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Life and Work with Cecilia N’zaou

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cecilia N’zaou.

Cecilia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My journey started in the south of France, in Cannes, within a Franco-Congolese family of four sisters. I grew up dreaming about a creative career and dreaming that one day, I would live abroad.

My first creative experience happened at 15 when I applied to integrate the Theatre section of my high school and passed my A-levels thanks to a short play I wrote. The play was telling the story my vision of the world as 17 years old. I was questioning the medias objectivity, environments issues, and the condition of women in modern society. After high school, I didn’t pass the competitive exam to enter a renowned theatre university which led me to study a Communication and Journalism Bachelor with the idea of working in an artistic environment at a later stage. I did my first internship as a journalist in a local music magazine called Nouvelle Vague where I learned how to write.

After the Bachelor in Nice, I moved to Paris to complete my Master’s degree in Strategic Communication Management. Back then, it was difficult to find a job within my field as a fresh graduate so that’s how I moved to London encouraged by a friend who was living there. I’m now currently working for Oath (previously Yahoo) as Product Marketing Manager, an opportunity I couldn’t even imagine to have in France. On my free time, I have a photography activity. London not only allowed me to develop my career, but I also got to explore photography in more depth of what I had done so far. Being creative and living around creativity is what fulfills me. It is not only about art, but it is also about life, about people, about being curious.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Over the past ten years, I’ve overcome a few challenges of a different nature by focusing on creativity and hope. I had to leave home early, I had to support myself financially through two jobs while studying my master’s degree and supporting my family as well, I moved to the UK with no plans, I learned how to work in a different language, I faced a redundancy while I was travelling in Asia. Many times, I thought to give up but something was keeping me on track. Probably, the hope that one day I’d have the life I dream about. So, I persevered knowing that facing adversity is a skill that would made me more resilient and curious about finding ways to realise my dreams. It has not been easy but every obstacle was worth it. Being here and now really proves me that where you come from does not determine who you are. What matters is what you do with these experiences, the values you have, and with time you realise that you feel less and less like a fraud. Owning and creating my story is my biggest victory, but I’m also always prepared for new challenges or adventures, especially if it’s travelling or mountain climbing.

I would advise to young women to have faith in themselves, focus on positive things, and dream big, the limits are most of the times the ones we put on ourselves. I think it is important for young women to embrace who they are, it is a major step to start the journey of realising your dreams.

Please tell us about your work.
I’d probably focus my answer on my photography work. I specialise in portrait photography and lifestyle editorial writing. Passionate about life and people, I will often relate my photography work to a story and within the same idea, I will always connect my content to relevant visuals. This is probably what sets me apart from others, the fact that I can offer photography combined with editorial. Whether it is through words or images, I like working around emotions which makes the uniqueness of my work and is appreciated by my clients. My clients include professionals, entrepreneurs, tourism businesses.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
I’m actually not much a phone and try to use it less whenever possible. Therefore, I can’t think of any apps that help me to do my best in life, perhaps messenger apps as it allows me to keep in touch with my family and friends. For my photography, I use apps Later, ColorStory and VSCO on my phone.

I do listen to podcasts that offer me new perspectives about life, like Les Pieds Sur Terre, a french podcast who talks about specific society topics, or Jameela Jamil’s podcast which someone recently recommended to me.
I’m reading a lot wether it is to learn new things helpful for work, related to photography or for my personal culture and leisure. Authors that I really like include Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or Joel Dicker.

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Image Credit:
Cecilia N’zaou

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