Shirley Frimpong Manso is the embodiment of an individual who satisfies the adage “What a man can do, a woman can do even better”. Shirley is a multi-talented writer/producer/director who has single handedly written, produced and directed excellent Ghanaian movies like “Scorned”, “Life and Living It”, Perfect Picture” and most recently “ A Sting In A Tale”.
She is also the CEO of Sparrow Productions and her company produced two semi finalists (unprecedented) at the Miss World beauty pageant within the past five years, after securing the rights from original franchise owners of the Miss Ghana Beauty pageant, Media Whizz Kidz.
In our efforts to celebrate Ghanaian achievers and bring these celebrities closer to their fans, Ghanacelebrities.com caught up with Shirley Frimpong Manso for an exclusive chit chat interview.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Tell us briefly about yourself. Who is Shirley Frimpong Manso?
Shirley: Unlike the job I do I’m a very private person. I keep very few friends who I’m eternally loyal to. I don’t shy away from hard work; I play smart and capable of a lot of silly fun. I’m a disciplinarian, I don’t condone gossip and I don’t suffer fools easily. I like to learn, I’m open to sensible criticism, and I have a lot of respect for people with principles. I Love to travel, read, watch movies and always up for a good old fashion joke. I believe in positive thinking and doing good… if you think badly of people, bad things happen to you. I detest mediocrity.
GhanaCelebrities.com: What is it like being a writer, a producer and a director? I am sure there are experiences you want to share with us.
Shirley: It’s fun but generally exhausting to write because you have to be many different characters and exist in a totally different world for the period but the end result is exciting and rewarding especially when you get people reacting to your words. Directing is tasking depending on whom and where you are directing, otherwise it’s an exciting adventure to combine the script with the act as well as the technicalities. Producing is always fun if you plan ahead, it’s nightmarish otherwise.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Who are your role models? How are or who inspires your stories?
Shirley: Generally I’m inspired by people who tread where only a few go… President Obama, Mandela, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey. Every-day events inspire my stories.
GhanaCelebrities.com: What was your approach in making Sparrow Productions one of the most recognized film production companies in Ghana and throughout Africa?
Shirley: Telling simple stories in a fun, quality way.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Now every movie lover is talking about Shirley Frimpong Manso and Sparrow Productions, what do you think has accounted for this?
Shirley: Our consistency in maintaining quality productions.
GhanaCelebrities.com: How did you initially get into writing, directing and producing movies?
Shirley: I begun directing and writing for the kids I used to play with as a child. I will organize them into groups and we will always put up some drama imagining that there was a huge audience. It just felt like a lot more fun than playing with sand and dolls. I continued in secondary school when I realized I was having more fun in English and Literature class than anywhere else. Then I knew I really wanted to pursue it once I enrolled into NAFTI.
GhanaCelebrities.com: I read a comment “Shirley has really made Ghanaian movie a must watch and am really proud of her”. How do you feel hearing a comment like this?
Shirley: I’m humbled. I never once think it’s all my doing I know God is playing a big role in all of this plus I’m lucky to work with such great talents. And this is only the beginning.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Your movies have been tagged as too westernized, how would you address this?
Shirley: If living in a good house, having educated friends, speaking good English and having real problems are un-Ghanaian then they maybe right.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Do you accept the solicitation of scripts? Can budding writers send you script ideas? If yes, how can they do so?
Shirley: I’m very cautious about reading people’s scripts because stories can be quite similar across board. However depending on the level of trust I’m very open to ideas and finding good writers.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Do you believe that the Ghanaian movie industry reflects the country’s culture?
Shirley: I think a lot of the stories I’ve seen told reflect our society. Is it told effectively? I think we can do much better.
GhanaCelebrities.com: You are undeniably unequaled in terms of production quality and have repeated shelled out what most consider flawless movies. What is the driving force behind this need for perfection and your admirable work ethics?
Shirley: It’s never only about the money, I’m an artist and so are many of the people I work with so we are driven to be creative, we don’t know anything else but to do the best we can.
GhanaCelebrities.com: What makes a good movie?
Shirley: A good script, good acting, good directing, a dedicated technical and production team.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Your critics are of the opinion that you are a technically efficient film director who lacks creativity and originality, do you share the same sentiments?
Shirley: Opinions are like noses, we are all entitled to one.
GhanaCelebrities.com: What skills are necessary to be successful in the movie industry as a director?
Shirley: An appreciation for great stories, a good rapport with your actors and technical crew and most importantly a general understanding of film work.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Media Whizz Kidz, the original franchise owners of the Miss Ghana Beauty pageant took it back from your company Sparrow Productions amidst of poor organization. Do you think you’ve failed to live up to the expectation with the Miss Ghana brand?
Shirley: We produced two semifinalists at the Miss World event within five years, we sustained a pageant that otherwise would have died. We did our utmost best.
GhanaCelebrities.com: What are your casting sections like? Do you do your castings by yourself or do you have people in place for that?
Shirley: I do casting along with the help of others. Everybody auditions before they are cast in a Sparrow movie.
GhanaCelebrities.com: What plans do Sparrow Productions have in place to introduce new upcoming actors/actresses?
Shirley: We are always looking for fresh talents so we encourage people to pick up forms from our office and then we call them for auditions. Trust me if you are good, you’ll soon get your dream role in a Sparrow movie. It’s really about talent.
GhanaCelebrities.com: What are your predictions for the future of Ghanaian movie industry?
Shirley: There’s a lot of work to be done but people are willing and in the past few years it looks like everybody wants to try a little harder, I’m very encouraged by that. Ghana will bounce back.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Any message to your fans?
Shirley: Because of them I’m encouraged to do better everyday. I thank them sincerely.
GhanaCelebrities.com: Thanks for your time.
Shirley: Thank you for having me.