‘Close Up’ bringing the Arts to TV with Akisa Omulepu

“Close Up” is a new program that will be making a debut on Kenyan TV station NTV on 5th March with the first guest being none other than the Drummer Queen – Muthoni Ndonga.

I caught up with the show’s host Akisa Omulepu on twitter(@ABrandNewWorld) and here are her thoughts on the  heavily anticipated show.

KP: What is the name of the show & what is it about?
“Close Up” is a weekly lifestyle show profiling the people and places shaping today’s Kenya. The show will focus primarily on arts, culture, community and literature but is not limited to those areas.

Who is Emerge Omnimedia?
Emerge Omnimedia is my production company that I launched in 2010. The company is dedicated to excellence in programming. Emerge Omnimedia’s first project is ‘Close Up’ and it will air on NTV, Saturday’s at 6:15pm.

Tell me about you as the show host & CEO
My name is Akisa Omulepu. I’m a television producer, host, writer and art lover. I grew up in New York. My father was Kenyan and my mother is Panamanian. My undergraduate degree is in Economics from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. I also have a Master’s in journalism from Columbia University.

My journalism experience includes working for CNBC, The Source Magazine, Black Enterprise Business Report and a host of other places as a freelance journalist, copy editor and writer.

I lived in Nairobi briefly as a child and went to Msongari. I moved back to Nairobi some years ago.

 Who is your target audience?
Close Up is a family show. Therefore it will have broad appeal.

What is the aim of the show, what do you hope to achieve?
Close Up plans to put a spotlight on underreported people and places in Kenya. There are a lot of fantastic things happening that remain hidden gems.

 How different will your show be from Insync; an art program that was discontinued on NTV?
I think times are different from when Insync was on air. Social media was still evolving at the time. Close Up will have a significant online component.

Why Kenya?
Why not Kenya? My father was Teso and part of the Tom Mboya airlift program. Growing up I had a very clear sensibility that Kenya, and Africa as a whole, would be part of my future works.

Do you have any sponsors yet?
Some companies see the value of advertising to the burgeoning middle-class in Kenya. The companies joining the show will be tapping into consumers that want to buy products that reflect their lifestyle. Those are the companies I will focus on. From telecommunications to health & beauty, Kenyan consumers have an ever-expanding buying power that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Previous art shows have been pulled off air due to lack of sponsors, how do you hope to tackle this?
The reality is Kenyans want variety in television programming. Diverse programming is a good thing for the Kenyan viewer. More importantly, I believe Kenyans want to see themselves reflected on well produced television shows. Importing more than 75% of local content is not a sustainable business model. Some sponsors realize this and are staying ahead of the curve in sponsoring local content.

What are your thoughts of the arts in Kenya?
What artisans do and don’t create in all forms (buildings, furniture, literature, etc) is a direct reflection of where a culture is at any given time. Their work is important and critical in a civil society. Art in all forms serves to inspire, motivate and its intrinsic value is immeasurable.

With that said, I think the arts in Kenya is vibrant but not widely appreciated or publicized. Close Up hopes to do its small part to profile a wide variety of people in the arts and other fields.

 Close Up will be airing on NTV on  Saturdays from 6:15pm

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