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How Jude Brandford-Sackey is Building a Neoteric Platform for Global Creatives With Judeslist

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jude Brandford-Sackey, the founder and host of Judeslist podcast, on his vision to uncover the life stories of creatives and creators and what it means to bring something new to the world.


With over 15,000 listeners spanning 100 countries, his esteemed list of guests has included ceramic artist Djakou Kassi Nathalie, Nigerian actor and filmmaker Kunle Afolayan, Curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, Jean-Yuhs Documentary filmmaker Coodie & Chike, choreographer for Madonna and Micheal Jackson - Vincent Paterson, and many more.

 


The Sojourner


For the past 13 years, Jude has been working in consulting. He established his consulting company after he graduated from the university as part of his rolling bonafide skill and proficiency in accounting, business development and finance. As he put it, "It comes easy to me."


Nevertheless, despite vying for a promising consulting career, working with some of Ghana's reputable private equity firms, and currently at Ghana investment promotion center, Jude still felt a vacuum of fulfilment. "I'm working, but I'm not fulfilled with what I'm doing. I don't feel that innate joy about it. Yes, my work is interesting, I can do it, but I don't find fulfilment in it."


Retracting his steps to his childhood passion for creative storytelling, and love for mediums of film, photography, visual arts, music, and literature, Jude started testing his feet with podcast creation. 


"Storytelling has always been at the heart of my identified purpose. My unique perspective and view of life are very different from everyone else. Judeslist was a calling I couldn't evade. Initially, I envisioned pursuing a professional career or establishing a successful business before exploring my creative aspirations. However, my true passion lies in storytelling, comprising various mediums such as film, photography, visual arts, music, and literature. I find that these mediums provide a genuine approach to communicating and reaching an audience. Growing up, I've always been an avid reader and film enthusiast, studying films to grasp their essence. It's a medium that made deep sense to me, allowing for condensation.”


Although he didn't take it up seriously due to doubts about his ability and readiness to explore that untapped part of himself, his friends were instrumental in his conviction to halt the waiting period. 


"The podcast was an idea I'd been contemplating for a while, but I kept putting it off, telling myself I needed to learn more before I could start. I needed to learn how to edit, how to use the right tools and software, and how to conduct interviews. It was always an excuse, a way to avoid taking action. Then, one of my friends gave me a wake-up call. They said, ‘Jude, you've been talking about this podcast for too long. What if you don't release an episode next week? Don't talk to me again.’ That was the push I needed. I realised that I couldn't keep procrastinating. I had to take action and make my dream a reality. So, I created the first teaser for my podcast. It was a small step, but it was a start. And it was a step in the right direction."


The Days of Little Beginnings for Judeslist


Jude's mother was the first person to be featured on Judeslist, inferentially the first episode of the podcast:


“In the conversation with her, I expressed my gratitude to her for being a steadfast source of motivation in my life. My mother has been a pillar of strength, consistently encouraging me to persevere even in the face of adversity. She has been the primary reason I have never succumbed to despair, even when the pain of sickle cell anaemia complications became unbearable. Throughout my childhood, she remained by my bedside, offering unfading support and encouragement. Her constant push and belief in my abilities, and her words, "Choose to live,” gave me solace during those trying times. It shaped who I am today! That conversation not only strengthened our bond but also helped me process and understand some of the complexities of my early childhood experiences.”


Afterwards, Jude took turns to interview his friends in Ghana given that he had a clique of creatives in his circles. But soon, things evolved from physical interviews to virtual, and what began as a little spike of interest transmogrified into a bountiful pannier of commitment. 


“As I began conducting interviews, I unearthed answers to "why" this endeavour weighs heavily on my heart. Initially, it started as a podcast, but it has since evolved into something much grander. During these conversations, I noticed a distinct lack of similar initiatives on the continent—no one was interviewing creatives, going into their journey or initiating such discussions. One of the earlier directors I interviewed, about three years ago shared that after the podcast interview, when people Googled his name, they would see references to the podcast. Previously, there was minimal visibility when you searched his name, but now there's a significant digital footprint, serving as social proof and validation for his work.”


The Stead Influence: What Truly Lies On The Other Side Of Fear!


Apart from the lenient terms Jude has closed up with the chronic pains emanating from having sickle cell anaemia, he practically developed a renewed mindset laced with thick skin towards life and its daily shenanigans. The nature of his predicament, which he tagged 'unpredictable' inadvertently nurtured his resilient will.


On average, Jude sends out over 2,000 emails annually to prospective guests to whom he is extending invitations. A large percentage of these outreach efforts never convert."I've gotten so many no's, I mean blatant non-responses. But that also taught me something: these creative people are sometimes busy. Sometimes the email goes to spam. Either way, the experience has taught me resilience — just keep going. And like, just today, I had a response to a request I emailed last year.”


On the fairy side, Judeslist has hosted over 150 guests from different countries globally and from diverse practices within the creative industry. Individuals wearing creative hats for the longest time, from music, visual art, acting, and performance, from South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Mexico, and China have talked in conversations with Jude on the Judeslist podcast.


The podcast has gone yonder, transitioning into a mechanism for Creatives to reminisce on what matters most to them, and the very focal string that links their passion to their respective practices. “I realized that the conversations also became therapeutic for the people I was speaking with. Because when I asked them a question, they would have to articulate an answer that they had never even considered. For example, I would ask someone, ‘Oh, you're a photographer. Why did you start photography?’ And then they would go down memory lane and really think about it.”


Moving forward, Jude has envisioned the future he plans to devise for creatives globally through Judeslist.


“The larger goal of Judeslist is twofold: first, to create an archive, and second, to build a platform that enables seamless collaboration between creatives. I believe that, at least on the continent and beyond, we're having conversations in silos. Now the world has become so interconnected, that a film director in Nigeria who wants to shoot a scene in Ghana can easily find the necessary information online to make informed decisions about who to connect and work with. This is one of the main reasons why I want to bring people together to work on creative projects.


Secondly, I want to create a data-driven archive that is informative and details the profiles of various creatives I have interviewed. This way, if you're looking for data, it's readily available. The third component is capacity building. I believe there are many creatives, but from a business perspective, who is figuring out how to do contracts, sign deals, make connections, and collaborate? So, I want to provide support that can help creatives quickly get up to speed on the business aspects of their work.”







As Judeslist grows and scales, Jude has a bucket list of guests he'd like to host. "My top dream guests right now are currently all in Nigeria. Let me give you the top three: Mo Abudu, Don Jazzy, and Burna Boy.”


I wouldn't bat an eyelid to have Jude speak to a congregation of creatives, owing to the valuable additions he has made to his knowledge library from interacting with tons of creative connoisseurs. Therefore, to extract the very best summation of what he has augmented over time, I asked him "Through your countless conversations and anecdotes connecting with so many creatives, what's the most valuable piece of advice you've gleaned for aspiring storytellers like yourself and creatives looking to find their voice?”


His response was: "Firstly, utilize your inherent resources and refrain from seeking external advice. The answers lie within you. For instance, I realized at an early age that I am a leader and have an innate ability to connect with people. I can walk into a room, approach individuals, and initiate conversations as if we have been acquainted for years. The personal nature of my interviews reflects the skills I've honed over time to build connections with others.


Regarding resources, we possess everything we need within ourselves. We don't need to search externally for what we need to become or share with the world. It's already within us; we just need to recognize and act upon it. As children, we encounter hints of our creativity and purpose. Certain things draw our attention, and they're uniquely ours. No one can take that away. These signals reveal our purpose and what we should do with our time on Earth.


Start with what you have. Sometimes, we look for shortcuts by seeking answers, guides, and how-tos. However, you can't avoid putting in the work. If you want to excel, you must make the effort."


Interview by Fredrick Favour

 

ABOUT JUDE



Jude is a passionate storyteller and media producer committed to celebrating and archiving diverse narratives. 


His journey in storytelling began with a desire to understand the complexities of what it means to be an artist, and what it means to love what you do. 


He uses his podcast platform to connect with creatives in film, photography, music, literature, and the visual arts. With over 150 interviews all across the world, he has interviewed notable names such as ceramic artist Djakou Kassi Nathalie, artist and curator Oluwole Omofemi, Nigerian actor and filmmaker Kunle Afolayan, art curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, Documentary filmmakers of Jean-Yuhs Coodie& Chike, author and photographer Brandon Stanton, choreographer for Madonna and Micheal Jackson Vincent Paterson and many more. His goal is also to keep connecting with creatives all across the global south and to build an archive that documents the thriving creative landscape. For Jude, his motivation comes from his curiosity to understand the common themes of artistic expression, identity, purpose, devotion, and love. 



 

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How Jude Brandford-Sackey is Building a Neoteric Platform for Global Creatives With Judeslist

May 18, 2024

Fredrick Favour

7 min read

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