The importance of representation within media publications is the reason why we’ve seen so many outlets successfully flourish for catering to underrepresented audiences.
For AMAKA Studio — a brand new digital media publisher that recently launched on International Women’s Day — its sole mission is dedicated to celebrating stories centered around Pan-African womanhood and those across the diaspora.
As a multimedia platform, AMAKA Studio aims to break new ground for African women that provides a space where their culturally-relevant experiences, needs, and interests are being amplified for the world to see from the perspectives of women of their communities.
With Nigerian-American journalist and media maven Ivie Ani leading the publication as editor-in-chief, the platform has an overarching goal to bridge the gap between North and Sub-Saharan Africa and expand the media landscape for African women empowerment.
In this new role, Ani brings with her years of varied industry experience as a former Okayplayer editor and writer for several reputable publications throughout her career, including The New York Times, Women in The World, The Village Voice, NY Mag, BBC, Vanity Fair, OkayAfrica, and more.
Ani shared with AfroTech her response to the positive feedback AMAKA Studio has received from its subscribers so far since launching: “I didn’t expect this reaction just because this is something we’ve been working on for so long day in and day out. It’s not as new to us as it is everyone else but I’m glad that the reception is as strong as it has been.”
Ani is transitioning into her editor-in-chief role after working as a freelance writer following her departure from Okayplayer in 2019. While the media industry has undergone many structural changes over the last year, Ani herself is also adjusting to her new position.
“It feels very different to be back at a publication, especially in a role like this that is arguably the most important,” she shared with us. “As a freelancer, you’re more so used to working independently and trying to figure out things on your own. Being an editor-in-chief, there’s more so this element of being a visionary and knowing what you want the editorial landscape to look like under your helm.”
Ani was brought onto the AMAKA Studio team by CEO Adaora Oramah to help bring her vision for the platform to life.
“[AMAKA Studio] started with conducting a number of interviews and focus groups with women from Africa and across the diaspora. After analyzing several conversations, transcriptions, notes and audio recordings, I noticed a clear need for a platform to fortify our perspectives in an integrated and dynamic way,” she told AfroTech. “Their concerns, needs, wants and desires fueled my dedication to executing a digital publisher that was informed and rooted in insights and their experiences — something that a lot of brands have widely ignored unfortunately.”
Echoing Oramah’s sentiments, Ani also believes that “AMAKA Studio is the type of platform you can’t be a part of unless you believe in what it stands for.”
What’s been the downfall of other brands who have attempted to fill a void for this demographic of women is not appointing people who are as passionate as they should be about representing and documenting these women’s stories.
What’s taken roughly a year of planning and production has been birthed into a full-fledged platform that is going above and beyond to center these women’s narratives. AMAKA Studio is not aiming to do something new in this media space, but more so expand on the foundation that has already been laid.
“There are a ton of publications for Black women all over the world,” Ani said. “I see AMAKA Studio as an extension of what we’ve already seen. It’s not about diversifying media as far as incorporating Black stories in white spaces, it’s about expanding the Black narrative of what we already see and what already exists.”
According to Ani, the platform’s legacy is about “amplifying and applying that same type of meticulous and nuanced critical-reporting that you see at high-level prestigious outlets to our demographic that hasn’t been done enough.”
AMAKA Studio kicked off its official launch on March 8 with a crop of new articles across the platform’s sectors — which includes politics & society, fashion & beauty, business & innovation, arts & culture, music, lifestyle & wellness, and news — with a staff of both new and experienced writers.
In regards to providing quality opportunities for this generation of storytellers and reporters, Ani stated that AMAKA Studio always wants to “keep that door open for new voices and talent, but also still invite that strong network of seasoned writers that are already within our realm.”
As a platform that is prioritizing more than just editorial work, AMAKA Studio has also established plans to roll out content in the podcast and video realms, as well as print issues that will launch in the near future.
So far the platform has celebrated Women’s History Month and its launch by kicking off Instagram Live interviews with figures such as Victoria Kimani, Teni, and most recently, notable fashion icon Naomi Campbell.
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Also launching next month is AMAKA Studio’s bi-weekly podcast, “Here and Now” — a series hosted by Ani that will invite popular figures across industries to share their personal and professional stories as well as thoughtful advice.
Additionally, AMAKA Studio will be hosting a free virtual summit May 2-4 with Vista Bank as the title sponsor. The summit will feature dedicated French-speaking programming, yoga, an Ethiopian cooking class, as well as immersive sessions that will cover a range of topics, including economic empowerment and mental health.
The standard that AMAKA Studio is setting in the media world sends a powerful message about the importance of connecting with different cultures and audiences around the world who need a platform where their voices can be heard.
Looking ahead, Ani and her team have high hopes for what’s in store for the AMAKA Studio brand.
“No matter what part of the world they’re in or what country/culture they’re from, I hope everyone learns something about something,” Ani shared with us. “I don’t just hope that people feel represented, I hope that people hear, read, and watch stories that matter, that are educational, entertaining, dynamic, nuanced, fresh, and worth learning from.”
Editorial Note: Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity.