We sat down with Norman, a former interview star from way back in December 2018, to find out what he’s been up to since we last spoke. It turns out – he’s been doing a lot!
What do you do and how did you get into it?
In the Creative Industries, I am three things:
1. A media broadcaster across TV, radio and live events
2. A creative director/filmmaker
3. A model
How did you get into being a media broadcaster?
This all begins with my love for public speaking/presenting and the art of oratory which came at an early age. Approaching age 10 in 2006, all I had seen in my life to date, as far as black male role models were concerned, were rappers and athletes of whom I idolised (JAY-Z, Kanye West, Jordan etc etc). The counterbalance to these beings came in the form of Sir Trevor McDonald – he truly fascinated me. Prior to him, I had never heard a black person speak with a formal Received Pronunciation, and communicate so eloquently in a way that was concise, gripping and slick.
The same can be said for Reggie Yates. Both from a young age really inspired me; the fact I saw two black men presenting at the highest level on TV/media gave me the audacity to believe I could do it too! I loved the idea of being able to travel around the world, making documentaries and reporting on truths/stories authentically, while educating and entertaining audiences in a sophisticated and structured way. I knew it was one of my true callings to pursue in this life – being a presenter in this capacity just spoke to something deep in my soul. It’s difficult to explain, but I just knew it was meant for me…
Fast forward: throughout high school (having attended Kingsbury High School – a state school in North West London), I would go on to truly hone into my formal public speaking abilities, as my Religious Studies teacher Ms. Coutts made me take up debating in 2008. I would partake in debate club once a week after school, as a way of channelling my innate confidence and restlessness (and smart mouth which would often get me into trouble haha!). I loved it and stuck with it throughout high school/sixth form.
I would later represent my school at events such as the Model United Nations at Haberdashers Independent School, and compete in the Oxford and Cambridge Debating Union Competitions. Throughout University (2014-2017, having studied Law at Queen Mary University London), I would regularly perform spoken word at showcases and mic night events throughout London (with some audiences being 100+!). In hindsight, all these experiences laid the foundation for my career in media as a presenter, as I learnt the essence of performance and effective communication.
As I would continue networking in the creative industries over the years, it was at the ScreenNation Awards ceremony 2019 (https://www.screennation.org/awards), where I (while working in the event support team) would meet one of the programming directors for BEN Televisions (https://bentelevision.com/). After a series of test screenings with BEN TV, they gave me my first formal presenting assignment and TV broadcast in December 2019.
By late 2020 (in the midst of a national lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic) I transitioned into having my own weekly regular televised slot as their first ever International News Correspondent. The slot was called ‘Spotlight’, and I would report on current affairs happening across Africa and the Caribbean. I then became a freelance presenter with Yanga! TV (https://yangatv.com/). Notably, in 2021, I had a significant role in the creation of a new Law focused TV/online programme (produced via YANGA! TV) ‘Know Your Rights’. Specifically, I created the idea for the programme, and was its scriptwriter. This programme sees lawyer Dr. Jennifer Obaseki and I exploring legal issues, and providing audiences with the confidence they need to engage with the Law with confidence. The programme received initial positive press.
More generally, I have presented/hosted high profile events at prestigious venues including the Houses of Parliament (UK), and University of Law (London, UK). Notably, In March 2021, I hosted the ‘International Design Awards 2020′ (virtual ceremony) event. In 2021, I was also a radio presenter with 75 Derby Radio (a community radio station), with my own show, ‘The Plug Radio Show’. Snippets of all can be seen via my showreel (located on my Youtube page). Since December 2021, I have also been working as a presenter with (previous) BBC World/CNN/Aljazeera broadcaster Riz Khan.
How did you get into being a creative director?
Having worked with TV networks and hosted many prestigious events, I learnt the essence of how to structure programmes and create high value productions. From this came my desire to truly begin creating my own long-form pieces of content. I always knew I had a leaning towards info-tainment/documentaries, and producing content which was educational, while entertaining and layman-friendly in its nature.
To this effect, I directed Our World With Norman Busigu (in 2020): an infotainment docu-series, in which I report on and explore important topics affecting real people like you and me. Season One was supported and aired (in part) by BEN TV on their platform. This was so significant for me, to have my first true production broadcasted on television. It was an affirmation for me that I am heading in the right direction, and opened up many new opportunities for me.
The success of season one of Our World With Norman Busigu led to me being accepted onto a one-year formal mentoring programme with award winning production company Somesuch & Co (https://somesuch.co/), who have received awards for their works from the likes of the BAAFTAs and VMAs. I received a dedicated mentor and professional director, Dan Emmerson, who has directed for Adidas, Nike, Channel 4, Burna Boy, the NHS and much more. The success of season two propelled me into season three, where I focused more on conducting interviews. Season 3 guests so far have been professional designer and fashion stylist Nicolette Bosch and Dr. Rapheal Olaiya.
How did you get into being a model?
The seed was planted in my head to pursue modelling was from way back in 2012 (when I was aged 16) – in my high school yearbook, I was ‘most likely to become a supermodel’! As silly as this sounds, it always remained in the back of my mind that I should try pursue it.
In 2018, I decided to give it a real go, after attending a popup runway show in late 2017 and feeling that modelling would be a lot of fun and a great way to express myself through a new artistic medium. I began by doing test shoots with freelance photographers in London, and as the months went by I began getting bookings with emerging brands for shoots, as well as bookings for small off-schedule runway shows.
In September 2018, I won the modelling competition Fashion4Africa UK. The next day, as a by-product of winning, I was one of four runners at the Julien McDonald SS2019 official on-schedule London Fashion Week show. I got to meet supermodel Winnie Harlow and many other big names!!
I couldn’t believe it! That night was incredible because within a year of pursuing modelling, I literally saw the fashion industry at its highest level, and was in the middle of it. This was an affirmation that I was in the right place and on the right journey.
In 2019, one my modelling highlights was going out to Hong Kong in 2019, where I modelled designer Diane Goldie’s bespoke kimonos during photoshoots. In 2020, I was then featured in ELLE during London Fashion Week (Fashion Scout) AW2020. Then Covid hit the world, and I pivoted away from modelling (as the fashion industry more or less stopped in its tracks while readjusting to the new world we live in). I still have a deep love for modelling, and it is still my ambition to be signed as a model to a major modelling agency; given my great success in being a professional presenter/media broadcaster/creative director/filmmaker, I just know I have what it takes, and I will crack modelling in a big way – and I wont stop until I do! Its such a fun industry that challenges me in a way that forces so much growth.
In July 2022, I was selected as one of three models for the official campaign for Soho House, for the launch of their new product line, Soho Skin!
For London Fashion week SS23, I was a runway model for premium African brand David Wej, at the London Represents show which took place at the National Liberal Club (an elite Gentleman’s club) in September 2022. My momentum as a model has surged recently and I’m very excited to keep pushing the boundaries to see how far I can take things! Watch this space…
What are you working on right now?
I recently completed a documentary this year, titled ‘Ghana: Africa’s Exciting Entry Point?’- I am its director and presenter. As a synopsis, this documentary critically examines the phenomenal rise of tourism in Ghana and contributing factors causing this prominent trend. This is analysed through three main dimensions: the undeniable impact of African music globally, socio-economic growth and geo-political safety in Ghana, and the allure of Ghanian culture/art.
In creating this documentary, I voyaged from London (UK) to Ghana during December 2021 – January 2022, and chronicled my exciting all access journey. The documentary also boasts an original soundtrack. Notably in the documentary, I had press access to Afrochella 2021, and conducted interviews throughout the documentary with names such as Fleur East (Musician/artist), Edwin Otta (Founder of Accra Art Week) George Adjebeng (Head of Innovation at Societe Generale), and Adrian Daniels (of Africa Global Radio and The Sound of Accra Podcast). I also travel through Accra and cross country. The documentary was produced by So Fraiche Media (http://www.sofraiche.com/)
I was then able to secure a Documentary Screening & Panel Discussion Event on 11/06/2022, at Soho House (White City). The event was an absolute success (sold out, with nothing but positive feedback!) and we are all so excited for what the future holds! Notable names in attendance to the event included: Members of the Ghana High Commission; Deborah Ababio – Global Entertainment Director for Vogue (who was also a panellist); and our event host, Akua Gyamfi. One of the Ghana High Commission Team then gave an incredible keynote speech at the end of the event.
Even more exciting, we have been already featured in over 10 leading online publications in Ghana since the event! In the UK, we were given a mention by The British Blacklist.
Following the amazing success of the first screening event for my documentary in June 2022 at White City Soho House, we were able to arrange a second screening event. This second event took place on Sunday 21 August 2022 with Soho House (Redchurch Cinema), and equally, it was a huge success! Aside from the actual screening, we had a rap performance, an art exhibition, and a Q&A session. The documentary on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September made its televised debut on primetime slots, having aired on channel 7 (via SKY TV channel 181)!
Lastly, I am in the beginning stages of pre-production for my next documentary in Africa. I have already been connected to some very cool people who want to help facilitate my next steps. Watch this space!
What’s been your career highlight so far?
My career highlight definitely has to be the incredible PR run of my documentary/screening event at Soho House both in Ghana and in the UK. Just to see the world really understand my vision and report on it so beautifully, really, is a dream come true. Especially as the whole process happened so organically. To me, it’s evident that my creation is far bigger than just me, and it’s so humbling to know that it has resonated with people around the world.
It’s also a massive reminder for me to never be afraid to take that a leap of faith in pursuing my ideas, and trusting the universe to see things come full circle. It gives me the confidence to push forward with my next documentary idea, which will take place in another country in Africa.
Lastly, this documentary is an amalgamation of my nearly 10 years of hustling and grinding in the creative industry, and I truly feel I am now at a place where I don’t need to prove myself to anyone – I just want to focus on becoming the best version of myself and where possible, help others do so too! In that sense, I already feel a big burden off my shoulders, and I can truly start enjoying the ride and journey.
What’s the one thing everyone should know about you?
Beyond any of my achievements and colourful profile and portfolio of works, I want people to know that I truly understand how fragile and delicate life is. As a result, I want people to know how much I treasure and value meaningful relationships with people, before anything else.
I am someone who has had two near death experiences, and earlier this year underwent an unexpected dangerous spell of bad health (which could have proved fatal if the immediate action wasn’t taken), which resulted in me having blood transfusions and a blood clot in a deep vein. This resulted in me having to not only cancel all my scheduled plans for about five weeks (due to being so physically weak), but also meant I experienced almost every range of emotion during my recovery process. I have never until this point in my life had any health issues, so this was a scary experience to say the least.
During this time (March 2022-May 2022), I really recentred in a way that I’ve never experienced before, and began to develop a much broader bird’s eye view of life, taking a newfound appreciation in healthy relationships, sincerity and kindness, as it was my friends and family who remained close and gave me strength.
I say all this to say, I like to think of myself as a charismatic people person, who wears his heart on his sleeve. For the line of work that I do as a presenter, being able to connect with people from different walks of life is so important, and so I do my best to remain connected to the ground and really understand what is going on in the world, how its affecting people, and how I can do my bit to help, especially given my recent poor health. If you show me love, I will give it back to you ten-fold.
How would you describe your style?
Chic. Vintage (90s/2000s centric). Streetstyle-leaning. I like being comfortable, colourful (bright colours) and elegant. I also like wearing new and original pieces that aren’t common. My favourite desingers at present are Ozwald Boateng and Tolu Coker. It is my dream one day to model for both of them.
Follow Norman on Instagram @normanbusigu and Youtube: Norman Busigu to watch his continuing journey unfold and to view the projects discussed here!
Images via Norman Busigu.