Not many of us get to live our childhood dreams but for Hannah Arkoh Mensah, the exact life she pictured for herself is her reality now.
As a young girl, Hannah had aspirations of working in the media but she had no clue how that was going to happen but today the 28-year-old is the producer, director and editor of one of the longest-running television entertainment shows, The KSM Show.
So how did it all happen? Well first Hannah studied General Arts at the Tweneboa Kodua Senior High School at Kumawu in the Ashanti Region. Then she proceeded to the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) where she studied BFA Film and Television Production (Editing).
While she was a student, she interned at Saphhire Ghana Limited, owned by Kwaku Sintim-Misa popularly known as KSM, who hosts the eponymous show. After school, Sapphire employed her on a full time basis.
“I started off as an Assistant Editor and Personal Assistant to the CEO. I am now the producer, director and editor of The KSM Show and have been at it since 2018.
“It feels so surreal, sometimes I pinch myself and I don’t believe that I am the one doing that because growing up I used to watch the show, and now being the producer/director/editor, it’s quite unbelievable.
“When I started, I was assistant camera person and assistant editor and over time I became the substantive editor as well as producer and director,” she told Graphic Showbiz.
Hannah and KSM confer on set
As the producer, Hannah does the scheduling for the show among other duties. “I also look for the guests, I call them, do the booking and make sure they are on set on time.
“On set, I direct the show and make sure that everything is going on well and at post-production, I do the editing as well as most of the graphics on the show. I also do the sound at the editing bench but on location, we have a sound man,” she explained.
Touching on some of the challenges that come with her job, Hannah said, “Because most of the guests see that I am a woman, they probably think that I don’t know my craft.
“So when it comes to editing someone will call you and say ‘I want to come and sit with you at the bench and let you edit the show while I am there.' I tell them that I have been doing this for a very long time so I know what I am about.
“Sometimes I have to battle with them a bit until the show is aired, then they call to congratulate me that I have done a good job. That is what I face and it is usually from the male guests.
“Because I am the producer, I call them so they have my number and they keep calling me about the editing but I don’t think they would have done the same if it was a male doing the same job,” she stated.
For Hannah, a typical day can start at 5 a.m. “If I have a shoot, I wake up very early. If it is an afternoon set, I get there two hours before shooting time and make sure everything is ready. After the shoot I hit the studios and copy my files. If I am editing, I stay in till the editing is done even if it means staying till after 10 p.m.
“I always get to the office by 8 a.m. and I set targets for myself. I will not leave the office till those targets have been achieved even if it means staying in till very late into the night,” she said.
Hannah believes that females like her in the media are doing very well. “If we are given the same respect and the same opportunities like our male counterparts, I believe we will excel in the field.
“The thing is that we the females have to go the extra mile to prove ourselves, the males just have to show up but we have to really go the extra mile before getting the job and when we do too they trust our work more than the males,” she said.
Hannah (in a blue top) hard at work
In the next five years, Hannah intends to pursue a Masters degree in Communication. “I intend to work in the field of Strategic Communications and help the government, NGOs, and even the UN to come up with communication strategies that can help people especially those in the rural areas.
“I have always been ambitious and I am looking forward to greater heights in the near future,” she said.
Apart from her day job with Sapphire Ghana Limited, Hannah also has an online shop, Adzepa Essentials, where she deals in handmade earrings, clothes and accessories.
Her hobbies are watching movies and reading and she has a reason. “I love to watch films because it is in line with my craft, I get to learn new directing and editing skills as well as camera angles, etc and when I have time, I love to read,” she explained.
Hannah loves to eat jollof or yam and palava sauce. “I am not really fussy about food, once the food is goodmI will eat it. It’s just that I find myself eating these two foods very often,” she said.
Hannah is the first of three daughters born to Mr Anthony A. Mensah and Mrs Ama Nketiaba Mensah. She was born in Kumasi where she had her primary and JHS education at Christian Preparatory School and Christian M/A JHS respectively.
She continued to Tweneboa Kodua Senior High School to study General Arts. In Tweneboa Kodua, she was privileged to be part of the SRC and the editorial board for the 2012 school magazine.
She completed NAFTI as one of the best students graduating with First Class honours. She also served as a teaching assistant at NAFTI.
While working for Sapphire, she has also had great opportunities such as working on The Delay Show, another great programme that has been on TV for a long time. She also serves as a volunteer for the NDIVA Women’s Film Festival.
To the young ones aspiring to be in her field, Hannah said, “it is not an easy field but it is a field that when you practice and concentrate you can excel. You just have to concentrate and learn from other people as well, have mentors in the industry and you are good to go,” she concluded.