After speaking with AMA SAAKA, we simply concluded that she is a lady of pure quality, sheer brain power, charisma top-notched and brilliant beyond compare. We spent our whole day understanding what patience, perseverance and striving for perfection means to the voice over queeno, actress, singer and philanthropist who loves to make people around her smile.
“I just love to make an impact everywhere I go, with whomever I meet”, the lady who cuts across as a full dose of everything positivity told us during this interview with Ytainment.
We spoke about everything from how she was guarded from the whims and caprices of life’s ‘craziness’, to how she started doing what she loves doing at the age of seventeen till date, to how she joggles work, school, and life in general – we spoke about everything!
And one thing we took as a take-home-package from the conversation is that AMA has a heart of gold…she remains the gift that keeps giving.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. TELL US ABOUT YOUR GROWING UP
I was born and raised in Ghana, in a Christian home; my father was a church elder and my mum was the choir leader, pretty much ‘guarded’ from childhood, spiritually and physically; because I grew up in a huge extended family, with big brothers and little sisters, cousins, nieces, uncles, everyone, so my upbringing was quite strict. My dad was extremely keen on education so I started reading since as young as I could remember, at aged 9 I was reading books like ‘the complete woman’, etc. I loved reading and listening to radio since I was a teenager and I used to sing in the choir and for my dad before he preached – from villages and towns knowing that we were saving souls and doing missionary works.
WHAT WAS EDUCATION FOR YOU LIKE AND HAS IT IMPACTED IN THE SERVICES YOU HAVE BEEN PROVIDING FOR OVER TEN YEARS NOW?
Education as I said was priority in my family; especially with my dad and my mum, so I was always competing with my brothers to have the highest position in our respective class; I grew up in a normal middle-class family so daddy would promise a bicycle or something valuable for whoever attained the first position their class; I think I cultivated that habit of always striving to be the best from that upbringing, you know.
So I schooled in a private primary school in New Achimota, African Child School, then a private Girls school in Central Region, then studied History and Theatre Arts at the University of Ghana with a 2:1 and I am currently studying my Masters in Communications and Media at the University of Leeds in England. As you can see education was/ is and its impact you can see.
I love everything Arts; these courses I studied basically were courses I loved studying and learned wholeheartedly and diligently because they would feed into my early jobs as a voice over artiste at the age of 17, where my first gig as a voice over artiste was for ‘Rice Master’ produced by Origin8 – Phylis, in Jay Foley’s studio 2131. I would never forget her name because she gave me my first gig. Then, acting came along, but first in mostly advertisement like ‘Lydia Contraceptives’, ‘Maggi ‘mo-on-ko’ (which I featured in as the first wife and also performed the voice over job), ‘Nescafe’, ‘Milo’, ‘AirtelTigo’, ‘Air France’, and then my first major feature in Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s ‘Shampaign’ series.
All this time doing voice overs for other brands such as ‘IOM’, Promassidor brands such as ‘Cowbell’, ‘Nutrisnax’, ‘Onga’, ‘Afriking’, the list goes on. So yeah, my education basically played a major role in harnessing my skills and talent in being a voice over artiste, actress and business woman.
YOU STARTED DOING VOICE OVERS, ACTING, SCRIPT WRITING, PRODUCING, MUSIC, ETC AT THE AGE OF SEVENTEEN (17) – HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO JOGGLE ALL THAT THEN AND HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THEM NOW?
So yeah, my education basically played a major role in harnessing my skills and talent in the entertainment industry – it was not easy at all if I am being honest but these jobs are seasonal and as you progress and grow as a professional it doesn’t take as much time to get the work done, if you know what I mean. Like, one, two three takes and you are good. But the most challenging would be film acting that was time consuming, no doubt. I mean I couldn’t juggle that whilst doing my National Service in one of the advertising agencies in Ghana. I remember when one day the Traffic Manager called me – she was basically saying you have to choose one; so I realized that if I wanted to be an actress that was going to require a lot of work and dedication, so after shooting ‘Shampaign’ I had to think through; like is this the path I really wanted to go on, then the thought process started – “how can I be the best at this?” “Am I ready for this?” “How different can I be?” I wanted to be unique so I decided that acting was something for later. I worked with several other agencies and production houses to gain experience which will definitely pay off later. Then went on to study my Masters’ in Communications and Media…so yes, acting definitely is something I would take up, back again, sooner or later, I mean the chances of it happening now is higher than it was years ago when I started; but I also believe that the experiences I gained from working part time as a voice over artiste, producing soundtracks and jingles and acting in adverts alongside having a 9 to 5 job, made me resilient, passionate and more enthused about the entertainment industry as a business.
YOU ARE THE ‘VOICE’ BEHIND SOME OF THE NOTABLE BRANDS WE HEAR AS ADVERTS – HOW FULFILLING DOES THIS GET TO YOU, KNOWING THAT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO YOU?
(Laughs) Interesting question, to be honest I only feel flattered when people meet for the first time and say “oh, you voice sounds really familiar.” I completely feel humbled and glad that people notice and appreciate my hard work. It’s really rewarding. A ‘feel good’ feeling, I must confess.
AS A YOUNG LADY WITH A HUGE VISION, HOW HAS THIS MENTALITY THUS FAR CARRIED YOUR CLOSE PEOPLE ALONG, IN RELATIONS TO TIME, COMMUNICATION AND SO MUCH MORE?
I believe my strive for ‘distinction’ or ‘uniqueness’ has attracted me to some really loyal/good people who have believed in me from day one and being a young woman, with such ambitions and talents (in all humility), it is quite easy for you to fall into the wrong hands so I am really careful who I let into my space and who I share my energies with – so yes, I believe that has really brought me far, because I could have easily lost my way and get swayed by all the noise and trends…if you know what I mean.
YOUR WORK REVOLVES ROUND ‘TALKING’, HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR WORDS ARE CAPTIVATING AND INFORMATIVE?
Reading! I read a lot of books, newsletters, and blogs, anything I find interesting. I also like to listen a lot and I love watching documentaries and movies; and oh I love to read the Bible, which is the best book ever, because it has lots of wisdom nuggets in there.
YOU NOW HAVE AN ADVERTISING COMPANY OF YOUR OWN AND IT IS A FAST GROWING ONE LOADED WITH SO MUCH MORE…HOW DID YOU START, PLUS WHERE DO WE SEE IT IN ABOUT FIVE YEARS TIME?
Yes, I do have an advertising agency start up – well, it something I am trying to build to its maximum capacity. You know I have worked in top agencies in Ghana and I realized that there were few women entrepreneurs in the Advertising Industry, so I said to myself; why not set one up and so I did. In 5 years we should be well established and expanded to at least other countries (outside Ghana) – fingers crossed!
WHAT FACTORS DO YOU FEEL HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR SUCCESS, AS WELL AS DOWNSIDES (CHALLENGES) THAT YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED IN THIS JOURNEY OF CHANGING THE WORLD WITH YOUR PASSION, TALENT, SERVICES?
The ‘God factor’, great support system, and good counsel. To be honest I wouldn’t know where I would be now if it had not been for God. Also, I believe my inner strive to get what I want has attracted me to some really good people who believe in what and where I am going. As for challenges, it is the same everywhere and lack of investments – unlike other countries; investors in Ghana do not really see the entertainment industry as a lucrative place to invest their monies. I believe lots of people have got amazing talents in Ghana but to be honest, they are not properly remunerated; amongst other issues, our industry is still not there yet, even comparing to neighboring countries like Nigeria, the low investment interest from potential investors is quite appalling and as to why that is the case; that should be another discussion with the film makers and advertising ‘gurus’ (laughs) not me.
WHAT RESOURCES HAVE YOU FOUND INVALUABLE IN ALL YOU DO?
Faith. Patience. Loyalty and Good Counsel.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF BEING IN THIS TERRAIN ESPECIALLY WHEN WE KNOW THAT OVER HALF OF YOUR COMPETITORS ARE ‘MALE’?
Difficult part huh – no disrespect but men are ‘bullies’, at least from my experience once they realize you are female, they feel intimidated by you and will try to cheat you or play smart. Especially when it comes to money; so the reaction is to be defensive and cold and tolerate no nonsense, then they call you a “bitch!” But trust me – you just have to develop thick skin and you will just be fine.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES THAT YOU HAVE HELD UP AND HAVE SEEN YOU GAIT SMOOTHLY IN THIS JOURNEY OF LIFE?
You just don’t live life, you have to learn from life; if you live life and you do not learn then you are not living, you are not growing. Forgiveness, humility, patience, giving, loyalty and one of my favorite persons told me, “…do not burn bridges.”
IN A ‘NEW’ WORLD WERE SOCIAL MEDIA RAZZMATAZZ SEEMS TO BE THE ORDER OF THE DAY, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO MANAGE THE STORM LOOKING AT ALL THE SERVICES YOU PROVIDE WITH ONE EYE ON THE ‘IF YOU CANNOT BEAT THEM, YOU JOIN’ SCENARIOS?
Hmmm! Social Media is here to stay…we can’t do without social media and just like everything in the world, if misused or abused can be bad, so yes it is difficult maintaining sanity trying to stay unique and different, but I think at the end, it will all pay off. I remember someone called me one day and said, “you know, I think you are really slow but sure and I am really proud of you! You are just different.”
I laughed and I said to him, to be honest, life is no rush and everyone’s journey is different, once you know who you are and what your purpose and journey in life is, you wouldn’t be bothered by who is trending and who did what and who married who – you live by your own rules and you are content with yourself; only in competition with yourself. And that Yemi is the best feeling ever because you don’t live by people’s validation, let alone strangers on the internet’s validation.
“DO NOT BE DECEIVED: “BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD CHARACTER.” WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO YOUR FELLOW YOUTHS WHO SEEM TO IGNORE THIS MESSAGE, ESPECIALLY IN THIS ERA OF PEER PRESSURE?
As I said, love good counsel, I love good company. Peer pressure is everywhere, I mean everywhere in the world, you know like when we say peer pressure people often think it happens amongst teens – it happens to everyone at every stage in your life, every culture, every nation, so I believe you just have to stay true to yourself first of all, know who you are and what you stand for, know how to stand for those values that you believe in and do not let anyone make you feel less or make you feel like you have to do more than you can – because the truth of the matter is no one really cares at the end of the day, it’s just gonna be only you.
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO OTHER ASPIRING YOUNG LADY WHO IS MULTI-PURPOSE IN LIFE?
Nothing comes easy, be humble, be graceful, learn from your mistakes, take responsibility for your actions, forgive, move pass the past, there is a reason it’s the past, love God and put HIM first always, because God never fails, get to know HIM personally and He will show you a lot of things. Find and know your purpose in life and be happy!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
Thank you too. It’s being such a pleasure doing this with you. I am humbled for this opportunity. I hope you enjoyed yourself and we can do this again.
WATCH SOME OF AMA’s WORKS BELOW…