As a part of the #YALICares campaign on promoting a healthier Africa, we gave YALI Network members a chance to pose questions to the cast and crew of MTV Shuga. This campaign discusses sexual health topics in order to educate its audience as well as to begin to create an environment in which conversations about sexual health can take place. Check out the top moments from this YALICHAT.
- MTV Shuga Cast Engagement with Sexual Health Topics
One of MTV Shuga’s producers shares that the cast of MTV Shuga undergoes training by health care professionals in order to be well-versed in sexual health topics being addressed throughout the show. Additionally, the cast members serve as ambassadors for the show and messages covered by the show through being public figures and answering questions posed by fans about health care concerns online and through social media. The show itself also serves as a catalyst for conversation about sexual and reproductive health through its narrative. Along with the natural dialogue it creates, one of the show’s producers, Olive, shares that “we also have a peer education training program that trains young people to use the drama series as a teaching device, and then return to their local communities (both urban and rural) to spread the key messaging they have learned.” MTV Shuga is working to create a natural dialogue around sexual health, both through the show and within the community.
- When to Begin Sex Education
The show’s director, Tope Oshin, advises that sex education should begin before puberty so young people can gain the knowledge they need on practicing safe sex before they start becoming sexually active. She also believes in the practice of early sex education so young people can better understand the changes in their bodies and hormones. Additionally, cast member Sharon shares the importance of creating a culture that is accepting of an open dialogue about sex education. She says: “I think teaching sex education in schools, especially to teenagers, is important. I also think we need to create an environment where young people with questions about sex, their sexuality, their developing bodies can feel safe enough to ask questions and get good answers from teachers, parents, guidance counsellors, etc.”
- Encouraging the Creation of Valuable Media Content
When a YALI Network member asks about how the media can influence people not to watch pornographic content, Tope advises network members to “be the change you want to see.” She encourages network members to create meaningful content that they believe spreads a message they feel needs to be shared.
- Acquiring Talent for the Show
One of the producers shares the process that took place in order to result in the creation of MTV Shuga. He said, “MTV Shuga has travelled across the African continent to bring together a variety of talented individuals.” The show was produced in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to capture more than one region. The diversity of the cast works to create a show that is relatable to people across the African continent.
- Entering the Production Industry
For people wanting to get involved with the work behind MTV Shuga, Tope’s best advice is that “the best way to be a filmmaker is to make films”. Tope continues by sharing that this statement doesn’t stop with the art of filmmaking. She expresses that the more you practice your trade, whatever it may be, the better you will get. And if you really want your work to enter an industry, share it with as many people as possible who can critique it and help you edit it in order for you to make the best possible impression of yourself and, in turn, gain the recognition you deserve for your hard work.
For more information on how you can be an advocate for a healthier Africa, visit yali.state.gov/health.