Nijiama Smalls, Founder and CEO of The Black Girl’s Guide to Healing Emotional Wounds, is pioneering a transformative approach to tackle the distinct challenges Black women encounter in their pursuit of culturally sensitive and effective mental health support. Her visionary leadership has ushered in an innovative virtual platform that promises to redefine how Black women access essential mental and emotional health resources, with Rashida, an AI wellness coach, playing a central role.

Breaking Down Barriers: Rashida’s Role

Rashida, the AI wellness coach, is not your ordinary chatbot. She has been meticulously trained to provide a wide range of services tailored specifically to the needs of Black women. Her role is multifaceted and essential:

1. Connecting with Qualified Therapists

One of Rashida’s primary functions is to facilitate connections with qualified therapists. She understands the importance of finding the right therapist who can truly relate to the experiences and concerns of Black women.

2. Support Group Facilitation

Rashida also excels at facilitating participation in support groups. These groups create a space for women to connect, share experiences, and find solace in a community that understands their unique journey.

3. Therapeutic Journal Prompts

For those moments of self-reflection, Rashida provides therapeutic journal prompts. These prompts encourage women to explore their emotions and thoughts, promoting a deeper understanding of their inner selves.

Understanding the Journey

What sets Rashida apart is her deep understanding of the cultural nuances and specific experiences that Black women encounter. She’s not just an AI; she’s a knowledgeable and empathetic companion on the path to healing.

Fostering Safe and Inclusive Conversations

The platform’s commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment is crucial. It encourages open conversations about mental and emotional well-being, helping to dismantle stigma and promote self-care practices.

Be Part of the Beta Testing Phase

During the current beta testing phase, interested participants have the exclusive opportunity to experience Rashida’s capabilities and contribute to refining the platform’s functionalities. This collaborative approach ensures that the virtual space meets the diverse needs of Black women seeking healing and support.

The Future of Mental Health Support

The Black Girl’s Guide to Healing Emotional Wounds couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. It responds to the growing demand for accessible, culturally sensitive mental health resources. By incorporating cutting-edge AI technology, this platform envisions a future where Black women can navigate their emotional journeys with confidence, knowing they have an ally in Rashida.

Nijiama Smalls, the visionary Founder and CEO, expresses her excitement for the launch: “Our mission is to create a safe haven for Black women to embark on their healing journeys. By leveraging AI, we aim to bridge the gap between mental health resources and the women who need them the most. We believe that Rashida’s unique capabilities will empower Black women to prioritize their mental and emotional well-being.”

Disclaimer: Prioritize Professional Help

Please be advised that Rashida is an AI-powered virtual wellness coach and not a replacement for professional mental health care. Users in need of urgent support should seek assistance from licensed mental health professionals or crisis hotlines. Your well-being is paramount, and Rashida is here to complement, not replace, the support you may need.

Meet Ehi Agbonlahor, an inspiring social innovator with a deep-seated passion for addressing life’s challenges to enhance individual and community well-being. In this blog post, we’ll dive into Ehi’s remarkable journey, her educational achievements, and her mission to decentralize access to opportunities for career growth and success.

Ehi’s Path to Innovation

Ehi Agbonlahor’s journey into the world of innovation and design thinking has been nothing short of extraordinary. She participated in the IBM Design Thinking Lab, an experience that honed her problem-solving skills and fueled her curiosity to explore innovative solutions. As a semi-finalist in the 2019 Amazon-sponsored Kellogg Design Challenge, Ehi showcased her ability to think creatively and propose practical solutions to complex problems.

Over the past decade, Ehi has successfully spearheaded design-led projects in diverse industries, including financial services, agribusiness, and eCommerce. Her ability to bridge the gap between creativity and practicality has made her a valuable asset in the world of social innovation.

A Wealth of Knowledge and Expertise

Ehi Agbonlahor’s educational background reflects her commitment to continuous learning and personal growth. She holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agriculture, providing her with a solid foundation in critical thinking and problem-solving. However, Ehi’s academic journey didn’t stop there. She earned an MBA from the prestigious Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Canada.

During her time at Rotman, Ehi co-founded Rotman Students Against Anti-Black Racism (Rotman SABR), demonstrating her dedication to addressing critical social issues. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in establishing two scholarships aimed at supporting black students at the university, leaving a lasting impact on future generations.

Empowering Career Growth with Anutio

Today, Ehi Agbonlahor is the Founder and CEO of Anutio, a visionary platform with a mission to decentralize access to career growth opportunities. Anutio leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to empower individuals from all backgrounds, providing them with the tools needed to discover their strengths, build fulfilling careers, and pursue their passions.

Ehi’s innovative approach to career development and her commitment to inclusivity are at the core of Anutio’s mission. She believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make a living doing what they love, regardless of their background or circumstances.


Ehi Agbonlahor’s journey as a social innovator and her dedication to driving positive change in the world is truly inspiring. Her educational achievements, combined with her hands-on experience in diverse industries, have equipped her with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle complex challenges.

Through her leadership at Anutio, Ehi continues to make a significant impact by empowering individuals to unlock their full potential and pursue meaningful careers. Her commitment to inclusivity and innovation serves as a beacon of hope for those striving to achieve their dreams.

In a significant milestone, President Joe Biden has appointed Shuwanza Goff as the new Director of Legislative Affairs, making her the first Black woman to serve as the White House’s chief emissary to Capitol Hill. Learn more about this historic appointment.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Shuwanza Goff, a veteran congressional aide with an impressive track record, has shattered yet another glass ceiling in her remarkable career. President Biden’s decision to name her as the Director of Legislative Affairs marks a historic moment, solidifying her position as a trailblazer and a trusted leader.

A Proven Leader

Before this groundbreaking appointment, Shuwanza Goff served as the White House’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and House Liaison. Her extensive experience and bipartisan appeal have made her a respected figure on both sides of the aisle. Her close partnerships with congressional leaders, coupled with her deep understanding of the legislative process, make her an ideal choice for this role.

From Capitol Hill to the White House

Shuwanza Goff’s journey to this historic role began with her service as a senior aide and floor director to Maryland Democratic leader Rep. Steny Hoyer. During her tenure on Capitol Hill, she played a pivotal role in advancing critical legislation, including COVID-19 relief, climate initiatives, tax reforms, and the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

A Bright Future Ahead

As the new Director of Legislative Affairs, Goff faces significant challenges, from managing relations with House Republicans to addressing important policy matters. However, her reputation as a skilled policy professional with deep institutional knowledge equips her to excel in this role. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed confidence in her ability to navigate the complex political landscape.

Congratulations, Shuwanza Goff

Shuwanza Goff’s historic appointment is a testament to her dedication, leadership, and commitment to public service. Her achievements open doors for future generations and emphasize the importance of diverse voices in positions of power. We congratulate Shuwanza Goff on this remarkable accomplishment and look forward to her continued contributions to our nation.

In the dazzling world of Barbie, where dreams come to life, it’s essential to remember the brilliant mind behind the creation of the first Black Barbie doll. Louvenia “Kitty” Black Perkins, a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, was a fashion enthusiast who stumbled into an extraordinary career as a toy designer.

A Unique Journey to Barbie Stardom

Kitty Black Perkins embarked on her journey into the world of toy design after landing an interview with the renowned toy company, Mattel, at the age of 28. She was handed a Barbie doll from Toys R Us and tasked with transforming it into a fashion icon. What she returned with was nothing short of remarkable – a hand-sewn floral jumpsuit with tiered legs, puff sleeves, and a matching wide-brimmed hat. Impressed by her creativity, Mattel hired her as a fashion designer for Barbie dolls.

A Historic Moment: The Birth of the First Black Barbie

In a time when Barbie dolls primarily featured thin, white figures, Kitty Black Perkins pushed boundaries. In 1979, as the principal designer for Barbie, she created the first-ever Black Barbie. This iconic doll was dressed in a stunning red bodysuit with a wrap disco-style skirt, a modern necklace, and hoop earrings. It marked a historic moment and was just the beginning of her incredible contributions to the Barbie legacy.

Kitty’s Creative Impact

Kitty drew inspiration from magazines, fashion shows, and personal experiences, crafting over 100 designs annually as chief designer for Barbie. From the Astronaut Barbie in 1985 to the groundbreaking Brandy Barbie Dolls in the late ’90s, she continued to redefine Barbie’s image. Her designs resonated with girls of all backgrounds, revolutionizing the way Black girls saw themselves.

Kitty Black Perkins

Awards and Honors

Kitty Black Perkins received numerous awards and accolades, including induction into the Black Hall of Fame in 2001. Her impact on Barbie culture and representation is undeniable.

A Lasting Legacy

Today, Kitty Black Perkins’ influence lives on through countless Black Barbie dolls, paying homage to real-life trailblazers. These dolls celebrate the achievements of inspirational figures like Flo-Jo, Maya Angelou, Madam C.J. Walker, Yara Shahidi, and Naomi Osaka.

Continuing the Conversation

Kitty Black Perkins’ legacy extends beyond toys. Her pioneering work laid the foundation for discussions about representation and diversity in the industry. As the new Barbie film embraces diversity, creatives and artists are empowering young Black girls to embrace their unique identities.

A Message of Inclusivity

The film’s message echoes Kitty’s praxis of inclusivity, featuring a diverse array of Barbies, including star Issa Rae. It reinforces the idea that Barbie can be anyone, regardless of body type, age, or gender.

Mattel’s Commitment to Diversity

Mattel has embraced diversity for over four decades, thanks to visionaries like Kitty Black Perkins. As we celebrate Barbie’s magic and evolution, we must never forget the contributions of Black history makers like her. Because of Kitty Black Perkins, we can all dream and play without boundaries.

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Ava DuVernay, the celebrated filmmaker behind works like “Selma” and When They See Us,” continues to make waves in the world of cinema. Her latest project, “Origin,” has not only generated immense buzz but has also marked a historic moment in film history. DuVernay’s presence at the Venice Film Festival shattered a long-standing barrier, making her the first African-American woman to have a film compete in the festival’s 80-year history, as reported by NBC News.

In a press conference held during the festival, DuVernay addressed the challenges that Black filmmakers often face when trying to enter their projects into prestigious film festivals. She shed light on the discouragement they encounter, being told that international audiences don’t care about their stories or films.

“For Black filmmakers, we’re told that people who love films in other parts of the world don’t care about our stories and don’t care about our films. This is something that we are often told: you cannot play international film festivals, no one will come,” DuVernay said candidly. “People will not come to the press conferences, people won’t come to the P&I screenings. They will not be interested in selling tickets. You might not even get into this festival, don’t apply.”

DuVernay went on to emphasize the significance of her groundbreaking achievement, saying, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, ‘Don’t apply to Venice, you won’t get in. It won’t happen.’ And this year, something happened that hadn’t happened in eight decades before an African American woman in competition. So now that’s a door open that I trust and hope the festival will keep open.”

The Venice Film Festival represents a historic milestone for DuVernay and paves the way for greater representation and recognition of Black voices in cinema on an international stage.

DuVernay’s commitment to her craft and her dedication to authentic storytelling were further emphasized during the press conference. She discussed her decision to keep “Origin” as an independent production after it initially began in the studio system.

“I don’t feel like we would have had the cast that we had if it had remained in the studio system,” DuVernay explained. “The studio system is a place where I worked and made projects that I’m proud of, but there is really an aspect of control over who plays what. And there is an idea about who makes money, attracts attention, and sometimes that sits at odds with who might be the best person for the part. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor was the best person for this part.”

Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor’s casting in “Origin” exemplifies DuVernay’s commitment to ensuring that the right talent is chosen for the roles, irrespective of industry norms.

The independent film production and distribution company Neon acquired the worldwide rights to “Origin” on September 5, further solidifying the film’s journey to reach a global audience.

In addition to her groundbreaking film achievements, DuVernay has been making strides in diversifying the entertainment industry’s workforce. She recently announced a partnership between her ARRAY Crew database for film crew workers and the Impact professional network, creating the largest hiring network in the entertainment industry. This initiative seeks to foster greater inclusivity behind the scenes, ensuring that the industry reflects the diverse voices and talents it represents on screen.

Ava DuVernay’s journey continues to inspire and pave the way for greater representation and inclusivity in the world of cinema, making her a true trailblazer and visionary in the field. As she continues to break barriers, her impact on the film industry and society as a whole is undeniable.

It is a well-known fact that there is an undeniable and invaluable contribution made by black women in Canada who are creating ripples of change, influence, and empowerment within their communities. These remarkable individuals possess a relentless determination to challenge the status quo, dismantle barriers, and uplift those around them. It is essential to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of these inspiring Black women who continue to make waves and leave an indelible mark on the Canadian landscape.

They illustrate their commitment to breaking barriers and carving out space for themselves and others from politics to arts and culture, entrepreneurship, social activism, and beyond. The stories of these people serve as an inspiration and a blueprint for perseverance and progress.

Get ready to be inspired, informed, and uplifted as we delve into the world of these five extraordinary black women in Canada who continue to make waves, change lives, and shape the future of Canada in 2023.

1. Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Celina Caesar-Chavannes is a notable figure in Canada who has been making waves in her community.  She is a Canadian politician, mental health advocate, and speaker,  born on June 24, in Grenada, and later immigrated to Canada. She served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Whitby, Ontario, from 2015 to 2019.

During her time in office, Caesar-Chavannes became known for her outspokenness and advocacy on various issues, particularly mental health. She shared her personal experiences with mental health challenges and actively worked to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues in Canada. Her efforts aimed to ensure that mental health was prioritized in policy discussions and that individuals received the support they needed.

Black Women in Canada

Additionally, Caesar-Chavannes was vocal about issues related to racial justice, diversity, and inclusion. She worked towards promoting equity and fairness in Canadian society, advocating for the rights and well-being of marginalized communities.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes is an inspiring figure who has made a significant impact in her community through her advocacy for mental health and commitment to promoting inclusivity and equity.

2. Sandy Hudson

Sandy Hudson is a prominent activist and community organizer. She is one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in Canada. BLM is a global movement that advocates against systemic racism and violence toward Black communities. Hudson played a pivotal role in bringing the movement to Canada and raising awareness about racial injustice within the country.

As a leading activist, Hudson has been involved in organizing protests, demonstrations, and campaigns to address issues related to police brutality, racial profiling, and systemic inequalities. Her work has been instrumental in amplifying the voices and experiences of Black Canadians and pushing for systemic change.

In addition to anti-Black racism, Indigenous rights, and LGBTQ+ rights, Hudson has been an outspoken advocate for marginalized communities. Educating the public and advocating for policy reform that promotes justice and equity are just a few ways she has used her platform.


Black Women in Canada

Beyond her activism, Hudson has also been involved in various community initiatives and organizations that promote social justice and equality. She continues to be a powerful force in advocating for racial justice and has inspired countless individuals to take action and fight for a more inclusive and equitable society.

Sandy Hudson’s dedication to fighting against systemic racism and her efforts to create positive change has made her a significant figure in Canada’s activist community.

3. Dr. Chika Oriuwa

Dr. Chika Oriuwa is an exceptional Black woman who has made waves in Canada, particularly in the field of medicine. She gained national attention in 2020 when she became the first Black valedictorian in the history of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. Her achievement highlighted the need for increased diversity and representation within the medical profession.

Dr. Oriuwa, a strong advocate for mental health, addresses racial disparities in healthcare. She sheds light on challenges faced by underrepresented groups, inspiring change for an inclusive and equitable healthcare system.

Black Women in Canada


Dr. Chika Oriuwa’s accomplishments in advocating for marginalized communities make her a prominent figure making waves in Canada.

4. Dr. Afua Cooper

Dr. Afua Cooper is an esteemed Black Canadian scholar, poet, and historian who has made significant contributions to her community and the field of African-Canadian studies. Her work has focused on uncovering and sharing the history, experiences, and cultural contributions of Black Canadians.

As a historian, Dr. Cooper has extensively researched the African diaspora, slavery, and Black history in Canada. She has published several books, articles, and poetry collections, shedding light on the experiences of Black Canadians and challenging the erasure of their contributions from mainstream narratives.

Dr. Cooper’s expertise extends beyond academia. She has actively engaged with communities, giving lectures, presentations, and workshops to raise awareness about the history of Black Canadians. Her efforts have played a vital role in promoting a more inclusive and accurate understanding of Canada’s history.

Moreover, Dr. Cooper has been an advocate for social justice and equality. She has used her platform to speak out against racism, discrimination, and systemic injustices faced by marginalized communities. Her work has inspired others to confront and challenge these issues, promoting a more equitable and just society.


Throughout her career, Afua Cooper has contributed to the understanding and recognition of Black Canadian history and experiences. She is highly influential in her community and in her field due to her tireless efforts to amplify marginalized voices.

5. Dr. Onye Nnorom

Dr. Onye Nnorom, a respected Black Canadian physician, advocates for health equity, addressing disparities faced by marginalized communities. Her research and community engagement drive policy changes for equitable healthcare. Her dedication to promoting the well-being of underserved populations has made her a prominent figure in Canada’s healthcare sector.


In a sea of change, these exceptional Black women in Canada are making waves that cannot be ignored. Their passion, resilience, and unwavering dedication are reshaping communities, challenging norms, and inspiring generations to come. From political prowess to fearless activism, their impact is a symphony of strength, driving the tides of progress.

These remarkable women create an empowering tsunami with each step, leaving a lasting impact beyond their shores. Canada stands in awe as these phenomenal Black women chart a new course, leaving an indelible mark on history’s horizon.


Edna Gata is a shining example of youthful talent and unwavering faith in the bustling world of creativity and storytelling. 

At just 21 years old, Edna is a remarkable undergraduate student at Federal University Lokoja, whose prowess as a Christian writer and storyteller transcends her age. 

Proficient in fiction and non-fiction narratives, she possesses a unique ability to draw stories from the personal experiences of individuals, masterfully capturing each moment while emphasizing the profound love of God. 

Edna’s ultimate goal is remarkable: illuminating the darkest paths in people’s lives, offering them hope and inspiration.

A Youthful Beacon of Inspiration

Edna Gata’s journey as a writer and storyteller is a testament to the power of youth and faith. At just 21 years old, she defies the notion that age is a barrier to creativity and impact. Her academic pursuits at Federal University Lokoja provide the backdrop for her burgeoning career as a writer and storyteller.

Proficiency in Two Worlds: Fiction and Non-Fiction

One of the distinguishing features of Edna’s talent is her versatility. She navigates effortlessly between fiction and non-fiction, demonstrating a remarkable command over both genres. In fiction, her storytelling prowess conjures vivid worlds and characters that transport readers to places they’ve never been. In non-fiction, she employs her skills to weave real-life narratives into compelling stories that resonate deeply with her audience.

Drawing Inspiration from Personal Experiences

Her unique ability to draw inspiration from personal experiences sets Edna Gata apart as a storyteller. She possesses an innate gift for empathizing with individuals, delving into their stories, and extracting the essence of their journeys. This empathetic approach allows her to craft authentic, relatable, and profoundly moving narratives.

Masterfully Capturing Every Moment

Edna’s storytelling finesse lies in her ability to capture every moment with precision and emotion. Whether she describes the quiet beauty of a sunrise or the turbulence of a life-changing event, her words are imbued with a profound sense of presence. Her narratives transport readers into the story’s heart, allowing them to experience each moment as if they were there.

Emphasizing the Profound Love of God

At the core of Edna’s storytelling is a resounding theme—the profound love of God. Her faith shines through her words, infusing her narratives with hope, grace, and a deep sense of purpose. Through her stories, she seeks to convey the message that no matter how challenging life may be, the love of God is a guiding light that can lead individuals through even the darkest times.

A Noble Mission: Offering Hope and Inspiration

Beyond her creative talents, Edna Gata harbors a noble mission—to offer hope and inspiration to those who tread on the darkest paths in life. Her stories are beacons of light, illuminating the way for those in the shadows. She believes that through her writing, she can touch the hearts and souls of her readers, instilling in them the courage to face adversity with unwavering faith.

A Bright Future

As Edna’s journey as a Christian writer and storyteller unfolds, the future holds boundless possibilities. Her youthful exuberance and unwavering faith are a testament to the transformative power of creativity. With every word she pens and every story she tells, she brings a ray of hope into the lives of her readers.

In a world often clouded by uncertainty and challenges, Edna Gata’s stories remind us that faith, love, and the power of narrative can guide us through even the darkest of times. Her ultimate goal, to offer hope and inspiration, is a noble mission that resonates with readers of all ages. As we anticipate the stories yet to be told by this young beacon of hope, we are reminded that the written word can touch hearts, change lives, and light the path toward a brighter tomorrow.

Meet Mercy-Hephzibah Ndifon, a prolific writer from Calabar who took her initial steps in the world of creativity by sharing her profound thoughts and words through Facebook articles in 2016. Over time, she gracefully transitioned into spoken word performances, etching her presence in the tapestry of contemporary literature and performance art. Mercy-Hephzibah Ndifon is undeniably one of these exceptional individuals. As the lead content creator at the Journal of a Jesus Girl, she has carved a unique path in the world of inspirational storytelling.

A Blossoming Talent

Mercy-Hephzibah’s creative journey began with humble steps on the digital platform of Facebook. It was here that she first shared her thoughts and ideas with the world. Her writing, infused with creativity and a unique perspective, quickly caught the attention of readers. As her articles gained traction, she began to build a devoted following of readers and admirers.

A Diverse Creative Portfolio

One of the hallmarks of Mercy-Hephzibah’s talent is her diversity as an artist. She doesn’t confine herself to one genre or style of writing. Instead, she explores multiple avenues, crafting personal stories that touch the heart, spinning captivating fiction that sparks the imagination, and delving into the profound world of Bible-inspired articles that offer readers spiritual insight.

Mercy-Hephzibah’s Blogging Journey

In the digital age, writers often find a home for their creativity in the blogosphere, and Mercy-Hephzibah is no exception. She established her own blog, a virtual space where her words could resonate with an even wider audience.  The Journal of a Jesus Girl is not just another blog; it’s a haven of inspiration and spiritual growth. Under Mercy-Hephzibah’s guidance, the platform has evolved into a place where people from all walks of life can find solace, encouragement, and motivation.

The content is a fusion of faith-based wisdom, personal experiences, and practical advice, all aimed at helping individuals navigate life’s challenges with faith. Her blog serves as a canvas, offering readers a glimpse into her world and the depth of her creativity.

A Thriving Online Presence

With a strong presence on Facebook, Mercy-Hephzibah has amassed a following of over 56,000 dedicated followers. Her impact on social media extends beyond the numbers, as she uses her platform to inspire, educate, and engage with her audience. Through thought-provoking articles and captivating spoken word performances, she has built a community of individuals who eagerly await her next creation.

Mercy-Hephzibah’s Spoken Word Artistry


While her writing journey was blossoming on social media, Mercy-Hephzibah also felt the urge to express herself through spoken word. This marked a significant turning point in her artistic career, which has taken her to more than 50 events, each one an opportunity to share her unique perspective and leave an indelible impression.  She took to the stage, delivering powerful performances that left audiences in awe. Her spoken word pieces became a vehicle through which she could convey her emotions and thoughts in a captivating and mesmerizing manner.

Beyond Artistry: A Consultant and Educator

While her artistry takes center stage, Mercy-Hephzibah’s talents extend into the world of digital marketing. She consults for brands, offering her expertise in crafting compelling content and managing social media. Her knowledge and experience make her a valuable resource for businesses looking to establish a strong online presence.

Furthermore, she is passionate about imparting her knowledge to others. Mercy-Hephzibah is not content with her own success; she is dedicated to helping others on their writing and content creation journeys. Her workshops and educational content serve as a source of inspiration and guidance for aspiring writers and content creators.

A Literary Legacy

Mercy-Hephzibah’s creative journey has also been marked by the publication of two authored books. These works showcase her storytelling prowess and offer readers a deeper glimpse into her world. Her books are a testament to her dedication to the craft of writing and her commitment to sharing her unique perspective with the world.

In the realm of contemporary literature and performance art, Mercy-Hephzibah Ndifon stands as a captivating force. Her journey from sharing articles on Facebook to gracing stages with her spoken word performances is a testament to her unwavering commitment to her craft. Her diverse talents, thriving online presence, and contributions as a consultant and educator have solidified her place as a multifaceted artist and influencer.

As her creative journey continues to unfold, one can only anticipate the remarkable stories, performances, and insights that Mercy-Hephzibah will continue to share with the world. In Calabar and beyond, her words and performances resonate, leaving an indelible mark on those fortunate enough to experience her artistry.

Popularly known as Niyola, Eniola Akinbo is famous for her unique voice and stage presence. With a music career spanning over 20 years, the former EME artiste has paid her dues in the entertainment industry.

Niyola’s late father first noticed her talent when she was 8 years old. In 2000, she took part in a talent show and emerged as the first runner up, which marked the beginning of her journey in the music industry. Aside from singing, she has also done soundtracks for movies.

While her journey has not been a walk in the park, with determination, Eniola has managed to stay relevant for over 20 years. She recently made her acting debut in Kunle Afolayan’s movie Swallow, where she played ‘Tolani.’ She shares her inspiring journey, goals, challenges as an entertainer, and how she’s been able to stay grounded in this exclusive interview with Esther Ijewere.

Childhood Influence

I grew up in a large family where it was literally always like a movie set; different characters, different age groups. Incidentally, my dad was one involved in each of his children’s day-to-day lives; he noticed things even my mother didn’t. He was the one who discovered and really helped me nurture my talent. He had incentive parties every year where whoever came top of their class would be awarded a prize. We would come up with acts for the day of the event; singing, action drama and other fun stuff.

Most importantly, he made me write songs for morning devotion and took me to my first concert at age 8 or 9; it was a Funmi Adams concert. So, there are different things in my childhood that prepared me for where I am now.

Why I Pitched My Tent In The Music Industry

I stumbled on the Nigerian music industry at an early age through a talent hunt I did, and I just somehow found myself delving deeper and becoming more grounded. I had the likes of Sound Sultan, Faze, Paul play and many more encouraging me to forge ahead

Staying Relevant Since 2000

It’s a tricky one, but I honestly think that the fact that we are doing this interview in 2021 is an answer in itself. I think I have somehow managed to; I don’t know how, but I am grateful to God.

My Acting Debut In Kunle Afolayan’s Movie Swallow

It’s one of those experiences that will forever be a milestone. It’s new; it’s different, and a learning curve, which I am so intrigued by. I have always been a fan of Kunle Afolayan; I never dreamt that I would one day star as a lead in one of his works. It’s particularly interesting and significant for me because everything about Swallow is authentically Nigerian! The writer, Sefi Atta, wrote the story.

It’s the perfect film for anyone to find out what Lagos and Nigeria truly were like in the 80s, and that could explain a lot about certain belief systems and behavioural patterns in our society today
Playing ‘Tolani’ In The Movie

Too many to mention, but it’s the age-old ‘To thyself be true.’ At the end of it all, it’s important to know oneself and always do what works for oneself and not bow to peer pressure, because the grass seems greener on the other side.

Plans for the Movie Industry

Anything is possible. I am open to exploring anything that helps me express myself, so, I am open to it. Yes!

My Music Career And The Next Phase

I have been working on music mostly for film and other artists, so you will probably find music I have performed on like King Of Boys and Swallow. Two others are coming soon, which I am not sure I am allowed to mention

I will be releasing Niyola’s music at some point. I wish I could say when, but I honestly can’t for now, as I am not quite there yet; I am working on it though

Challenges As An Entertainer

Hmmm, I think about having so many ideas and choosing the ones that best express what I am feeling and intend to share in that moment. Sometimes, how you felt months ago when you wrote a song or four isn’t the same as when you’re done with it. Most times, it’s important for me to share what I feel, so I move to what I am feeling and it could be an endless cycle.

That’s why we have teams that help us because we can’t separate our emotions from it. Also, the fact that everyone has an opinion about what’s best for you or feels that you’re made of stone and don’t have feelings; it’s hilarious and can be frustrating.

Three Women Who Inspire Me To Be Better And Why

Too many, but I will try to narrow it down and bring it home.

The first person is Chimamanda Adichie; She is so intelligent and unapologetically herself. She inspires me to wear my Africaness

Secondly, Kemi Adetiba is a good friend of mine and that woman is forever trying to do the impossible, and it’s all so selfless because it’s never for herself. She’s also not afraid to be vulnerable and I think that’s a huge strength in itself; that’s inspiring for me.

Finally, Sarah Jakes Roberts; I love anyone who loves God. She wears it boldly and she shows that knowing and serving doesn’t make you any less cool, it’s a superpower. She inspires me to draw closer to God

Being A Woman Of Rubies

Being a woman at all, and getting where I am, despite the odds stacked against women in Nigeria and in the industry I work in.

Other Projects And Activities Aside From Movies And Music

There’s more of me that I would like to share in due time, Until then, please watch Swallow, stream the music and thank you so much for your continued unwavering support; I do not take it for granted.

The secret of multitasking is that it is not actually multitasking. It’s just extreme focus and organization. Lola Adamson fits the bill. She is an Actor, Storyteller and Content Creator. Her love for film, art and music blossomed at a very young age. Inspired by her famous artist dad; Kenny Adamson, It is safe to say she took after him.

Lola is passionate about the film industry, motivating and entertaining people. Her Love for all things film paved the way to storytelling which led to her writing and reading real-life stories, untold stories and fictional stories on her platform, Short Stories with Lola.

She was a publicist and talent manager for 9 years. Managing some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry such as DJ Cuppy, Tiwa Savage, MI Abaga, and a host of others.

In 2017, passion and purpose kicked in and placed her on the path to pursue her acting career, which led to her recent appearance in Eddie Murphy’s “Coming To America 2”. She shares her inspiring journey with Esther Ijewere in this exclusive interview.

Growing Up

I grew up in a creative and expressive environment. My dad is an artist, Kenny Adamson. Growing up, I spent most of my time with him. He was a single parent and I was his only child then. He taught me to express myself and to never be afraid, not even when it comes to risks or failure. He would teach me to learn from it and be a better person. I watched my dad earn a living doing what he loves. I’d always be in the studio with him watching him sketch and paint. Listening to a wide variety of music with him as he worked, I would see the joy on his face as he tapped his feet and stroked his brush on the canvas. After each painting was done, we would sit on our stools, no music, no sound, just the 2 of us staring at the painting. Sometimes if he was alone, he’d call me to come sit with him and he’d ask “Tell me what you see”. It was simply beautiful.

When times were hard, I never heard him say “Let me learn a course or dive into a different field because we need money”. He would say “This is all I know; this is the gift and talent God has blessed me with. God has equipped me with the tools I need to earn and with God’s help, I will always succeed

Why I became a storyteller and pitched my tent in the movie industry

From a very young age, I always knew I wanted to be an actor, it always came first. The desire has been in me since the age of 7. Deciding what course to study at University, theatre arts came first but I ended up studying International Relations for my undergrad and International Business for my master’s. At that point, I feared I had outgrown any opportunity I had, I was afraid and lacked any form of confidence in pursuing a career in the film industry.  After many years working in the music industry, I realized the moment I wasn’t happy anymore that something had to change. I deserved to be as happy as the clients I was managing, they were following their dreams, so why wasn’t I doing the same? And so in 2017, I decided it was time to pursue passion.

I always thought of myself as a storyteller. It’s part of the reason why I am extremely passionate about the film industry. The desire to pursue acting opened the door to storytelling.

Short stories with Lola

In June 2021, I was thinking of what else I could do to bring in money for myself. I didn’t have a job then and I also didn’t want anything to take me fully away from pursuing a career in acting. I took a notepad and sat outside, I told the Holy Spirit to bless me with ideas and He said to list the things I love doing. I wrote out 6 different things and I got lost, didn’t know how to continue so I closed the book and told the Holy Spirit to bring me back to these ideas when it was time.  A few weeks later, during my therapy session, my therapist said “if I say you’re a storyteller, what does that mean to do?”. I was surprised but also really wasn’t because it’s a part of me. She continued and said, “Lola God wants you to start writing and telling stories”.

A week later, I opened my notepad and found myself on the page where I wrote out the things I loved doing and storytelling was the 6th thing I wrote. I started crying, It made sense. God spoke but I was unsure of how to move ahead, Then He spoke through a familiar voice. I recorded my first story that week. That’s how Short Stories with Lola was born.

Changing career paths from talent management into film and acting

We’re all on different paths. For some, that one career is the path to do all God has said they would do in life. Purpose is a journey, not a destination. God will always move us and change things in our lives, there’s always more He has for each of us. Purpose evolves, it has different layers just like an onion. It was made a mystery for us to find. With my story, each layer has helped unlock the next. Do not limit what God can do in your life. Do not put God in a box. Take the first step and move and as you move you will see, learn and understand more. For some people, within their purpose for a season is another purpose.

The transition process 

To be honest, I still kind of worry sometimes but thank God for my therapist and life coach who has helped me with the process of challenging and eliminating limiting thoughts.  I know I am not Crazy for following this path. There was a time I thought I had outgrown any chance I had, I lost confidence in myself, was scared people would laugh at me so I locked myself in the cage of fear for over 15 years. Inspired by Ava DuVernay’s story, I told God I was ready.

I knew the minute I made my decision, it would not be easy. I believe I mentally prepared myself for the struggle, disappointments, rejections etc, and that has helped me hold on. I take it one day at a time.  For me it wasn’t and still isn’t a “will it ever happen? Am I good at this?”. I know that I am a talented actor, I know God didn’t make a mistake blessing me with this beautiful gift and I know it will happen. The when and how is what I leave to God.

I feel drained sometimes, the frustration sets in and I say to myself “I don’t know why I didn’t bring Tech or business head into this life o, I’ll be making money now instead of wondering if they’ll cast me or not. Or if I had just stayed in the music industry I’d have grown so much and living life like my colleagues” Lol. I know that’s the stress talking because I always end with “I will keep pushing”.

Impact and lessons from managing some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry for 9 years

The one great important thing I learnt was “in this industry, you need to have tough skin”. That alone teaches you there will be disappointments, rejections, and disrespect but you know who you are and what your focus is. Humility will teach you how to be calm and ignore some things because really, not every action requires a reaction.  And also, never mess with your contracts. Don’t just leave it for people to read for you. Be aware of what you’re signing, and how it favors and affects you. Hold yourself accountable because it’s also not just about you, there are other souls tied to your destiny.

The highlight of my appearance in “Coming to America” 2

Being on the same production set with people I idolized growing up was unbelievable. A blessing. Looking at the cast and thinking “This is real Lola, they’re real, it’s not a dream”. It was like God showing me the more He has for me if I keep believing, trusting in Him & doing the work. I was on set for 3-4 days, 14-16 hours each day, in winter. Many special moments but my fav was talking to Wesley Snipes at breakfast, telling him I’m Nigerian. He saw me hours later at lunch & said “Bawo ni”, I lost my mind. I still wonder how he knew I was Yoruba. Lol

Seeing Arsenio Hall maintain his character as Baba when the tapes weren’t rolling was an amazing learning experience. It wasn’t just a background role for me, I was in class, learning. I didn’t worry about taking pictures with the cast, I’ll take better ones with them real soon, on set.

3 women Who Inspire me to be better and Why

1, My late aunt, my dad’s twin sister. She was a mother to me, she raised me. My Aunty Taiye was all about peace. She was sweet, her words were always encouraging and soothing. As a kid, I always admired her dedication to her catering service. She catered to a few banks in VI back in the early 90’s. You’d see people from all walks of life around her, praising her, praying for her. She cared for many children in her life and watching her do that gave birth to the desire to always want to do something for children.  She was the true definition of “your life isn’t just about you”.

 2.  Laila Johnson Salami. I’ve known Laila since she was about 18 or 19, we met before she finished university and she has always inspired me. She’s always known what she wants and has gone for it. I’ve watched her grow from then to now as one of the best news broadcasters in Nigeria She’s achieved all this at the age of 25. I’m excited for her future and proud to call her friend.

3. Rihanna. I admire her love for, and passion poured into making her country a better place. I love how she pours into her home. I desire to do that. I always say she got lemons and made the tastiest lemonade with it, lol. I love how she’s herself, there’s a vibe to her authenticity. She’s who she is and does what she does. Her journey is one for the books

Challenges of being an actor and storyteller

The major challenge with acting is dealing with the rejections or no response to projects I’ve auditioned for. Another is finances. This dream requires sacrifice, you must pour into it and spend a lot till it starts paying you. And with finances, you need a good job. Now a really good job will require my time and passion for it as well. Lol. It’s like a roller coaster sometimes.  With storytelling it will be writing fictitious stories, sometimes I am blank for weeks till something comes in. Other times are trying to convince people to share their stories.

Being a Woman of Rubies

Oh wow, lol. Wouldn’t be nice to list things. Really, It’s God. It’s God in me. That’s who makes me a woman of rubies and more. I always pray that when people see me, they see God. That alone gives me unexplainable joy.

To anyone having a hard time going after their passion because they’re afraid of plunging into unknown territories

What is the worst that can happen? We will all die one day. Do you want to die knowing you tried or knowing you didn’t try at all? It’s better to take risks, and learn from your failures than not try at all because you let fear keep you trapped. It all starts in the mind. The mind is like a stubborn child who likes to throw unnecessary tantrums because it’s scared of what it doesn’t know. You are in control, not your mind. Who are you leaning on? Who’s leading you? Who are you surrounding yourself with?  Let God be your main focus, He will then equip & bless you with the right tools & people that will help motivate & push you to be the best version of yourself, living out the desires He has placed in you.

The art industry in Nigeria, support for artists, and the need for improvement

In recent years I believe the industry in Nigeria is starting to support female actors and storytellers. It’s been a long time coming but it is happening now, Women are making great moves and it gives me so much joy to experience it.  I would say the area of education, that’s the foundation. Let’s normalize reading books, and learning about other great women who have walked this earth and accomplished great things and impacted the world with their stories and characters portrayed.

Talent management and future goals

I really don’t like to say never because the truth is, we don’t know what will happen or how we will feel in the next year. But, it’s not something I want to go back to. I’ve been offered a job in Atlanta to work with a new record label and I passed on it.