Groundbreaking Principal in Accra in the development of children's drama
Kwaku Boateng Ankomah is an incredibly inspirational Principal of the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy. Having studied at RADA in the UK, he now brings his incredible acting skills to the children and adult of Accra in Ghana.
Kwaku believes passionately about the education of children through drama and the huge benefits in confidence and communication skills developed through the international programme. So many children have achieved incredible results in his drama school thanks to his amazing mentorhship
It is no doubt that one aspect of development this drama development is to develop kind, respectful and compassionate children, and Kwaku himself is a great example of this.
Over the years of running our Academy in Accra, he has achieved immense success for which we are very proud and you can hear his answers to our questions here:
What did you do before you became a Principal of the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy?
I trained as a professional actor at RADA in London and was acting professionally on screen and stage. I still do when time permits.
How did you hear about the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy?
A friend sent me the information about the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy looking for people to run their own school and she felt I would be interested in it, and indeed I was.
What made you decide to become a franchisee?
After reading about the HOG system and how it operates, and the incredible support that they give to each franchisee, along with the thorough and solid evidenced-based system they use to teach, proven to really work for children and teens, I decided Ghana would richly benefit from such a programme to make our children more confident, communicate strongly and clearly and become a more outgoing and we'll rounded human being.
What aspects of the Principal training were especially beneficial to you?
I believe all aspects were very beneficial. What I really found insightful were the teaching styles that clearly made a vast difference in how a child would respond to you in class or behave all together. I believe these teaching methods were invaluable to enriching me as a person and furthermore to pass on to the kids.
What month and year did you start your first Academy?
What obstacles have you overcome to start a Helen O'Grady Drama Academy, if any?
We had a difficult time at first convincing new parents that this is a worthwhile service that their children needed. When they saw the results for themselves, they then became the mouthpieces for us. We also had difficulty in hiring the right teachers for our organization. It's a very delicate and sensitive job, working as a teacher who must empower children to become confident effective communicators.
So many aspects of the teacher has to be alligned with actualising immense positivity in children, which called for skills that demanded the subtleties and nuances of a carer, teacher, friend and much more to the students. If teachers do not have those qualities, it may be difficult to see them staying on in this kind of educational work. Finding good quality drama teachers was the easy part, finding all the aforementioned was an ardous task. In time we overcame these, as we narrowed in and were more specific as to where we got our staff and on whose recommendations.
Can you tell us what some of your achievements have been since starting as a Principal?
We have had some amazing achievements. For me as a principal, my biggest joy is to see a child come in to the school so shy and withdrawn and within some time, that child becomes so confident, talking to everyone and really showcasing their personality. Other achievements have been students doing amazingly well in the entertainment industry. One of our past student, Ophelia, has gone on to play leading roles in independent Hollywood films such as 'Like Cotton Twines' in which she won the best actress award for at the Ghana Movie Awards, and other film's like ' The Cursed Ones' and many more. Ophelia continues to thrive and we are extremely proud of her success.
Other successful achievements are the 4 male actors from the film Beasts of no nation, who are enrolled on a scholarship in our Academy and continue to work on screen and stage with amazing performances.
We have also had an amazing adult and youth theatre composition class last term, where we performed in a production. Amongst the actors was a newcomer to acting called Emefa, who has been rising extremely fast with her debut leading role in a TV series secured in a brand new Hollywood TV Series filming in Ghana. We are very excited about her achievements and we are glad the Academy has helped her in actualising her acting potential.
If you can give a new Principal some words of advice when they start out, what would you suggest?
Persevere, persevere, persevere! Get a strong, committed and passionate team around you who understand your vision for the organization and buy into that vision. Also as a principal do not be afraid of making mistakes, as you will find that the more you make and learn from, the better your organization becomes. Talk to as many different people, from the customers, students, clients, staff, anyone and everyone so you can see everything from various perspectives.
How many people on your staff?
How many children attend each week?
What advice would you pass on to a new franchisee as regards to staff?
Make sure you get people that have passion, commitment, and understand the vision of what you are doing and are there for more than just the money. Go with your instincts in regards to staff more than you may think.
Why do you believe drama is important for children?
It allows children to bloom in every aspect of their personalities, whilst also giving them solid building blocks for dealing with life later on. They pick up speech, language, communication skills as well as presentation and confidence. One of my favourite aspects of the importance of drama for kids and indeed everyone, is that it allows is all to celebrate our differences, uniqueness, etc.
We are finding out about things who would perhaps have never had the opportunity to and this enriches us and helps us develop strong empathetically round people, which the world needs more of now than any other time.
Drama helps the child understand what he has an irrational or sometimes perhaps rational fear for, but it allows them to understand this deeper.
Would you like to mention anything else about your time with the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy?
I would recommend Helen Ogrady Drama Academy as more of a mandatory curriculum in all school programmes as the depth of its benefits are indeed easy to see in children who enrol. As the children get older, you can see the amazing life-changing impact that drama has on them. The importance of drama as a developmental tool for the next generation and for the betterment of the world we live in cannot be understated.
For more information about the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy's International Programme, head to our website: