Ovonji, The Story Teller
This year was announced as the United Nations International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable development and hence we have seen a rise in content creators and creatives. One field that is getting more attention in Uganda is photography. But in this interview we are introduced to a whole new concept under the photography discipline. Have you ever wondered who organizes photo shoots and creates storylines. Look no further, here we have Cecilia Ovonji, a story teller redefining photography in Uganda.
Who is Cecilia Ovonji?
I am the CEO at Ovonji The Story Teller. I am a concept writer who has taken on this platform to tell different stories through fashion, make-up and photography. My aim is to bring different imaginations to life through the art of photography.
I not only write concepts in particular but I also take on the role of writing for different people. This is also known as “ghost writing”. A ghostwriter is a freelance writer who pens a text that is credited to someone else. I believe that with this platform, many people out there are going to be able to embrace their stories and be true to themselves in a different way rather than verbally.
What inspired you?
I can say am more of a dreamer. Each and every day of life, we meet different people, experience different cultures and diverse languages.
So for me, I would gladly say my point of inspiration was when I discovered that I was totally comfortable with sharing my story, culture, language. I learned that I can be myself without having to fear expressing who I really am.
How has your creative journey been?
Well, it hasn’t been that easy because it took me quite a long time to actually make up my mind if this is really what I wanted to do.
Being part of a society that is changing time and again, I had to understand that my mindset and outlook on different challenges, opportunities and changes had to be versatile.
In order for one to understand and be able to tell somebody else’s story, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes. The moment you embrace that it makes it a bit smoother.
How you met any challenges being in a creative field in Uganda?
Yes definitely. One challenge has been the fact that very few people understand my art.
This has been difficult because you find yourself having to explain over and over in order for one to understand what you do.
I decided to brand myself and use my social media platforms to put my brand where I want it to be. I believe that with time it’s going to grow.
What advice would you give to creatives in Uganda?
I would say basically ‘be you’ and stay true to yourself.
For example, the very first shoot I put together, I had this idea about the ‘new normal’ which I really wanted to express but while doing all this, I didn’t have a single penny.
So I called up a friend and gave him a brief talk about my idea. He liked it and connected me to the photographer I work with. I used my cousins as models. I took the bold step of reaching out to two designers – one I knew, the other I didn’t – but I loved the products she produced.
And while all this is going on, I was wondering how I will get funds to make this work. But then suddenly, I am offered free photography, my models showed up, the make-up artist didn’t disappoint.
I was in a very comfortable location but despite all this pressure, I was true to myself because I knew what I wanted to see an output and I definitely got it.
Ovonji – The Story Teller started out as an imagination that eventually came to life. My dream for the future is that we have grown so much from the baby steps we started with to a well-organized and established company that is ready to have you go extreme and imagine more.
Facebook: @Cecilia Ovonji Cecil
Twitter: @Cecilia Ovonji