CHINEDU EGWUENU - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Chinedu is a Social Media Lead for aluCine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival. She is also a freelance Public Relations Consultant/Account Manager.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and something not many people know about you.
I have many varied interests and it shows in the work I’ve done in the past. I’m an avid music listener – house music is my absolute favourite! I love international cuisine (variety is the spice of life). I was born in Toronto and raised in Toronto (I’ve been asked many times if I am really from here, YES! )
I lived in Japan for a few years and taught English. I enjoy backpacking off the beaten path! I’m highly observant. I think my attention to detail comes from my writing focus or my PR background. I watch, listen and focus on everything at once to see the bigger picture right away (at a museum, in a conversation, at work, in random situations)
What's your inspiration or how do you get motivated?
My inspiration comes from seeing people who have self-actualized. I look to those that have achieved their goals. It’s not all about what’s on paper sometimes- it’s knowing what you’re great at and making others see it. I’m motivated by new environments, extreme challenges, change and rejection. Change can propel you to reach heights you’ve never imagined. Rejection can make you a little more persistent instead of complacent about things. Sometimes change opens the doors and windows of opportunity
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
It’s never a straight or easy path. I think talking to people and showing my genuine interest for their ideas and showing them how we are similar or at least thinking in the same vein. I’m being honest-a lot of tears, discouragement and frustration got me here too! There is always more! Expect to see developments/progressions in all areas related to my personal hobbies! My ultimate dream: mentorship and support for young minorities in creative fields.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I’d like to remembered for my ambition and my unique point of view on situations that seem impossible. Being remembered for these two things are enough to make anyone going through slow times and to never give up!
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
It’s hard to juggle. Some aspects take a backseat and some people/things get left behind. I’m learning to make time for people that are important to me and say NO when I really need a breather. I’m not inconsiderate but it happens. The nature of the work can be a non-stop situation; the amazing thing about networking/PR/media is that you can combine many things together and still be working.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
My fave food Asian fusion, peanut butter (not together)….don’t know why!!! Favourite book: The Four Agreements it allows me to reconnect when things are a little scrambled. I can gain an understanding of what’s most important. Favourite movie-Mary Poppins, she would make any situation, struggle or shabby item look amazing. I’m like that. I also love music documentaries Rize, Freedom to Dance, Africa Rising are a few.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
My experience as a Black person breaks down like this: 1). Black 2). Woman 3). Canadian 4). Nigerian. I put Nigerian last because sometimes I don’t necessarily have to demonstrate that at first. Being black is first. My presence as a black woman comes second. I find that I always have to shatter stereotypes as a Black Woman first. Stereotypes creep out in general interaction and the impression I leave is always so different from the initial expectation. For the most part life is really good in Canada unless you are trying to make some big moves and achievements…. that’s when it gets tricky. You really have to make an effort to know yourself and the people you would like to align yourself with to achieve your goals. And always, always carry yourself with integrity! Building a solid reputation is VERY important even if there’s an opportunity there or not! Don’t be afraid to try something different. (This is how I stumbled into aluCine!)
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada?
I think the black community in Canada culturally separates themselves from each other. Canada is a country where there are pockets of ethnic groups proud to be whom they are and that is a beautiful thing. It preserves heritage, roots and customs but I also believe it’s divisive in nature. I’ve met so many wonderful people from all over the world (right here in Canada) who recognize a good person or set of people regardless of ethnicity. With that being said the new generation is a little different. Despite what the media shows (we) embrace others in all forms no matter what type of interaction it is.
Should & do Blacks support black music, events and businesses?
I believe Blacks do support music, events and businesses but it is still according to ethnic needs. Sometimes one cannot co-exist without the other. I think a little more collaboration in business would be great-music and the arts would be amazing! Things have changed over the years. Events like the BC Awards are making it happen!
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc?
I think we may now have emerging artists that are better than the U.S. predominantly because of Canada’s cultural landscape. Canada is just across the border from one the talent powerhouses in the world. Some of the influences are felt and coming from all cities near Toronto! Some Canadian artists are getting better access to musical production teams and companies and fans are standing behind our homegrown. We have some very gifted songwriters that are finally being credited for their work. Yeah, we’re pretty awesome!
My Fave artists: The Weekend, Drake, Zaki Ibrahim, DJ Nana, Melanie Fiona, DJ Nick Holder, Slakah the Beatchild, Melanie Durrant, Glenn Lewis, Ivana Santilli, Wade O. Brown, Maylee Todd, Nelly Furtado, K’naan, Arcade Fire…the list goes on and on. There is so much raw talent here (veterans as well) and it’s only a matter of time before more emerging artists are recognized!
What's your understanding of Black History in Canada?
Black history in Canada, for the most part, has been silenced. With its silence, it has evolved over the years. As Canada is young and migration is a very different process than it was decades ago, its history is always changing. I believe as Black people it should be our collective responsibilities to teach the next generation by setting solid examples. It shouldn’t solely be left up to the schools…..Let’s make sure that it’s all types of Black History. We are one no matter which nation we’re from!