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Conversations with the Inspiring Rosette Sims and Jenifer Ada Okoye

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rosette Sims and Jenifer Ada Okoye.

Rosette and Jenifer Ada, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As we began our careers in Entertainment, we immediately recognized how few people of color there were in positions of power and the overall lack of diversity throughout the industry. Coupled with this realization was our deep appreciation for the ‘Black Renaissance’ sweeping across multiple industries and currently permeating our content consumption. This inspired us to bring together young professionals and content creators of color to empower one another and spark a change for our generation and future generations.

NEXTGEN is a networking organization based in Los Angeles that empowers young professionals and content creators of color to make meaningful impacts across all areas of the Entertainment Industry. Founded in 2018, NEXTGEN aims to create intimate spaces for people of color in the industry to network, create, and collaborate.

Has it been a smooth road? What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
Our journey has certainly not been one smooth road. From hosting events in our living room to later partnering with entertainment studios has certainly come with bumps along the way. With a mailing list of close to 600 members, one of the biggest challenges for us has been scaling so quickly and managing our rapid growth in just one year as an organization. Trying to align multiple work streams and deciding what to do first when it comes to event planning is a constant struggle, especially when we try to offer so much to so many people with very little resources. Doing all of this while we are also quite young in our careers and trying to grow just like our organization members is another challenge within itself.

The best piece of advice we could give other young entrepreneurs that has been incredibly helpful for us is to build a strong team, set realistic goals, and keep open communication with your team members. Learning how to troubleshoot and viewing each failed attempt as a valuable lesson will be a game-changer.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into NEXTGEN story. Tell us more about the business.
NEXTGEN hosts events that create unique experiences for young professionals and content creators in the Industry to meet new people and grow their network, as we recognize how important this is at the entry and mid-career levels. We believe that these opportunities are especially critical to helping people of color not only get a seat at the table but to one day be the head of the table. As the next generation, we are working towards becoming a more equitable and representative Entertainment Industry.

We have held panels, screenings, and mixers over the past year at various locations all over Los Angeles. Past partnerships have included Amazon Studios and Netflix.

Our growing community is comprised of people employed in areas of Entertainment spanning across DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING/PR, PHYSICAL + POST-PRODUCTION, TALENT REPRESENTATION, LEGAL/BUSINESS AFFAIRS, WRITING, ACTING, and more, working at STUDIOS, NETWORKS, PRODUCTION COMPANIES, and as FREELANCERS.

We are certainly most proud of the genuine individual connections that are made as a result of our events. Whether it’s people telling us that they got an interview/callback because of someone that they met at one of our mixers, or just seeing new friendships formed between our members — there is truly nothing more fulfilling. We encourage everyone to come prepared to meet people like them and who are different from them too, with the intention that this community can act as a support system and ultimately help you have the impact you want to have in the Industry.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
RS: The woman who inspires me in my life are those who fearlessly pursue their true desires regardless of ego, status, money, or approval. They live each day in the lives they choose based on what makes them happiest and therefore able to show up as their best selves for those around them. These women are my friends, my peers, my role models, my mentors, my sisters, and my mother. Comparison is the easiest trap for us, women, to fall into, especially at this age and in this environment. It’s so important to surround ourselves with those who lift us up and lift themselves up because we rise together. We only shine when our sisters are shining.

JO: My mother is the first woman who comes to mind when I think about this question. She emigrated to this country from Nigeria over 30 years ago with very little to her name. She enrolled in college, married my dad, and was soon juggling being a wife, mother, student, and working woman by her 25th birthday. The thought of doing that at my age now sounds unfathomable, but she somehow made it work and was able to build an incredible life for my siblings and myself. My mother made a lot of sacrifices to come to America, and even more sacrifices in both her career and personal life to raise my siblings and me. As her only daughter, she especially made sure I knew that I was capable of achieving anything I put my mind to and anything I entrusted God to guide me through. She was the one who taught me how to walk confidently through a world that would create biases about me because I am a woman, and more so because I am a black woman. Watching her take her own advice and becoming the successful entrepreneur that she is today has been incredibly inspiring, and I am so proud to be her daughter.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos captured by Sam Trotman Jr., Alan Dang, and Felisha Carrasco

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