Suzanne Engo

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Africa Yoon maiden name "Suzanne Africa Engo (born 17 November 1978) is a vegan celebrity activist and star of the documentary film "I love Africa" which has an online new media release with MTV Networks[1] MTV ACT arm which will show the documentary online from WORLD AIDS DAY 1 December 2011 for the entire month of December 2011. This is a film about the Africa 101 project charity run which saw the activist lose 100 pounds and run from New York City to Chicago to raise awareness about AIDS in Africa. Engo is also founder and executive director of the New York AIDS Film Festival and President of Girl Behind the Camera Productions.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Engo is the daughter of Judge Paul Bamela Engo (former UN ambassador, and currently of the International Tribune of the Law of the Sea) and Ruth Engo Tjega (President & Executive Director of African Action on AIDS, and formerly of the Office of the Secretary General, Special Advisor on Africa).

Engo began her philanthropic work aged five, when she shared her Christmas gifts with local handicapped children in her native Cameroon, West Africa.[citation needed] At six, Suzanne spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on World Children's Day as junior ambassador for Cameroon. She spoke at the UN each year until age eleven. When she was twelve, Suzanne and twelve other women (including women from the UN) co-founded an NGO called African Action on AIDS (AAA).[2] Engo raised funds for this organisation by creating "Jeans Day" at her dress-coded boarding school; (charging students a dollar for the permission to wear jeans). At its inception, AAA focused its efforts and resources on sending African AIDS orphans to local schools. As of 2008 AAA has consultative status with the United Nations, and has provided education and health services to HIV- and AIDS-affected young people throughout Africa.


In 2000, Engo graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. In 2001, she established a pro-social media and events production company: Girl Behind The Camera Productions ( which has participated in grass root promotions of films[clarification needed] including Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck and Charlize Theron's North Country). Engo also sits on the Planning Committee (sub-committees: Special Events and Media Coordination) for the DPI/NGO Conference, which occurs the week before the UN General Assembly each September, attracting NGOs from all over the world. Engo has also worked as a segment producer, director and host for BTHERE-TV, conducting celebrity interviews (including Sigourney Weaver, Ron Howard, Kim Catrall, Cynthia Nixon, Jill Hennessy, Puff Daddy, The Roots, Destiny's Child, Eve, Nick Lachey, Alicia Keys, Lina and others). She has spoken at universities, high schools and charity benefits.

In 2003, Engo founded the New York AIDS Film Festival, which was launched at the United Nations as the world's first HIV/AIDS film festival.[4] This event occurred with the endorsement[clarification needed] of the First Lady of the United Nations, Mrs. Nane Annan. In a speech made at the UN to launch the event, (sponsored by the WHO, UNAIDS and the MAC Cosmetics AIDS Fund), Engo remarked "My work is to give a gift I received 24 years ago to children: The possibility to dream; and know that the dream can become reality…I know that the media can be used as a tool for social change."[5]

Because of her record of AIDS activism[citation needed], Engo was selected by MTV's Executive Vice-President Dave Sirulnick to be featured in a 2003 MTV "News & Docs" television special entitled AIDS: A Social History; Engo’s message to youth around the world appeared in the closing segment. In 2004, Engo was selected as one of the Top 40 Youth AIDS Activists in the world by MTV and the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation (a VIACOM partner in the Know HIV/AIDS Campaign). On World AIDS Day, 2004, her photo and biography were displayed, along with others[quantify], on the MTV Jumbotron in Times Square.

In 2005, during the week prior to the Millennium Development Goals Summit Review, Suzanne directed and produced a media installation in the UN Lobby, which was attended by NGOs from around the world. Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote to thank Engo for her work. Engo addressed the 2005 US Embassy at the closing of the United Nations AIDS Day panel, performing lyrics from an Oscar-winning hip-hop song.

Also in 2005, Suzanne partnered with Nevette Previd on the most recent installment of the New York AIDS Film Festival. The MTV-USA "Think" Campaign hosted the 3rd Annual Opening Gala Red Ball of the festival at TRL Studios. The 2005 festival honoured Hollywood luminary Jack Valenti and MTV President Christina Norman, and was hosted by MTV News Correspondent John Norris. MTV chose the 2005 festival as the setting for the world première of Transit, a film that follows the global youth connection to HIV/AIDS, (which was offered to all international broadcasters cost- and rights-free, to maximise the dissemination of its HIV-prevention message.)

The 2006 New York AIDS Film Festival honoured Sarah, Duchess of York, supermodel Maggie Rizer, MTV International President Bill Roedy, UN-AIDS, among others. The 06 Opening Film Night happened at the United Nations in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium and had a red carpet arrival that included actors Lucy Liu, Stockard Channing, Téa Leoni, Shawn Ashmore in a film that also starred Chloë Sevigny and Olympia Dukakis.

Engo began 2008 producing a youth AIDS documentary entitled Maggie & Me, which co-stars supermodel and AIDS activist Maggie Rizer. Directed by Alexandra Kerry (daughter of presidential candidate John Kerry), the film will follows Engo and Rizer as they journey to their respective countries to see the face of AIDS from two sides of the globe. The film will make clear that the suffering caused by HIV/AIDS is synonymous the world-over.[6]

With support from the Harry Winston Group Engo launched the AIDS film festival initiative in Italy including film curating "Red Films" at various film festivals which led to Engo's honour for her work in AIDS and cinema at the Golden Graalawards[7] late spring[quantify].

Engo wrote and video reported a cause celebrity blog from

In 2008 after finding herself an obese woman Suzanne Africa Engo declared in a speech at the United Nations that she was dying of activism, proclaiming that the stress of fundraising and promoting had caused her to balloon from 130 pounds to 250 pounds. She set a challenge that she would lose 100 pounds and run from New York to Chicago. On her 30th birthday Engo arrived from a 1000-mile run from the United Nations ending at Oprah Winfrey Studios in Chicago. [8]

Along her run several states declared days in the activist's name.

The Activist is currently in development of a One Woman Show titled : "THE SKINNY" How to Lose 100 lbs and Change the world too.

Engo resides in Manhattan, New Jersey and Cameroon