We had the good fortune of connecting with Onaji Rouse and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Onaji, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve always been a fan of comics and sci-fi growing up. I would always draw and create my own characters and stories but never imagine myself really making a career out of it. Ha! Who would of thought that you can do what you love as an adult? Just brilliant. It wasn’t until I got older and as time went on that I didn’t really see much of myself or others that look like me in these stories. So I wanted to change that narrative and have more representation in comics and tv/film. Especially with the representation of black women in the comic book genre. I tell everyone that I come from a matriarchal family and I witnessed black women do amazing things not just for this nation but for this world all together. I have 9 nieces, and 4 sisters. I feel it is my duty to show them know that they can see themselves in this world not just as a super hero but as anything than can put their minds too. Hence the inspiration for my comic ODINA, an African-American female superhero facing impossible odds while living unapologetically in her skin. It’s kind of like my love letter to black women period.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a creative kid, I use to love reading about history, folklore and mythology. That’s why I am so excited that my comic book Odina and Kandake are so well received. I think one of my major highlights in my career was being nominated for 2 Glyph comic awards for Best Writer and Rising Star award. That’s was a huge milestone especially as a black creator, and as an independent creator it can be tough at times because everything is grassroots so everything that is done will be at your own expense but overall you have to look at the bigger picture and the impact that you’re having in the long run. So even though there will be days you want to give up but I encourage you not too. I thank God for installing a drive and divine purpose behind my gift. One of the many lessons I’ve learned is that it’s alright to experience setbacks. That is what helps shape the journey. You will get knocked down 11 times but you just better get your behind up 12. I want the world to know that the skies not the limit and you can do anything you set your heart and mind to it. Also, you will definitely be seeing Odina on your TV screen in the near future. 😉
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love visiting the Santa Monica pier at night. It’s kind of like it’s own carnival. You have the ocean breeze, the chaotic crowds , restaurants and the game room. Everything is lit up.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Yes! I would love to dedicate my shoutout to my family and friends, as I said my nieces, mother and sisters play a huge part in the inspiration of my creation of ODINA, my nieces are all bright and intelligent young women who are growing up before my eyes and becoming their own women. I also want to give a shoutout to my family at Konkret Comics who have been holding me down since day 1. My brother and CEO Lonzo Starr who allowed me the opportunity to share my creations and ideas, my brother Jermael Lessey who without him, this union probably never would’ve happened and Daniel D. Calvo who makes sure the books are good before we go to print and the rest of the team for just being amazing.