Monday 13 July 2015

The Young Shall Grow.

The young shall grow. I have always liked that name. It must have come straight from the owner's heart. My first job was at a place called Turn by Turn. Yes, I've been around. I've been working for 15 years so why I am not yet rich, I don't understand. Aviation, I've been there, Telecommunications, I've been there. Capital Markets, Present!. And now I'm in entertainment. Maybe after I buy that oil bloc, my fortunes will change.  

It's been a busy weekend. Two Saturdays ago, I was at the British council organised CreativeHustle event as a speaker. One moment, I'm a participant, the next I'm speaking. The young have grown or are growing. I'm learning that if you work hard at something, keep at it long enough; you will eventually make it. 

Talking about hard work, let me preach for a bit. Dear young people, nobody owes you anything. I find that almost every one of these events I attend, people say to me; no one is giving us a chance. Now, the problem is that I am naturally rude. I have zero tolerance for entitled or lazy people. So I usually have to count numbers in my head so as not to lash out. But this attitude is getting quite scary. Nobody owes you anything. Nobody is going to give you any chance, you seek the chance, and you grab it. By yourself and for yourself. 
You need to get your drive on guys, get your drive on. 

End of Preaching. 

Last Saturday too, Afriville had its first outdoor catering service so EFCC may not be coming for us after all. Business can get really tough making you question yourself. Like, who sent me? 
When things got really rough, I searched for stories of successful Nigerian entrepreneurs who'd been to hell but made it back, for inspiration. I could hardly find anything. People don't like to talk about failures here. But fail, many of us have, and share our stories, we must. So I have decided to bring you interviews from successful entrepreneurs who are not afraid to tell you how many attempts it took before they eventually made it. I'm nice like that. 

So watch this space. 

Thursday 2 July 2015

Who runs Nollywood? Girls, Girls.

I know I said I will be here a lot more but have you guys seen the drama on Twitter lately? Mehn, I hope that platform doesn't drive Nollywood and Telemundo out of the market. Enough drama to last a thousand years. 

The recent hashtag BeingFemaleInNigeria inspired this post. No doubt, it's really tough being a woman in this country and maybe everywhere else. I don't know why men were getting agitated, no one was hating on you guys, at least not this time. It was simply an acknowledgement of facts. Women shared their experiences. A recognition of stereotypes women suffer, not just by men, but by women. Like female circumcison, Is it a man who cuts of the clitoris? Mosty fathers in law are cool but mothers in law.....hehehehe.  The world has always been tougher for women. Remember the story of the adulterous woman, the story says she was caught in the act, meaning there was a man with her, but they brought only the woman to Christ and ask that she be stoned. They probably asked the man to go and sin no more. Or was he even considered a sinner?

But that's not what I came to say. I came to tell you about the amazing women doing amazing things in Nollywood. 

1. Emem Isong. Of course I will start with her. One of Nigeria's biggest producers. 20 years and getting bigger each day. Ever setting paces. The premiere of Reloaded was the beginning of several premieres in Nigeria. 

2. Blessing Egbe. Lekki Wives. Whether you hate it or love it, you'll agree that it was ground breaking. A huge risk taker and tired of advertisers playing ten ten with her money, she wrote, directed and produced 26 episodes of Lekki Wives and put it on DVDs and they sold out! Everyone was talking about Lekki Wives. After Checkmate, Super Story, Lekki Wives may have been the next most successful Nigerian soap. Blessing also produced Two Brides And A Baby and released it on DVD. Inspired all of us to move from VCDs to DVDs. 

3. Chinwe Egwagu.  Producer of Mr. and Mrs. I tell her to show me where she washed her face. One of the most loved Nigerians films. It hasn't stopped selling. Even in my small shop, we're always restocking on Mr. and Mrs. 

4. Funke Akindele. Producer of Jenifa. Jenifa is reported to have sold more than half a million DVDs.  A record since  Living in Bondage. And the character Jenifa will live with us forever. 

5. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe.  Through her AMAA awards, she forged a relationship between Nollywood and filmmakers from the rest of Africa. And the world actually. A bit of a shame that you don't find Nollywood in major festivals round the world. Peace is changing this. She also reached out to the younger talents, encouraging and harnessing them.

6. Mildred Okwo. Female directors are few. But Mildred came, saw and conquered. Her film, The Meeting was an immediate hit. We won't forget Clara in a hurry. Mildred is more than a director. Fondly called Aunty M, she's our go to person. With a strong desire to see the growth of Nollywood and young filmmakers, Aunty M is ever willing to advise, scold, and encourage.

7. Chineze Anyaene.  Not till AY came and beat her record with 30 days in Atlanta, Chineze's film Ije was the highest grossing Nigerian film at over 50 million naira. And this was in the very early days when we had even fewer cinemas. Chineze is also founder of Xandria Productions.

8. Chioma Ude. Convener of Afriff. Arguable Africa's best and biggest film festival,  Afriff screens several African films, hosts seminars , and rocks!

So yeah, it's tough being female but females are tough too. These women have made marks against all odds. Many thanks to the late Amaka Igwe and Emem Isong who have been in the industry from the beginning and whose tenacity and consistency made room for the rest of us. 


My list is in no particular order. If I have left out any names you feel should be here, please feel free to add them in the comments section.