Jackline wears a red vest with a yellow inscription that badly reads AMERICA.
Off the top of your head, this is typical of something Ghanaian dancehall artiste Shatta Wale will do and you’re not far fetched from the truth.
In what seems like an overly exaggerated mimic that combines the art of occasionally bulging the eyeball, synchronised movement of the eyebrow and serious facial expressions that are to die for, Jackline does an impression of Shatta Wale that could have taken months for most people to nail. To her, it comes naturally. The words. The act. The flair.
“This is my favourite video of all time,” Jackline Mensah tells Pulse.com.gh of her doing what Shatta Wale does best – occasional rants.
With almost 70K followers on Instagram and 186K on TikTok, technology has paved a comfortable way for Jackline’s comedy career inside her grandmother’s house.
Her videos have almost always gone viral and for a typical teen or otherwise who periodically logs on to Instagram or TikTok, the name Jackline Mensah is a household name. Lovers of comedy who are mostly on their WhatsApp also have in the last few months had laughs courtesy of the young lady who is one of the queens of Ghana TikTok.
For instance, in March 2020, a few days after Ghana had recorded her first case(s) of the global pandemic coronavirus COVID-19, a video of Prophet Kofi Oduro rhetorically querying his congregation about fornication in his preaching went viral. The content of the video that aesthetically combined the moral lessons of the Bible and the flair of the cultural euphemism that come some Ghanaian Twi words was in itself funny. Only a genius could make it funnier.
Jackline being that genius found the hack ending her on every single WhatsApp status in the country as she wore an oversized pink shirt, white trousers and yellow suspenders with remote control as her mic and a green towel to imitate Prophet Kofi Oduro’s occasional wiping off his sweat during his preachings. She had succeeded in making an already funny video funnier.
However, the bubbly Jackline Mensah in the videos online has a different personality offline. Growing up with her grandmother, the 19-year-old was and still is the shy type whose heart was not set on social media comedy despite being naturally comical. She recounts what her passion was when children in her family were ‘summoned like thieves’ during family gatherings to be asked what they hoped to be in the future. Paediatrician was on top of Jackline’s list until she realised she was just being peer pressured.
“I always wanted to be a paediatrician,” Jackline Mensah says.
“I love kids. But then, I realised I was following the crowd because my cousins were like I want to be a doctor, I want to be a nurse, I want to be a pilot, I want to be a lawyer, I had to also say something. I thought that was what I wanted to do.”
Practice makes perfect and the young 19-year-old who is yet to write her West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) which is postponed because of coronavirus started her mimic trials with movies she watched. For her, she was setting herself up for a career she eventually found out she loves.
“Growing up again I found out I’ve got a passion for acting. I used to watch a lot of movies and sometimes after the movies are done showing, I get up and mimic some lines some people said and act it out. I then realised I need to do something about that.
“I didn’t start this TikTok for fun but because I want to take acting as a full-time job,” she stresses.
Aside from the usual home art tutorials she runs herself through, the TikTok kind of comedy involves a little knowledge around technology – something the Ghanian TikTok sensation learned through trial and errors mostly with her grandmother’s phone before she got a personal one. At the age of 12, Jackline was all about phones because she also loved playing games. She would unknowingly find ways to fix the phone when something goes wrong without visiting the repairer’s shop. When she got her first phone, it was mostly downloading songs, listening to songs and a little research. But her inquisitive behaviour will have her look for more, chancing on TikTok. Once she downloaded and saw people making videos that intrigued her, it was game on for her and game over for all others.
Producing a lot of videos on social media with high potency for virality is something that Jackline’s family members are getting used to. But her grandmother already loves it and that is enough for the young comic.
“Actually, my granny loves it,” Jackline says with excitement in her eyes and a smile on her face.
“The rest (of the family) are getting used to it and they will get used to it but once I’ve got my granny loving it, it’s enough.”
The attention though is something that becomes a challenge from time to time for Jackline. Being a ‘naturally shy person’ too much attention from all the love for her videos, the people she meets and all the opportunities that come with it are now sinking in for 19-year-old. It also has the aura of making her feel good putting smiles on people’s faces. In all, the TikTok sensation is grateful for being surrounded by people who keep her humbled.
She aims, however, for success in what she does as she goes with ‘the flow’ despite it not paying right now.
“I believe everything starts with putting in hard work and eventually it is going to pay off. I am on the right track so no fears,” she says.
Inspired by the things around her, Jackline Mensah’s creativity oozes through the storylines of her videos, her act, facial expression, costume selections and most importantly the personality she backs it with.
In a world which has significantly changed in 2020, Jackline’s videos may have helped in one way or the other as human movements are restricted due to a battle against coronavirus COVID-19, online content consumption up on the rise and happy moments needed more than ever to boost mental health.
For one of Ghana’s queens of TikTok, she feels her impact on making people happy in their homes count as she tells Pulse.com.gh: “Even if I haven’t achieved anything, at least I’ve made a mark. I’ve left a mark I guess. That’s one of the best experiences ever!”