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OkayMedia taps former CNN journalist Isha Sesay for CEO of OkayPlayer & OkayAfrica

by | Apr 1, 2021

OkayMedia, the multimedia organization dedicated to uplifting the artistic and progressive voice of global Black culture, announced that author, award-winning journalist, and former CNN International anchor Isha Sesay has been appointed to the role of CEO. Sesay will combine her decades of reporting experience—including groundbreaking global coverage of social injustice and the experiences of women and girls—and entrepreneurial spirit to the visionary team at OkayMedia, which includes the digital publications OkayAfrica and OkayPlayer. Central to her priorities will be expanding the company’s commitment to innovative storytelling that moves the culture forward.

Sesay has also been appointed to the OkayMedia board of directors – which includes Sam Hendel, co-founder of Dataminr; and Shawn Gee, president, Live Nation, Urban and manager of The Roots – and named co-founder and CEO of OkayMedia’s new production arm, SPKN/WRD. The boutique production company will bring seldom heard global voices and fresh perspectives to the forefront, across feature films, documentaries, television, podcasting and publishing.

“I’m so thrilled to be joining the OkayMedia family,” said Isha Sesay. “This is an exciting company that has long done great work that I have admired. I can’t wait to bring to life all my ideas to expand our content offerings and ways to expose this fantastic brand to even more people in Africa and beyond.”

Sesay joins an award-winning team of accomplished creatives and will work closely with a senior leadership team that includes, Rachel Hislop, Teneille Craig, Scean Ellis, Armelle Crump, and Mariama Todd.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Isha Sesay as the new CEO of OkayMedia,” said OkayMedia chairman and board member Sam Hendel. “Isha’s leadership throughout her career in shining a light on the most critical and under-reported stories from across the globe – from the pandemic outbreak in Africa to her work as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador combatting the ongoing violence against women and girls, perfectly aligns with our mission to tell stories that move a global culture forward, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her joining our company.”

Sesay’s arrival is perfectly timed with the editorial evolution of the brand. Last month Okayplayer launched a mental health and wellness initiative celebrating Black joy called PASSAGE: The Practice of Healing, which included an eight-track EP of guided meditations produced by MMYYKK with original guided meditations voiced by creatives such as hip hop artist Big K.R.I.T., Kwasi Kessie, Deja Joelle, and Kenji Summers; a short-film visualizer edited by Andrew Morrow (Beyonce’s, Black is King); a live, guided meditation event series with FotografiskaNYC; and an “In Conversation” fireside chat about Black healing with GRAMMY-nominated rapper Vic Mensa.

During her 13 years at CNN, Sesay led the team that covered the 2014 kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in north-eastern Nigeria. Sesay received a Gracie Award for Outstanding Anchor, in recognition of her coverage of the story; and was part of the network’s team recognized with a Peabody Award for excellence in reporting. In 2018, she published her first book, “Beneath the Tamarind Tree,” the first definitive account of the mass abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls. She is currently the founder and president of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead, a non-profit organization working in her native country of Sierra Leone, to nurture and empower teenage girls to become Africa’s next generation of dynamic female leaders.

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