Photographer Danny Wonders Changes The Way The World Views Africa With New Documentary, ‘This Is Ghana’
By Kelsey Marie
Danny Wonders is a creative director and photographer who has been making an impact in the film industry for a while now. Wonders launched his production company, “Wondervision Films”, after a slew of failed 9-5 jobs. Through Wondervsion Films, he began directing music videos, documentaries, and an award-winning web series.
Since then, he has gone on to work with the likes of Burna Boy, Madonna, Chris Brown, Davido, The Migos, French Montana, and more.
Wonders, who is Ghanaian, grew up in East London. After 24 years of being away, he decided to return. Prior to his return to Ghana, Wonders was concerned about facing sickness, crime, and the typical stereotypes painted by the Western media. However, once he arrived, his perspective completely changed. This inspired Wonders to create a documentary to show the rest of the world what his homeland is really like.
Wonders says, “My goal is to spread awareness of our power, our wealth, our culture and the true opportunities we hold in Ghana and in Africa.”
Travel Noire had the opportunity to find out more about the man behind the lens, as well as talk to Wonders about his documentary This Is Ghana.
Growing up in East London, how do you think that had an effect on your views of Africa?
“If you don’t know where you are from you won’t ever know where you are going”.
When I used to hear this quote as a child I always thought it meant being from the hood. I would respond in my mind like “Yes, I’m from the hood, I ain’t forgotten that!” until I took my first trip back home to Ghana during my conscious mind state and I realized that is exactly where I’m from.
There is a different level of power that comes from experiencing it for yourself. Your brain sparks a whole new meaning when you’re surrounded by your people and you see them with wealth, opportunities and new beginnings.
How long have you been in the U.S. and what are the differences and similarities you’ve noticed between being black in the U.K. and being black in the U.S.?
I’ve been back and forth from the US & UK since 2012. No matter the length of time, I take time out to reflect and really monitor how I’m feeling about a situation. I was able to see being black in the UK, you have to prove that you’re good at what you do over and over again. People may treat you like “you’re not in the industry” because they don’t invite you to places etc.
In the US, especially in Los Angeles, things are very different. There is an overflow of abundance when it comes to networking, the pond is bigger so people do not operate in a scarcity mindset and once you’re good, you’re good. You build an audience of people who look forward to what you’re dropping next rather than questioning whether or not you can do it again.
Prior to visiting Ghana after 24 years of being away, you said you had fears of dealing with sickness, crime and other issues commonly displayed in Western media. What made you decide to visit despite your fears?
Before I went to Ghana I took a short trip to Morocco. Morocco appeared “safer” because of the media. Upon my travels, a lot of the locals were asking where I was from and whenever I said Ghana they would be so ecstatic and tell me the great time they had in Ghana and how much they love it there. I secretly felt like a sell-out for visiting another part of Africa first and not my own. Enough was enough, I wasn’t going to make any more excuses.
During the time in which I went, I had seen and felt too many signs externally and internally. All of my friend’s cousins and their neighbors were going back home to the motherland — I always felt left out.
I used to use the lack of money as an excuse until I realized the lack of money is simply the lack of better thoughts. Through thinking correctly and applying myself, I booked a solo trip to the motherland and I would highly advise anyone who is black in general to go back to Africa even if they are unsure of their heritage — it will change their life!
Everywhere is good but I would recommend Ghana if you’re a first-timer!
What were some things that shocked you about Ghana when you returned?
That they can do the same thing if not better there than they can in the western world. Simple things people think would be a disaster like finding nice food to eat, getting a haircut, getting your nails done, etc. — whatever you are looking for in the western world, you can do that x10 in Ghana/Africa.
There is such a vast amount of money and opportunity to grab a hold of, you feel left out and will be made alert to do whatever it takes to own a piece of what’s yours back home.
It was the safest place I have been to — not one time did I get judged by anybody! I was made to feel welcomed wherever I went and the locals were genuinely interested in my story. I always dropped as many gems on them as I could.
How long were you there and what about your time there inspired you to document it through film and photography?
I was there for a month and a half. I am a Director/Photographer by skill. It doesn’t matter what country I am in, my passion will push me to create something. I feel I was put on this earth to express myself and show people around the world what inspires me all whilst teaching them something deeper than the surface level content. I’ve always believed the way I tell a story has a strong feeling so I do my best to bring that feeling to the audience each and every time.
What is the one thing you want viewers to get from This is Ghana?
I want every single audience member no matter their background or heritage to watch this documentary and recognize we as African people are limitless and all the obstacles are only in our minds.
The sooner we wake up through applied action and not blaming or critiquing one another, we will flourish beyond belief of the world’s expectations of us, good or bad!
Where do you see the creative and art industry in Africa heading in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I see the creative and art industry in Africa doubling what it’s already doing now. I feel Africa supplies the inspiration and the world steals and executes it. It has been happening for years. Gone are those days.
However, African children and adults all over the world are waking up and deciding this dream can happen for them too. We have seen too many examples of those who have come from where we come from. I plan to join the leading example makers for someone out there who is looking for a way out and remind them as long as they dig deep inside themselves, “getting out” will be none of their concern.
What are you most excited for people to know about visiting Ghana?
The thing I am most excited for people to find out about Ghana is them landing at the airport and getting that “WOW, THIS IS MY HOME” feeling.
EVERYONE feels that!
No matter where you’re from, Ghana is that welcoming and when the people reading this land, they will surely feel it for themselves!
Can you share three things first-time travelers to Ghana should do while visiting?
The first thing first-time travelers should do is take time to look at their surroundings — how happy everybody is minding their own business.
The second thing people should do is go to find something to eat! Everywhere in Ghana has food, the natural food ingredients will have you feeling like you are finally eating real food than all the processed foods we consume in the western world.
The third thing people should do is really talk and get to know the locals. There are so many stories to hear and be inspired by. It will teach you we don’t have it as hard as we think!
Can you tell us where This is Ghana will be premiering and shown?
At the moment, I am focused on just finishing it to the best of my ability. The people who have seen the trailer are saying Netflix?
Only the Lord knows. God willing this documentary will get a worldwide push and the premiere will involve a tour — showing it city to city!
Who knows what the near future holds. Wondervision To the world!
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie