By: Sallu Kamuskay
Desmonda Aminata Cole, also known as the “young lady camera operator,” is a 23-year-old Sierra Leonean breaking barriers and making a name for herself in the male-dominated field of camera operation and photography. She currently works for Africa Young Voices Media Empire, the leading media institution in Sierra Leone.
Desmonda’s journey to success has not been an easy one. At a young age, she lost both her parents and had to rely on the support of family members to pursue her education. Despite facing opposition from her aunt, who believed camera operation was a form of prostitution, Desmonda found a mentor in Isata Kamara who encouraged her to pursue her passion.
In 2017, Desmonda decided to step up and fend for herself. She initially applied to be a presenter at Africa Young Voices Media Empire but was not accepted. However, she did not let this setback discourage her. She applied for an internship at the media institution and was finally accepted, becoming the first camera operator for the company.
Desmonda’s inspiration comes from Amb Phebean Swill, an award-winning filmmaker and TV personality at Africa Young Voices Media Empire. She admires Phebean’s calmness and professionalism, considering her one of her mentors. Desmonda is also a beneficiary of the IJ Kabba Foundation and holds a diploma in mass communication.
Desmonda’s dream is to own her own photography company and run an academy where she can train other young girls in camera operation and photography. She believes that more women should pursue their dreams in the industry and hopes to inspire others to do so.“I hope to someday own my own company where I will be able to train young girls to break barriers and become camera operators like me” she told Salone Messenger, a global multimedia and public relations firm based in Sierra Leone
As a camera operator, Desmonda faces challenges such as limited access to equipment due to financial constraints. Additionally, she encounters skepticism from clients who believe that camera operation is a man’s job. However, Desmonda perseveres by producing high-quality work and building a good reputation.
Desmonda, like many women, has a big dream job, she disclosed that she would like to be a photographer for Sierra Leone’s first lady, Dr. Fatima Bio “I have over the years admired the first lady of the country, her love and commitment to supporting her husband’s political journey are incredible, I would like to document her journey.” She said.
Despite the obstacles she has faced, Desmonda’s hard work and determination have paid off. She started by covering events and taking photos of friends and family, gradually building up her portfolio. Her big break came when she covered the EcoFest event, one of the biggest shows in Sierra Leone that brings together renowned artists.
Desmonda Aminata Cole is a trailblazer in Sierra Leone, breaking barriers and proving that women can excel in the field of camera operation and photography. Her story serves as an inspiration to other young girls who aspire to pursue their dreams in the industry.
About the author:
Sallu Kamuskay is a Sierra Leonean activist, Film Producer, storyteller, and blogger. He was born in Sierra Leone but later relocated to Guinea as a refugee because of the war in his country. Sallu Kamuskay uses his phone to engage on social media, under the name ‘’Salone Messenger’. He Co-Founded the Salone Messenger platform after his experience of the war, Ebola, and injustices. According to him, silence was the root cause of war, and of many social injustices, we continue to face as a nation.