Nana Ghana’s glittering creative presence spans many artistic fields. As a model, she represented Stella McCartney’s line in LA. As an actress, she worked on the Nina Simone biopic, ‘Nina’. And as a filmmaker, her feature documentary, ‘LA Woman Rising’, narrated by James Franco, put a new spin on female identity in the city, while her short film, ‘Water Warrior’ recently premiered at Cannes Film Festival.
We interview the acclaimed model, actress and filmmaker
TRAVELING IS TONIC TO MY SOUL.
HOW WAS IT TO PREMIERE AT CANNES?
Going to Cannes with ‘Water Warrior’ was a mountainous and significant moment in my life—both creatively and professionally. To be recognised at such a level on the world scene was very humbling and also inspiring. It was good feedback from the gods of cinema…
WHAT NEW PROJECTS ARE ON THE CARDS?
I just wrapped my next short film, working title ‘Electing’. It’s a story about a girl mourning the one-year anniversary of her brother’s death, who was shot and killed brutally by the police. The day also happens to be the day of the 2016 election. The results drown her deeper into depression as she questions the fate of her life in America. Meanwhile, I’m looking for distribution for my documentary “LA Woman Rising”, developing a biopic of a disco culture icon with Elysium Bandini Studios, and writing and developing other stories.
HOW IMPORTANT IS TRAVEL TO YOU?
Traveling is tonic to my soul. I find it very interesting how my identity as a Ghanaian and Los Angeleno colours my journey through the world. I am so curious about everything and everyone—I want to be always drunk with knowledge of human history and philosophy, and mythologies of places people and things. So when I travel I am looking for symbols through architecture of the places, energy and traditions kept by people. I’m always looking for that genuine human connection.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE MOST OF A TRIP TO A NEW PLACE?
By connecting with the nature and the people of the place. I like to go on adventures, not be too much of a tourist. I like to wander and get lost in new places—that’s the only way I find to truly connect and have a fulfilled experience.
WHAT NEW CITY ARE YOU DESPERATE TO LOSE YOURSELF IN?
I am desperate to lose myself in Tokyo. As I haven’t been yet, this is all in my imagination, but to me Tokyo represents the ultra-modern city situated in an ancient world. I am fascinated with Japanese culture, mythology, ancient robes and silks, Harajuku fashion, the temples. I am also obsessed with 17th-century Japanese poetry, especially Matsuo Basho. I’d love to study Kabuki theatre and learn to be a geisha. And my favourite food is sushi. I also imagine the people in Tokyo’s reaction to me would be very interesting. Though I’m used to that when I travel, I imagine there it would be particularly transformative. It’s definitely my dream city—to become a Buddhist and Harajuku girl.
IF YOU COULD ALWAYS CARRY A PAST HOLIDAY IN YOUR BAG WHICH WOULD IT BE?
That would have to be in Thailand, when I did a retreat to tap deeper into my soul and creativity. I actually heard God speak to me on Ko Samui island. What I love most is the combination of sea, salt and sun.
AND LITERALLY, WHAT DO YOU ALWAYS TAKE IN YOUR CABIN LUGGAGE?
I always have my coconut oil, sunscreen, essential oils and phone charger.
IF YOU COULD COMBINE LA WITH ANOTHER CITY WHICH WOULD IT BE?
I’d combine it with Paris, and the quality I’d add would be its history. There’s something magical, humbling and traditional about a city bearing so much history. As LA is such a new and futuristic feeling city, I feel the historical element would keep your feet on the ground and stop you getting too “lala”...