By Grant Moyo
Zimbabwean media practitioner Sophia Chitemere realised how much she enjoyed creating content after lurching up into the media, creative and entertainment space through her online magazine work upon relocating to South Africa.
Getting invited to events hosted by entertainment brands and television channels such as MTV, BET and Nickelodeon, her zeal to network with as many creatives as possible became a leeway to reach her goal.
Chitemere was fortunate enough to get a job at ViacomCBS Networks Africa, a television and multi-media broadcast organisation based in South Africa and Nigeria, reaching audiences of over 100 million viewers across 52 territories of the African continent through its portfolio of 10 television channels that include BET, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV Base, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., NickToons and VH1 Classic.
During her three-year stint, she was a personal and marketing assistant, reporting to the marketing director. Chitemere describes working with an incredible team at the broadcast organisation as a privilege which gave her so much perspective of what she wanted to work towards within her career.
Believing and betting on herself, she is currently enjoying juggling occupations, from working within the public relations and marketing department at Clive Morris Productions (CMP), to breaking out of her shell as a celebrity assistant on a part time basis.
Chitemere, who was born and raised in Harare, went to Eaglesvale School for her primary and high school education. She is working towards her Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management Degree at the Management College of Southern Africa (Mancosa), a distance education institution located in Durban.
In 2013, Chitemere founded an online publication called Infinity Magazine, which is an inspirational publication dedicated to highlighting the best of African talent and fulfillment of potential.
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Her passion for gender equality and helping women in her community motivated her to establish Own Your Crown Organisation, a women’s empowerment organisation which focuses on providing training and information regarding financial literacy, entrepreneurship and career development.
With a career nine years now, Chitemere has received recognition from international brands like Samsung, Dawn, AFI Privé and Zim Achievers Awards South Africa where she garnered a Professional Female of the Year gong.
“Growing up, I honestly wanted a career that would allow me to travel the world, so I thought the best way to do this would be to study hospitality,” she told Standard Style.
“When I moved to South Africa, I discovered my desire for content creation through Infinity Magazine.
“While multitasking, I found designing the magazine layout and conducting interviews fascinating. As I was nurturing my knowledge and skills, my dream was to always work for ViacomCBS Networks Africa.
“As an international media company that had achieved so much over the years and creating an incredible footprint in Africa, I wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t know how I would make it possible but I truly believed that I deserved to be there.”
Chitemere added: “Through my magazine work, I networked thoroughly during events, and by God’s grace one of Viacom CBS Networks Africa’s affiliates ended up being a close friend of mine.”
“Knowing how much I wanted to work there so badly, after a while I got a phone call informing me about an available position that suited my work experience.
“Unapologetic, I went for interviews and when I got the job it was mind blowing. I kept being hopeful and God was faithful. Everything else I managed to achieve really started from there and onwards.”
Chitemere has been associated and worked with so many South African and international brands that gave her so much knowledge and understanding about media.
At ViacomCBS Networks Africa, the media practitioner got to be a part of the marketing campaigns ran across all the brands and events hosted across South Africa and the African continent.
She was later promoted to an executive assistant and reported to the vice-president of Comedy Central & Creative Services as well as the vice president for MTV, MTV Base and BET.
Chitemere occasionally worked with the executive vice-president and MD of ViacomCBS Networks Africa, which was Nigerian-born, United States-educated media executive Alex Okosi, at the time.
She acknowledges how she was very fortunate to have worked with the latter, learning about his journey, to which in essence made it possible for ViacomCBS Networks Africa to be established in South Africa.
By working on big campaigns and productions like the Africa Day Benefit Concert, BET Awards and MTV Awards, Chitemere learned and interacted with clients and colleagues within South Africa and globally, which helped her to have a better understanding of what it takes to put together big productions and awarding ceremonies.
She solely credits the broadcast organisation for opening up avenues for her to accomplish.
The media practitioner now works at an award winning television production company Clive Morris Productions, a top media establishment known to create and produce the most sought-after commercials, live events and TV shows like The Docket, Broken Vows, Red Cake Not The Cooking Show, and most recently The Estate, a South African telenovela airing on SABC 3.
Chitemere reports to the three executives of the company, creates social media content for the production’s shows that are currently running, and runs the marketing activities as well as public relations for both the company and the television shows.
As a celebrity assistant, her job involves running day to day schedules, commitments, business interests and client management.
In essence, making a celebrity’s day run smoothly as possible, and making sure they get the necessary support they might need, defines her job description.
Chitemere pointed out that at Own Your Crown Organisation, the main intent is to provide women with knowledge and tools that will help them to elevate themselves within their careers and enhance their skill sets so that when they manage to find employment or the right opportunities are presented to them, they are well prepared to stamp their potency.
Constantly sharing resources and vacancies, Chitemere and her team have already witnessed loads of women being able to receive promotions, start new jobs and businesses.
Keen to contribute to the wellness of the social fabric, the creative artist, who is a proponent for the recognition of the vulnerable, continues to rally behind the possibility of an inclusive and tolerant society which is free from discriminatory and stereotype.
While motherhood has been both a fruitful and challenging journey for Chitemere, she loves learning the smallest things from her son who inspires her to take on challenges head on and opens her mind to constant creativity.
The media practitioner alluded on the importance of empowering the next generation, especially while they are still young.
With the internet having been a great tool for her career, Chitemere believes that cyberspace gives children an early start to knowledge and teenagers the opportunity to look into problem solving and learning.
“The net has helped me to meet and interact with people I never thought I would come across,” she said.
“As an introvert, I have really tried my best to work on my networking skills. Interacting with people helps with breaking the ice so that it becomes much easier when one gets to encounter and nurture those connections.
“I met the South African celebrity that I’m currently working with through the internet. He was running a competition at the time of which I won.
“We stayed connected online, and about two years later, I started working with him.”
Chitemere added: “It is through the advent of new media technologies that the world has become a global village.”
“Children who have access to the internet have an added advantage. They can do research and learn about whatever they are passionate about.
“For those who don’t, it’s a major setback for them, but having organisations or institutions that are willing to teach them about technology, innovation and the economy helps them gain understanding.
“As minors grow older they can use that information in high school, tertiary level, within their careers and life in general.
“As adults we are all role models to kids and youths, we have to play our part in whichever way possible for them to have a brighter future and open up their young minds to what’s out there in the world.”
In the midst of the ongoing lockdowns due to the spike in the Covid-19 global pandemic, one of the challenges Chitemere has experienced is remaining inspired and motivated enough to keep her initiatives running.
With multiple movement and gathering restrictions, it has been a huge hurdle to keep Infinity Magazine lively.
The rough circumstances have led Chitemere to the decision of putting its publication on hold, until she is in a better space to be able to put out the best quality content to audiences with the help of her team.
Despite the magazine setback, her occupation at Clive Morris Productions is helping her believe that all the hard work she has been doing in the media fraternity for close to a decade, has been worth it.
- Follow Grant Moyo on Twitter: @TotemGrant