Folu Storms Is Empowering Women Through Media Magic And Personal Balance

Looking for a multi-talented individual constantly striving for balance in life? Folu Storms is your girl! Through her career, this incredible woman has taken on many hats and become a recognised actress, radio presenter, and media influencer.

Folu’s authentic approach to life is based on her determination to follow her passions and dedication to mental and emotional health. She encourages everyone to prioritise their health and find balance in an ever-hectic world. Her grounded perspective on life and work offers an inspiring contrast to an industry that often glorifies non-stop hustle.

In this week’s #MCNWorkLife, we delve into Folu’s journey through the entertainment world; her need to reclaim the African story and her love for elevating the next generation.

What words would you say perfectly describe Folu Storms? 

At this point in my life, the words that best describe me are diligent, passionate, and loving.

Tell us one fun fact about you. 

I love dogs, especially my dog, Kekere, who is quite large despite her name. I have a special spot in my heart for her. Another fun fact about me is I can play the guitar. I learnt to play many years ago, but I don’t play as much as I used to.

Growing up, we all had the one occupation we admired and wanted to be. What was yours? 

I love this question because it triggers a core memory from my childhood. When I was much younger, I used to get assignments that required me to answer questions about my parents’ occupations and my aspirations for the future. I remember struggling to decide on just one career path because I wanted to do everything.

I wanted to be a lawyer, a doctor and even an astronaut. Lucky for me, the universe was listening, and I eventually found my way to becoming an actor, which allowed me to live out multiple lives in my profession.

I discovered my interest in storytelling and the importance of changing the portrayal of Africans and Nigerians about a year into my legal career.

You are a qualified barrister and a media and communications specialist. Which one of these occupations came first? 

Law came first for me. Along the line, I developed various valuable skill sets in the media industry.

I discovered my interest in storytelling and the importance of changing the portrayal of Africans and Nigerians about a year into my legal career.

To start that transition, I created a template for what this transition might look like. I thought, “Why not try my hand on radio, film, and television?” The idea sounded intriguing, and I gave it a shot.

Your work in the media spans ten years, with experience in film, television, radio and communications. How has your experience been in the past ten years? 

The past decade has been a journey of learning for me. I got into the media industry with very little knowledge. There weren’t many media role models I could emulate then, but I found my way through it despite the nature of my educational background. Finding my way in the media industry was not an easy feat, and I wasn’t immune to making mistakes.

I found a support system that helped me through this process and also helped me find better opportunities.

One important lesson I learned throughout this journey was the power of daring to dream. I always tell people up and coming into the industry never to stop dreaming. Another lesson I learnt is the importance of discipline, which has taken various forms throughout my journey, and I’ve loved every second of it.

What was your biggest motivation to get into communications, and how has your journey changed your career trajectory so far?

My biggest motivation to get into communications was my journey. I always felt the need to explore my roots and express myself authentically. During this process, I discovered our stories, as Africans and Nigerians, especially, are often misconstrued.

I felt compelled to get into the business of communications and media storytelling. I aimed to shape the narrative and control the flow of information because I recognised the media influences our perceptions and opinions. Initially, I started with radio, TV and film, and it was not as important to me until I delved deeper and recognised that film, radio and TV all aligned with my passions to change the African narrative.

Folu Storms
Image via Folu Storms at AMVCA 2023
 

Every inch of my soul has a story, but there’s something magical about slipping into different characters and bringing them to life.

Your profile highlights your roles as an actor in award-winning shows Unmarried, Crime and Justice, along with films Kofa and Cake. What made you become an actor, and how has that part of your career been so far? 

Acting is one way I let my creative flag fly. I’ve always been all about trying my hand at anything and everything that gives me joy. I found a way to turn it into a career that pays bills. My acting journey has been wild and very rewarding so far, and of all my creative gigs, acting has the whole package. Acting is all about storytelling, one of my passions.

Every inch of my soul has a story, but there’s something magical about slipping into different characters and bringing them to life. It’s like a temporary escape from reality for me. I have the privilege of tapping into emotions that might otherwise be hard to express and going deep into the parts of life that I don’t get to partake of. I’m definitely in it for the long haul.

As a storyteller, you hone your creativity to provide clients and audiences with thoughts and ideas for a better society, especially for Africans and the diaspora. Your communications consulting firm, Storms Media, is your tool for this endeavour. What gave you the courage to create this company, and what is it like running a communications consultancy? 

Oh my, it’s still in its early stages, so naturally, any startup can be daunting. You find yourself asking, “Wait, what are we doing? What’s happening here?” Nonetheless, it’s also incredibly empowering.

Communication has been my forte since 2012. I’ve spent a significant amount of time being the driving force behind various brands, aiding them in conveying their message to the public. It’s not just about creative storytelling; it’s about assisting clients, fulfilling a kind of itch similar to what my legal work used to scratch.

I’m focused on understanding their needs and figuring out the best approach, whether presenting a product in a particular light to a specific audience or helping individuals in the corporate world enhance their communication skills.

I guide them on aligning their words and body language effectively, emphasising how effective communication can catalyse their progress within their respective fields. Over the years, I’ve accumulated many skills, from my training as a barrister to various other experiences, which have given me the confidence to embark on this new venture. I’m eager to see where this journey takes me and how far I can push the boundaries.

Folu Storms
Image via Folu Storms at Ignite Talks by Tasck Event
 

From all indications, you most certainly have a busy schedule. Can you tell us what a day in your life is like? 

No two days are the same for me. Some periods allow for more flexibility. Currently, I’m in the process of developing a documentary, so my days are heavily research-based. I find myself stationed at my desk, engrossed in the glow of my computer screen, delving deep into various subjects. During the day, I handle client work, and I go on breaks.

I wake up at 5 a.m. when the world is still really dark, and it feels like I’m gaining a head start. If I’m having a good day, I make it a point to meditate immediately after waking up.

Sometimes, I stick to this routine, but other times, I grab a cup of coffee to start my day. Once I’m all settled at my desk, I review my agenda for the day and make sure my notes are in order, and any important info I need to dish out is neatly organised.

I check in with the bosses, glance at the ongoing projects, and peek at what’s on the horizon deal-wise. Some days, I hit the chaotic streets of Lagos, meeting clients left and right and diving into sessions that can go from a quick hour to a full-blown six-hour marathon, depending on what’s cookin’. And if I’ve got the time, I will swing by and give my dog, Kekere, some love, even if she’s not under my roof.

Ideally, I’d squeeze in a morning workout before all this madness starts. But I’ll be honest: sometimes time plays hard to get, and I hit the gym later in the day. If I’m being honest, I sometimes go months without even stepping into the gym, but I stay active during the day.

If I didn’t have to work, you’d likely find me lazing on a beach, fishing, and playing with my dog.

As a woman in the entertainment industry, it is not uncommon for people to have preconceived notions about you and your character. What would you say has been the biggest misconception/stereotype about you, and has this been a recurring factor in your personal life?

Before people meet me, they often assume I’m a super serious individual. It’s an admirable reputation because I take my work seriously. Those who have met me professionally know I take my work seriously, but I’m also very playful, and I love to have fun.

If I didn’t have to work, you’d likely find me lazing on a beach, fishing, and playing with my dog. That’s the life I want, which differs significantly from what people often associate with my persona. Chilling out has become my favourite pastime; if I could have it my way, that’s precisely how I’d spend my days.

Speaking out will help create a workplace where everyone respects each other’s boundaries.

What do you think is the most prominent challenge women in your profession face when advancing their careers?

Being a woman in every industry can be a real uphill battle. Especially in those places where the usual 9-to-5 and regular office setup don’t exist. Take the entertainment industry, for example. What might seem like a casual meeting invite could sometimes be much more than meets the eye, putting us ladies in some seriously vulnerable spots with little backup to rely on.

It’s like walking a tightrope, trying to maintain your integrity while being taken seriously. You often find yourself working in the shadows, feeling this pressure to agree to things that, deep down, you know you shouldn’t have to. And balancing work with family expectations? Man, that’s a whole other level of juggling.

Explaining those late-night gigs or hanging out with mostly male colleagues can be a real struggle. It’s not just about staying safe—it’s about protecting your reputation and your source of income, too. So, sometimes, you have got to go the extra mile, hire extra help, or do whatever it takes to keep your head above water in this crazy industry.

One vital thing is speaking up. Women like Kate Henshaw are using their voices to shine a light on these issues. We need to ensure that everyone—guys included—understands what’s okay and what’s definitely not.

Speaking out will help create a workplace where everyone respects each other’s boundaries. Sure, some folks might need some schooling, but there’s a bunch out there genuinely striving for equality in the industry.

How would you describe your personal life? 

My personal life tends to be on the quieter side. I was thinking about this the other day when I recalled a statement by Cillian Murphy about how his real life is relatively uneventful. I resonated deeply with that sentiment. It’s like I get it. While I may excel in my professional endeavours, I’m genuinely grateful for the simplicity and stability of my personal life.

It’s filled with genuine contentment, and I cherish the calm that comes with it. Of course, I long for more excitement now and then, but I’ve also had my share of challenging experiences and personal hardships. I’ve come to appreciate the blessings of a somewhat uneventful life.

What brings you the most joy in life?

What truly brings me joy is being around people and situations filled with happiness. It’s those simple, small moments that mean the most to me. I find joy in the little things in life, the ordinary moments that are never too extravagant.

How do you prioritise your physical and mental well-being?

I make it a point to incorporate movement or activity into my day. Usually, I’m all about hitting the gym and engaging in a solid workout routine. I love a good yoga class. However, there are times when my schedule doesn’t allow for these classes, and that’s when I resort to a more spontaneous approach to exercise.

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking rather than driving, or being on the move as much as possible—all these seemingly small habits contribute significantly to my overall physical health.

Concerning my mental health, I’ve actively integrated meditation into my daily routine. Journaling has also become another effective tool for maintaining my mental health.

The focus is on educating women and men about various aspects of menstruation and how it impacts our lives. 

What initiatives have you participated in to promote gender equality and support other women throughout your career?

I’ve become more outspoken about periods, particularly this year. I’ve initiated a small period advocacy campaign, still a work in progress, aiming to garner more support and create awareness. The focus is on educating women and men about various aspects of menstruation and how it impacts our lives.

From advocating for better period care products like menstrual cups and reusable pads, which have personally saved me a ton of money, to destigmatising conversations around periods, my mission has been to revolutionise the way we perceive and manage periods.

Through the campaign, I’ve received support from various individuals and organisations, allowing me to sponsor educational videos and distribute period cups to women and girls across different economic backgrounds.

Tell us about the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how you dealt with it. 

My biggest challenge has been ensuring I’m not getting in my way. It’s like a never-ending battle that many folks can relate to. That pesky imposter syndrome, for instance, keeps coming back to haunt me, even after I’ve hit some significant milestones.

Asides that, living and working in Nigeria comes with its curveballs, especially with that hyperinflation lurking around. I’ve learned to tackle these challenges with a mix of intelligent risks and some good ol’ perseverance. Sure, I might stumble here and there, but I’m all about keeping my head clear and eye on the prize as I navigate the maze.

Tell us about a work accomplishment you’re proud of and how you made this a reality.  

I take pride in my various work accomplishments, but one that particularly stands out to me is a recent workshop I conducted for corporate women. The focus was on cultivating self-confidence in the workplace. The session was filled with young, successful women from a prominent consulting group who seemed unshaken by any challenge at first glance.

However, as the workshop progressed, we discussed our personal experiences with confidence and self-doubt. Witnessing their willingness to open up and engage in meaningful dialogue left a lasting impact on me. It was a different kind of experience, more intimate and profound, and I cherished every moment of it.

Folu Storms
Image via Folu Storms at Camon Mr Doodle Launch Event
 

What would you change if you were to do things differently in your career? 

Looking back, if there’s one thing I would change, it would be not to delay my journey into the acting industry. I would have been more persistent and proactive in pursuing my acting career. However, I also recognise that every step of the journey has been part of my learning process.

It’s vital to approach the industry with caution, diligence, and a clear purpose, ensuring that your aspirations align with your values and integrity.

What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in media relations and entertainment? 

To those aspiring to break into any industry, my advice would be to conduct thorough research and reach out to individuals who serve as your role models or exemplars within your chosen field. Take the time to understand their journey and learn from their experiences.

Be diligent and dedicated to your work. It’s crucial to set aside any sense of entitlement and ego. This is particularly true in the entertainment industry, where fame can sometimes cloud your judgement and lead to detrimental outcomes. I’ve witnessed how the pursuit of fame without a strong foundation can have severe implications for one’s mental health and well-being.

It’s vital to approach the industry with caution, diligence, and a clear purpose, ensuring that your aspirations align with your values and integrity.

Can you give us a tip you swear by for maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

When you feel exhausted, take a break. This seems like a straightforward piece of advice, but many people tend to ignore it. Sometimes, we become so caught up in the idea that we have to keep going as if the world will stop if we do not, but in reality, life will keep moving forward even if we don’t. Therefore, it’s essential to prioritise your health and well-being, even amidst a hectic schedule.

Author

  • Grace

    The lifestyle and culture writer. Grace has a keen eye for detail and a knack for finding the hidden gems in the world around her. She is always on the lookout for new and interesting stories to tell, and she loves to share her discoveries with her readers. She is passionate about music, art, and writing, and she brings her love of these things to her work.

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