BFP: What do you do?
RW: I run my own independent production company called Cetstar Ltd that currently produces a choice of programmes ranging from documentaries to online videos, as well as my television show on Sky TV called The Rhoda Wilson Show. The show is all about inspiring people to a smarter life. Across a wide mix of subject matter, guests are selected with the central theme of inspiration and motivation. The show consists of interviews based on the lives of inspirational and growing talent across the UK and African Diasporas in Europe. On the 30 minute show, guests share their inspiring stories and lessons learnt along the way.
I am also passionate about SMEs as they are the backbone of our economy. My show has a popular online SME Promotion segment on YouTube, which provides individual SMEs with a platform to a much wider audience, increasing their visibility.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
RW: I love my job. It is where I want to be. It’s where I believe my talents and my skills meet my passion. I love meeting people, hearing about their stories. In addition, I learn so much from all my guests on the show. It is inspiring to meet people who tell you what they have been through and how they overcame their challenges.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
RW: I started out in the music industry running large concerts and moved from this to working on the small screen. It was not an easy transition to TV. The hardest stage was developing my business, particularly the finance side. You rely on advertising and sponsorship to cover your production costs. Getting people to sponsor me and help finance the production company was far from an easy process.
To begin with I did a lot of the work myself, sourced cameras, did the research, scripting. I searched all over for people who could do the editing and producing. I didn’t know anything about editing, so I learnt on the job and produced my first pilot having invested what I could and borrowed £675 from a friend. The total invested was a seriously small amount of money for a television production, but this was all I had. This was all people were prepared to give me at the time.
I wasn’t known then and many of the channels turned me away, they said there was no market for this show. Even after our first show we didn’t do another one for almost a year. When you are starting out, not many people will share your dream, but if you really believe in it, you’ll find a way to make it work.
I won’t say it was easy; I had to go back to work to keep the show going myself. However, here we are seven years on and we are still going. Back in 2009, I was voted BEST TV Presenter, BEFFTA and since then things have gone from good to better. In 2011, I was named in the top 20 Inspirational Woman of African Diaspora and was head judge for Miss Cameroun beauty pageant also in 2011. I was shortlisted in Wise Women Awards in 2012 and was on the final nominee list for Media Professional of the Year 2012 by Women4Africa.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges? What is the secret of your success?
RW: Determination, and you’ve got to be resilient. Whilst people often think money is the most important thing to keep a business going, and to an extent it is, but sometimes the challenges you face as a business do not need money to make them go away, you’ve just got to find a creative way to overcome them.
You have to be focused and you have to have self-belief. Speak to trusted people about your challenges, I have found inspiration can come from unexpected sources!
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
RW: The media industry is an arduous industry to be in, so you must be prepared to work hard. Get practical experience, at an independent production company or a TV channel, where you can learn how the business works. You may need to start by being a runner or a production assistant -these are not particularly glamorous jobs, but they are relevant to keep a production going and you will learn so much from them.
As well as practical experience some formal training is also helpful. At a later stage in my career I did a television presenting course and then a production course and I continue to do training at least once a year, to keep my skills fresh.
BFP: Finally: what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
RW: I want to support the Business Fights Poverty cause. Whatever is needed from me, if I can do it, I will. This is why I am part of BFP network.
Thank you to Rhoda Wilson for taking the time to do this interview.