We had the good fortune of connecting with Tajianna Okechukwu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tajianna, how do you think about risk?
Hey again! Tajianna here.
I believe that you get to the next stepping stone in your career by taking risks. I’m very tenacious in that way. I was raised to not take ‘no’ for an answer. I sought after opportunities whether I thought I was qualified for them or not, because even if the answer was no…I took it as a not yet & kept going until the next yes. It was instilled in me from a very young age to bet on myself. Because if I don’t take a chance on myself, how can I expect others to? I’ve gotten into rooms that I wasn’t 100% qualified for simply off of the confidence to put myself out there alone.
Especially with working in the entertainment industry, it’s pertinent to do so.
You just gotta throw darts and see what sticks. Sometimes I look at my career & life from a high level through the lens of probability. If I try so many times while making little to no progress, it will only be a matter of time before I attain some success. It’s math.
I encourage everyone to feel the emotions of fear and disappointment but to do the thing that you’re scared to do anyways. You are on the brink of a breakthrough – do not give up!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As an actor & director, it has not been easy to get into the space I am in now. Even still, I am learning & growing every day.
I had to venture through the highs and lows of double majoring in college as the first person in my family to attend a 4-year university. I had to navigate what it was like to work in my career field without the training wheel of school to help me.
Over time, I’ve learned how to conduct myself as a business and as a brand. I look forward to launching my own production company soon so I can continue my impact and reach within storytelling for my community.
It is obvious that cinema was birthed in racism. America’s first feature-length film, Birth of a Nation also glorifies white supremacy and negative tropes of Black people.12 women directors worked across the top 100 grossing films in 2019. 85% of the directors for top Hollywood Films are white. A majority of the tropes and stereotypes you see of Black people on screen is the funny best friend, the thug, the maid, the slave, must I go on? We constantly see misrepresentation in front of the screen and & underrepresentation behind the screen. We’ve made some progress along the way, but we have a long way to go.
I hope to be a changemaker in this industry and combat these issues by sharing impactful, intentional, and inclusive content in addition to various elements of arts education from the voices and minds of the Black & African Diaspora. Bottom line, we must have agency over our own stories. An African proverb says this, ‘Until the Lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the Hunter.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them on a week excursion throughout Oakland. For one of the days, I could see us eating and socializing at Jack London for brunch before heading to Lake Merritt for an afternoon picnic. Finally, we would end our night with dancing and drinks downtown.
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?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to my best friend Abigail for her endless support on my journey. She has watched me grow overtime as I have been discovering myself. The words of wisdom & encouragement that she offers are what keep me level headed and motivated. Here friendship means more to me than words can explain. Love you forever, Abby.
Andrew “Fischer” Wong