For someone that is barely 30 yet, Brendalynn Kirungi, also known as The African Snowhite, has gone quite a long way in empowering youths to harness their talents in the creative industry. A writer, choreographer, actress and model, the Creative Director of Inura Creative Centre shares with me what drives her pursuit of success in literally anything she puts her mind to, and what she thinks is stopping other youth in the industry from doing the same.
Q: So, who is the African Snowhite?
A: (laughs) Brendalynn is a creative who is very passionate about the industry. I do everything in the creative space; dance, talent nurturing & management, writing and acting. I’m also a plus size model, apparently (giggles).
I’m an entrepreneur, with interests in the energy sector and tech world. I also plan to venture into the health sector.
Q: What is Inura about?
A: Inura is a Rutooro word for “feast” or “celebration”. The Inura Creative Centre was created at the start of 2017, and has been a registered organization for the past 6 months. We run numerous projects under a concession with equally passionate creatives.
We have a project for music & entertainment, and one for design that covers digital content management, web development, copywriting for websites, content generation and graphics design. We are innovators; we built a feedback form that eases M&E systems.
We basically have small labs (as we like to call them), where creatives come together and build stuff- there’s one for branding & marketing consultancy!
Under content management, we mentor writers to use Lugelo, a platform we built for them to improve their writing and tell their stories worldwide. The platform doesn’t limit your language; you can use it from anywhere across the world.
We’ll soon be doing media production, filming TV shows and doing concept writing.
Q: Sounds terrific. So, what’s your focus group? Who do you target?
A: Our primary focus group are youth, especially in the creative industry. However, with some projects like InuraCare, we work with scientists and nutritionists majoring in sexual reproduction, to come up with health solutions for women and girls.
Q: You seem to have your fingers in quite a number of pies! What’s your drive?
A: (laughs briefly) Well, I love working with young creatives to nurture their talents. It’s like planting a seed and watching it grow right from the start. To see someone grow, be happy and transform their lives with my creativity and ideas really motivates me.
As a child, I hated being multi-talented. It seemed to me that one had to focus on a niche. Also, sometimes when you’re able to do all these things, it can get confusing. But I learnt to embrace it as a gift. I came up with a system where I focus on what I’m really good at, and get someone else to do the other things. I don’t keep ideas to myself; I share them.
I also want to make my parents proud. They were skeptical of the journey that I’d chosen. It takes really brave parents to let you walk a path despite their skepticism, and believe in you and support you. So whenever I look at them, I am driven by the desire to make them proud.
Q: That’s truly inspirational. How exactly have you been working towards Inura as your vision (it surely didn’t snap out of nowhere)?
A: I’ve been building on it physically (you need to be fit to stand out in the dance industry), mentally and financially. I’ve engaged in a lot of resourceful networking and making the right alliances with people with a mutual vision.
Q: How does the Centre source clients?
A: Our marketing process thrives mostly on word-of mouth. Because of our great work, opportunities always get to us through referrals. Digital marketing has also helped- a WhatsApp status alone can go a long way in getting you clientele. We also pitch, when we have a product that targets a particular market.
Q: From your experience working with youth in the creative industry, what challenges have you known them to face?
A: Creatives are not economically empowered. The economy can’t support thriving creatives, let alone people in general. Thus, many creatives end up involved in activities that aren’t right for the society.
The industry has no systems in place to measure what qualifies as creative, and how much the youth can earn off it. There is no minimum wage policy in place to protect them.
There’s also no proper mentorship/internship. The mentorship programs in place aren’t enough to cover the creatives out there, so parents aren’t supportive because they feel it isn’t a safe industry.
There’s no harmonization; no voice that that speaks for us youth, especially creatives. I mean, some people are doing their part, and I appreciate that. But it’s hardly enough.
We also lack proper financial literacy on how to save, why save in the first place and how this can empower us to chase our dreams.
Q: Any tips you would like to share?
A: Yeah! There’s need for training on branding, marketing and customer service; this is an area where many in the creative industry fall short.
There’s need to implement subjects that emphasize the purpose of branding at an elementary stage. This will prep creatives for both the local and international market.
Creatives also need to engage in community work (CSR). Do something for your community, to build your market within the community.
Q: Powerful. What’s your vision for the industry five years from now?
A: I’d like to get the right qualifications I need to push the industry further, as opposed to the Quantitative Economics degree I got for my parents (laughs). I suppose I’ll still be building the right foundation for me and the Centre. 20 years from now though, Inura’s vision is to have an independent centre of talent and sports for creative people. We hope to make Lugelo the platform that ANYBODY can use to develop their writing.