solo mum, I really relish a night away so I can be really boring. In the interviews always try and make my subject feel really comfortable in the small space of time we have. They are often high-profile in their industry but they are human too and a few jokes make them feel more at ease. It’s not easy as we’re often filming outside in the cold and have to do things a few times but it’s always great fun.
5# Outside of CNBC, you lead a radio show, a TV show and more… can you tell us about all your other roles?
I host the Metropolitan Mix on ABN Radio, which is on Monday to Friday from 10 am to 2 pm. I absolutely love radio – it’s so much fun and you can be so creative. I also work for ABN TV on a series called Young & Rising which covers the next big things in entrepreneurship, business and the creative industries. That’s a lot of fun because I get to meet loads of great people. I’ll also be picking up Entertainment Weekly later on in the year for ABN TV also. I will be guest editing Glam Africa magazine’s next issue which is exciting for me as I haven’t done print since I was at Pride which was maybe 2012. I’m also working on a documentary about African music. It’s in its early stages, but I’m really excited about it.
6# Working with African entertainment channels can sometimes be overlooked especially by those who want experience with mainstream brands. Looking at the work you’ve put in what are some of the truths and misconceptions?
I’ve worked everywhere and anywhere, at the BBC, ITV but I would say I have felt most at home working with brands like ABN. Sometimes they do get a bad name and I have had bad experiences working with some others in the past – especially when it comes to payment. That was a real low point. But thankfully, working with ABN this hasn’t been the case. They have given me the chance to develop my skills, figure out what I really want to do, generate ideas and see them through to fruition – it’s a real joy. It’s also great to interact with the CEO and exec producers every day – it’s the good thing about working in a small company. People think that because you don’t work on a mainstream broadcaster you don’t get paid or what you do is less important or visible but that’s not the case.
7# What was your first job in the industry and when you reflect back to that first role, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned since then?
My first job in the industry was working with ATIT Productions who put together T4 and PopWorld. I learned a couple of really important things there, firstly always be on time, secondly – putting yourself out there is so important, don’t be afraid to network, shout about who you are and what you do and put yourself up for roles.
8# You’re also a mother, how do you find the balance?
Balance is something that I have really had to work on. I have a habit of going hell for leather and working and working until I’m burnt out. As my daughter has grown older, I’ve realised the value of balance. So I try my best to have time with her during the holidays, outside London if we can. My parents still live in Glasgow so it’s nice to retreat there. I will work on the weekend only when she is with her dad and Sundays are our day to read and watch movies and snuggle. During the week, I try my best to only have one late night and the rest of time I try to be home for six so we have some time before bed. It doesn’t always work that way and it certainly isn’t easy but I try to balance where I can. In terms of time for myself – that is rare! Once a year, when my daughter is on holiday with her dad, I try to take 4 or 5 days away for myself, at a spa or last year, I went to Italy. Day to day I rarely get a minute to myself. My weekends I like to spend with my partner, just relaxing on the sofa and working our way through that endless Netflix list. But Sunday nights are mine. I try to put my phone aside, leave the laptop closed and just take some time to breathe. I’m not the best at self-care but I’m getting better.
9# As it’s award season, if you could win an award which would it be and why, and who would you thank?
This is the best question! I would love to win the award for ‘best female lead in a musical’ – I’ve always harboured a desire to be on stage. I would thank God for sustaining me and never giving up and me when I gave up on myself. I would thank my parents and my brother for giving me the space to grow and spread my wings. They instilled in me that I could be anything I wanted to be and that has never left me. I would thank my friends especially, Rachael, Toyin, Julianna, Maggie, Jaydeep and Kirsty who have almost constantly told me I am wonderful even when I truly wasn’t. But they particularly never stopped believing in me and encouraging me. I would thank my partner for adding value to my life and being my constant cheerleader. Last but not least I would thank my darling Naima, for igniting in me a strength and ambition I never knew I had til she was born, for watching everything I have ever done and always saying I’m amazing, for never begrudging the late nights, for always making me laugh, for still crawling into my bed at 4 am for cuddles and for just being her. She is the best and biggest inspiration and motivation.
10# When and where can we catch you next?
You can watch me on Sustainable Energy on CNBC, Thursday 15th February at 10 pm.