Onyi Moss: Creating a legacy [Pulse Interview]
A few days ago, she had an insighful conversation with Pulse Nigeria about her career, journey and photography
Her nursery, primary and education got completed in Abuja. She went to All Saints Primary School and Gifted Secondary School in Gwagwalada. For university, she attended Madonna University Okija where she studied Accounting.
Afterwards, she completed NYSC in Abuja and worked for Zenith Bank in Maitama for two years before pursuing her Chartered Accountancy Qualification (ACCA) at the London School of Business and Finance.
She fell in love with music at a very young age as most Nigerian kids do. Her all time favourite artist is Tracy Chapman and grew up listening to other legends like Onyeka Owenu, Fela, Chaka Chaka and Brenda Fassie. Her parents loved music and would always have the radio or TV on with these artists.
She also has fond memories of her dad entertaining the family with his Daddy Showkey dance. It was very exciting to say the least.
She began writing music in her journal in secondary and formed a group with two other students as part of the social club which entertained other students.
A few days ago, she had an insighful conversation with Pulse Nigeria about her career, journey and photography. You can read it below;
Pulse: How did music make you feel when you found it?
Onyi: Music made me feel very connected. I felt like the artists I was listening to knew me as they conveyed their story in their lyrics. I love Asa. She’s one Nigerian artist I always look forward to listening to whenever she shares her music.
Pulse: Did you have fun in the corporate world? Did you like it there?
Onyi: I did enjoy my time in the corporate world mostly because of my colleagues who became my friends. They made work a little less stressful which it can sometimes be in the world of finance. I got to unwind with them over a nice meal and drinks and even invited them to my wedding. So yes, I did enjoy it for the most part.
Pulse: What was going through your mind when you couldn't find a job?
Onyi: I felt like I had spent a lot of money and time acquiring a qualification and struggled to understand why I couldn’t seem to find a job. But it turns out experience is more valuable than actual qualifications here. I was severely lacking in work experience. I also felt like I had to persevere as I didn’t want to let my family down after all the moral and financial support they had afforded me. Despite my worries, giving up was never an option which was why I worked on improving my mindset to help me stay motivated. It wasn’t easy at times but it was something I was determined to do.
Pulse: How much did peer pressure play into that?
Onyi: Not much peer pressure played into it as I’ve never been one to be swayed by my peers so easily. I have a strong sense of self awareness and know what I want.
I have lived most of my life in the knowledge that everyone’s circumstances are unique to them with nuances that exist in shared experiences which is why I tend to base my decisions on my own situation, still, not overlooking lessons that can be learnt from those who have once found themselves in a similar position.
Pulse: What was your biggest point of self-indulgence at the time?
Onyi: Reality TV. I spent a lot of my time watching all the TV shows I could get my hands on. The Real Housewives was at the top of my list. When I ran out of episodes to watch, I’d watch other random reality TV shows.
On one of those occasions, I stumbled upon a show called Fashion Bloggers that triggered my decision to buy a camera and begin teaching myself photography. The show really showed these women in a good light whereby they expressed themselves creatively which I thought was rather beautiful.
Pulse: Why did photography prove to be a better option than corporate?
Onyi: When I was at work preparing financial accounts, all I could think of was going home to practice photography. The feeling got stronger and stronger each time until it was all too consuming. It was then I decided I have got to give this new passion of mine a good go and quit my corporate job.
Photography has allowed me to express myself creatively without limits. I have expanded my skills by delving into films which has led me back to writing music again. It feels wonderful being able to give myself to something in the way I do my work. Something that was definitely missing from my time in the corporate world.
Pulse: How long did it take you to perfect your craft?
Onyi It took me a few years to get to a point of some level of professionality. I’m someone who subscribes to the school of thought that you never stop learning so I’d say I’m still learning and continue to acquire new skills to improve upon my work.
Pulse: Did you ever get frustrated as you learned?
Onyi: Yes indeed. Nothing good comes easy. It was hard trying to understand the functionality of my camera and photoshop. But as I carried on with it, it got a lot easier.
Pulse: Which courses did you take?
Onyi: None at all for photography. Everything I know, I learnt from watching YouTube tutorials and practicing day in day out to perfect my skills. It’s safe to say I’ve watched thousands of hours of YouTube videos on the subject matter.
Pulse:What was the first job that paid you?
Onyi: Bumble was my first paid job. They were looking to promote the friends feature on the app and asked me to create an image showcasing this feature.
Pulse: Being a Nigerian creative in the UK, how was your market?
Onyi: In the beginning it felt like I didn’t have home advantage and I struggled with the way the industry works and sometimes still do. It’s something I’m glad I clued up on earlier on as I knew I’d have to work twice as hard to be seen let alone recognised. And that I did.
I do my best to go above and beyond for my clients which has seen me establish long term relationships with them. I have also won multiple awards for my work so it does look like my hard work is paying off.
Pulse: How did you then transition into film?
Onyi: I transitioned to film because I do enjoy storytelling. I wanted to showcase more of my work and film helped me bring it to life. I love films and have been inspired by them all my life from the days of Sound of Music. To me, it felt like a natural transition that was adding to my current work.
Pulse: And now, music. How do you balance it all?
Onyi: Yes! My love for film convinced me to reconnect with my music. When using fill to tell a story, choosing the right music can make it come together beautifully. Music is just another avenue for me to tell a story.
I’ve been able to balance it all by adopting a workflow that allows me to do so. My photography and film projects tend to compliment each other while I make out a set time each week to work on my music. Having a schedule has definitely helped.
Pulse: As a woman, what does it mean to be a creative of this magnitude?
Onyi: It feels liberating to be a creative on my own terms. I know it’s an industry that has a lot of work to be done in terms of women assuming powerful and influential roles. I can only hope my success however little it may be, paves the way for other women alike to express themselves creatively on their own terms and of course take up space in powerful and influential positions within the industry as that’s how true change can come about.
Pulse: What's the big dream for you?
Onyi: The big dream for me would be to leave a legacy that inspires people, women especially to be creative. I intend to achieve this with my work as well as setting up a creative agency that supports this very message.
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