Covering this week’s edition of The Will Downtown is Alex Okosi, the managing director of EMEA Emerging Markets at YouTube. In his interview with Onah Nwachukwu of The Will Downtown, he spoke about his passion for projecting African content to the world and what he thinks content will be like.
Here’s an editor’s note from Onah:
From playing a significant role that ensured African artists and creators benefit from the YouTube Black Voices Fund to being part of the team that launched the Africa Day Concert, Alex Okosi @alexokosi certainly understands the importance of promoting African content. He believes, “If you look at the number of British-trained black actors that have found success on the global stage, it provides a sample of what is possible if our talent could access similar levels of training. And this applies to those in front and behind the camera.“
And it didn’t start from his role at YouTube. While he was at Viacom, he and his team were responsible for bringing MTVBase and BET to our screens, which in turn put Afrobeats on the map.
Perhaps this solidified his being on Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People, 2023, list for the second consecutive year.
Read about his inspiring story, from writing the business plan for Viacom and working there for 22 years to his not-so-new position as Managing Director of EMEA Emerging Markets at YouTube.
Read excerpts from the interview below:
On his move to YouTube
Let’s talk about your move to YouTube; what prompted it, considering you built MTV Base, BET, Nickelodeon, etc.? I had always wanted to transition to working on a platform at the intersection of content and technology, and for me, no better platform does this other than YouTube. I wanted to acquire new skills that would enable me to serve the needs of creators and users today who want to engage with the content they want, when they want, across multiple platforms and on the screens of their choice.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed working at MTV/Viacom, and it wasn’t easy to leave – I was there for 22 years and am so proud of the businesses we built. From writing the business plan in 2005, we launched ten channels and multiple online and social media platforms and built brands from the ground up. It was the most remarkable experience that enabled me to express my entrepreneurial skills while doing what I was passionate about; re-imagining the narrative on Africa and helping to elevate her youth culture.
It is fair to say that our work, particularly in the music space, played a crucial part in the global success of African music today, from Afrobeats to Amapiano. However, the opportunity to scale the impact that one can have on a platform like YouTube is just exponentially much bigger, and that was a key part of my decision.
On being on the power list again this year
It was very humbling to be chosen and be part of the UK’s most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage. At the ceremony, I was networking with the incredibly inspiring people doing transformative work across various industries. It’s a powerful initiative, and I am grateful to be recognised again this year.
On what motivates him
I am motivated by doing whatever I can to help young people, creators and artists realise their potential. I was fortunate to have been mentored by people who really cared about my growth throughout my life. I want to scale the positive impact I can make in young people’s lives by leveraging the platforms I work on to create endless opportunities. I am always striving for excellence, and the key values that drive me are to be accountable, respectful and accessible.
Read the full interview here.
Double-breasted Suit: @atafo.official