Peace Hyde never imagined she’d become an African media icon. Despite scoring acting gigs in her native London in her youth, as an adult, her chosen career path was as a science teacher. “I taught chemistry, biology, and physics for quite a few years in the U.K.,” she tells EBONY. All that changed, however, when her father died. While burying her dad in his native Ghana, Hyde had an epiphany.
“When I returned to Ghana for his funeral, it really just kind of settled in me how short life is and how important it is to pursue your dreams and things that fulfill you,” says the African creative. Remembering media had always interested her, she decided “to just take the plunge and see what happens” in Ghana. And, today, roughly a decade later, she has built an incredible media imprint filled with so many highs. Creating Netflix’s first African reality series Young, Famous & African, streaming in 2022, is just her latest coup.
“Originally, my goal was to work behind the scenes. But I just found that every time I went to a media house or organization, they were always encouraging me to go in front of the camera,” she explains. Almost immediately, Hyde began taking Ghana by storm, landing high profile gig after high profile gig, including hosting the first Ghana Movie Awards, Ghana’s X Factor-esque MTN Hitmaker and what she describes as the Ellen-esque Friday Night Live.
As Hyde became more visible, she started to reflect on how her work in the media up until that point was shaping not just how she, herself, was perceived but also Africa and its people in general. “I felt that it was important to learn how to take control of your narrative in the media,” she explains. “There are so many stories that you have that have been projected of Africa and Africans, but they were very inaccurate . . . In the UK, all the images that have been projected are all children with flies around them or so-called poverty, suffering. And, in my mind, that is a reality of Africa, but that is not all Africa is meant to be.
“So, I became very obsessed with the nuance of narratives and how do you write your narrative? How do you redefine a perception that is so solidly being sold to the world, that this is what it is to be African?” she continues.
Becoming a contributor to Forbes Africa for Ghana started her on a dynamic journey that evolved into her covering West Africa and relocating to Nigeria. The more she interviewed dynamic Africans across various businesses it convinced her that these stories needed to be amplified. And, once, again, she took actions to make it happen.
“I spoke to the company and said, ‘Look, I want to innovate and create the first Forbes TV platform; it's not something that any of the Forbes Brands have done, but I felt like this was a really exciting thing that we could do, as a brand, that would create opportunities to have visual storytelling, which I feel is far more impactful for those who don't necessarily want to read. And, in the digital age that we live in, I feel like there's a lot of assets that can be pulled from these interviews that can become highly inspirational.’ They thought it was an exceptional idea. And our first concept was called My Worst Day,” she shares.
Her rationale behind My Worst Day, she explains, “was really just to show people that even the billionaires have failed and made mistakes that they could have lost but they recovered. . We celebrate Black excellence. We celebrate African excellence. We celebrate the highlight reel of people's lives, but there was nothing showing when it goes wrong.”
The show featuring twelve billionaires from across the African continent, including South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria, reached 60 million households, becoming CNBC’s number one business show. That success inspired Hyde to create a woman-focused business show that was also successful.
Hyde, who is also the founder of the nonprofit Aim Higher Africa focused on improving education for Africa’s impoverished communities, has been widely recognized for her humanitarian efforts and professional leadership. Her numerous honors include selection as an Obama Foundation Africa Leader, recipient of the African Social Impact Award at the House of Parliament, House of Commons in the UK, and winner of the Nigerian Broadcasters Merit Awards’ Female African Broadcaster of the Year.
For some, Young, Famous & African, whose stars include Tanzanian musician Diamond Platnumz, who has over 13 million followers on Instagram alone, and South African actress Annie Macaulay Idibia, who has over 7 million Instagram followers, may seem like a departure from Hyde’s very successful traditional business focus. For Hyde, Young, Famous & African, especially on a global platform as large as Netflix, very much aligns with her overall mission to give Africa a much-needed makeover.
“Young, Famous & African came about as a two-pronged vision. One, I wanted the world to see the way youthful Africans live is not your traditional perspective of Africa,” she says. “I thought that YFA was an opportunity to project young, upcoming Africans in a modern, cosmopolitan, developed way.”
With the show already shot, Hyde, who still maintains her position as Head of Digital Media and Partnership at Forbes Africa and continues to contribute articles as the brand’s West African correspondent, is patiently counting down the days until she launches her new show. “I’m really excited about the world really seeing what we’ve created,” she says and promises that “it’s going to be explosive.”