Charity Dago: “Equality in representation is my mission”

GEnsuring fair representation of diversity in the world of advertising is increasingly important. Attempting to do so are realities such asWariboko Agency, born from the need to represent Afro-descendants as a minority category, filling the gap that exists in the Italian art market. We discussed it with its founder Charity Dago

When was the agency born and at what stage of life were you?

The agency was born in 2020, officially, and was the result of an internal process that began before that year. I was going through a phase of rediscovery and realized that I needed something to strengthen myself and by extension the people around me.

At that moment I really understood that the agency was the right thing at the right time to understand and see my value. It was a revelation and an explosion at the same time.

What does the word Wariboko mean?

It is my first name in the Igwa language and I am proud of it. It is one of the languages ​​found in Nigeria, where both my parents are from. It means one who opens a door. I decided to give this name to the agency because it represents me not only for the name, but also for my mission, that is, an idea and an idealization of the work we will do in the coming years, so crucial for Italy. I worked behind the scenes for about two years, which was research. In those two years I was committed to understanding what the goal was and what was needed in this company, in the community, and what I could do to be useful and effective.

We are not just an agency representing African-descendant talent, but an entire world. With this we position ourselves in society to say that not only do we exist, but also what we would like to see in the near future and how we would like to represent and be represented. In addition to this, it is also important to use the appropriate language to talk about ourselves.

What do you see in the future of Wariboko? What projects do you have?

The ambition we have is to eliminate differences and bring equal representation, which is a right

Not being represented means not being seen, and not being seen causes trauma. We’ve set this goal ten years from now, a bit like the 2030 Agenda. We’re going to see this society changed a lot, partly because of generational change, partly because we don’t want to represent only African-descendants. If we talk about the world of cinema and advertising and gradually in all other artistic fields, we expect to resolve differences and represent people by making them shine with their potential.

Africa is thought to be one big country, but in reality there are many differences within Africa. We must ask ourselves what it means to be black, to be born and raised in Italy, and therefore to bring the differences to what it is

I am of Nigerian descent, but my other Nigerian friends or colleagues have different stories and dreams, so it is only right that we bring these kinds of differences to the table.

What challenges do you face in the diversity of storytelling with your work?

There are many, one of which is directly related to who I am, being a black woman and therefore the whole issue of individuality and the difficulty of being taken seriously as an entrepreneur. Doing business in Italy is a challenge

Redefining Africa's Narrative: Interview with @WeAfricansUnited Co-Founder Sarah Kamsu


Redefining Africa’s Narrative: Interview with @WeAfricansUnited Co-Founder Sarah Kamsu

But I am determined and I am completely convinced that I have a mission, so I keep going and I don’t stop. Today the market is ready to welcome black people working in the entertainment industry. So I was privileged, we were privileged.

We have been accused of being exclusionary or “self-ghettoized” because we only represent black people. But the goal, as I said before, is to think big, to be open and to represent all diversity. The goal is to stay in the community to get out of the community.

Another difficulty is that, as I said before, Working with black people means deconstructing trauma and giving powerful injections of self-esteem, as well as a trip with the artists. So to firmly believe that we can go far, even though there is nothing script-wise.

When you talk about opening up to other uniqueness, maintaining connection with community, what do you mean? How do you think it can be done?

I think it’s a process and it can be gradual. If I think about our first three years and especially the first months of our life, in the agency we were generally asked for black people and therefore we also had to do educational work on the language and the importance of using it correctly to enable us to work well.

Over time, the issue of purposefulness has also been addressed, because you can be black, but you can also have a disability or a certain religious belief, and branding and advertising have to take that into account. In this sense, I also advocate.

From what personal need arises the need to create a reality like Wariboko?

Wariboko was born because I myself did not feel represented

Years ago, I was on a casting and transitioning from straight hair to an afro, and I was very dedicated to taking care of my hair in its original state.

In this casting I would have to be in contact with chlorine for many hours and I didn’t want to do that, with all the effort it took to find my origin and beauty again, it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t want to take the job, but I had to communicate it properly to my manager. It wasn’t easy because he was white and I even wondered how he could understand me.

It was something familiar, never to be explained. With that opportunity I started looking for other agencies, first in Milan and then in Italy. And not finding agencies led by an African-descendant leader, I remember feeling a sense of frustration for months.

At some point I lit up and said to myself: but can I? I mean, I’m qualified because I’ve worked in front of and behind the cameras, I’ve produced, I’ve made money, in short I have all the potential to succeed. So I started working with myself and the community

I started meeting people, I’ve been dating for almost two years one by one with many black boys and girls who worked in other fields to understand what their expectations were, their ideals and what was missing. I got an idea. Thus Wariboko was born. We are talking about 2017-2018, so to get to 2020 the process was long.

Before its official debut in 2020, a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes for several years, so.

I dedicated myself to deeply understanding what people expected and what was missing, what were the needs of black people. Because I know my needs, but because black people are different from each other, I didn’t know what it could be.

I met people from different walks of life, with different backgrounds, with different experiences, ideals and dreams. However, they all gave me the same answer: there is a lack of representation. “I don’t feel represented, I don’t feel represented.” And I started from there.

I would ask over coffee or an aperitif about the problems they had faced and their opinion about an agency that could translate their needs, like in an interview.

What are the three pieces of advice you would give to anyone looking to start a career like yours or pursue a dream as ambitious as starting your company?

largeThe first thing is to continue to focus on people, who should be considered before work, not the other way around. Then we have to keep improving, because it’s an ever-evolving environment in which we operate and work with different generations. Maintaining transparency is the third element. Keep being curious and keep having conversations with your customers. These are the fundamental points that guarantee that we continue to move forward, evolve and grow together with the people we represent.

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