Changing the narrative. This has been the mission for the Black community because point blank, we need to tell OUR own stories and this is why Folasadé Ogunmokun founded and launched Unskrypted TV. The streaming platform has a strong mission to redefine the narrative surrounding the Black experience.
I recently interviewed Ms. Ogunmokun where she chatted more about her vision for Unskrypted TV and how the network is indeed changing the narrative surrounding the Black experience.
LaTanya: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is that you do?
Folasade: My name is Folasade Ogunmokun and I am Nigerian so that is a full Nigerian name and I am the founder of Unskrypted TV It is a streaming platform that is redefining the narrative surrounding the Black community. I have a dope team of 12 amazing Black women that help on board content creators that are working on the programming so that we can do things linearly, so this is a live stream type of content. You can access content similar to Netflix where you are able to watch it when you want to, but we value the fact that we are live right now and people are joining in and people want to be a part of the community and want to be able to speak about what is going on at that time. We want to structure it based off that type of content, based off the fact that things flow, and people need to come in, see what they need to and get out when they need to. So, that is the basis of how we are doing that.
LaTanya: So, with Unskrypted TV, I really like how you said that people can come in and leave and get what they can and with that being said, are you working on any new projects that we should be aware of?
Folasade: The thing about Unskrypted is that we have so many amazing Black creators that do not get the opportunity to share their work in a strong enough way, or in a way where I am like, yes this is where this should be, so that is what this opportunity is about. It all stems from the fact that I am the master mind of crazy ideas. Every time I have an idea…this would be a great show, this would be awesome…people are always like…do it, and I am always wondering where is it going to go. So that is part of the reason why all of this has happened. There is a show that I love with all my heart called, “Ambitious Girl” and it is about the leap of faith that Black women take on their journey to success while paralleling their stories with a young girl who wants to follow in their footsteps. In the past, we just followed women around and got their stories and it was intriguing but there were young girls who wondered how do I met her, can you introduce me to her?
LaTanya: There are a lot of young women and girls who want to be able to meet the women that they admire, and they want to get to know them but at the same time, the question remains…how? What path do I take to introduce myself because I know that they may be just this person but there are few ways to handle that.
Folasade: So, I love that show and I am still working on it to get more women involved and to work with organizations that focus on our youth but that show, the way that it is and the way that it is going to be is going to be ridiculous!
LaTanya: Now where can we find that show, “Ambitious Girl?”
Folasade: So, it actually still airs on the Unskrypted TV platform at 3pm on Mondays. Right now you will be able to watch the older episodes and we are redoing those, and I will have more information as we start logging into that. You can also follow “Ambitious Girl” on Instagram which is ambitiousgirl.tv
LaTanya: Please go and support this Queen everyone, there is some great content on this website. I want as many people as possible to find out about Unskrypted.
Folasade: There are 2 more shows that I care about that I would also like to mention, we have a show that is called “The BAG” and it is a shopping show with Black businesses and you can purchase the items while you are watching. It is interactive, we have an amazing host that interviews these people and I think that it is something that we have always needed. We have always needed a step up from QVC with a little bit of our spunk. The other show that we are working on is called, “Unfriended” which literally talks about social media, it deals with issues that are happening on social media, without the messiness. We bring people on who talk about someone that stopped following them and we talk about why this has happened, and we have someone who mediates, and they decide whether or not they want to keep the friend or unfriend them. So, we have content from all types of people and that is just from the Unskrypted content. We have amazing content creators, film directors, people who submit their work to be on Unskrypted as well. Those things are truly amazing, and it is the reason why I get excited.
LaTanya: “Unfriended” now that is going to be really juicy. I may need to give you some of my folks on my social media (laughter). You cannot please everybody. So, you talked about Unskrypted, you talked about “The BAG” and thank you for that. But what are some of the challenges that you face as a female media personality of color representing the community because I know that you would like to help these wonderful people get their stories told, so can you tell us a little bit more about that.
Folasade: I think that one of the main things that I have faced is the fact that people do not want to help you until you are already a success. So, there are a lot of people who are like, this is dope, I cannot wait to help you and my thought process is, why can’t you be a part of this right now? But one of the things that people have to remember about Black women is that you can tell us no all you want to but we are going to make it happen regardless. So everything that started as a problem actually becomes fuel, it’s like okay, I got that…I see how you are working and operating and that is probably one of the main things. I do not want to say that I am representing the culture because we are such a diverse group of people. I am trying to open a door so that we can feel more comfortable to step through it, to step out and communicate with one another, to have these tough conversations about killings in our neighborhoods and also killings from police. We have to be able to address multiple things at the same time. it gets painful because I come from different backgrounds as well, but this is what I am trying to do. So, I do not want to feel like I am representing anyone because I am learning. I am going to do things wrong; I am going to say things wrong, but I want to make sure that this is the opportunity for us to come together and grow.
LaTanya: We are human, and everybody is going to make mistakes. I always like to say that when you fall, make sure you are falling forward. So, with that being said, how has Unskrypted TV helped to change the mindset of viewers of color?
Folasade: That is a great question. I believe that Unskrypted helps the viewers to think bigger. People say all the time, this is a big thing for you to do but I am doing it. Now that we have “The BAG” why can’t we have our own department stores in different cities, so that way since people are interested in what we are shopping for on the show, you can just conveniently go up the street and purchase it there. It is helping people to navigate the idea that we do not have to stay small. We can actually do whatever it is that we want to do. We can dabble into some of these billion-dollar industries and take what we deserve.
LaTanya: I would not say dabble, I would say create our own and keep it movin’
Folasade: I did not say dabble in a company I am saying that we can dabble in the industry because the industry has got room for us.
LaTanya: Where do you see Unskrypted TV, “The BAG” and “Unfriended” in the future?
Folasade: Without even focusing on the specific shows because I think that the shows are what makes the network, I see the network itself being more of a hub in certain locations. So, in the next 5 years I am looking to create a space where others are able to create their content in certain cities, places like D.C. we will have a space where content creators can rent it out and use our equipment, edit…all of the things that we do not normally have access to and then continue to build so that it will be available in other cities where we can have content from our own communities and funneling our talent into our own platforms.
LaTanya: Do you believe that the lack of resources has the been the cause for what is going on in our communities today?
Folasade: Yes and no, we can say that it is the lack of resources but honestly, it is the whole entire system and the way that things are set up, we are put in a position that we do not have access to those resources. So, the short answer is yes, it is because of the lack of resources. People have had opportunities and have been granted millions of dollars…what did Trump say, he got a million-dollar loan from his dad! If I had that, this world would be different. So, yes it definitely has to do with a lack of resources and a lot to do with the entire system that we are living in and trying to be a part of.
LaTanya: How do you feel about equity, diversity, and inclusion, as a media person in the community and for your children?
Folasade: I still work full-time, and equity, diversity and inclusion is a huge part of what we are doing, especially in my organization because a lot of the things that we are doing are for people of color, Black people. So, I am strong on making sure that we have our own…I am big on the word OWN, but I do feel that if people would like to do their part, that they need to diversify the systems and the things that they are working on and have in place to make it more equitable for us to be apart of.
This is not a Miss America answer. After experiencing it and being a part of things and seeing that there is still so much work that needs to be done. I am big on us getting funding from people who can say to us, how about we give you this and you do this on your own, I feel like that would be a stronger statement then people “inviting” you to the table but still having the power to make you leave.
LaTanya: So, I am the only African American…African American female that works at a non-profit organization and not only that, but it is environmental science, and I work in education. So, I am big on helping the community, I am big on lifting us up. What is your opinion on the current state of the country’s social issues?
Folasade: I feel very positive with what is happening right now, and I know that there are people that would say what, 2020 we got this election and 2020 has been giving us all of this horrible stuff but I feel like this is the chance for us to actually see the social issues that are happening and formalize a way to address them. Because we have been saying the same thing for a long time, over and over and over again…literally and not doing anything about it. Our social issues are running rampant, they are being brough to the forefront, that social media and media are tools that are not being used as well as they could be. The fact that we are fighting against things that happened in 2019 or that something as brutal as what happened to Alison Sargent where she was shot to death and burned, her body had been mutilated is being discussed because of a new case, the fact that things are resurfacing is actually important. So, while I think that these social issues are horrible, and that they are happening to our community, I also feel like we are finally in the position to say okay, so what are we going to do about it, how are we going to work it out and how are we going to tell these people that you need to do this now…how are we going to tell them to fix it before we end up taking matters into our own hands?
LaTanya: I was reading about your passion for media production and story telling which has led you down this path to television and film, how do you tell stories through Unskrypted TV, not really getting down deep into the issues but at the same time being sensitive to the ones that it is happening to?
Folasade: That is a strong question. Because I am a person that has been through a lot and the more that I work with people, the more that I talk to people, I found out that they had been through a lot of things too. So, I think that being able to utilize all of the aspects that we have from the storytelling to our love for comedy and also because we are a diverse group of people, so being able to touch on certain points in a way that we can make it more relatable is something that is important which is why it means a lot to have a diverse group of producers who are creating this content, that it comes from people who can relate, who can share, who can navigate the conversation in a way that is authentic because for me I think that authenticity is what is needed in order for us to be able to work within our community.
LaTanya: Where do you see the Black community headed in the next few years and how do you see the Black community being more involved with your shows on Unskrypted and all your media platforms?
Folasade: I see the Black community being a part of this because for one, the cool thing about Unskrypted is that it is interactive and the whole point of it is for people to watch it at the same time and be able to communicate on the side bar panel with one another and then to also be able to share it to social media and all of that good stuff and there is a way to save the different shows that you like on your calendar to your google calendar, you can interact with it but the way that we really see people being a part of the community is, especially with “The BAG” is by watching the show, purchasing the items, sharing their feedback and doing reviews. We are working on this group of women who will become “BAG Ladies” which are the people who will get what we are going to have on the show before it even happens, and they will get to do “un-bagging” un-bag The BAG, and they will be the ones to provide hype for the show by encouraging the audience to get involved. I think that being able to showcase all the Black owned products and having people see that on tv and then being able to purchase those items instantly and to be able to review it and share it, will not only amplify that business, their sales and their visibility but it amplifies the community that surrounds that business. We saw what happened with Honey Pot and how people left comments that she was being racist, and we made it our business to order, she’s sold out. That is exactly what we want with “The BAG” to just be there supporting each other, trying out the products and if it does not work for you then give some feedback and let them know that this is what you can do and share why it did not work for you, that is what we need in order to elevate.
LaTanya: It is definitely a give and take relationship and if you all are not familiar with Honey Pot, then you might want to google it. With all the negative interaction between people of color and law enforcement, what are some ways that you think that we can lift each other up during this time of civil unrest?
Folasade: One of the things that we are working on at Unskrypted TV is to be able to get out there in different cities to help support those reporters who are not getting the recognition and light at their news stations who are also out there doing their best to get our stories heard and that is a goal of ours and we are working to address that. We have another show that is called, “Unskrypted Conversations,” where we will have people on the show to discuss different topics and to come up with solutions, those solutions can be used to help navigate certain episodes and shows on Unskrypted TV because we do not have all the answers, we need to have law enforcement at the table but we also need to have someone at the table that has been brutalized by the police, we need someone there that understands the social justice system. We need all of these people at the table to come together and say, alright let us leave our egos at the door and let us come together so that we can discuss these important topics. We want to address issues within our communities which are too numerous to name but that certainly need our attention.
LaTanya: I like that you are looking for different perspectives in giving everyone a chance to address these issues. Please everyone, go ahead and follow this Queen who is doing wonderful things. Stay tuned for what will be happening with Unskrypted TV, “The BAG” “Unskrypted Conversations”, and “Unfriended” if you had a few friends that have unfriended you on social media, and you would like to know why then watch that because we need that (smiles). Check out all the Black owned products that will also be showcased in Un-Bagging so if you are interested in being one of the ‘Bag Ladies” reach out to this Queen and she will give you the information.
Before I let you know go, give us some words of wisdom or advice for the Black community.
Folasade: One thing that I feel is important for us to say and to know is that we can do anything. We cannot do everything, but we can do anything and if there is anything within you that is telling you that there is something that you need to do, then I want you to go ahead and do it because we need to work together, uplift one another and support one another. The only way that we are going to change things is if we come together. I love you all and that is why I am doing this, and it is important for us to relate and to grow and to share these stories so that we can change our narrative. I want us to be as strong and authentic as we can be, we need to take collective responsibility and make the changes that we would like to see. If you have a story to tell then let us know but if you just want to watch and provide us with feedback to help us grow, then we welcome that too! If you have a Black owned business or are a part of a business that cares about our community, please reach out to us.
LaTanya: Thank you Folasade for this wonderful interview and we wish you the best in everything that you endeavor to do.