Akosua Adoma Owusu - Filmmaker and Producer

What do you do? How did you get started?

I’m a filmmaker and a producer. I’m also a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember but I got started in the film and art world at the University of Virginia. After graduating, I decided to pursue an MFA in Fine Art and Film/Video at CalArts in California. Believe it or not, I used to be a hip-hop dance choreographer for a dance troupe called Mahogany back in the day in Charlottesville, Virginia! I had dreams of becoming a backup dancer for Janet Jackson or Britney Spears someday. And, I realized early on I wasn’t going to make it as a dancer so, I picked up film and stuck with it. Now that I’m living in New York City, all the talented performers out here are inspiring me. I’ve been thinking about mental health and self-care, especially in this political climate. Dancing used to be a way for me to let go and release tension. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I have suppressed that side of me for so long and want to pick up dancing again soon.

What is your relationship to Osei-Duro?

In 2013, while living in Ghana and promoting my film, Kwaku Ananse, I got a Facebook message from an artist, Kenturah Davis, about illustrating my portrait for a wall mural. During that time, she was also working as a production manager with Osei-Duro so; I visited Molly and Maryanne at their studio. I loved how they applied our traditional tie-dye techniques with modern vibes to make sustainable clothing, while supporting local Ghanaian artists.


Akosua Adoma in our Boa Skirt and Dart Tank in Broadstroke

What’s your favorite Osei-Duro piece in your wardrobe and why?

 My favorite Osei-Duro piece right now is the Broad Stroke Dart Tank and matching Boa skirt. The linen material is lightweight and has a cool feeling against my skin during the summer, especially in Ghana, where the climate is so hot. I believe this outfit reflects my American and Ghanaian cultures and identity.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve always found inspiration in music and painting.  Recently, the writing of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on feminism and the immigrant experience inspires me. Not just because she gave me an assignment of producing her work into a short film, but mostly because she’s an eloquent writer - intelligent - and inspires everybody in popular culture from Beyonce to Michelle Obama. Her words have been sampled in fashion, music and film. And, she encourages women to embrace their femininity. Lately, she has launched a “Project Wear Nigerian” campaign to support Nigerian clothing brands. I’m trying to follow her lead by wearing more brands made in Ghana, like Osei-Duro for my public appearances.


Is there a memorable occasion or story where you’ve worn our clothing?

This year, I attended the opening of the Whitney Biennial wearing the Osei-Duro Causa Dress in Chevrons. I saw Thelma Golden walking through one of the galleries wearing her husband, Duro Olowu’s clothing. We have mutual friends and folks always say that we look alike, so, I asked to take a photo with her and she agreed.

Akosua Adoma in our Causa Dress in Chevrons with Thelma Golden at the Whitney Biennial

How do you style your Osei-Duro pieces?

I remember Molly telling me in Ghana that she used to costume design for film in California so, I hit her up about collaborating for our film production of On Monday of Last Week. We ended up styling our main actress, Chinasa Ogbuagu in the Adaka top in Navrongo. Personally, I enjoy wearing Osei-Duro on set or at art openings to represent my Ghanaian culture. So, I believe Osei-Duro reflects my background and lived experiences in Ghana and California.

Akosua Adoma in our Muto Dress in Hibiscus

Is there any music you’re loving right now?

Honestly speaking, I haven’t listened to the radio for the longest time so, I’m a bit out of touch with what’s popular. I’m only just now catching up to Beyonce’s Lemonade album. I’m listening to Sampha’s “Process” now. I love 90’s neo soul like Les Nubians and Amel Larrieux. Every time I hear Groove Theory’s “Tell Me” playing in a department store or restaurant, it takes me back to a good place. That’s my song!

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m an early bird. Usually, I wake up around 6 am, shower, make breakfast and coffee, and then answer emails. A big part of last year was producing On Monday of Last Week with my production company Obibini Pictures. I’m recovering from that process and preparing for its release. I’m also a chronic researcher and, I spend time researching for my films on Facebook and Instagram. I’m currently developing a feature-length film based on my Save the Rex Initiative in Ghana, to revive one of Ghana’s oldest cinema houses as a creative institution for art, music and film. I try to complete my administrative duties by noon and then, I take walks around my neighborhood.


What advice do you have to offer someone who is just starting out?

Everybody has his or her own path to success. With social media, it’s so easy to get caught up with comparing your life to others, while losing sight of your own accomplishments. For me, success isn’t about how many likes and fans and followers that you can have. Those things aren’t important to me. I enjoy the process of creating personal work that connects to people globally. I didn’t think I could option the rights and produce a movie by a renowned author and that opportunity came to me when I least expected it. And, the right people came into my life every step of the way to help make it work. Be open to smaller opportunities that can open major doors.


Akosua Adoma in our Pleated Skirt in Esmeralda with Farouk James Prempeh, star of On Monday of Last Week

You’re hosting the dinner party of your dreams. Who is invited (anyone, dead or alive) and what’s for dinner?

If I could have the dinner party of my dreams, I would definitely invite Jean-Michel Basquiat, Toni Morrison and Michael Jackson. They are my greatest sources of inspiration. What’s for dinner? I’m not sure about dinner but we’d have red velvet cake for dessert.


 To find out more about Adoma and her work, visit her website http://obibinipictures.com