Anita Erskine -Staying relevant, impactful, and powerful

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Anita Erskine
Anita Erskine

Anita Erskine is regarded as one of the best broadcasters in the country, a professional compère, talk show hostess, actress and girls’ education advocate.

She is the Executive Producer and host of Sheroes of Our Time, which airs on Akwaaba Magic on DSTV and was also the hostess and advisor of the 2020 edition of the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (Jack Ma Foundation's flagship philanthropic entrepreneur programme in Africa).

Among her numerous awards and recognition, Ms Erskine was adjudged among the 100 Most Influential Women in Africa, the 100 Most Inspirational Women in Ghana, and the 100 Most Influential People in Ghana.

Appearing on the Springboard, Your Virtual University, a radio programme on Joy FM, Ms Erskine, said growing up, she had always known she would one day use her voice for something.

“When I was young, I knew I would be in some kind of seat, with some kind of stage or under some kind of spotlight. What it was going to be, how it was going to be, where it was going to be was what I didn’t know,” she stated.

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Staying relevant

She said when she started her career, she knew she wanted to be relevant, influential, powerful, and impactful.

“I knew I couldn’t achieve them by merely being a talent. I knew I could only achieve them if I was empowered and shared. So at a young age, I knew that I didn’t want to show up on your TV just delivering something to you.

“I knew that I wanted to have that relationship beyond the TV sets and radio microphone. I wanted to be in charge of who you become and I prayed for it. I prayed for the ability to walk into somebody’s life and use the gifts, talents and skills I have acquired over time to change their lives,” she explained.

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Being the first

Ms Erskine pointed out that she was not eager to become the first in life but was rather eager to “become the first that you will remember.”

On what this meant, she said "to be the first, I don’t have to bother about quality, and I need to press the fast forward button. To be the first to be remembered, I need to know who I am.”

She said she found a way to merge her passion for media work with discipline from her father.

“At a young age, I knew that whatever I did, it has to exude discipline, excellence and formality,” she stated.

First day in front of a camera

She said her first day in front of a camera was in 1997 at Metro TV.

Although she had been dreaming and wanting to have her chance on the screens, when the time came, she said she had only 10 minutes to prepare for it.

“I sat in the hot seat because the host for that programme had fallen ill and I was asked to step in. It was just 15 minutes away from the programme but I couldn’t say no to it because I had been dreaming of this and wanted this.

“The moment came and I had only 10 minutes to prepare so I sat in the chair and ready or not, I went ahead,” she narrated.

She said although it was disastrous, she picked herself up and started preparing for the next opportunity.

“So I started preparing for the next unforeseen situation,” she said.

What keeps her going

On what had kept her going all these years, she said “it comes from accepting the fact that the world evolves very quickly and the environment changes very quickly and as you are growing, so is your audience.

“So you have to give your audience something different every day. We are human beings and need to be inspired to do something different every day and that is what has been my guide. With any evolution must come with my personal evolution so as to be able to give my audience something new as often as I can.

“So that viciousness comes from never wanting to be comfortable. I don’t like the feeling that I know how to do something so much that I don’t even need to worry about it again and that is what makes me go out for more,” she noted.

Erskine’s top 10 quotes

1. Self Discovery: I watched newscasters like Gifty Anti and Beatrice Aidoo and admired their Confidence, Preparation and Delivery.  I grew up with a relentless desire to be relevant by impacting people through television.

2. Discipline: I learnt discipline and formality from my late Dad, Lieutenant General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, who recently passed on.

3. Top-of-mind awareness: I am not eager to be the first. I am determined to be the first that you will remember.

4. Preparedness: I went through years of preparation during which I leveraged my gifts and talents coupled with strategy. My first day on set was in 1997, when I had to step in for someone on Metro TV with barely 15 minutes notice. It was disastrous.

5. Human Enablers: I treasure the generosity of people like Aunty Abena at Metro TV, who taught me to ask questions, Talal Fattal, who threw me into the deep end, and Nana Yaw, a camera man, who taught me camera-eye coordination. My dad really appreciated three not-so-frontline contributors; his driver, chef and bat man.

6. Problem Solving: I am inspired by things that don’t seem straightforward. They inspire my curiosity and desire to explore solutions eg. national challenges.

7. Personal Faith: I talk to God consistently, everyday. I often hear the voice of God when I am about to make decisions. Some call it intuition, but I know it is God.

8. Mistakes: I have made several mistakes in life. An obvious one was not pursuing formal media education earlier. I am correcting that with a Master’s in Communication Management which I am thoroughly enjoying it.

9. Rejection: I have been rejected for being assertive and different. Sometimes people build a wall or frame a perception about you and expect you to fit in. Humility helps in navigating such situations. In spite of how I felt, every rejection I went through fit into my life’s purpose.

10. The Greatest: I want to be the greatest; the very best at what I do. I have made a personal commitment to be excellent wherever I go. My contract is never signed with my employer but with myself.