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By: Amaka Onyeaka
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She has been lauded as Africa’s answer to Oprah Winfrey, but Rhoda Wilson has proved since her inspirational talk show launched on the 4th of December 2005 on OBE TV that it is a compliment well deserved. Born In Nigeria and raised by her Nigerian parents (both parents are now deceased) Miss Wilson was encouraged by her father to reach for the stars. In the course of our interview with her, Rhoda reiterated one of her best loved advice from her father – that women would change the world and that

 Rhoda talks tenacity, helping other divas believe in themselves a bit more and being single…
 
 
 
Who is Rhoda Wilson the Diva?
(Laughs) I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. I know I’m a beautiful person inside and a shrewd businesswoman.
 
 
You started off in 2005 on OBE TV. What inspired you to go into this media?
I think when you’ve been through enough challenges, you eventually come to the realization that if the future road looks unpromising, you just have to change it. I realized that it was really hard work being a music promoter (she started Cosmo Music in 2003 and promoted concerts by big acts such as the New York based band ‘Alabina’ in the UK) so I decided to change direction and go into Television.
 
 
We understand that you did everything by yourself at the start including PR and the technical stuff. How did you find that?
It was really tough and I tell you, the media is a tough industry to be in. For me it was a case of getting things done yourself and keeping costs low.
 
 
So have you finally turned your back on music promotions?
It’s been six years since I last did any music promotion - so I’ve lost contact with some people that are in that industry. Having said that - if someone made me a good offer to do a music event I would take it (laughs).
 
 
Where do you see yourself and your show in the next five years?
I’d like the show to become a global brand and a household name - especially in Africa and in Europe. I know the US already has Oprah – she is huge, but I think there is still an opportunity in other continents to create a new talk show queen.
 
 
Personally, do you think that there are other African talk show hosts that have the potential to be internationally recognized?
Oh yes. There would always be people out there who would have the opportunities and support networks that I didn’t have.
 
 
How hard was it making the necessary contacts and convincing the big networks like OBE to give you air time?
It was really hard, to be frank. I would write to mainstream channels, and to be honest with you - they were not interested in the objectives of the show. Eventually I went to OBE TV and showed them what I could do, and thankfully they acknowledged there was a talent there and they were prepared to back it up.
 
 
Are there any other talk show divas that you admire and who are they?
Well there is one in particular. She’s quite famous in Nigeria. Her name is ‘Mo’ and her show is called ‘Moments with Mo’. She offers something different. I admire the fact that she’s managed to maintain such quality and clientele in terms of her work.
 
 
Would you ever consider collaborating with other talk show divas?
 I’d like to collaborate, but with the right people with whom I share similar values with regards to empowering and inspiring viewers.
 
 
Inspiration is always at the helm of your show. Why did you decide to use it as a focal point rather than fashion, film or celebrities?
I would probably say that because I’ve been through a lot of challenges – it’s placed me in a better position to genuinely and empathetically listen to my guests and share their stories and experiences. That is what a talk show should be all about - an investigative and emotional journey.
 
 
With so many guests on your program – you must have interviewed a few characters. Tell us who has been the best and worst?
(Laughs) I really haven’t had any bad or difficult guests on my show. It’s been great all through – that was a cheeky question, but my experiences have been positive.
 
 
You won the Award for the best TV presenter at the BEFFTA s in 2009. How did that feel?
It was fantastic! It was absolutely great.  Five years of hard work finally recognized and that gave me more confidence knowing that my audience believe in me as a TV presenter as well as the show. I’m so grateful for that. It has opened different doors for me and I’m really thankful.
 
 
We hear there’s an American network out to get you at the moment. Do you care to let us know who they are?
(Laughs) Oh no…I can’t tell you that.
 
 
Ok then – names not needed (DS gives up as Rhoda remains schtum). But answer this, would it be happening anytime soon? Say this year?
I’m hoping it would be this year. Yes, definitely this year.
 
Would we be the first to know?
Definitely – I’ll try (laughs).
 
As you will be going stateside, are there any other talk show hosts whose body of work you like in the diaspora?
Lately, I’ve been listening to Piers Morgan, that is, after he replaced Larry King. He interviewed Oprah Winfrey a good few weeks back and Oprah said that was the hardest interview she’s had in the last 20 years. I like the way he was quite investigative emotionally.
 
It’s been said that you are Africa’s answer to Oprah Winfrey. How do you take that compliment?
(Laughs) Really? Oh My God! That’s a huge compliment. I’m really flattered that people think I’m that good and compare me to her, but at the same time I would like to retain who I am because, at the end of the day, it’s my experiences and challenges that got me where I am. I’m really grateful that people think that way - but I’m Rhoda Wilson and I think I’d probably remain that way (laughs)
 
 
You also produce short films and documentaries. Tell us how this came about and what you’re currently working on.
I’m an independent producer. A lot of people come to me and ask for help in the production of their ideas and I help them develop these ideas.
 
Ok - moving on to your charity ‘ACWAL’. What is it about?
‘ACWAL’ stands for the African and Caribbean Women’s and Achievements Leadership Foundation. Before, I started out, I used to be a Deputy CEO of a charity called ‘Women of Africa’ in London, and when I left that organization, I realized that we as African and Caribbean women don’t really appreciate ourselves as much as we should. We always think that we are victims of circumstances. So I thought that by creating a foundation that exposes women of great achievements, it would empower other women who are doubtful.
 
How often do you have events for ‘ACWAL’?
We have it once a year. Last year we had it with the Metropolitan Police. It was to do with the International Women’s Day which was on the 8th of March.
 
What other charities do you support, and what are your views of charities in Africa (Nigeria)?
I greatly believe that if God has blessed you, you should give something back. I don’t directly support charities in Nigeria but I do a lot of work with NGOs from the United Nations. I offer them support financially and give them directions as to what they should do when asked.
 
Is there any reason why you do not directly support charities in Nigeria?
No, not at all. No one has asked me to support them in Nigeria. If I’m asked to support a charity in Nigeria I will.
 
You have managed to keep your personal life out of the limelight, but tell us are you secretly married with kids?
(Giggles) No I’m not married yet, and I have no kids. But, I’m looking for someone. It’s just that most men don’t like dating women in the limelight.
 
Do you have a preference? Must it be an African man?
I don’t think at this age I really care (laughs).
 
Have you suffered from press intrusions in your private life (quite a cheeky question from DS as we’ve just intruded)?
Not really. I’m a very private person. And then again I don’t think the African media is as intrusive as the British media.
 
 
http://www.rhodawilson.com
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