I met Juliet Asante through a most remarkable friend, Eva Haller. Eva can always be counted on to be surrounded by people who are doing amazing, significant things for others in this world, and Juliet is no exception. So I was thrilled when this media entrepreneur and activist, the founder of Eagle Productions Ltd, (an events and communications company; developing and aggregating content for multiple platforms; with operations in a number of African countries), agreed to answer a few questions.
I think you’ll be inspired and agree that Juliet is definitely a woman who is Doing It!
Gloria Feldt: When did you know you had the power to_____?
Juliet Asante: I knew I had the power to change my world and make a difference when I, (as an African girl, at a time when not many people dared) was able to raise money to start my first television show; having started out with only a cell phone and absolutely no money or guidance.
GF: Describe the moment or series of events that let you know you had the power to:
JA: My first major event on my path was getting the part in an HBO movie that starred Omar Epps. “Deadly Voyage,” a true story based in Africa, was auditioned for by the ‘best’ in the industry… and I got the role I auditioned for. This gave me the confirmation and credibility I needed at the time to explore my talents.
The second event I remember, was winning the writing competition to produce a road show for a product for Unilever, and producing this while in my final year of University in another city. I commuted for 8 hours between two cities in every 24 hours for my entire final year at school.
I felt powerful. I felt my mental limitations drop away. I remember feeling like I could do it and I could see the world opening up to me. I also felt that my path was going to be a one of resistance, as I had already begun to see that in many ways, but I knew I’d find the strength to move on. I just knew….
GF: Tell a little about your background, your family and how you grew up, and what led you to your current work.
JA: I am a Ghanaian woman who had my main growing up years in Liberia. At one point between the ages of 9 & 10, I got very sick and couldn’t walk and had to use the wheel chair. Having a disabled child was a very difficult time for my family and taught me huge lessons about survival. Later on, my family also got caught up in the Liberian war and lost everything….
At some point, I had to live with relatives in Ghana whiles my parents were away and it is during this period that my lessons in survival, inner knowledge and strength were solidified. Also was my commitment to be far more than my limitations and to try and impact my world.
I also knew that an important path to self realization was education; so having built a couple of successful companies, going through a difficult marriage and having a beautiful child, I took time off to get my Masters at the Harvard Kennedy School.
I am now focused on the next stage of my life. Focusing on making my companies better and being a good mother… as well as a good partner.
GF: Who are your role models? Why? What lessons did you learn from them?
JA: One of my greatest mentors is Pat Mitchell, The CEO of the Paley Center. Having met her in 2008 on a Fortune/State department mentorship program; she has had the greatest influence on my life since my mother.
My mother also served as a great role model. Growing up, I saw her strength and struggles, as well as her failures and this has served as my greatest check and inspiration.
I am named after one of the most powerful woman in my country. My middle name is Yaa Asantewaa. This grandmother in her 60s, in the 19th century, lead one of the most successful resistance to the British invasion of Ghana. She is truly my hero!
GF: What are you hoping to accomplish in your work?
JA: My main area is Media and I am passionate about youth and women empowerment. Using Media as a tool to find a unique way to empower women and the many young people in the areas I impact, is something I have been working on for a while and I’m beginning to see real progress in.
GF: What is the message you’d like to give to the world today?
JA: There may be gold right next to you. Maybe in that woman, maybe in that child…
GF: What is the best leadership lesson you have learned?
JA: Leadership is not about being at the forefront and it doesn’t have to be permanent. There is great joy in stepping back and letting it happen….
GF: What other observations or advice about women, power, and leadership would you like to share?
JA: Power is not something you have to scream out. It is in the little things…everyone can have and use power. Getting real power is in little steps and so we must take those steps every day, one small way at a time….