Interview conducted by Chanèle McFarlane
Photography by Keidi Janz

Where in the world is Nneka Elliot?!

If you watched CP24 at any point between 2008 and 2016, it’s likely you remember Nneka gracing your television screen as she evolved into the award-winning media personality she is today. Until she realized it was time for a change and her loyal viewers were left to wonder why and, of course, what’s next.

“I just wasn’t growing and I got tired of fighting for room to grow”, she confidently replies to one of the many comments on a video she shared through her lifestyle platform, Nneka, to address her decision to leave CP24.

We soon learn that she’s not just referring to lack of professional growth (as many women continue to face in their corporate career today) but personal growth via her dual identity. As a citizen of both Canada and the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Nneka has described her experience living at the intersection of two worlds and losing a sense of her identity, especially as her accent was seemingly forced out of her television presence.

Two years later, this “TV news gyal turned Caribbean lifestyle host, actor and content creator” has successfully carved out an authentic niche of her own. With a thriving lifestyle blog, YouTube videos and acting roles on shows like Designated Survivor and Orphan Black, Nneka’s journey has been nothing short of inspirational. As she proudly states on her site, “I’m finally living life on my terms and you’ll have a front seat to my new gutsy lifestyle.”

Whether you too are on a journey of self-discovery as you juggle different cultural identities or perhaps you’re feeling stuck in a corporate career and have been toying with the idea of venturing out on your own, Nneka’s story serves as a timely reminder to take time to discover who you truly are and relentlessly pursue your passion, authentically and unapologetically:

Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade? 

There have been so many times, especially having spent more than a decade working in live news. I've dealt with natural disasters, teleprompters that just cut out...I could go on and on. But I tend to focus on what I learned from the moment and not the incident itself, so I actually can't always remember the “lemony” moments. But in terms of a recent occurrence, I can think of something that happened during a shoot for my digital show. We shoot all the episodes at once. Everything is scheduled to the tee. That day, 2 guests who I was really looking forward to interviewing cancelled. I was initially disappointed but instead of wasting time freaking out, I just said "Ok" and moved on. We simply reworked the order of guests and ended up benefiting from the extra time the cancellations afforded us.

Describe your ideal work environment to get sh*t done.

Just me. My Laptop. Lots of water and my planner close by.

After that first year, how did you scale your business and continue to grow?

2017 was my first official year of business. So after that first year, I'm focusing more on learning. As well as developing relationships, and part of that means attending more events. I saw some big growth in business halfway through 2017 as a result of amping up in person interactions. I'm also paying closer attention to data and analytics as it pertains to my content. Plus, tapping into other skill sets that will allow me to offer even more services.

Photography by  Keidi Janz

How much of your success as an entrepreneur has come from taking risks versus playing it safe? 

The highlight reel of my life all started with a risk. For example, without a risk I wouldn't have had a successful career in broadcasting, my own talk show or a recurring role on Designated Survivor. Not every risk I've taken in business has panned out, but what's important is having the courage to try new things and constantly pivot. And that eventually yields the most reward. Nothing really wonderful happens in your comfort zone.

How do you measure success in your career?

Of course financial milestones are amazing! But very often for me the biggest reward and success indicator is the impact something I've created has made. So when I get emails about how an episode of my talk show inspired someone, gave someone a sense of belonging or made someone smile...that's a good day.

What is the last investment you've made that has made your life better?

Does Instacart count? (check it out if you haven't already) But probably my vlogging camera. It's a Canon Powershot G7x Mark II. It makes capturing my travels, behind the scenes of my show etc. such a breeze. Plus, I don't have to lug around my dslr to events to get great pictures. Youtuber Latoya Forever gave me the recommendation.

"The highlight reel of my life all started with a risk."

Was there ever a moment when you questioned your decision to become an entrepreneur? How did you overcome it? 

My story is a bit different in the sense that I left my job to explore other passions and find myself. In the process (that is still on going) I started to create content, which led to me becoming an entrepreneur. I don't question the initial decision I made to quit my job, but I definitely have moments when I question my abilities when things aren't going as I would like. I overcome it by revisiting my 'why.' For me being an entrepreneur means freedom, so I remind myself what freedom means to me. I also take a look back at how far I've come. It's easy to feel like you're not going anywhere, but that's why it's important to set goals, it allows you to track your progress. But that's also the beauty of having a blog...I can review older posts lol.


Have you ever had anyone doubt you? What did you do about it?

Oh gosh, I'm a Scorpio, so when you doubt me, you're basically challenging me. My biggest memory of someone doubting me is when a TV network exec told me I didn't have the chops to start my career in broadcast news in a big city like Toronto. I fought tooth and nail to improve my craft, took risks to get in touch with big names in the industry, networked my butt off and made sure I was ready for the opportunity when it came.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Hmmm...maybe the fact that I was on Canadian Idol.

What would you say has been the biggest mistake you've made and how did you rectify it?

My biggest mistake was dimming my light time and time again, and not embracing the real me. I rectified it, and it's for sure a work in progress, by focusing on the things that make my heart sing and not apologizing for it.

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