Allure Cover: Victoria Nkong – Super Talent Promoter
Words By -Yemisi Suleiman
Victoria Nkong is a Public Relations Strategist, an Entertainment Consultant, Talent Manager, and the Chief Executive Officer of Qtaby Events, an entertainment company with strong interest in talent management, Events Production, and Public Relations.
Her foray into the entertainment industry began with her role as a bilingual presenter at the prestigious KORA All Africa Music Awards.
Eleven years on, Victoria has built a reputation for herself as one of the most prolific hands in the industry, having worked on or managed projects of some A-list artists around Africa including; Akon, WizKid, Davido, as well as a few from Europe and America.
In this interview, she opens up about the entertainment industry, one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking back, how does it feel celebrating 11years as an entrepreneur?
I actually got very emotional looking back at my journey, seeing how far I have come, and the different stages of transition to get to where we are today. It just corroborates the fact that you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard at it.
Can you share with us your high and low moments?
There have been moments when business got very hectic and moments when I took some business decisions that I eventually regretted. I remember investing in a particular talent against the advice of my business adviser. It ended up in a mess. I felt particularly bad because a lot of sacrifices went into the branding and promotion of the said talent. I also remember the first time my company decided to invest in buying production equipment because we had been commissioned to shoot some content for clients. We felt it would be better to get our own equipment rather than to rent the equipment. We took a loan to buy the equipment but eventually, the clients didn’t keep to their end of the bargain. This drove us into serious financial difficulties. Thankfully, we were able to survive those moments. There have been exciting moments as well like, when we were been recognized for some very successful projects, or even been referred for projects that we thought would be challenging and we are eventually able to turn things around for good. I remember when we shot a commercial across four countries for GOTV, the recommendation of the client afterwards was quite fulfilling.
You have worked with a good number of artists in the past, what is it like for you being in the background of their success?
For me, it brings fulfillment, helping an artiste turn his talent into a profession, and eventually, making money out of his talen. So, after a lot of background hard work and strategizing, when the talent becomes successful, it’s usually like a dream come through for me seeing our vision materialize.
As a talent manager, what initiatives have you taken to improve a client’s brand?
Several. Our role is actually behind the scenes, constantly thinking. We start from the point of what brand story we want to achieve, and this differs differ from one Talent to the other. We put together a strategy document and as we go on, we keep analyzing to see if we are meeting our goals: if not, we adjust to fit.
Covid-19 has affected all facets of life, kindly share your experience based on the entertainment industry and proffer post Covid-19 solutions?
For the entertainment industry, it’s been really challenging. Most of our concerts have been canceled, even movie production was put on hold for a long time. So our source of income has been truncated. We had the whole year planned especially at this time of the year when summer events are supposed to be happening. We have all now turned towards digital streams. Everyone needs to restrategize and reposition. For my company, the Public Relations and Business Development aspect of the business has been the most lucrative at this time, as more brands are realising the importance of showcasing their brands to their target clients. So even though we have been doing PR for at least 7years now, that aspect of the business is now getting a lot more attention.
The pandemic and its effects aren’t going away anytime soon. You need to brace up and redefine your business delivery strategies, to ensure that your business does not suffer too much. Remember that even during this pandemic, some businesses are making higher profits.
You have worked with a lot of artists. What were your challenges and how were you able to surmount them?
Working with artistes requires a lot of patience, tact and discipline. A lot of the time, you are planning and trying to work towards a vision but, you definitely, need the participation of the artists in order to ensure good results. Unfortunately, at times, they do not see the vision that you see so it’s difficult. You also have to take the bullet most times for some of your artiste’ actions in order to protect their image. In my case, I try to be very professional and most of the talents that work with me know that I would not compromise their long-term brand goals and interests for momentary gratification. They appreciate this afterwards but, it could be such a hard task getting them to accept it initially
You had issues in the past with one of the brands you managed Olajumoke Oni the bread seller, can you shed more light on this?
Olajumoke’s case is one I would have loved to forget; but just to put the records straight, she lacked the discipline required to build a career in the entertainment industry. She failed to understand that it takes a lot of time, money and hard work, to create or revive a brand before any benefits can be reaped from it. It is probable that the circumstances that led to her sudden celebrity status (recall she was just passing by selling her bread), may have confused her into believing that nothing more than her presence was required for money to start flowing in.
Sadly, by the time I signed her on, mostly for humanitarian reasons, the buzz around her had already died. So in order to revive her career especially as she has no particular talent, huge sums which I will never recoup was expended on her including, two all-expense paid international trips, personal etiquette and English tutors, modeling tutors, etc. I even went beyond our scope and was shouldering personal bills, like her kids’ medical bills, utility bills, foodstuff e.t.c Every time that we had a paid 3rd party job for her, we still gave her her percentage.
Despite all these, she had a penchant for getting into situations which were damaging for the new brand we were trying to create. So, a lot was spent on damage control and bailing her out of trouble. It was really exhausting and unsustainable. Therefore, it was inevitable that our efforts were doomed to fail. I, however, take solace in the fact that we did all we could for her and I do hope she will be able to find a career path in the industry howbeit, with a different team.
Tell me a bit about yourself, growing up years and educational background?
I am the girl child of my family, I am 32yrs old. Growing up, my parents were both in the educational sector: My mum was a school principal and my dad was the Director of the Ministry of Education as well as the WAEC board so they literally sent us off to school very early. At 14yrs I was already headed to the University. I had to grow up quickly and started working at about 28yrs old which is why I became an entrepreneur early. I published my book Diary of A Mad Black Woman two years ago which is my memoir, telling my life story.
What informed your choice of career as a teenager, the entertainment industry?
I never set out to work or function in the entertainment industry; rather, entertainment chose me. I am multilingual; I speak French and Spanish so, I got a job as a multi-lingual secretary for KORA AWARDS. Eventually, I got promoted and trained as a producer with KORA. I realised that my job then gave me a lot of exposure and I literarily was helping people achieving their dreams, and making sense out of their lives, which is something that I am passionate about.
What artist do you look forward to working with?
Hmmm… non comes to mind for now. I have worked with most of the A list artists around Africa: from Akon, Wizkid to Davido, Harrysong etc either as their manager, or based on selected projects or Events.
What do you love about what you do?
I love the fact that my work actually seems like recreation to me. I’m very passionate about everything that I do because it adds value directly to the society and to the individual. Well, on the fun side, I love travelling a lot and the job gave me that opportunity.
When you are not working how do you relax?
I spend time playing with my children at the orphanage. You know a number of them came to the home as babies, so some of then actually think I am their biological mother. I have to make out time for that bond.
How did you get into philanthropy?
Growing up, I always wanted something I could do as service to society and to God. I realised early that helping people fix their problems and putting a smile on people’s faces, always gave me fulfillment. Also, my parents were philanthropists so I grew up seeing them help and support a lot of people. Eventually, I prayed for direction and planned that at age 25, I would start my charity organisation. I spent most of my weekends visiting other orphanages as a volunteer. After the tragic loss of my elder sister to a violent marriage, the orphanage and foundation became like my projects that I set up as part of my healing process.
What is the best advice you have received in life and how has it shaped you as an entrepreneur?
Every new day is an opportunity, look at what you could have done better yesterday, and then do it. Also, pay attention to your Network because having people is more important than having money.