Actor and media professional, Zubin Cooper is spearheading the upcoming Miss Liberia’s pageant. According to Mr. Cooper, hosting the Miss Liberia’s pageant is a challenging task, but yet an enjoyable cultural entertainment project. Check out our exclusive interview with Mr. Cooper below.
Are you still hosting Miss Liberia?
Yes, my company XL-Entertainment is still hosting Miss Liberia. A challenging yet enjoyable cultural entertainment project
You are a man of many hats, always working on something, tell us about your current project. Is The Face the biggest movie you have done?
Miss Liberia is one of a few projects I am working on at the moment, but it occupies the biggest block of time, due to the sheer amount of work it takes to really bring it together. It has a lot of elements that you have to bring together over time. And it’s a national project; we were recently able to crisscross Liberia conducting regional auditions. And it was a challenge. Had to ride a penpen (motorcycle) for about 12 hours at one point. All on the worst type of dirt roads possible in the middle of the rainy season. Had a deadline to be in Maryland though, so it had to be done. The show or in this case Miss Liberia must go on.
Other than Miss Liberia I am working on a few other projects in the cultural/entertainment space, including a multimedia project – JujuAfrica under the omuahtee AFRICA media brand. Which will consist of digital and terrestrial media broadcasting original programming to Liberia and the world. Working with an assortment on a series of programs that will cover lifestyle, entertainment, culture, history, business, dance, music, agriculture; the whole gamut except for politics. No politics at all. I think we have enough people doing that. Then there are one or two other projects under XL-Entertainment, but I will keep quiet on those for now.
Biggest feature film, yes it was.
If yes, what was that experience like?
The experience on The Last Face was basically all that you’d want of a Hollywood project, with major stars and a superstar director. Everything was big. The attention to detail was fantastic. The resources were amazing. And the cast and crew were phenomenal. Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Jared Harris, Jean Reno, Adele Exacharpoulos, Sibongile Mlambo, etc…. every actor and actress in that film were true followers of the craft. Able to channel a level of emotion and meaning into every moment that you don’t see ordinarily. It helped me to grow personally and professionally in so many ways. And I made friendships that I cherish and maintain to this day. My network was also enlarged.
Please explain to us what the Miss Liberia bidding process entails.
The Miss Liberia bidding process from my point of view was a complex yet straight forward process. Complex in that there are so many moving parts to it that if you don’t have the imagination and flexibility to be creative and innovative, that you can’t deliver on what should be a spectacle for the enjoyment of all. Especially with the challenges of Covid-19. Straightforward in that once the project vision and proposal were outlined in a realistic framework, it was just the matter of submitting the proposal, along with my corporate documents, proof of a bank account and fees and letting the committee evaluate on its merits.
As a well-traveled individual which culture outside the Liberian culture you admire the most and why?
I have been in many countries across the world, but I have always maintained a fascination with our African cultures and traditions. Especially our folk tales and oral traditions and histories. Yes, there are similarities within many nations of Africa, mainly due that most of the borders were arbitrarily arrived at by some colonial administrator (story for another day); but the sheer volume and richness is astounding and just staggers my imagination. Africa is a story waiting to be told and we as Africans have to tell the stories of our heroes and preserve the richness and depth of our culture, history and traditions. Liberia the republic’s story started in the 1800s, but Liberia the land, the grain coast’s, story is much older. That is the same for so many African cultures and their modern national counterparts. For example, I once went to Kumasi for the “Durbar” of the Asantehene, I spent about five days there. It was astounding and so varied and different, with northern chiefs on horses, to barefoot Akan warriors from neighboring kingdoms. It was amazing. Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, and many other nations have so much to teach and share as does Liberia. The African culture revolution has yet to truly occur and ne experienced.
What are some of the challenges you are facing on this journey to bring Miss Liberia back to live?
Did I mention the 12-hour bike ride from Greenville to Harper? LOL. The biggest challenge out of the many challenges is getting the people to believe in Miss Liberia again. To restore the excitement and faith that we had in it. That sense of wonder and anticipation. That trust. That is what I want to bring back. Along with the creativity. The fashion, the style and faith. There are logistical challenges, but those can be overcome by scheduling, finances, and discipline. But getting our people to believe in Miss Liberia again; that’s the challenge.
What do you think about the current state of the Liberian movie industry?
The Liberian movie industry still has a long way to go. We had a renaissance of sorts during Ebola, but the short gains made during that time in terms of audience engagement and commercial profitability have slowed. We are progressing, but it still has many obstacles to overcome and face as it tries to climb to the heights of the Nigerian and South African and Northern African and East African cinema.
What do you think is holding the Liberian Movie industry back?
The Liberian movie industry is lacking investment, imagination or creativity and discipline and dedication. Let’s look at creativity or imagination first. When I speak of creativity or imagination, I am speaking of not only the content of the movies/films (for expediency I am also including digital media and tv), but how those contents are delivered to the audience. Even how they are created. In other African nations people are shooting films, skits, TV programs on mobile phones. Why aren’t we doing that? How are we using digital platforms? We are still imitating and not innovating. Until we can conquer that hump, we wont move. We don’t have the financing or access to capital that is in other African countries, so we have to as a must, begin to innovate and be creative in how we engage in pre-production, production and post. 1xBet sponsors many Nigerian creatives, why don’t our creatives engage them or their local equivalent? Why must we have a sponsor? These are questions we need to ask ourselves. Discipline and dedication mostly goes to aspiring filmmakers, you are called aspiring for a reason. Learn and perfect your craft and put in work. Its not you turn up on set and shoot. A lot of preparation goes into shooting; improvisation is good, but you can’t improvise 24/7. When it comes to finance we need to realize that government and the private sector in Liberia , do not understand nor value the culture and entertainment industries. Some individuals might, but they can’t support the entire industry. So, we have to find new means of financing and pushing our ideas to the front. New means of distribution, news means of raising capital, new means of getting the public to watch and/or purchase our films, skits, productions.
What advice to you have for the Liberian entertainment industry as a whole?
We need to come together under the Liberian Movie Union and see how we can embrace new media and new avenues of finance and distribution to make the critical next steps in our development. It will take patience, hard work and dedication, which LIMU has in excess. We just have to stay together and make it happen.
What message do you have for your fans?
Stay tuned for JujuAfrica and you will be enthralled by what we will bring to the culture and entertainment space soon. If you have any creative ideas or want to collab reach out. I am always open. The Internet and social media have given every one of us the opportunity to be a star in our own space. Use it. Sign up to my fanpage zubincooper on FB and follow me on IG as omuahtee and twitter as omuahtee.
Well, we look forward to seeing what Mr. Cooper has in store for us.