Tuesday 25 June 2013

2Inspire Business Profile: Sophia A Jackson, Founder of Afridiziak Theatre News

Sophia A Jackson has become synonymous with Africa-Caribbean theatre in the UK, her passion for the theatrical arts has led her to build a brand over the past 5 years that has  become the go-to online resource for African-Caribbean theatre. Read this inspirational interview with Sophia and be encouraged that following your passion can really lead to your dreams coming true!
Sophia A Jackson

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
A typical day includes liaising with my web developer (and brother, Basil Lumsden) on keeping my site, Afridiziak Theatre News fresh with all the latest news on African-Caribbean theatre. I am the editor and founder of the site and I have a pool of contributors. Updates  include reviews of African-Caribbean plays and interviews with those who work behind the scenes and on the stage.  Afridiziak Theatre News is the only website dedicated to African-Caribbean theatre so we work with clients who want to ensure their audiences are diverse. As we are a digital publication much of my time is spent socialising on Facebook and Twitter, sending out e-newsletters and spreading awareness on the latest productions.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
I was working at New Nation newspaper as their events listings editor. When the publication went into Administration I saw that as an ideal opportunity to launch a website dedicated to African-Caribbean theatre as it was an area of the arts that I was passionate about. It was also an opportunity to put my skills and experience from gaining a Masters in Journalism to good use. I asked my brother Basil to join me on the journey as he is an excellent web developer and we took it from there.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
In September, Afridiziak Theatre News will be five years old. In that time, the site has flourished and the brand has strengthened.  It’s wonderful seeing the publication and my PR and marketing skills grow.  Deciding to revamp the site’s design in January 2012 made a positive impact on how Afridiziak Theatre News is perceived in the corporate world and this is what we wanted.

Sophia with Whoopi Goldberg
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
 At first when Afridiziak Theatre News was launched, we were not taken seriously – press ticket / review requests were ignored or tickets allocated would be in the lap of the Gods. I felt as if we had to earn the respect of the theatre industry which is a lot more elite than I thought before venturing into this area.

What are your future plans for the business?
I plan to hold an event to celebrate the five year anniversary this autumn and I’m also in conversations with peers about collaborative working, too. It’s an exciting time for Afridiziak Theatre News.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have a stronger belief in what I could achieve and my business succeeding.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Not everyone comes from a supportive background so by inspiring the next generation you are giving back to the community and building a strong foundation for the future.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Build your contacts, appreciate when people introduce you to their contacts and nurture the contacts that have been with you from the beginning. Also, that it’s all about taking that first bold step and then taking daily steps to get where you want to be.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
 I am inspired by the work ethic of many of my peers who are also my friends – their achievements remind me that I must continue to up my game and that dreams do come true.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
If your dreams don’t scare you then they are not big enough!

Contact details
Afridiziak Theatre News
Editor/founder:  Sophia A Jackson
Tel: +447855 86 77 78
Email: sophia@afridiziak.com
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