On June 6, 2021, the 2021 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) was held, and Life & Rhymes of Sky Arts was declared as the best entertainment programme, beating off competition from Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV), Strictly Come Dancing (BBC One) and The Masked Singer (ITV)
Life & Rhymes is UK’s first dedicated spoken word TV show, which first aired on Sky Arts on November 4, 2020.
The co-creator and associate producer of the BAFTA award-winning spoken word show is Isaac George Tetteh Nartey – a poet and public speaker who loves to inspire and impact the lives of young people.
“I have managed to impact the lives of over 70,000 young people over the past six years,” he told Kuulpeeps.
Born in London, Isaac moved to Ghana with his parents when he was a year old, and then moved back to London when he was three years old after a tragedy that befell his family.
“I had three siblings at the time. When I was three years old my eldest brother Micheal passed away that caused a strain on the family and I moved back to London with my mum and my other two sisters,” he revealed.
This painful experience, in addition to losing another sibling, sparked Isaac’s deeper interest in poetry and spoken word.
“I used to write poetry and rap lyrics, but when my sister died it was painful. I was depressed and feeling hopeless because all of my siblings were severely disabled from birth and that was the second one of my siblings to pass away. That’s where poetry came in. I sat down and wrote out my pain and made rhythm and rhyme to it. All of a sudden my pain had a purpose. It seems as though tragedy has really sparked two of the major life changes so far in my story.”
These experiences pushed him to start performing poetry and explore London’s spoken word scene as a teenager.
At the age of 18, Isaac co-founded an entertainment company Stepping Stonez LTD with his friends – Serge Rashidi-Zakuani and Anthony Boakye-Mensah. They provided entertainment in the areas of theatre, TV and film, also organised inspirational programmes for schools.
The Brunel University alumnus also founded InKingsWords in 2012 to provide high impact performances at corporate events, educational institutes and conferences, poetry workshops and events facilitation.
He later in 2015 got the opportunity to work at Sky UK Limited as a Sky Academy Leader, providing a unique experience for young people on what it’s like to work on TV… and that’s where he birthed the idea for Life & Rhymes.
“Life & Rhymes came from a vision to bring spoken word to the mainstream,” he said. “At the time, there has only ever been one major poetry tv show, which was def poetry jam. Because of my experience working with young people, I landed a job at Sky TV working for Sky Academy which gave young people a sneak peek of what it’s like to work on TV.”
“This lead to me to push to create a platform for spoken word on TV. I was rejected many times… I think at least about 5 or 6 times then I met with my fellow co-creator Bob Clarke who is the CEO of Mama youth project, an organisation that has given hundreds of young people a doorway into the TV industry. Bob then putting his TV exec producer hat on and enlisting the services of Poetry living legend Benjamin Zephaniah we brought this dream and vision to life. We started out as just making a pilot episode which became a series which became the UK’s first spoken word tv show,” he narrated.
On what winning the BAFTA meant to him, Isaac said: “It means that God goes beyond your imagination. It means believing in what is inside of you is the most important thing. We beat some of the major shows on British television with a budget that was a lot smaller than all of them. Tough a lesson here is, when there is not enough money, get creative. Creativity can trump capital and God is creativity.”
Isaac, however, is hoping to undertake TV productions in Ghana and is already in talks with some Ghanaian production companies.
“I am in discussions with some people about putting together some production work. I will give a shout out to Ian frisky and Frisky productions because he is a young man in Ghana who has been pushing hard to build his production company… It is my desire is to create something made in Ghana by Ghanaians that has the quality to be exported to other parts of the world,” he said.
“My ambitions now are to create, create, create, create! There is nothing more purposeful than seeing something come from absolutely nothing and become something tangible and beautiful,” he said.
“I am not just a production guy. I am a creative. So my future plan is to create more things and especially across the continent. Not just Ghana. It’s time for people like me who are in the diaspora to create things that make our motherland proud and write our names in the history books,” he said about his dream to make an impact as a creative person.
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