Features

Interview: Ghanaian Music Video Director, Six Reflects On Creative Journey And Navigating A Male-Dominated Industry

Six is a music video director from Accra, Ghana, who has finally owned her creative path. "I'm now at the point in my life where I'm embodying the fact that this is my career and this is who I am. I'm a creative, and that's just it." She details her experiences in Ghana as a woman in a male-dominated industry. Six chalks up her experience to having balance and patience.

“I think I’m now at the point in my life where I’m embodying the fact that this is my career, and this is who I am. I’m a creative, and that’s just it,” says Ghanaian music video director, Six as she reflects on her journey thus far and the complexities of having African parents. She elaborates by saying that they already foresee their children’s lives and careers, not taking into account the paths that their children truly want to take. “Having African parents, it’s almost like you always have to fight this battle of finding a job, one that is going to be the societal standard of making money, aka being a doctor or a lawyer. It’s finally settled in. I’m finally comfortable.” She lights up when speaking on her career as a music video director and the layers that make her the creative being that she is. Six stated that following her dreams has allowed her to branch out in unimaginable ways.

The Cony Island, New York-born creative acknowledges having spent time in America but takes tremendous pride in being from The Black Star of Africa. “I grew up most of my life in Ghana. I’ve lived in America, but I will say I’m from Ghana. That’s where I remember most of my foundation being built.” Six sheds light on living and working in Accra—the country’s capital and largest city—as a woman in a male-dominated industry. “In this industry, I realized you have to be stern,” she says, “It’s almost annoying. Why can’t I just be my regular self? Why do I have to be stern for you to listen to me?” In navigating the scene and making a name for herself, Six narrowed things down to having balance and practicing patience.

Photo submitted by The Anti-Social Collective

Since you’ve been in Ghana, have you visited the States?

Okay, girl, so let me tell you! Let me tell you how I even got here. I hadn’t been to Ghana since I was like thirteen, fourteen, right? I remember back then, I was like, I’m never coming here again. Skipping to my twenty-first birthday, I’m like, okay, let me go to Ghana and see what’s up. My little sister used to come here like ‘yo, Ghana is crazy!’ and I was like okay, let me find out. One day I told myself I’m going to head to Ghana, stay six months, and see how it goes. I’m the spontaneous type. I came here, and I loved it. I took two more months back in the States to pack my stuff before I moved here. I was like, what am I doing in America? Nothing is serving me over there, maybe understanding the language helps, but the dynamic here [Ghana] is different. It’s like you understand what they mean by freedom. It’s not luxury living because the system is not perfect here—corruption and stuff like that, but you understand the true essence of living free, and that I appreciate.

When did you begin directing? What were you doing prior?

I’ve always been directing, but I never took it seriously. It was always something that I was dabbling in. My first relationship got me into it, but I’ve always been creative. I’ve always shot stuff. I started doing photography—it was just a hobby, though. I’ve always had an eye for things. I didn’t take it seriously until last year, but there are many people who believe in my creativity. The transition has been good so far. I’m getting jobs, at least for someone who doesn’t have a strong portfolio in terms of professional work instead of oh, these are some things I did for my friend. I’ve been getting a lot of professional work just based on what I have done for fun with my friends, so that’s a good thing.

You have something to show for too, though. Like yeah, this is what I’ve been doing with my friends, and it’s getting you more work or to the point where it’s like okay, but who have you been working with?

Yeah! That has been really good on my transition, but I’m like no, I feel like I can really do this because—I mean, I am doing it. I’m now five videos in and on a big-budget scale. I’m feeling good! I’m learning so much, especially being in Africa. It’s not as professional, which is a good and bad thing. Everything has its ups and downs, so it’s a learning experience, and I’m enjoying it so far.

What inspires your style and aesthetic with your direction?

It’s such a difficult question because I don’t think I have [pauses]—music. I get most of my inspiration from music. I’m extremely diverse. At a point in my life, I only listened to metal music, so I’d say I dabble in a lot—music gives me feeling and creates these weird imageries in my head, and that’s how I come up with my stuff. So my inspiration definitely comes from music. I know it’s not visual, but I’m a creative one. So as long as I have feelings towards it, I can come up with something.

That makes sense to me. I’m a creative as well, so I understand exactly what you’re saying when you elaborate on that . You’re able to be inspired by music and put that into your work and bring it to life. Music is a great source of inspiration. I’m interested in hearing more about Ghana’s creative scene from the female perspective.

There’s a few female directors, not many, but there’s a few. Also, being in Africa—being a woman in the game is both negative and positive. Let me shed some light in terms of positive. When you do a decent enough job if you are a woman—it’s almost like a pat on the back, ‘oh a woman is doing this’ right? It almost seems like a good thing because it can get you places, but it can also be deemed as a bad thing like, ‘Oh, it’s a woman doing it, so I guess that’s good’ in terms of misogyny. It’s a male-dominated industry. Male-dominated. Sometimes I can be on set, and I see something. So I’m talking to my DP, and it’s almost like I have to be stern, whereas if it were a man speaking, it would be a different translation—but we’re also in Africa. So, that translates differently. In this industry, I realized you have to be stern. It’s almost annoying. Why can’t I just be my regular self? Why do I have to be stern for you to listen to me?

Sometimes you have to be “the bitch” because I understand what I want…

That’s interesting. In a different question, I was asking you about being a woman in the game because you’re definitely in a male-dominated industry and like you said you’re also in Africa, so that dynamic is very patriarchal as well. I was going to ask when working with males, what is that dynamic like and you’re saying, well I have to be stern.

You have to almost be “the bitch”, but sometimes you have to be “the bitch” because I understand what I want and I don’t care about—it’s not that I don’t care about feelings, but when it gets to business, it’s no longer about feelings. It’s me trying to produce my art, and I’m paying you for that service, so there’s no need for me to care about your feelings necessarily because I am a woman. If I was a male telling you to do this, you would do it. So, if I have to raise my voice a little bit to get my point across, I will do so—and that’s perfectly fine. As long as we are both respectful, you know what we came here to do. If I’m asking for something, I shall receive it.

Are males receptive to your input even though you’re having to be stern and let them know it is what it is? Are they open to your guidance?

Yes, I also have a good balance with playing the nice guy. I also know how not to be an asshole—like how to get my point across and then sweet talk. I feel like it’s a good balance to have. I’m a big astrology girl—astro babe! When I’m at work, I’m asking everyone their signs. I want to know how to communicate with people because everyone takes things differently. Everyone accepts things differently. How you’re going to say it, your tone, your mannerism, it’s going to be interpreted differently by everybody.

So, what is your sign?

I want you to guess!

Guess? I’m not that advanced.

Okay wait, what is yours?

I’m a Sagittarius. You’re giving me Gemini vibes, but I don’t know.

Well, I’m ruled by the same planet so you’re kind of close. I’m a Virgo.

Oh! I’m a Virgo rising!

I’m an Aries rising, so we get along. I’m an Aries rising Aquarius moon. What’s your moon?

Capricorn.

Capricorn moon, oooh. Capricorn moons—y’all! [laughing]

[laughing] I appreciate astrology and all that, too. But like I said, I’m not to the point where I’m like ‘you must be’, ‘I can read you’.

I used to do that before I got into the natal chart. I’m like oh you could be anything. You could be acting out of your rising right now. You could be your sun sign right now. So, I just be like, I am here to listen. There may be some dominant elements, but I just look. That’s not my life. I would just use it to scale you, but it doesn’t mean that’s you, necessarily. Expectations, not results.

It definitely helps you understand maybe like why people do things. What are some of your biggest takeaways from working with others? I know we mentioned working with men, but just in general. How is it working with others?

Working with other people—well, everything is about patience, right? Everything is patience. Everything is understanding that just because you’re right doesn’t mean someone is wrong. I’m a hothead. I wouldn’t say I’m a hothead. It’s hard for me to just lay down and take something, but I also understand having this dynamic working with people in this industry you’re going to have to understand that there’s a balance to everything. It’s about taking people’s feelings into consideration. Working with people has taught me a lot of patience and understanding. That if you disagree, there isn’t a problem. It just means that our views don’t meet on something. That’s perfectly fine. We’re human. I’m not always going to agree with you.

You can learn a lot just from being patient. You said that you like to listen and understand other people’s communication styles, so that partnered with patience! [laughing] Walk us through your day on set. I’m really interested.

Day-to-day on set! I have a partner now. I started this alone, but I met a friend. His name is Hakeem. I felt like he had a lot of characteristics that I liked a lot and would like to embody. I’m a big believer in what you surround yourself with, no matter how much you think you’re a strong character, rubs off on you. So, he had characteristics that I was looking forward to embodying, essentially.

Day-to-day, Hakeem and I are almost an hour to three hours early to get ourselves in the mind of what we really want to do. A shot list, everything. Calling people to make sure they are on time. Just general work stuff trying to get everything situated. Making sure our best friend, Black, who’s our set designer, gets there before everybody. His job takes a fucking long time! [laughing]

Making sure people are in the places they are supposed to be in at the time that they’re supposed to be there.

Yeah, exactly! And calling people, people are cancelling. You’re relying on other people, essentially right? You’re relying on other people for your ideas to come to pass.

I always wondered from a director’s standpoint like what is it exactly that they’re doing other than directing, clearly. But you just provided some insight, like no we have to make sure people are there. Are you going to be here? Have you had situations where the day of people didn’t show up?

Girl! I had a shoot where my main model did not show up. My main male model—we’re shooting a video for a girl and the main model did not show up, so we just had to wing it.

Patience! Remember?

Yeah, patience. So we had to call a friend of mine who the day before—I believe everything is aligned. If something happened to me, something better is happening. I called up my friend who was asking to work with me the day before at a party, so I just called him like ‘yo, you say you want to work, so what’s up?’ and he was like okay, he’s going to come through.

What are some of your most memorable moments or some of your most memorable projects that you’ve worked on?

Most of all the shoots. Even the one where the guy didn’t show up. It was memorable because regardless of all the trials and tribulations, everything went exactly how we planned it. Not to the T, but everything was how we wanted and even better.

You did say everything happens for a reason, so you’re able to accept it for what it is.

It is what it is.

It is what it is! [laughing] Earlier you mentioned that your portfolio is pretty much you doing things for your friends and it has landed you bigger opportunities. What are some of those bigger opportunities that you’ve had?

Recently, I assistant directed for one of Ghana’s biggest artists, King Promise. Actually, I helped the director, Andy, with a different video, but other than that, he’s not seen anything other than the works I’ve done for my friends, and he really liked it. So he made me the assistant director to a really big video over here. That was one of them. I was like, okay, people are watching, so that’s exciting!

I am essentially a Black woman. I won already.

Y’all gone know my name! I love it! I learned a lot about you and your work. You have amazing work by the way. I can tell that your personality from what I’ve grasped from this interview is displayed through your work. Before we go, if you could answer this question. Whatever comes to mind. What does it mean to you to be Black and Gifted?

It means the world. It’s even better being African. I am essentially a Black woman. I won already. Get me? Also, being talented it’s like wow. Sometimes you don’t appreciate it, but then you realize around you—well I’m not basic. So, it’s great! [laughing]

Stay connected with Six via Instagram.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: