Emem Ema

2016 started on a very interesting note, the media was awash with a series of ‘beef’, accusations, speculations from celebrities and most of this took place on either live television or the new soapbox, social media. It is easy to understand, people in the spotlight are human too, their susceptibility and insecurities are just seen on a much more magnified level.

Fame is a drug, it can suck you in and spit you out, it is fleeting and we have seen what it can do to people. One day you are just another John Doe and with a stroke of providence or what some people call luck, you become Johnny be Good thrown into a life you only dreamt of, having people call your name, want to be or believe they are your best friends, making money faster than the bakery can get fresh bread out, people telling you how much you mean to them, and even your own idols call you by name. Little wonder when you ask an average youngster today what they’d like to be when they grow up, musician, actor and footballer are ranked tops; who will say no to fame, money and the life associated to the first two things mentioned?

The last couple of weeks have even been more interesting with a popular Nigerian entertainment family and couple accusing each other of dipping hands into each other’s pockets and other details that will be good for made for television viewing; leading up to suicide attempts, brawls and dirty linen displayed publicly. Truth be told, 2016 is turning out to be a very financially challenging year for a lot of people especially those in the industry, even though the industry is one that thrives even in an economic downturn. Now back to our subject of the day.

Debt, Major life changes, pressure, health issues, bloated or bruised egos, career downturn, career and domestic demands, most times a cry for help because even they themselves, have no idea how to react to life’s changes. Corporates and even individuals are hardly paying the hefty sums they used to for an artiste’s performance or endorsements for a popular Nollywood talent to be the face of their product or brand. The few that are, make sure they get their pound of flesh and pint of blood when signing those contracts or they simply look for ‘not so expensive’ talent who they believe they will get value for their money from.

Please don’t believe the hype! No one is doling out or making that kind of ‘every week I will show my new acquisition on social media’ money. It therefore means their lifestyle will take a huge dent, no more popping bottles at clubs and frequent trips to ‘the abroad’, it may also mean more buying Rolexs, designer shoes, bags, or even beats from a producer on credit in hopes that, that big deal will come through.
Be prepared to see more frustrations come to light by way of rants, accusations of people using each other and public embarrassments of some of your favourite stars, for those that cannot handle their spending habits.

Life is all about balance and while you are on the rollercoaster of luxury and on cloud nine, always remember that the roller coaster still has to come down to earth, literally. You see, even the happiest place on earth shuts down for maintenance, reevaluation and experiences downtimes the reason why it is hardly seen is they use the time that no one’s looking to recalibrate, reevaluate and rejuvenate.

Some are smart, they know the fame will not last forever, so what do they do? They put the money they’ve made from that one hit or endorsement or movie franchise into good use; they diversify! A few of my colleagues are solidly into real estate, own filling stations or invest in businesses that produce residual income on a daily or weekly income for them. For others that do not want to veer too far from familiar territory, they’ve expanded their reach into other territories; by going on tours or being involved in productions in other African and European countries which means two things, they are earning in foreign exchange and also increasing their brand reach.

Others have decided to use this time to hone their skills, go to music or acting school, others film school and use that opportunity to land jobs in other countries. Some have signed publishing deals or act as understudy in plays in the west end or Broadway (look out from some of them this year). If you don’t know how to save, at least buy treasury bills or maybe put the money in a fixed deposit until you decide what to do with it. It isn’t for purchasing the new hot wheels, use the money you make from the one you’ve saved to treat yourself, you will need this money when you can no longer jump up and down on stage or be crowned ‘Sexiest Actor’. One more secret, get a trustworthy financial manager/ financial adviser they can help you organize your income, they know the ins and outs of finance business, and show you where the best place to invest in.

Ok as we are done with the financials, let us deal with the mental and emotional state; I tell some of my colleagues, people generally need to have an ‘out’ with all of life’s issues you have got to have an anchor; a solid spiritual life, great support system, a coach or mentor, someone you can trust and be vulnerable to without judging you. We all need it, some more than others because when ‘life happens’ you want to be as stable as possible and not easily swayed by some of its storms. Some people might need to consult a psychologist before it becomes too late and then settle for a psychiatrist.

Should I tell you a secret? A lot of creative people need it more than most. Look how Beyoncé turned her own lemons into lemonade and that lemonade not only made her a couple of millions of dollars within the week of release, she broke a record with her sixth No.1 album on the charts and also solidifies her spot as one of the most dynamic creative in the world.

In Nigeria or Africa, when an artiste or actor or celebrity acts out of character on social media they quickly ‘report’ that their accounts to have been hacked by handlers or Lord help the person who is closest to them and they wish to crown with the cause of their present misfortune as the force behind the ‘rant’ or malicious statements spewed on their social media platforms (and I don’t think I am a prophet but the latest rant had these two things play a huge role in them). Use social media for your benefit not to tear down someone else, if you need to rant get a very close friend, pastor, mentor, therapist or imam and share your problems with the right channels. My humble advice is, don’t get mad…get smart!
Emem is the CEO of ONE Management, a Nigeria-based media strategy and support company.

in Nigeria.