Foreword by I AM SUEDE
Koshie Mills is everything.
She will tell you.
She’s a wonderful wife to Kwame Boakye. Courageous Mother to Kwame Boateng, Kofi Siriboe and Kwesi Boakye, an Executive Producer of The Diaspora Dialogues and chef extraordinaire of Jollof Rice, Mac n cheese, Fufu and soup that will make you want to smack your mama!
Koshie’s dedication to family, African/African American culture and the blossoming success of her sons careers has the industry abuzz.
Her K3PR Publicity Branding Marketing company was inspired by the need to highlight the accomplishments of her sons in the Entertainment industry which brings the conversation back to the love and respect for family and deftly created awareness for African culture.
In light of the Royal Wedding and the swift romance Black Panther has ignited with the Diaspora, the world may finally be ready to embrace the idea of having more conversations around who we are as a people, world citizens and representatives of mother Africa. Who better to be a trailblazer leading that conversation, than a mother.
I look forward to the continued success of Koshie and the generational success of her family. Their success guarantees our success. Together we are everything.
Koshie Mills: The Hollywood powerhouse that’s pulling Africans together globally
It’s just after midday in Los Angeles and Koshie Mills has only just woken up. “I can’t really do a video call right now, I’m not looking my best,” she says jokingly when she answers my Whatsapp video call. She’s still recovering from jet lag having flown from Johannesburg two days prior.
It was a fruitful trip that saw Mills introducing The Diaspora Dialogue, a platform and movement that’s focused on pushing African interests to the forefront of the global conversation.
Mills, who was born in Ghana, has been in Los Angeles for 34 years. But despite having spent most of her life away from Ghana, she remains deeply connected to the country. Earlier this year, her and her sons – Kofi Siriboe (Girls Trip, Queen Sugar), Kwame Boateng (Everybody Hates Chris, The Plug) and Kwesi Boakye (Claws, Colon) – were chosen to be ambassadors of Ghanaian Film, Arts and Culture.
“I’m always looking at ways where we can highlight Ghana and connect the dots for Ghana tourism, as well as connect the dots throughout the diaspora to come back to the motherland. So it doesn’t even have to be just Ghana in particular but just to have people look at Africa as a space to really see that they can find culture, they can find investment and everything that they need there.”
Her and her family have found themselves so deeply connected to the soil that they’ve loosely adopted an orphanage, Great Mission International, where every year they go and put together a Christmas party.
“Now we want to do more,” she says.
Watch The Diaspora Dialogues Extended Trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y__JIt3NPLM
One of the ways Mills has kept her sons grounded and connected to their Ghanaian culture is through food. “I’m a fantastic chef, if I may say so myself,” we both laugh. “By all accounts,” she says more seriously, “I’m a great chef. My favourite dish is fufu and light soup. I also make jollof rice, of course. And you know that in the jollof wars, Ghana is the one. Our jollof is the best hands down.”
The journey: From mom to mom-ager
2006, five years after her boys first got introduced to showbiz, they started to get bigger television and film bookings. Mills, a registered nurse at the time, would take off from work for up three months to shoot. “It became a conflict because one would go shoot for up to three months, and another would have to go shoot for six weeks. It just got to a point where I had to decide whether I was going to continue on my registered nurse job or if I was going to push them because they’re already showing signs of them wanting to do this, and their talent is being validated by the studios booking them.” That’s when she quit her job and started managing her sons’ careers full-time.
All these years later, she’s still as involved in their work as ever, just more from a counselling aspect and advisory board. “I’ve put together a team for them that I trust to help them get where they need to go in their career. I oversee everything.”
I ask her if she still gets the same feeling of euphoria when big bookings come in. She responds emphatically: “The excitement never goes away for me! We’re expanding and exploding in different areas of the business. And now I’m excited about what I’m doing with my ministry with pulling Africans together globally.”
Time to unify and re-water the soil that our ancestors left for us as an inheritance
Mills is trying to advance the conversation of how African and African-Americans are divided by culture yet we’re one people, as well as the preconceptions that Americans have about Africans, and vice versa. “These are things that have been taught to us through various means, whether it’s through media or random conversation. So I’m starting with dialogue because I understand that relationship is built through conversation. If you don’t speak to someone, you can’t build a relationship with them. So the starting point has to be the conversations because we have to peel back the layers and find out why we can’t unify and re-water the soil that our ancestors left for us as an inheritance.”
I ask her about some of the changes she wants to see on the continent and how she envisions them panning out.
“I want to see our millennials and the young generation come back to Africa in force. Visit the land and understand the cultures. I want them to not see Africa as a country but as a continent with various traditions.”
Art and creative expression will play a big part in advancing these interests. A case in point being how Black Panther came and pushed her agenda. “Between Killmonger and T’Challa they really discussed the fact that it was wrong for us to just leave these people here and never connect with them. Leaving them so lost to the culture, the tribe, and everything. I feel exactly like T’Challa. I really feel like no child left behind and no African left behind, how about that?”
Many people have resonated with the perspective of both the good (T’Challa) and bad guy (Killmonger). She adds her two cents on that dynamic. “I lived the bad guy’s perspective, but instead of being angry, I’m curating change. That’s the difference I think that we have to observe. When we don’t feel things are good we need to stop being in fight mode and get into strategy and solution mode. So I get Killmonger’s perspective because no one likes being oppressed, but he just went about it the wrong way. His solution only ended up getting him killed and he didn’t achieve anything.”
A married woman of 27 years, Mills is very specific that it’s the joint efforts of her and her husband that has brought them this far. Though she wears many hats, including those of PR maven, media strategist and consultant, Mills has found a more accurate description. “Right now I would say that I’m an oratorical dispensary. That means that I have the ability to deliver medication through my articulation. So the language I choose and use for any particular person is the right dose for them. And because of that I’m highly aware of what I say to people when they’re in their most broken moments.”