Nneoma Okorie is a rising young online personality who is Nigerian-American. She paved her way in the entertainment field at the age of 17 and is now making a name for herself. We sat down and talked to her about her journey.
What inspired you to get into entertainment?
I’ve wanted to be on TV since I was 11. I’ve always wanted to be a talk show personality. Based on what my parents told me, I’ve always grabbed the microphone and talked. It never left me. I’ve always had the passion to connect with people and creating a platform where I can do that, so I developed that interest when I was 11. In high school, I got the chance to practice on my passion. My school has a cultural exchange program (at Carnegie Hall). [Carnegie Hall] gave me the opportunity to be the ambassador for my school. In this program, I was able to host the show for them, introduce upcoming artists, etc. and represent my school. Then I ended up hosting my school’s talent show. That was to get my feet wet. While I was in high school, I developed the “Nne and Ike” show.
Looking at Nne or Nneoma at 17 years old in comparison to now, how would you say you've changed?
I changed as far as having a better understanding of where I want to go. I graduated high school early. First of all, I was already done with high school. I wanted to hurry up and get into college so that I could study broadcast/ journalism, and you can’t really do things like that in high school. I think experience is the best teacher. Like, literally my first semester, I was scouting out all opportunities to get involved in. Then, I got involved with the radio station and did the “Nne and Ike” show on radio. Also, my school had a TV station and I auditioned (and was awarded the position) to be one of the primary hosts. That was one way of developing myself because now I’m, not only doing “Nne and Ike” show on the side, but I’m also getting some radio experience and hosting my own program. We would report campus news and I also got the chance to produce some segments. That was a way for me to create my own segment and build a news story.
So, I’ve changed due to experience and opportunities I’ve been presented with. Experience has been the best teacher and I’ve also paced myself. I’ve grown as a person trying to figure out what my brand is and what it represents. Also, getting broadcast/journalism degree and getting internships.
What keeps you motivated?
When I was 16, I used to imagine that I was turning 27 the next year. I used to add 10 years to my life. So I would think of it like “Listen you’re turning 27 years old next year. Are you where you want to be in life?” I did that for a while, and my teacher would tell me that “You shouldn’t time your life that way because things happen. You don’t time your goals because you could end up upset or not satisfied.” Which is understandable but it’s still good to say that in “five years I want to be this person,” but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not that person in five years. As long as you’re making progress, then that’s important. But, what motivates me is my passion for entertainment and being myself as a personality and sharing that with the world. And to inspire and connect with others in some form by being myself. There was a time before, where both my parents wanted me to be a lawyer or doctor. [My mom] sat me down one day and told me to look into becoming and occupational therapist or get involved in the medical field. And I would think that’s not what I want. There was a point when I was graduating high school, my mom was strict on not paying for my tuition if I was to major in broadcast/journalism. I had a family friend who talked to her and convinced her to help me out because they really believed in me. When you have a situation like that, where your parents don’t support you, you start to consider changing your mind. What motivated me was my passion; I couldn’t stop thinking about being able to do what I love. Being active and doing what I can for myself is motivating to me.
Is there anything that scares you?
I definitely had the process of worry and doubt. Everyone does. What has worried me before was that I am about to graduate this May and I officially graduate this December. So, with graduation, everyone is like “what are you doing with your life?” and there’s nothing set in stone for me. I don’t know what the future looks like and I’m also getting older. I’m turning 21, which is still kind of young, but I still see other people in their 20s doing their thing. That kind of gets to me a little bit. But then I realize that you cannot compare your life to others. Everyone has their own paths. It’s just about consistency and doing what you need to do. So I told myself this year, that I would be more consistent in everything that I’m doing and be more consistent than I’ve ever been. I blame myself for not being as far as I can because I wasn’t that consistent. So, now I tell myself this year, in all aspects (spiritually, physically and financially), I want to put my all into everything. I’m trying to find new opportunities to do what I love. We’re trying to kick back up our “Nne and Ike” YouTube show. Also, this summer, I’ll be a social media intern at MSNBC. So I’m trying to make sure that every aspect is right. Because consistency is everything.
Another thing I’ve been fearful of is the reception that you get when you post your work. Like, “what if people don’t like your work or it doesn’t get as many likes or comments you want it to get.” But, I’m starting to realize now that these likes and comments don’t determine the content of your work. There are a lot of people in the world that are underrated and there are a lot of people who are popular but average and basic. This isn’t to shade anyone but it’s really true. Like for example, Young Thug. I don’t know him personally, but he is basic as hell. No one knows what he’s saying or his lyrics, but he has good beats and he’s gotten opportunity. There are so many other undiscovered rappers that are way better but don’t have that chance or following. That doesn’t mean that they’re not good, they just don’t have a huge following. I really believe that all you need is that one cosign. So that’s something that kind of stopped me. “Are people going to watch it?” “Are people going to like it?” And I consider taking the post down but I always think, that post can be that one post that becomes really successful and set things off.
How would you describe your brand? How do you set yourself apart from the rest?
I think its beauty, hair, inspiration. Those are the words that I think about when I think about my brand and what I’m trying to do. My brand is to create engaging product that connects with people while also inspiring people. I like to change my hair a lot and I love to get into fashion and that has inspired people in the past. It encourages people to step outside the box. I’ve also noticed that my journey to success has really inspired people too. I can’t tell you how many times people have hit me up to tell me how much I’ve inspired them and it really touches me too. I didn’t know that what I’m doing can help someone else. Inspiring has to be one way to describe my brand. I want to be able to help other girls realize not only your worth, but that they can do anything they want to do. My motto before was, “You’re never too young to do anything” and you’re really not. My brand really just represents a carefree black girl.
What is the most memorable/ rewarding experience of your career?
I would say graduating high school early. Like the way it happened and how it worked out. I always hung out with the people that were a grade ahead of me. They all graduated one year and I was by myself. I knew that I outgrew the high school scene and I wanted to hurry up and get into college. Everything happened so last minute. Like, I thought about it and I decided that I didn’t want to be in high school anymore. There were a few months before the deadline to apply to CUNY (City University of New York) and I didn’t want to go away for college. I met with my counselor and she gave me a lot of things to do to be prepared to apply for college. I was really happy to get through it all. But when I took the SATs, I didn’t get a high score the first time around and did not get admitted into many schools. I even made a video as to why I should get accepted to their schools. I knew I didn’t get it because no one got back to me. Which I understand because schools go off of applicant scores and GPA. The second time around, I did better on my SATs and was accepted into Brooklyn College and City College, all of this was in a matter of two months. I chose City College and it was a great experience.
In a perfect world, where do you see yourself?
I’ll be in either California or New York, living in a nice apartment. Before, I would say that I was the next Oprah, but I want to be the next Nneoma. I wanted to have a talk show but I don’t know anymore. I want to be able to have a platform where I can be myself and have fun segments. It has to be on a comedy station. I’d like to head my own show and be me and talk about different topics. My idea of success is where I can go into work every day, be myself and report on different hilarious topics.
What’s one thing that you think people need to know about you?
Hmm, let me think about that. One thing I can say is that, I’ve always been motivated and driven and I put myself out there. So basically, what I want people to know is that I have not taken “no” for an answer. I’ve tried everything in my power, from the age of 11 until now, to really keep pursuing my dreams. I won’t stop until I get to where I need to be and I encourage everybody to do the same.
I also want you all to understand that you are a light in this world and there is no one else like you. Your voice deserves to be heard. If you put your all into something and you let both the universe and God know what you want, the universe will transpire and give you what you want, eventually.
Interview by Chinazo Enigwe