By Tomilola Coco Adeyemo
Nollywood as an Industry has grown immensely thanks to a lot of filmmakers who relentlessly put their efforts into building one of the biggest film industries in the world.
With the ability to produce more movies than Hollywood and the consistency with which it does that, it is safe to say Nollywood as an Industry has not only come to stay but has changed the way cinema/filmmaking is seen in Africa.
However, while there may be names that automatically pop up in your minds when the topic of how the Industry has come to grow comes up, there are women who without their contribution to the business, would have had Nollywood less than what it is today.
And even though every day we remember them, today is a big reminder to once again, celebrate them.
Amaka Igwe: The late filmmaker gave the opportunity most women in the Industry now have to them. With the classic soap Checkmate, the movie Violated and the hit show Fuji House Of Commotion, Amaka Igwe undoubtedly is one of the pillars on which Nollywood stands. We definitely cannot tell the story of the Industry without mentioning her.
Emem Isong: After Amaka Igwe, there weren’t so many women who seemed interested in being behind the scenes. Then there came Emem Isong, a woman who did not have a problem with being behind the cameras and who (arguably) became responsible for the birth of a new generation of Actors in Film in Nollywood. And let’s not forget she basically is responsible for Desmond’s Elliot’s Directorial growth in the business because of her decision to trust him with her projects.
Funke Akindele: Funke’s growth in the business did not come as fast as even she expected. After landing a major role on hit show I Need To Know, the AMVCA winner once confessed that she thought things were going to be pretty much easier for her after then. But they weren’t and when she joined the Yoruba arm of Nollywood, she had to start from the scratch with non speaking roles! Yet, her tenacity did not only put her on the map as one of the best Actresses in the business, it helped her make history. Funke is currently the only Actress to have won in the Best Actress In A Comedy category at the AMVCAs and the only Actress in the Yoruba arm of Nollywood to own an AMAA award for best Actress all for the character Jenifa.
Peace Anyiam Osigwe: In an industry where there weren’t so many credible/long lasting platforms to celebrate film and its Actors, Peace Anyiam Osigwe did not only create one, she created a very credible one that has remained unrivaled since then.
Rewarding filmmakers through her AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards) Peace has shown Africa that women can not only be responsible for filmmaking, they can also create an avenue for rewarding filmmaking all by themselves.
Omoni Oboli: Returning to the Industry when all her colleagues seemed to be steps ahead of her, Omoni Oboli did not seem to stand a chance. However, years after her return, the Actress has not only grabbed the bull by the horn, she is steadily showing the younger generation how constant hustle can pay off.
We know we would buy a book about Hustle if she ever wrote one.
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde: Before becoming a reality star, Omotola was responsible for changing the face of Acting in the business. Creating a brand for herself and demanding better pay for her craft, the talented Actress paved the way for upcoming Actresses to get more than recognition; a strong brand and an even stronger bank account.
And you wonder why Time recognized her.
There you have it, the women who changed the face of Nollywood.
Who did we miss?