Sierra Leone’s entertainment industry has been a male predominant sector, with fewer opportunities for women to create impact. Disc Jockey is a job that is mostly recognized for men, but in recent years women have been breaking barriers into the field and have performed extremely well on different occasions.
Julia Esther Eleanor Coker, is a young Sierra Leonean Disc Jockey (DJ), currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Sector Management at the Institute of Public Administration Management (IPAM), University of Sierra Leone.
She is also a kindergarten teacher, an event planner, and a decorator. DJ Lia is a melophile, whenever she is not studying at university, teaching kids in the classroom, or planning for events she is behind the Dj’s deck doing what she loves most.
“My relationship with music is not so bad, I listen to music every other day. Whenever I want to do my house chores I must listen to music because it gives me something I call a magical strength,” said DJ Lia.
DJ Lia, 20, comes from a family that loves music, her father owns a sound system for hire and it was through this she started her career as a DJ at age 16 in 2018 when she had to step in for one of her father’s DJ who could not show up for a wedding event that was booked on October 21, 2018. Her father’s DJ was nowhere to be found and it was embarrassing because the people who booked him for the event had started to complain.
“Watching my dad being embarrassed was not good for me. I then decided to go sit behind the laptop and start selecting songs randomly, the people were dancing, and I felt good, so since then, I have never looked back,” DJ Lia narrates.
For DJ Lia, four years down the road her passion for music and disc jockey is still fresh and she keeps on learning every day. She finds inspiration through other senior DJs both locally and internationally, including DJ Commissioner Wysei, DJ Omu, DJ Barbie, DJ Lawva, DJ Rampage, DJ MO, and many others.
As one of the women breaking barriers in the Sierra Leone entertainment industry, she has hosted a lot of events and was one of the host DJs for the Oba Dae Festival, Oktoba Fest, TikTok Fest, Uni High, The Black Out Party, etc…
One of her major challenges is that she is not good at playing around all genres, but she does extremely well on afrobeat, Sierra Leone songs, amapiano, oldies, and gospel.
However, her pastor and mom do not agree with her career path and have asked her on a couple of occasions to quit being a DJ. On the upside, she earns some money from the work which keeps her going, her confidence and passion for her work have never waivered even though some people tend to take advantage of the fact that she’s young by trying to get her to play for free at their events.
As a working student, she tries to manage her time well so she could achieve all her goals hence why she runs most of her gigs at night over the weekends.
“I feel very proud of the brand I am building, whenever I am out spinning on different gigs, people will walk up to me to give me words of courage and those reactions always push me to do more,” she explained.
She plans to become the best female Disc Jockey in Sierra Leone, with high value and more money. She also hopes to change people’s perceptions of female DJs in Sierra Leone and the rest of the world.