How old were you when you first discovered gaming and comics?
For gaming, I was very young. I would say around the age of 4/5 years old. I saw an advert on tv and I thought to myself “I need to have this in my hands”. I had no clue what I was playing but I knew that gaming was going to change my life forever and since then, gaming has been with me on my hip since I can remember. For comics, I discovered it a bit later, I started watching marvel and dc related shows on tv but I am the type of person that wanted to know more about the characters backstories, I was so intrigued by this fictional world and how well they were created that it pushed me to grab some comics and start reading myself. I believe I was about 7/8 years old around that time.
Where does the name Nnesaga originate from?
NNESAGA derives from my middle name and my love for nostalgia/retro aesthetics in gaming, comics and anime.NNE – Comes from my middle name, “Nneoma”. For those that don’t know, I am Nigerian and it is an igbo name. A lot of people pronounce it wrong but its easier for people to say “Nay” instead of its original dialect “Neh”SAGA – Comes from my love for 80’-90’s gaming, comics and anime. It was a beautiful time in those fields because everything about that era was so care free and mesmerising. I’m a sucker for old skool gaming, comics and anime. So I put two and two together and birthed the name NNESAGA (nay-saga)
Why did you create the Nnesaga brand?
I created this brand because I wanted somewhere to escape reality. Gaming, comics and anime are all fictional (though can be based on true events) but you can create your own reality because it is all under your control. You can be as free as you allow yourself to be. Unapologetic, care-free and in a non-judgemental space. I wanted NNESAGA to be the first black UK nerd platform to break down walls, beat the stereotypes, allow men and women of colour to come together and celebrate the love of gaming, comics and anime in a safe and non-judgmental way. It is particularly hard for women to be free in their love for this because they are often shut down and not heard because of their sex. Well, its my mission to be the voice and create the path for them so that in future, generations that come after me will be able to walk in a space without burdens. Being a nerd has a negative and weird perception but I want to ensure that it is ok to love what you love and still be involved with society.
How important is it for you to be able to escape from the real world?
I think you need to have breaks from the real world. Whenever I am sad, I watch anime. Whenever I am stressed, I play video games. Whenever I need a break from life, I read comics. All of these outlets are my stress relievers because they allow that separation from the real world and my own reality. They also enable me to have a clearer mind, form new ideas and refocus again. This life is way too short for you to go out in a miserable way because you have spent the majority of your life worrying about what the world thinks and what you have to do. Remember, your mental health and sanity come above all.
How does Nnesaga compare to it’s competitors?
I don’t know how to say this in the humblest way possible, I see no competition. I am my own competition. What I am doing is different to what anyone has ever done. Especially in the U.K. When I am making moves, I am making them because I have stayed in my own lane and I have not looked at what other people are doing. You tend to lose focus and get lost with trying to keep up with everyone else. When you love your brand and believe it in with your mind, soul and body… you are unstoppable and there is no one or nothing that will compare to what you are doing. There is proof in the pudding. A lot of the time, at my events, a lot of guests and supporters of NNESAGA tell me themselves that what I am doing is different to anyone else. I have set a unique vision I plan to carry out and I know that what I have set up is totally different anything one can imagine.
When you’re not the ultimate gaming and anime guru, you’re studying. How do you find juggling business and education?
I am a very spiritual person and what I will tell you this now is that it is God that is keeping me from falling apart. Working, studying and NNESAGA is a lot and it is not easy at all. However, I have wanted this for a long time, I prayed that God should give me the strength, wisdom and knowledge to be able balance out everything. I also believe that if you want to create a successful life for yourself and these are the things you are trying to achieve, you have to be disciplined and form a routine in your life in order to manage every aspect of it. God can’t help those who can’t help themselves.
Did you have any doubts about going into a male dominated industry, especially being a BAME female?
Absolutely, this industry I am in is not only very male dominated, but it is white. Unfortunately, I have to work twice as hard to get to where I need to be. On top of that, being an attractive black woman in my industry, a lot of the time, I have to pass up opportunities because men like to make things more than business. Which is very annoying because I am a firm believer in working hard to get what you want but within the professional way. Not in the way where I have to degrade myself.
Do you feel it is important for women to make their mark in male dominated industries?
Very important. This creates many more lanes for future generations. We have to make sure we stick together because we are the future.
Who do you look up to for inspiration, and which qualities do you feel you share with them?
My mother. She is someone that came from nothing and made herself into something on her own. Her independence, hardworking nature, lifestyle and diligence inspires me everyday. She is now able to live the lifestyle she wanted because she strived for greatness and for that, there is nothing more inspiring than that.
What has the feedback from Nnesaga as a brand and events, been like from women?And men?
It has been overwhelming. I love each and every single person that has continued to support NNESAGA since day one. Can you imagine people are supporting me because I am a nerd? Who would have thought. The women in particular make my heart so warm. They thank me for allowing them to be more confident and outspoken because they see myself in them and they can relate to me and they see the presence I bring when I am celebrating my love for something despite the stigma and stereotypes attached towards black women in gaming, comics and anime. Then are very respectful and they are awesome! They are so surprised that it is a woman behind it but they are super supportive and they get on board with anything and everything NNESAGA because they love the fact that they can connect to people just like them who are likeminded all because of a platform I created for us.
How did it feel when you received your first invite to a movie premiere/press event?
Till this day, it still hasn’t sunk in that NNESAGA is on radars of some top companies such as; BBC, Comic Con, BFI, SONY and more. I really love the fact that everything has been organic too. This has also shown me that anything I want is within my reach and I want people to know that there are no limits to what you can achieve. How has the support you get from your friends, family, and social media followers influenced your perspective on supporting small businesses?My friends and family know how much I love them for supporting a nerd like me. Every time I think about it, I just think about how much I am blessed to have such a great support system. I don’t deserve them. It also feels so heart-warming knowing that the social media dig NNESAGA. People I don’t know coming to my events, sharing my website, sharing NNESAGA, telling people about this platform. It’s crazy!
Describe an L you’ve taken, how you overcame it and the lesson learnt
I put my faith in brand and they didn’t deliver when it came to get a venue for my event. However, I was able to get a back up venue in a short amount of time and on top of that, the owners were black too. So it was a win win. I learned to make sure I have options in the future and to always ensure that these so-called top brands that say they are for the people, are really not. Take everything with a pinch of salt. If you have, name a time you wanted to give up. What made you change your mind?Yes, I started off with a big team who believed in the vision and in the end, it ended up being myself to pick up everyone’s slack. It’s funny because NNESAGA is my baby so when someone comes to me and says they want to work with me, I am on edge because of past relations with videographers and photographers saying the same thing and disappearing. What changed my mind was the love I had for this brand. I have a purpose in this life and I can’t just quit because of other people’s nonchalant ways.
What would you tell your 15 y/o self?
Love yourself first.
Top 3 Games of 2018
God of War
Smash Bros Ulitmate
Top 5 Anime of all time
Full metal Alchemist: brotherhood
One punch Man
Top 5 DCU (films, then comics)
Man of Steel
Batman v Superman: Directors Cut
Justice League Flashpoint
Vixen: Return of the Lion
Justice League: Crisis On Infinite Earths
Teen Titans: Judas Contract
JLA: New World Order
Top 5 Marvel (films and comics, specify)
Avengers: Infinity War
Captain America: Winter Solider
Captain America: Civil war
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe
House of MUncanny Xmen
Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos
Shuri/World of Wakanda (I couldn’t pick)\
What do Nnesaga fans have to look forward to in 2019?
I’ll be coming back onto youtube
Expanding NNESAGA into films/TV shows
Continue growing the NNESAGA audience
More events: I would like a womens only gaming event too.
Closing Question – Any words for Frshly Squeezd?
If they don’t allow you in their world, create your own world.