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‘We want to disrupt the narrative, tell untold stories to global diaspora’

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
22 November 2020   |   4:25 am
My insatiable human nature partly drives my diverse interests. I like to push for more on any level I get to and not to just be at the top but to be the best there.

Chinecherem Eze is the founder of Hissbox, a film distribution and streaming service that recently launched its services in Nigeria. The University of California alumni, with a major in Political Science and minor in Theatre Arts, set up the Adaora Foundation in 2015, which donates essential beauty products to victims of unforeseen circumstances including cancer, accident and burn survivors. She became an actress and producer and has featured in a couple of movies and also founded the Chinecherem Eze Foundation committed to educating the girl child in Africa and support women to take back all they have lost through the Take It Movement. Eze is currently serving the United States army. She was honoured and recognised with the Outstanding Professional of the Year Award by the United States Congresswoman, Karen Bass, for her achievements in business within three years of moving to the United States as a 20 year old immigrant from Nigeria, while also serving as a Reservist with the United States Army. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she talks about her various interests as well as running an online streaming platform.

Tell us what forms your diverse interests?
My insatiable human nature partly drives my diverse interests. I like to push for more on any level I get to and not to just be at the top but to be the best there. On the other hand, as a serial entrepreneur and an investor, when it comes to business opportunities or ideas, I am always interested in anything that makes sense and is viable no matter the industry.

And your Hissbox, what motivated this drive?
Hissbox is an online streaming platform, as well as a film production and distribution company. Our primary focus is on projecting untold, neglected and less told stories from across the globe. Our platform is a mix of feature films, TV shows, documentaries, food shows, comedy skits, short films as well as the content it licenses from other networks and studios. Users have 30-day free trial upon registration to watch any film of their choice, and all devices support it. This means that users can watch on large screens like TV, Desktop, Laptops, and Tablets and on Mobile devices. For me as a film buff, I enjoy watching movies and at some point, it got tiring watching so much of what I could not relate to as an African or even as someone from a different continent as I didn’t have access to go to Nigerian cinemas to watch premium African movies at that time. That is what motivated me basically, to create a platform where people from different continents could watch movies or special shows that they have a sense of connection with, especially films from their individual countries that are not visible in the global scene.

What stands your platform out and what gap is it filling?
Our focus for Hissbox is telling untold stories to the global diaspora and to also encourage and support filmmakers or content creators, by providing them a platform where they can share their work. And to achieve this, we intend to disrupt the narrative of how stories are told by giving out grants to filmmakers and storytellers globally with unique original content who might not have had the chance for global recognition.

As an actress and producer, how would you compare Hollywood and Nollywood?
From my own perspective, I would say that it is not a fair comparison when we pair both Hollywood and Nollywood side by side. Hollywood by far has a lot of privileges that somehow places them on the level they are in. I am proud of Nollywood and how far it has come, despite several challenges. There has definitely been much growth compared to how things were back in the days and I am looking forward to the future.

What in your growing up shaped your passion and interests?
Growing up for me my passion was to do medicine and be in the medical field. There was no passion towards anything art or performances related at the time, but as time went on I rediscovered my purpose and passion. In addition, it is safe to say that growing up in a family where both parents where entrepreneurs also helped to shape my mind towards being an entrepreneur.

Your NGOs are committed to empowering women and girls especially in Nigeria, what informed your choice? Any experiences?
They say charity begins at home, as a Nigerian woman who was once a girl child I understand the cultural and societal barriers that hinder or limit women like myself from pursuing whatever business path or career path they choose. My foundation is focused on educating the girl child at an early age. Because when that mindset is set right from a young age, she will become unstoppable. Our society needs to break away from these unholy stereotypes that reminds women of how much less they have to work hard as not to make a man feel threatened. And these are actually experiences that women still face till date.