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10 Notable Female Filmmakers Making Waves In Nollywood



Not too long ago, hiring women for technical roles in Nollywood film production was considered a huge gamble. Female filmmakers

Women in behind-the-scenes roles such as director, cinematographer, screenwriter, producer, and so on are examples of this.

However, all that has changed.

Some outstanding female filmmakers who have created some exceptional works are currently gracing Nigerian film and television productions.

These women are following in the footsteps of trailblazers such as Lola Fani-Kayode and Amaka Igwe, who excelled in their fields and paved the way for some of these women to pursue careers in film production.

This recent generation of female filmmakers demonstrated to us that if given the attention and opportunity, women can excel in film and television production.

While there is still a large disparity in the percentage of female and male filmmakers today, this group of women has become more involved or are performing as well as, if not better than, the men in the recent evolution of the Nigerian film industry. Female filmmakers

This article recognizes some women’s contributions to Nigeria’s recent rapid growth in the film industry.


Emem Isong

Emem Isong is a household name in Nigeria. However, few people can put a face to the name.

Isong, who has spent nearly 30 years in Nollywood, has left her mark in many areas of filmmaking.

She has over 40 films under her belt as a producer, screenwriter, and director.

Together with Uduak Oguamanam, Anietie Isong, and Monalisa Chinda, she co-founded the Royal Arts Academy in 2010. The academy aims to educate aspiring actors and filmmakers.

Emem Isong is regarded as one of the purveyors of the new Nigerian movie industry, which has favored more cinema releases rather than home videos, as it was previously the practice.


Mildred Okwo

Mildred Okwo stormed Nollywood in 2006 with the release of ’30 Days,’ a film she wrote, directed, and co-produced.

At the 2008 Africa Movie Academy Awards, the film received eight nominations, with Joke Silva winning Best Supporting Actress.

Her 2012 romantic comedy ‘The Meeting’ received critical acclaim and was nominated in six categories at the ninth Africa Movie Academy Awards, where she won the ‘Achievement in Make-Up’ award.

She went on to co-produce and direct “Suru L’ere” a comedy-drama film released in 2016. She also directed “La Femme Anjola”, a 2021 release.

Okwo was one of the 12 Nollywood professionals who formed the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee, which was approved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to screen Nigerian films for submission to the Academy Awards in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category.


Kemi Adetiba

The foray of Kemi Adetigba into filmmaking began with the creation of music videos. Adetiba has directed music videos for artists such as Wizkid, Banky W, 2baba, Niyola, Dagrin, Tiwa Savage, and Olamide.

The former Rhythm 93.7FM OAP later released a short film titled ‘Across a Bloodied Ocean’ in 2009, after graduating from the New York Film Academy. ‘The Wedding Party,’ on the other hand, was her first feature-length film.

Following the success of ‘The Wedding Party,’ Adetiba went on to release another blockbuster, ‘King of Boys,’ which was both critically and commercially successful.

Films directed by Kemi Adetiba have won numerous awards and broken box office records.


Mo Abudu

The media career of Mo Abudu took of with her talk show, ‘Moments with Mo’.

She later founded EbonyLife TV, which gave birth to EbonyLife Films.

With EbonyLife Films, She produced and co-produced films such as ‘The Wedding Party,’ ‘The Wedding Party 2’, ‘The Royal Hibiscus Hotel,’ ‘Chief Daddy,’ ‘Your Excellency,’ and ‘ltré.’

In March 2018, EbonyLife TV and Sony Pictures Television announced a three-year agreement that included the co-production of ‘The Dahomey Warriors,’ a series about Amazons who fought French colonialists in a 19th-century West African kingdom.

EbonyLife announced a collaboration with AMC Networks (USA) in 2020 to produce ‘Nigeria 2099,’ an Afro-futuristic crime-drama created by Mo Abudu’s company.

Abudu recently acquired the rights to make a film about Ramon Abass, aka Hushpuppi, an international fraudster.

Over the years, the filmmaker and media mogul has received both local and international recognition for her contributions to the development of the Nigerian film industry and Africa as a whole.


Tope Oshin

Female filmmakers

For about 12 years, Tope Oshin was in front of the camera as an actress.

She did, however, make the transition to working behind the camera as an assistant director for the business reality show ‘The Apprentice Africa.’

She has since gained a reputation for directing popular TV dramas and soap operas such as ‘Hush,’ ‘Hotel Majestic,’ ‘Tinsel,’ and ‘MTV Shuga’ (Season six).

Oshin is also known for her work on the films ‘Up North,’ ‘New Money,’ and its sequel ‘Quam’s Money,’. She also produced ‘The Wedding Party 2,’ which was a box office success.

In 2016, she produced and directed the documentary ‘Amaka’s Kin: The Women Of Nollywood’ as a tribute to the late Amaka Igwe, which addresses issues confronting Nigerian female directors working in a male-dominated industry.

Oshin pursued her interest in filmmaking by studying Film Production and Cinematography at the Colorado Film School of the Community College of Aurora in Denver, Colorado, and the Met Film School in Ealing Studios in London, England, respectively.


Funke Akindele

Female filmmakers

Funke Akindele first gained public attention as Bisi in the popular sitcom ‘I Need to Know,’ when she was in her teens. The television show aired from 1998 to 2002.

In an industry where many child actors fade into obscurity, Akindele-Bello climbed the ranks to become a household name.

She has produced films such as ‘Omo Ghetto,’ ‘Jenifa,’ ‘Return of Jenifa,’ and ‘Maami,’ among others. With these, she cemented her place among Nollywood’s A-list actors.

Following the success of ‘Jenifa,’ Akindele’s production company, SceneOne Film Productions, released a spinoff TV series titled ‘Jenifa’s Diary.’

Not one to sit on her laurels, Akindele continues to appear in films and direct some of her projects, the most notable of which is ‘Omo Ghetto: The Saga,’ which is reportedly Nigeria’s highest-grossing film of all time, grossing over N600 million, surpassing ‘The Wedding Party,’ which grossed N453 million.


Oge Obasi

Female filmmakers

Oge Obasi is a seasoned TV and film producer with a ten-year track record.

She has worked in a variety of capacities on location and on set in large-scale productions for TV and film.

Some of her work credits include ‘The Figurine’, Amstel Malta Box Office, SpiceTV, ‘October 1’, Miss Earth Nigeria, and Heineken’s Champion’s Planet.

She also oversaw Ultima Studio’s sitcom ‘Aduke Hotel’ and Ebony Life’s ‘Desperate Housewives Africa’.

Oge Obasi is a partner and the production head at Fiery Film Company, which was founded in 2012 by her husband and filmmaker C.J. Obasi to produce genre-based films from an African perspective.

Oge produced the award-winning and critically acclaimed zero-budget film ‘OJUJU’ and the crime gangster drama ‘O-Town’. She also produced ‘Hello, Rain’ – the short film based on the short story “Hello, Moto” by award-winning Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor.

In 2021, Oge Obasi released “Juju Stories” . The film, which is essentially an anthology feature film, premiered at Switzerland’s 74th Locarno film festival.

‘Mami Wata’ is the next feature film by Oge Obasi, for which she received a $10,000 grant from the Prix Red Sea Film Festival to help with post-production costs. This is in addition to the 20,000 Swiss Francs it previously received from the Visions Sud Est selection committee in Switzerland.

‘Mami Wata’ is currently in post-production in France, and  is set to be released in 2022.


Bolanle Austen-Peters

Female filmmakers

Bolanle Austen-Peters is a lawyer who previously worked for the United Nations.

She founded Terra Kulture Arts and Studios Limited, an educational and recreational organization dedicated to promoting Nigerian languages, arts, and culture.

Austen-Peters dabbled in the arts, becoming well-known for her live theatre and film productions. She also established her own production company called Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions. The company launched its first production, ‘SARO the Musical’.

Austen-Peters also directed the musical ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’, which is based on the true story of music icon and activist Fela Kuti and the women who supported him.

She also directed ‘Moremi the Musical,’ which tells the story of the Yoruba legend queen who liberated the people of Ile Ife from their enemies in the 12th century.

Her company also produced ’93 Days,’ a documentary about the  Ebola outbreak in Nigeria. The film was featured in a number of international film festivals and received 13 nominations at the 2017 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, winning the award for ‘Best Lighting Designer.’ The film was also nominated for seven African Movie Academy Awards in 2017.

In 2019, Bolanle Austen-Peters’ production company released ‘The Bling Lagosians,’ a film about the lifestyle of Lagos’ elite.


Jade Osiberu

Female filmmakers

Jade Osiberu, a graduate of computer systems engineering, quit her job as a software developer to devote her full time to movies.

‘Gidi Up,’ one of the first Nigerian web series, was produced and written by her in 2013, and starred actors such as OC Ukeje, Deyemi Okanlawon, and Somkele Iyamah.

After establishing her production company, she wrote and directed ‘Isoken,’ which earned her the title of ‘Best Director’ at the 2018 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards.

Osiberu recently produced ‘Ayinla,’ a critically acclaimed musical biopic of Apala music legend Ayinla Omowura. Female filmmakers


Toyin Abraham

Toyin Abraham-Ajeyemi began her acting career in 2003 featuring in the Yoruba genre of Nollywood. She has appeared in over 35 films since then.

Abraham was one of those who advocated for the release of Yoruba films in cinemas. She would, however, later spread her tentacles to featuring in English-language films.

She was named ‘Best Actress in a Drama’ in the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards for her performance in ‘Elevator Baby.’

In 2018, she co-produced ‘The Ghost and the Tout.

Toyin Abraham-Ajeyemi made her directorial debut in ‘Listening Ears’ which was released on 23rd July 2021.

She is also known for directing the three-part film series ‘Fate of Alakada.’

Notable Mentions:

Uche Jumbo-Rodriguez, Uduak Isong, Genevieve Nnaji, Patience Oghre Imobhio, Blessing Effiom Egbe, Stephanie Okereke-Linus, Toyin Abraham, Chineze Anyaene, Joke Silva, Belinda Agedah Yanga, Biodun Stephen, Mercy Aigbe, Ruth Kadiri, Shan George, Omoni Oboli, Iyabo Ojo, Rukky Sanda, Franca Brown, Ema Edosio, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Judith Audu, Yewande Adekoya, Clare Ezeakacha, Nadine Ibrahim, Ufuoma McDermott. Female filmmakers


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