ALLURE COVER: ELLA FORTTE – THE SPOKEN WORD ARTIST
Emmanuella Alile popularly known as Ella fortté started her art of beautifully stringing words at a very young age, and although this journey began with poetry, it transcended into spoken words, because according to the young artiste, her words demanded spoken expression.
Presently a student based in Lagos, the spoken word artiste and winner of the 5th season of Dare2Dream, tells how important this initiative has been to her growth as an artist, and the confident coach she is. She reveals how she intends being a spoken word artist with a difference in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
How did you start? Tell us about your journey?
The journey so far has been incredible. I started writing at a very young age. You see, I loved books; science books, story books, history books, books I wasn’t supposed to be reading (laughs) and the more books I read, the more I felt like I could write my own. Sometimes, I would even come up with alternate endings to books I had read! I had a very active imagination. One day I had had enough of thinking about it, and I put a pen on paper. Best decision I ever made (smiles ); things just fell in place from that point. I would design notebooks with beads and glitter, making it look as pretty as a 5-year-old could, and I would write in it. Writing to me was (and still is) entertainment and an escape. It wasn’t long till I realised that writing novels took a lot longer though, so being a child with very little patience, I opted for something shorter- poems.
So I would write pieces and perform them to an audience of my dolls and toys. Occasionally my brother would humour me, sit, listen, then when it’s all over, give me the loudest applause; a one-person audience could muster.
You know, now that I think about it, my older brother played a significant role in helping me develop into a confident young lady. Years after, we started writing together, not poetry, but rap. We’d write and perform together, and I got better at writing and acting. In my teens, though I went back to writing poetry, at that time, I realised that the words I penned, unlike before, where no longer comfortable with being on a piece of paper. They demanded I give them life by speaking them, thus the deviation into ‘spoken word poetry’. I am ever grateful for that decision because ”spoken word poetry’ has helped me help myself in so many ways
What were the challenges you faced trying to decide what you wanted as an individual and how easy was it for you to find out and stick to It?
• Well, I would say the major challenge for me was the fact that I was interested in a lot of things, growing up. I loved to act and dance. I loved drawing and making things. I enjoyed writing essays, reading, going for debates. I knew I had a knack for artsy things, but I was also doing very well in my science classes, and I enjoyed them.
I remember thinking I would be a doctor, because I had the grades to pursue that, but when I’d visualise myself as a doctor, I never felt as good as I did seeing myself speaking to people. That was when I knew I was going to be a lot of things, but a doctor would not be one of them. I would say when I’d give advice or speak to people, and they’d tell me how much they learned. Or when I performed, and people I didn’t even know would go out of their way to say to me how they felt every word, as though it was for them.
How did you discover ”Dare2Dream?”
I had seen the poster, and I wanted to know what I was about, so I asked Google.
How was it like being among other youths like yourself, in the camp, learning and growing?
Oh, it was terrific! One of the best experience of my life yet. It felt so good to relate with others from different parts of the country. To eat together, work together, to collaborate on assignments and tasks, to make friends, and everyone that I met at the D2D Bootcamp had an impact on my life. One that I am very grateful for, and would not be forgetting anytime soon?
What were some of the things you learned during this competition and how has that formed you?
I cannot possibly explain all I learned because they were so much! This competition helped me grow mentally, helped build my character and even helped improve on my business sense. Putting the things I learned in the competition to play in my life has not only gained me increasing respect but has also made me a better person and has increased the quality of my life. Because of the competition and especially Caterina, I now understand that perfection is indeed attainable, it just requires a lot more work.
Growing up , who were some of the people you considered role models and who are your role models right now and why?
Growing up, I don’t think I knew ‘spoken word poetry’ was even a thing. You have to understand that it is only now getting more recognition. Back then, I didn’t have any role models; I just did me. Right now, I wouldn’t say I have role models still, but there are some poets that I respect and love their works, because of their style and message, Suli Breaks, Rudy Francisco, Dike Chukwumerije, Wayne Samuel, Feranmi Okafor, Olamide Aturu,
Donna Ogunnaike, Abiola AA, to name a few.
Tell us about being a confidence coach. What’s that about and what inspired it?
Confidence/communications coaching is helping people get to a state where they are comfortable as there own person, and confident enough in their ideas and abilities, to let it out in a convincing way. I realised that a lot of people have excellent views, but don’t know how to speak about it. They either are too shy/scared or don’t remember the right words that would help them pass their message across convincingly. So, as a confidence coach, my job is to give you that boost through a series of practical and theatrical lessons, helping you become the better confident version of yourself.
How do you get inspiration on the issues you perform? What informs your performance?
My inspiration comes from everything, a word, an Instagram post, a video that made me cry, the realisation that my generation doesn’t know how strong they are or the fact that they keep selling themselves short. Someone else’s pain, people who do not have a voice, my pain, mental health, hope, Life; I draw inspiration from living.
What does winning ”Dare2Dream” mean to and for you?
Winning has changed me. It has opened up so many opportunities but maybe, more importantly, is the fact that it helped me discover a part of me I didn’t even know I had, I could speak for decades on how much ‘D2D’ has done for me, but I think I’d just let my life tell that story.
How would you describe yourself before and after ”Dare2Dream?”
Simply put before ‘D2D’ I was a ‘dreamer.’ I had ideas that I mostly never got around to doing, after ‘D2D’ I became a ‘doer’ of those ideas? I’m turning them into plans, with action backing it up.
How available were the resources for your skills in the ”Dare2Dream” Camp?
Well, there wasn’t really anything for me as a spoken-word artiste, directly, but every time we’d have a masterclass the facilitators, upon learning that a poet was present would always try to give general tips to help make me better.
What do you think about the Nigerian poetry space and what new voice would you be adding to the scene?
I think the ‘spoken word poetry’ scene in Nigeria is still reasonably uncharted waters, but luckily it has started to flow with the currents of time. Right now ‘spoken word’ is still in the shadows; I intend to push it to the forefront of the entertainment scene in Nigeria, then go on to win a Grammy. *smiles*