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An Overview of The Astronomical Rise of Women in Nollywood

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Nollywood is now predominantly women. Most major studios and major deals is run by women and closed by women, and this has signified an upturn in the rise of women in Nollywood.

It should be noted that calling them women, does not do them justice, hence why it is more befitting to title them – Nollywood Mothers.

Mother – Noun – a powerful female being that commands the utter respect and servitude of we lower beings.

Mothers who had and are sacrificing their blood, and sweat, honed their creativity into a powerful weapon that now fuels Nollywood as we know it.

The Genesis

The rise of women in Nollywood can be said to have begun in the 90s. Women in Nollywood found a way to blossom through their art, their creativity in an industry rooted deeply in its traditionalistic ways, where every gender had its roles and was expected to play such roles to perfection, and of course, this translated into both big and small screens, until the intervention of Amaka Igwe.

Amaka Igwe heralded the rise of Nollywood Women, and it is prudent that she be called a Mother – The Nollywood Mother, as not only did she shatter the general idea of what women should be in film and TV, but she also birth an era which heralded women being known for their creativity.

Amaka Igwe distinguished herself amid a male-dominated industry, and her productions began a fight against the stereotypical and misogynistic views Nollywood had imposed upon women. Her portrayal birthed the movement of feminism in Nollywood, and the advent of women into filmmaking, storytelling, and complex roles for actresses.

Not only was Amaka Igwe the front-runner for feminism in Nollywood, but she also began the video-film era of Nollywood, thereby earning her status as Nollywood’s godmother. This is no surprise neither is it a coincidence when we see actresses going head-to-head with their male counterparts, and beating them by a mile.

Amaka Igwe set the foundation for this new age which is heavily dominated by women in every single sector from Directing to Acting to Producing to Writing.

Present Day

More so, the emergence of Mo Abudu and her production company, EbonyLife Studios doubled down on the rise of Nollywood Mothers. With Mo Abudu and EbonyLife, came an era of Nollywood comedies.

EbonyLife was one of the very first Nigerian Production companies that signed an exclusive deal with a major streaming platform. In their case, they signed up to collaborate with Netflix on June 12, 2020. This collaboration with Netflix witnessed the creation of projects such as the law series, Castle and Castle, and the film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Death and King’s Horseman, and more projects are coming from this collaboration.

Following the advent of Mo Abudu and EbonyLife, we witnessed more and more female-owned studios sprung up. Isoken introduced Jade Osiberu as a top female director with a taste for biting and immersive stories.

Jade did not stop there, as she went further by establishing her own production company, Greoh Studios. A studio that not only signed a million-dollar deal with Prime Video but is also responsible for hit movies such as Gang of Lagos, The Trade, and action blockbuster, Brotherhood. Every single becoming beloved by critics and audiences alike.

This might seem unfair to state, but films made by Jade Osiberu all have the potential to become cult classics. Her repertoire is the envy of many, myself included.

It would be a crime to say Kemi Adetiba who also runs her show in the political action film series – King of Boys, a phenomenon that took Nollywood by storm. It would be an injustice to not mention Mildred Okwo, a woman who created the comedy/romance cult classic – The Meeting – the first Nollywood movie whose plot I can still recall since its release over a decade ago. Bolanle Austen-Peters has been dazzling on stage and screen.

These women have driven demands for Nollywood movies, each carving a niche for themselves, like Funke Akindele who has carved a name for herself as a filmmaker from her first feature, Jenifa to her record-breaking show, Jenifa’s Diary, eventually evolving into a mega-producer with blockbusters like Battle of Buka Street, and the box-office hit, A Tribe of Judah that did unprecedented numbers, as it made over a billion naira – the first ever Nigerian movie to perform this utterly beautiful and mind-blowing madness.

Not only is Funke Akindele responsible for the biggest box office in Nollywood, but she also has her name written in the top-three highest grossing movies in Nollywood with Battle on Buka Street, and Omo Ghetto: The Sagaj joining A Tribe of Judah to round up the list. This is no easy feat, and she is proving day by day that she has what it takes to create box-office successes.

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Speaking of highest-grossing movies, women in Nollywood are responsible for the top four highest-grossing movies. In comparison, in a list of the top ten highest-grossing movies in Nollywood, women are responsible for six.

Whew! Insert an emoji of a man leaning against the wall with an arm.

But, directing isn’t just where these mothers are dominating. Women have risen in rank in every sector in Nollywood. Chinenye Nworah, founder of Giant Creative Media, and the production powerhouse responsible for the Netflix hit series, Shanty Town is becoming known for producing the best projects.

The Future

Women are also dominating in the writing sector, and not only are they dominating, but they are also paving the writers for writers of all genders. Writers like the Ifeanyi Chidi Barbara – The TV Witch, and the brain behind most of M-net’s Telenovelas and Showmax’s acclaimed series like Diiche and Crime and Justice Lagos. Then we have Dami Elebe, Shola Dada, Stephanie Dadet, and Fatimah Binta Gimsay who are constantly bringing passionate stories to our screens while paving the way for others in the writing sector in Nollywood in the same breath.

It would please Amaka Igwe to know that the women in Nollywood after her have picked up from where she left up.

And to Nollywood’s Mothers…

Do not stop the good fight, and more importantly, never stop creating in the face of adversaries and those who would intentionally stunt your growth.

One response to “An Overview of The Astronomical Rise of Women in Nollywood”
  1. […] Meeting, released in 2012, is a Nigerian romantic comedy-drama produced by Rita Dominic and Mildred Okwo, who also directed the film. It features a talented ensemble cast, including Femi Jacobs, Rita […]

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