The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.
NAME: Maame Adjei
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Accra, Ghana
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: Unless you’ve been living under a rock (Okay, I’m kidding, but really!), you’ve probably at least heard about the groundbreaking series on YouTube called An African City and set in Accra, Ghana. Created by Nicole Armateifio, the show “tells the story of five beautiful and successful women who confide in one another about their love-lives (or lack thereof) and find new ways to deal with being a 21st century woman in Africa.” Maame Adjei plays the fiercely independent go-getter, Zainab, to perfection – an always impeccably dressed entrepreneur who knows exactly what she wants and where she’s going.
With such an amazing acting turn, it may be rather surprising to learn that Maame always fancied herself much more comfortable behind the lens, instead of in front of it. As a producer (even on the groundbreaking show)and a fierce advocate of Ghana’s tourism industry, Maame is a woman of multiple talents and passions – she’s also a model and an artist, and just finished a stint as the Talent Director for the just-concluded Miss Universe Ghana 2014 pageant.
It is clear that no matter what she does or where she is, Maame is committed to living life passionately, and to exploring all the opportunities that her natural gifts and talents bring her way. Even more noteworthy is the fact that she is self-aware and totally comfortable in her own gorgeous skin. Cheers to that!
WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE?
I’m an outgoing introvert, a fierce lover, dedicated daughter and sister, stalker of all newborn babies and a 90s RnB junkie. I’m very self-aware, not in a debilitating way, but in a way that allows me to always be true and honest to myself and understand why I do what I do. It’s always been crucial for me to be “real” to myself first. I’m a lover of old things: furniture, clothing, pictures. History moves me.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?
I honestly sat for 15 minutes trying to answer this question. I would say my skin. I think it’s a glorious reflection of where I’m from and I don’t take all this melanin for granted. lol.
“It’s always been crucial to me to be true to myself first.”
WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
I think my ability to always have the patience to really understand other people’s emotions and reactions to things – even when those reactions are negative, and may affect me one way or another. I’m a firm believer that there is almost always a logical reason for why we do what we do. It might not make any sense to the lay person, or most of us just don’t have the time to sit around and figure out why someone is acting out, or being mean, or negative. But if you take the time, there’s always a deeply rooted reason and I’ve just found it important for me to figure out what the reason is before I react.
WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE? HOW?
I’ve never struggled with any physical traits. I know that might sound very trite, but the last time I remember being uncomfortable with anything physical about myself, I was in high school. I wanted to be shorter, because I was taller than my crush, and it just seemed that shorter girls were always considered cute. lol
As far as non-physical traits, I really had to work through and learn how to let go of the past. I had to understand how the past was impacting every single thing I was doing in the present and I really had to let go of a lot of hurt and anger. I had an amazing mentor who supported me through that process and it really was the best thing I ever did. It’s been supremely healing and it caused a trickle effect of blessings, right decisions and good energy into my life.
“I had to understand how the past was impacting every single thing I was doing in the present and I really had to let go of a lot of hurt and anger.”
HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
My father, in both his presence and absence, has fortified my strength. I have been driven to be independent, self-reliant and successful because of him. Accepting help is a new thing for me because, for a long time, his influence caused me to want to prove that I could do everything on my own. I remember buying my first house and painting every single wall by myself. Everyone offered help and I refused. I wanted to be able to say I did this alone. I put up every shelf and cabinet alone. Me. Woman. Alone. In retrospect it was a need to prove something that was not necessary, but I think our difficult relationship created an environment where I just never wanted to rely on anyone.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?
Not living a fulfilled life. Not being able to look back and say, “I did everything I wanted, how I wanted, with who I wanted and I’m happy.” I want to live the life that I want to live with no regrets. I’m afraid of not taking enough chances. I just don’t want to have any or many regrets. I want to live abundantly.
I remember buying my first house and painting every single wall by myself. Everyone offered help and I refused. I wanted to be able to say I did this alone. I put up every shelf and cabinet alone. Me. Woman. Alone.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?
My family. They are hilarious. They can be stressful at times, but they hold me up like no other.
Being able to wake up everyday and, not just work, but work on things that excite me. Things that move me. My passions. It’s so healing and freeing I can’t say it enough.
“[I feel most beautiful] when who I am is more than enough for the people around me.”
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
Every brave step I’ve taken in my life has been a great accomplishment for me. I moved from England to Philadelphia with two suitcases, against my father’s will and only with the support of my mother. It was a risky decision but I made a life in Philly for myself. A good one. And I’m proud of that. I’m proud of taking the leap to move back to Ghana and basically throwing away my BA and MS to start from scratch and find things that move me to do and make a living from. It’s all a risk. But I have to be brave in order to have no regrets.
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
When I’m home, in the evenings, laying on my couch, listening to The Emotions or Grover Washington on my record player. When I’m alone, but also when I’m surrounded by love. When who I am is more than enough for people around me.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?
Beauty for me is being okay with who I am. Beauty is my ability to feel vulnerable and scared and express it and then move on. Beauty is being confident and secure in everything you are and everything you’re not. The latter is so important.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?
Being self-aware. Always reminding myself of who I am and staying focused on living this fulfilling life. Surrounding myself with love and supporting souls.
“Beauty for me is being okay with who I am. [It] is my ability to feel vulnerable and scared and express it and then move on. [It] is being confident and secure in everything you are and everything you’re not.”
WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?
My mother, of course. Her strength is her ultimate beauty trait. And any woman who is confident within herself and is brave. That kind of courage always moves me. I love and admire strong, courageous women. I aim to be that at the end of it all.
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Are you an inspiring & influential African woman interested in a “Journey to Beautiful” Feature? E-mail me for consideration: chioma dot onyewuchi at hotmail dot com with subject “Journey to Beautiful”.