Female Talents Are Still Calling the Shots


Vanessa Obioha

There is a reason a woman’s success is loudly applauded. It has little to do with low self-esteem and more to do with shattering glass ceilings, breaking norms, and importantly, defeating the Goliaths. Due to the way they are often overlooked in the society as the weaker sex, the female specie has had to work extra hard to gain recognition in the society, particularly in the film industry where they are often regarded as the prettier sex and preferred in front of the camera. Some of the women who have defied these stereotypes in the film industry in Nigeria were profiled by journalist cum public relations practitioner, Niran Adedokun in his book ‘Ladies Calling the Shots’.

Published last year, the book highlighted 17 female directors whose works are not only revolutionary, but also significant in an era where female voices are struggling to be heard. The women meticulously selected are a dynamic mix. Some of them are household names like the late Amaka Igwe and Lola Fani-Kayode who set the ball rolling for the next generation. Others like Mildred Okwo, Remi Vaughan-Richards are generously honoured in the 253-page book.
Adedokun offers the reader a deeper insight into the lives of these women who came from diverse backgrounds, and not all of them had a smooth sail. On page 90, he documented the struggles of Ema Edosio, a young talented film director.

Coming from a family where parents’ decisions are final and the study of arts is forbidden, Edosio, found herself studying a course she had no interest in. Upon graduation, the director came to the realisation that she was in the wrong profession of Computer Studies as the theoretical aspects her lecturers taught her were insufficient to survive in the real world. It was in this state of confusion that Edosio, who is also a cinematographer found the path to her dreams. What is inspiring about her story is the dogged determination which she pursued her dreams, knocking on every door including that of Hip TV until she found her place in the industry.
There are similar stories like Edosio’s written in beautiful prose with pictures.

Adedokun’s choice to pick these exceptional breed stems from the need to celebrate their outstanding contribution to the Nigerian Film Industry, long before the birth of Nollywood. The likes of Fani-Kayode, who was the first major female independent producer in Nigeria with her historical soap opera ‘Mirror in the Sun’, created, wrote, produced and directed the TV production.

In addition, directing a film is one of the arduous jobs of filmmaking and often gets the spotlight. So celebrating these women, who not only dared to dream bigger, but used their dreams to change narratives, was worth documenting. The book serves as a guide and inspiration to younger ones who are interested in the craft.

A year after Adedokun published his book, women are still calling the shots in the industry. Recently, actress Genevieve Nnaji debuted her directorial work and scored a first by being the first Nigerian producer and director to have her film ‘Lionheart’ acquired by major streaming brand Netflix.

At the recently held Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA), a female talent, Bisola Aiyeola won the Trailblazer Award, the fifth time the award was given to a woman. Though, some critics have questioned if the award was strictly for the female gender, the fact remains that women go the extra mile to achieve the unattainable and will continue to call the shots in every area of their lives.