Multimedia Storyteller, Nefertiti “Neffy” Anderson, brings you into her world of resilience and perseverance and not taking a “no” for an answer. Her self-discipline helps her creativity and to push through barriers. Her transparency is captivating. This interview is chunk filled with advice, tips and lessons no matter what level you are in journalism, television or new media. Neffy tells all from her internships, working for a well-known television network to starting her own company and dealing with many challenges along the way. But she finds the strength to share encouragement that will inspire and uplift you to work in her field.
- Elaborate on your experience in television, radio, journalism, and new media.
- What services do you provide?
- What is your day like with working with a client in each area of your services?
- Love you created a name for yourself as a Multimedia Storyteller and willing to help other entrepreneurs do the same. What inspired you to do that?
- You have a Youtube series called The Path Less Traveled. Assuming the title is referring to entrepreneurship?
- What gave you the urge to create the series?
- What struggles you have faced in pursuing The Path Less Traveled?
- I feel the pain you going through. It is very touching especially when you talk about ageism and being a woman, a black woman. I feel the heaviness as well in your heart with that. It needs to be discussed and glad you shared it.
- For high school and college students and grads or ones who wants to leave their safe and secured jobs to do what you do or create their own path into the entertainment business, what advice you can give for them to act on today?
- Connect with Neffy
Elaborate on your experience in television, radio, journalism, and new media.
Went to Adelphi University and majored in journalism and minored in business. The degree I got was in Communications. I also studied marketing abroad in China, which helped me gain more my global mindset in order to reach various target audiences. In regards to radio, in the summer of my junior year, I got my first internship at Z100 radio station in NY. I was working for the Elvis Duran Morning Show. I am so appreciative to them because it was my first real professional taste of the industry. They gave me a shot and have been rooting for me ever since. While I was there, I produced and edited audio for sponsors, research for bios, handled aired contests, replied to listeners emails, compiled songs to be featured and gathered NY happenings for Ryan Seacrest’s Z100 show in LA. With all the experience, it helped me as a RA (residence assistance). I was in the residence hall, student council. I had my own radio show called Let’s Chat with Neffy. At the radio station, it really helped me develop my journalism skills. The summer of my senior year, I interned with Black Entertainment Television (BET) and exclusively worked with the Vice President of Music Programming and Development. I reviewed show proposal submissions, maintained the department database, gathered information from potential shows, helped with casting reels, attended pitch meetings and created and presented a pilot proposal for three potential TV shows.
Once the internship experience was over, a job opportunity was offered to me from BET. However, I wasn’t in the place to take it because was in one year from finishing school and graduating was very important for me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to balance both. Full-time student, plus I was a resident assistant and I was on another campus job. I knew I would be falling apart. Going to the city everyday trying to work. You spend 4 years of school and you don’t want it to go all down the drain. I passed up the opportunity in hopes when I graduated, it will still be available to me and it wasn’t.
Once I graduated I applied to all jobs you can think of. But as you know when you apply to jobs at entry level, they still want you to have experience. I contacted back BET and they didn’t have anything for me at that time. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait. So, I created my own opportunity and I encourage other people to do. I knew I wanted to work in television and media that required me to have a reel, which is the clips of all your media stuff and the experience everyone is asking for. I pitched to my school, ‘I want to be the face of your online brand.’ That’s was when social media began to pop. I wanted to interview everyone that came to the school because every university has speakers that they pay to come in and talk to the students about the variety of subjects. I felt like no one was doing a great job of capturing the expectations and thoughts of students attending these events. I wanted to engage with them instead of giving them a form of ‘Did this meet your expectations?’ Seeing is believing and putting a face to that feedback. They loved the idea but they said the job didn’t exist. But after a week or two, they gave me a position as a social media correspondent to do everything that I pitched. I was the on and off camera person, the editor and ran all their social media channels before BET called me back.
Social media called me. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t know I was gifted in social media. Before I knew what branding was I always was branding myself. I wasn’t made sure I was perceived in a certain way. When I was a social media correspondent, I would showcase it on social media. BET was following me and told me they had a new show coming out called Don’t Sleep starring TJ Homes, who left CNN for that position [and now working at ABC]. They have been and still are on the quest to add politics to their lineup. When you think about BET, you think about entertainment, not politics. For this show, there were about five people discussing about political topics. And on those panels were 2 Chainz at the time and I didn’t even know. They hired me as their social media correspondent. When the show ended they keep moving me up in the company. I did social media for 106&Park, which is their highest ranking music series of all time, to running their social media for the entire brand – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, awards shows and specials like Black Girls Rock, Hip hop Awards.
I knew what my end goal was. You just got to get your foot in the door. So, I am going to use the talent that I have to get what I want. I always knew I wanted to do camera work. When I did red carpet stuff, I interviewed celebrities behind the camera. But then, an opportunity came up when BET was looking for a correspondent for 106&Park back stage. I tried out. I wanted them to hire me not because they know me. I am not about that life. Hire me because I am skilled and talented. All the work I did once I graduated from college, I brought to them my Reel to show them what I had done. Through that, I did the job and it worked out and balancing two jobs at the same time. I was social media coordinator for all BET Tier 1 programming and for 106&Park.
That is my overview of my experience in television, journalism and new media
It’s crazy that you ask this! I never really provided services to the masses up until a month ago. So, all these services that I have was because you knew me and I was working at a company and that’s it. I have been very thankful and blessed to be enabled to work without having to sell myself in this way, but in 2017, I am going to do a better job, listing as I climb. Even after working for BET and doing other things, Adelphi was still calling me back to do work for them. Everything was internal. In house, people come to me on the side (my family and friends) and want me to help them. I need to stop being stinchy and give my audience want. My services are broken up in 4 categories:
Speaking and teaching is me being hired as a host, moderator or correspondent to discuss and share my expertise in personal branding, social media, digital content creation, public speaking and pop culture. That looks like me covering conferences, panels or private training, interviews or providing red carpet coverage.
Second is video content creation. As the producer and co-editor of my web series, I encourage people, video is where it’s at. If you don’t do video, you are not going to be around for very long. People don’t want to read. It can get you so far. A video really makes you show off your branding in a beautiful way. And it also removes a wall. You become more real. Whether you are a personal brand or business, people can see you and it is not so stiff. I tell people to make their brand come to life with video. I direct, shoot and edit original content for their brand or business. I also provide the option for them a video spot in my web series The Path Less Traveled. Let’s say they wanted to sponsor for the show and wanted to have their brand, business, or ad advertised, they purchase a slot depends on where they are in the show.
Third is brand consultation. I love brand strategy. I am analytical and careful about my own brand even before I knew what it was. I think brand position is very important. So, I work with people how they could refine their brand strategy both online and offline. It’s a strategy call with me. I get them an audit of their brand and business and provide them with feedback and tools in order to get them where they need to be. People know what they want to do and be, but don’t know how to get there.
Last is social media event coverage. Everyone reaches out to me for social media and I have been putting it off for so long because I have been doing it professionally for such big companies. I know this stuff takes long. People underestimate the hard work that comes along with social media. They think that is easy. There is a lot of planning that is involved. You have to have a message and content. You have to meet people from where they are. People wonder why they are not successful on social media. They are not creating original content. Whether that be photos, videos or articles. They are not providing value. They are saying, ’Buy my stuff! Buy my stuff!’ You have the people know you can make them reach whatever goal they have in their personal and business life. Social Media is a process. For Twitter, a tweet last between 6 to 11 secs. Most brands tweet once and say that they tweeted today. You have to tweet at least 10 times for the day. That’s a lot. Social media platform has its own culture. You can’t do the same thing on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. People can tell you are doing the same strategy. I can follow you in one place if that is what you are going to do. For social media event coverage for a lot of small business and personal brand, the cost to have someone to do you social daily is a lot. It’s a missed opportunity when I go to an event and I’m like where is the hashtag. Is people using it? Is there an incentive. When you are doing an event, you can’t do all the videos, social engagement with the people that is there. You want people following you and say “Man, why was I not there?’. Of course, people have professional videographers and photographers, but social media is instant. I am that person.
What is your day like with working with a client in each area of your services?
No two days or two clients is the same. With all of my services, I always want to know what success looks like for you. Because what I think success is and what you think success is are two different things. I’m a type A person, so I need to make sure I am meeting your expectations. So, that is the first conversation. You will say Neffy did a great job. Once I have that, I use that to give you what you want. For the speaking and teaching, I already guaranteed everyone what I work with that I am going to leave your audiences inspired, motivated and ready to take action. Once they give me what success looks like for them, I can build around that. The speaking and teaching thing is a lot of planning up until the event. It’s all about engaging and finding a way to help the audiences.
For video content creation, there is a lot of planning also. We going to be on a call weekly, so you get what you want covered. How long you want the video to be? Where you want the video to be shot? I deal with all of the production aspect. The location, time, length. I am very strict. Before we even begin I find out how long it is going to take. If you don’t do that, it’s crazy. I have my personal videographer. He is there to make sure everything goes perfect. Everything doesn’t go perfect. The location is not the best, issues from post production. You have to have that person who will get you out of a jam. For the video, its really coaching people and telling them they already have what it takes. A lot of them are professional speakers and they get nervous when the camera is on them. I spend a lot of time telling them they are OK. They are not rushed, make they personality shine and don’t be stiff.
Brand consultation is a two-step process. First part of the process would be a call or in person meeting of the branding challenges they want feedback on. Then a week later, I will deliver a brand audit of tools and recommendations on their value proposition, personality, target audience, content, social media channels, so that they can grow they audience, automate their tasks. A lot of them don’t know tools out there to make them less stressful in completing.
Social media event coverage is broken in two different parts. The package is 6 to 8 weeks before the event. There is 60 min kick off call to discuss the event specifics to implement a social strategy. During the event, I share video of the host, event, and attendees. I post live updates. Afterwards, I do a social recap of the event. Give the business a copy of photos and video. Throw in a bonus of one week social support after the event to drive people back to the website.
Love you created a name for yourself as a Multimedia Storyteller and willing to help other entrepreneurs do the same. What inspired you to do that?
I think titles in themselves are very limiting. A lot of the titles can [fit] all of my skills and capabilities. Everybody is trying to put you in a box. I’m just a videographer or an author, but we all are so talented and skilled and it’s unfair to us. Everything has a story where you are promoting a awards show or new business or product. If there is no story, then people are not buying or engaging.
You have a Youtube series called The Path Less Traveled. Assuming the title is referring to entrepreneurship?
Sort of. A little bit. The title is referring to people in entrepreneurship, but more so in a non-tradition career path.
What gave you the urge to create the series?
So, I wanted to create a space for myself and others. When I look for a role model in the market place, there was no one who looked like me, in my age group who was doing what I want to do. I know if I had this issue, I knew people had this issue as well. So, I created this series to spotlight new entrepreneurs who successful turned their passion into careers. And this series intention is to serve as a solution for those with non-traditional career aspirations, who is looking for encouragement and inspiration. I love Oprah and Wendy Williams, but they are not in my age group. A lot of creatives are much older that we are. The rappers, models, authors, singers, makeup artists, you feel it’s only them. I wanted to create this series to showcase people who are in my age group who are between 18 to 24 years old with these non-traditional careers and successful.
People tell you to quit your dream. There is no two paths that are the same. I also wanted to show a way to show off my personal skills. No one is going to put you on. You have to put yourself on. I didn’t want to be the girl who work for XY company. I want my name and brand to hold its own weight. Everything I’ve learned from bigger companies, I wanted to take that and reinvest into myself. I feel everyone should have their own personal brand outside of their day job because there is no loyalty to anyone. And people who have been working at a job for 27 years, they are getting laid off and people is saying, ‘I’m sorry. We’re going into another direction’. I want people to know that they are so skilled and talented more than they even know. Most of the time, their jobs don’t want you to know how talented you are. That comes with a price. They have to pay you for your skill and your knowledge. Take what you are learning from these places and pour it back into yourself. Create your own personal website and let people know what you are interested in, so when opportunities come up, they can think of you.
What struggles you have faced in pursuing The Path less Traveled?
I have a list! The biggest struggles for me is work, life balance. It’s also for everyone, but for me, working in corporate and myself at the same time was very difficult. You spend your 9 to 5 all day and then you got the come home and resume work for yourself is very draining. You have to figure out how do you fit your family and friends into it? How do you fit your love life into it? And how you keep on going and not drown yourself in your projects? Whenever I work for a company, I don’t hide it. I encourage everyone who has their own brand on the side to leverage it. When I get interviewed for a job, I bring it up. I let them know it’s non-negotiable. That separates you from everyone trying to get this job. Everyone is smart. But if you come to the table with your own brand, you can showcase to them that they need you. It’s more of a partnership. I can use my connections and skills to grow your brand.
Next thing is ageism. People like to know how old you are and compare you to them. They think how old they were when they was your age. They say I’m doing so fine. But people that aren’t of Color are saying this. They are fine of you being mediocre. Listen, talent is talent. Don’t put my age in it! Everyone what to know how old am I. I used to say but then I realized that people will treat be based on my age and not my talent. My age has limited me from getting more money, getting promotions and my bosses in these big companies always bring age into it and its soo frustrating! And it’s on top of being a female.
A few other things I struggled with building The Path Less Traveled is streamlining the process and building a team. Because it’s my own company and I do it for myself with my videographer. This summer, I decided to get an intern and get everything written on paper. I don’t have guide to show them reference. Everything you have to do comes from scratch. Streamlining the process and I’m learning to do better now. People ask me how long it takes to edit a video? How long it takes to create all the tweets for the video? I create two weeks of tweets for every interview I do which includes the weekends and each day I tweet every 3 hours. How long does it take? I don’t know. Even if you try to hire somebody, it’s hard to put a number on it.
And also, trying to find the right people to build your team with. Every month, family and friends have offered to help and work for free, but nobody is genuine. Everybody want to do it for the look of it. ‘Oh, you interviewing this person? You going to the red carpet?’. I had one person that refused to do any work, but yet she had me on her LinkedIn and Facebook saying she is working with Neffy Anderson and haven’t done nothing. I had to send her a note and say, ‘I don’t feel comfortable you putting my name on your resume. You haven’t contributed to anything’. That is a tough conversation to have and it’s frustrating. You know nobody is going to work as hard as you for you. Do something. Just don’t show up for the pictures and the brand.
Also, monetizing. I do the series to showcase my abilities and give myself a platform and help other creatives. I have to be my own digital cheerleader. I have to pay my videographer. How am I getting money in to the series? I have been offered a radio deal but it’s like what are you willing to sell or give to get what you want? I’m not willing to give up all the rights to my series.
I feel the pain you going through. It is very touching especially when you talk about ageism and being a woman, a black woman. I feel the heaviness as well in your heart with that. It needs to be discussed and glad you shared it.
To piggyback on the ageism, there is a lack of support. No one believes in you until you actually do it. I want people to know their vision is theirs. They don’t need to explain it to no one. Their dreams belong to them. Not everybody is going it get it right away. Once you do what you say you are going to do. Then when you get that first press, they will say ‘I believed in you along’. Be your own best friend and find other people that will encourage you. It’s hard, especially as an entrepreneur. There are so many naysayers and you have to build up tough skin to reach your goal.
For high school and college students and grads or ones who wants to leave their safe and secured jobs to do what you do or create their own path into the entertainment business, what advice you can give for them to act on today?
I want them to plan. Don’t do things on the wind. Think things out. Entrepreneurship has it’s perks, but a lot of people don’t realize how hard it is. When I mean plan, start saving if you haven’t already done so. Leverage their relationships. Especially if you are in high school of college, you have to barter. My first video show, I had it in college. The first head-shots I got was from someone who was a photography major. College is the best place to find help. I don’t like helping people if it is only helping me. Figure out what people you need on your team. See what skills you don’t have. I need people to get a website! People don’t have a website, I get so upset! Why don’t you have a website?! I don’t understand. Get a personal website. Your name dot com. They say they don’t know what to put on it. Put your picture of your face. [Have an] about page. Put services if you a have one and have a blog. I tell people do what you want o do in the future right now. It’s so hard to break into any workforce. Even if you don’t work with social media, they still what to know your social media.
What you have to do to set yourself apart is to show people that you’ve been doing what they need you to do before you even reach out to them to do it. Whatever you are good at, you create content that communicates that. Even if you have a 9 to 5 or at school and you want to leave, you have something you can showcase yourself. Make all your social media handles the same. You don’t want to make it difficult for people to find you. The easiest if your name on the social media handles. Don’t be stiff on social media. Speak how you speak. Everybody is multi-layered. You don’t need two social media pages. One for work or one for whatever. I need people to invest in their skill set. I am not going to spend money on you if you not going to spend money on yourself. Invest in your skill set mean if you are into acting, take a acting class. All the things you need to do to build your presence, you have to make it happen. [I wondered what my face is flat on camera and it’s not like that in person. So, I found out who does Gabriel Union makeup, and Kelly Roland’s makeup]. I need someone to look like me. I don’t want nothing to do with people with chocolate people to teach me about makeup. I did a class with the makeup artist. It was an investment I thank every day.
Stop waiting for someone to give you that chance, that opportunity. Stop saying aspiring! Don’t say you are an aspiring writer and you’re doing it. You are a writer. Cut out aspiring or I will not take you seriously. Let people know how they can help you. Aside from telling me through your words, you need to tell me in all of your bios on social media. I need people to be intentional of the work you do and what you bring to the table. Whenever someone hires you, they what you to take them to the next level. Go to the interviews with ideas and just say ‘I like what you are doing.’ Work on your public speaking in all areas in your life. IF you not a good speaker, they acquaint that to your business.
I am working on a media training class to help people how to tell a good story, show your expertise, comfortable speaking on camera, how to get interviews, what it means to be camera ready, how they get paid speaking gigs, how to make original video content. I’m giving my personal tricks I give to people that knows me. You don’t want your fear of public speaking to stop you from getting you where you need to go.
Connect with Neffy via Youtube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @NeffyAnderson or www.neffyanderson.com