• Arthur Sempebwa

A peculiar story

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

I was asked a question recently; would you rather remain creative or be successful? I paused for effect. Can I be one without the other and if I could—would I want to be? My answer, a statement more like, was that one must first define what success is to them.

During this week's content creation, I decided to repurpose my 2016 YouTube series "Peculiar People" onto IGTV. This meant making it shorter, punchier and changing the viewing experience from landscape to portrait. It's a series that always tugged on my heart. The pilot episode made in 2011, was the catalyst—the spark, the "oh man, this is what I want to do with my life" moment in my life.

Peculiar People | Ep.1

Full series available on IGTV.

I was tired of hoping

In 2016 I decided to finally evolve that pilot into a short series, by making 7 episodes. The plan was to pitch them to BBC three, as family comedy series for their YouTube channel. I remember sending email after email to the comedy commissioner of the BBC at the time, asking her to consider the show for their platform. I really believed it would be a hit on their platform. Success looked like BBC three.

After a few months of emails, I finally got an appointment. COME OOOORRRRRN! I was excited. Optimistic. Full of happy gas! This could be my chance, my one big break—a seat at the big table.

The day came and we had the meeting and to cut a long story short, she more or less but keep going. My series wasn't a fit for their platform. Gutted. I told myself, it is what it is. God has a plan and this wasn't it—keep your chin up son. I just tried to keep positive.

However, as time went I became more critical of that series and my body of work. I saw mistakes. Bad editing. Low views. Zero comments. As the years passed, I stopped watching my old work. It became cringy to watch and I was tired of hoping. Dreams are exhausting. I felt like, man when is that break coming. The support. The team. The big studio backing. Someone who's willing to give me a shot. I've been doing this for years and still—nothing.

Four years on from making the series, I've learned now that I was holding myself up to a standard I had not reached at that time. That's not fair on me and my team.

Success no longer becomes a definition I read in a book or a cute quote, but my own personal journey of perseverance

I look back now and remember in those months of filming, I was going through personal challenges but I gave everything! My team gave everything. I did the best with what I had at the time. I finished. I went all the way. No one can take that away from me.

I can now look at my work with the right perspective. The mistakes in the production, editing, writing etc—all play a part in my success story. Success looks different now. It means to go all the way—give everything—finish what you started. As long as I can do that, then I am successful. It also means I can create from a healthy perspective. Success no longer becomes a definition I read in a book or a cute quote but my own personal journey of perseverance.

Discussion on creativity & success with Kwesi & Janae Mills

Hey, if you enjoyed this post I'd love to know what you think in the comments below. And if you want to share it...because you are an awesome human being, I will understand.


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