The Nigerian film industry, or Nollywood as it is fondly known, is a beast of a global filmmaking machine. It is more than just thriving; Nollywood is the second largest film industry in the world and is worth $6.4 billion. Because of its massive growth, opportunities for female producers and filmmakers have opened three-fold since trailblazers like Amaka Ingwe solidified a powerful female presence behind the cameras.
Nigerian film production started in the 1960s by the first generation of historical filmmakers like Jab Adu, Hubert Ogunde, Eddie Ugboma, Moses Olayia and Ola Balogun. Shortly afterwards, Nigerian women already working in the film and media sector also started producing and directing film in Nigeria; Amaka Igwe was one of the second-generation filmmakers who helped begin the video film era of Nigerian cinema and is widely recognized as one of the first female Nigerian filmmakers who opened doors for other female creatives.
HERE ARE OUR TOP FIVE FEMALE NIGERAN FILMMAKERS:
Tope Oshin works as a television and film director and producer. She became interested in filmmaking early in her student career, and studied Film Production and Cinematography in Denver, Colorado, finishing her film studies in London, England. She got her first directing break working as an assistant director for The Apprentice Africa and went on to direct many popular African TV dramas and soap operas, as well as several short films. She is known best for her 2018 films Up North and New Money. She has produced some of the highest grossing movies in Nigeria.
Her 2016 documentary Amaka’s Kin: The Women Of Nollywood, was a memorial to Amaka Igwe, and addresses the issues faced by Nigerian female directors. Oshin also created controversy with the heavily nominated 2018 Queer film: We Don’t Live Here Anymore, which she co-wrote, directed and produced for human rights organization TIERs (The Initiative for Equal Rights). Oshin’s production company Sunbow Productions produces the Nigerian version of MTV Shuga. She also currently has a thriving career as a top Nigerian casting director.
Mo Abudu holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (Honouris Causa) from Babcock University and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in 2018 from the University of Westminster for her contributions to the broadcasting industry in Nigeria.
Mo Abudu started her own broadcasting network EbonyLife TV (ELTV) in 2006, which airs in over 49 countries across Africa, the UK, and the Caribbean. Notably, she has produced TV drama series Desperate Housewives Africa, The Governor, On the Real, Sons Of The Caliphate, and Castle & Castle. She went on to establish the film contingent of her company: EbonyLife Films in 2014, debuting her first film Fifty as executive producer. She also executive produced her own show Moments with Mo, a daily talk show which has dubbed her the ‘Nigerian Winfrey.’
Globally she is known for her Netflix movie Oloture, launched in 2020, Oloture is a powerful art-nouveau film shot in Lagos, centred around the problem of human trafficking in Nigeria.
Biodun Stephen studied film production at the London Film Academy. She is known for her romantic dramas and comedy films depicting the human psyche. She began her film-making career in 2014, with the release of The Visit, praised for the small, yet brilliant cast and insightful and original storytelling.
She won the best director award at the 2016 Maya Awards Africa and was nominated for best director for her directorial role in Tiwa’s Baggage at the 2018 City People Movie Awards. Her awards and nominations are the inspiration for her confidence in her continued film production. Her remarkable, humorous, human-interest stories can be viewed online and on various Apps.
Mary Nnenna Njoku
Mary Nnenna Njoku, or ‘Mary Remmy’ is the Director General of ROK Studios, an award-winning Lagos-based film house, which was acquired by French TV giant, CANAL+. Njoku joined the Nollywood industry as an actor in 2003, at the young age of 17. Njoku produced iROKtv, a YouTube platform featuring interviews with Nigerian celebrities, and focus on Nollywood events. In 2015, Njoku became Chief Content Officer at IROKO Partners.
Her first film Thy Will Be Done premiered at the BFI IMAX London, and it was the first time a Nollywood film premiered in an IMAX theatre.
Kemi Adetiba is a Nigerian filmmaker and television director. She is also a well-known music director having worked on various global channels such as Channel O, MTV Base, BET and Netflix. She went from being a famous radio personality to presenting and producing several shows such as Temptation Nigeria.
Adetiba learned the ropes of filmmaking at the New York Film Academy and on 8 September 2016, her first feature film, a romantic comedy titled The Wedding Party premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival as the opening film of the City-to-City Spotlight.