OP-ED: Striving for Excellence in the Liberian Entertainment Industry

op-ed

When my business partner and I first started doing “The Vagina Monologues” in Liberia in 2011, we received a lot of backlash. The play is a series of monologues that deal with topics related to the feminine experience including sex, menstruation, rape, masturbation, among other things. In the vitriolic responses from critics, we were accused of negatively portraying women and trying to bring Western views to Liberia and to expose people to vulgarity.

People just didn’t understand the concept behind the play and how it actually helps women and men understand women’s issues. Since 2011, we have had larger and larger crowds turn out and support the events because we didn’t give up and we kept educating people.

I had similar experiences when I set out to host Monrovia Fashion Week. It was like pulling teeth to get sponsors to buy into the project. While this continues to be a big challenge even for the latest iteration, we are making progress with getting to where we need to be.

We’ve managed to get our program on international television, blogs and magazines; yet companies here don’t understand what Monrovia Fashion Week can do for our country.

A model walks the catwalk at Monrovia Fashion Week, organized by Marjean Sherman. Photo courtesy of Marjean Sherman.

A model walks the catwalk at Monrovia Fashion Week, organized by Marjean Sherman. Photo courtesy of Marjean Sherman.

I started in the entertainment industry in the Washington, DC area in the United States in 2009. At the time, I hosted club events and also had the opportunity to be one of the organizers for a P-Square concert in 2010. Since moving to Liberia, I’ve found that most of the challenges in the Liberian entertainment industry revolve around a lack of creativity and vision. People like me who strive for excellence, rather than accepting mediocrity just because I operate in Liberia, can find the situation exceptionally difficult at times.

These challenges abound; but my partners and I have managed to transcend them. My Jeanie International Productions company has organized several concerts in the last few years, including ones that brought Wizkid, Timaya, J Martins, R2Bees, and several international actors to Liberia. We have plans on doing more with the hopes of giving Liberian artists exposure and the opportunity to work with higher profile international talents.

Featured photo of Wizkid at a concert organized by Marjean Sherman, courtesy of Marjean Sherman

Marjean Sherman

Marjean Sherman is the founder and CEO of Monrovia Fashion Week and Jeanie International Productions. She has worked alongside partners to host successful events and concerts in the United States and Liberia with celebrities such as P-Square, Wiz Kid, Timaya, Jay Martins and R2Bees. She has plans in putting Liberia on the map for the fashion and music industry. Follow her on twitter and Instagram.

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