THE FOUNDERS

AKUNNA COOK​

Chief Executive Officer/ FOUNDER

EMMANUEL UDUMA

Chief Creative Officer/ CO-FOUNDER

Letter from the founders

Friends,

We invite you to join us as we embark on our mission to shift the narrative about Africa and the Black Diaspora by telling African stories for global impact.

 

Welcome to Next Narrative Africa – a multimedia production company building a robust ecosystem to support African & Black Diasporan content creation to advance economic progress.

 

For far too long, we have seen images about us that are overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical.  Our creativity, intelligence, business acumen, remarkable resilience, and tenacity are missing from popular culture. These negative perceptions and media portrayals don’t include us as sources of global solutions or equal partners in providing the resources to strengthen how the world sees and engages with Africa.

 

We are changing that.

 

We are Akunna Cook and Emmanuel Uduma, proud founders of Next Narrative Africa. 

 

With over two decades of experience as a senior U.S. government official, diplomat, nonprofit founder, lawyer, and strategist working to build economic power in black communities, Akunna has seen firsthand the gap between the reality of who Black people are and the images that dominate the media about us.  It is hard to get investment into African or Black businesses and Founders when the narrative is overwhelmingly dominated by stereotypes that cast shadows on the brilliance and talent in our communities.

 

“I want to see heroes on the screen that look like me.  I want my son and daughter to see them too.”  

 

Emmanuel Uduma is a renowned producer based in Africa.  His passion for African expression was ignited in the pit theatre of Obafemi Awolowo University.

 

He has produced radio, film, and television content including two Nigerian seasons of the award-winning television series MTVShuga, which targeted at-risk young Africans with relevant health and social messaging. Through this work, he learned that there is a path to bridging the narrative gaps in how we tell our stories as Africans.

 

“There is nothing more important to me than representing Africa and Africans in the best light possible. Storytelling is a powerful tool for narrative and behavior change, but it must be both authentic and contextual. Telling African stories must be clearly distinct from every other creative expression, leaving no doubt as to what it is—African.”  

 

Together, we have joined forces to develop and produce entertaining and narrative-shifting content about Africa; to leverage relationships with diverse stakeholders through events that connect the ecosystem to support creativity and innovation; and most importantly, to build a fund to support Black diasporan storytellers who are shifting the narrative about Africa and people of African descent.

 

We invite you to join the journey and champion change as we know we cannot do this work alone. It will take the entire ecosystem to tell the stories, change the minds, and shift the narrative so that Black creativity and content are not just a commodity to be extracted, but a source of pride and global wealth and prosperity.  

 

There has never been a better time for this work. It is time for the next narrative about Africa.  Join us.

 

In solidarity,

Akunna and Emmanuel

Akunna Cook is the visionary CEO and Founder of Next Narrative Africa, a media production company telling African stories for global impact. Akunna recently led Africa policy at the State Department as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. She was also the inaugural Executive Director of the Black Economic Alliance, and has successfully led initiatives in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. The Nigerian-American diplomat, lawyer, and strategist now brings her multi-sector track record of success and passion to the mission of producing entertaining and socially impactful African stories for global audiences. Akunna Cook is a proud graduate of Howard University and holds a masters degree from Harvard University and law degree from the Yale Law School.

Emmanuel Kalu Uduma is Co-Founder of Next Narrative Africa. With a bias for media for development, Kalu has been a writer/producer with the BBC Media Action working on social behavior change projects like Wetin Dey, a TV drama series on HIV and the DFID-funded Story-Story: Voices From the Market, the longest running radio drama series in Nigeria, focused on health and citizens rights through social impact programming. He would go on to produce MTVShuga Radio Naija, a 12-episode radio drama series on HIV/AIDS targeted at at-risk young people on the African continent, as well as executive produce and show run two full seasons of MTV Shuga Nigeria, the global award winning TV series about young people navigating choices around HIV, produced for Viacom Intl. (now Paramount).