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Don’t let obstacles determine who you are

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Amidu

Blessing Amidu is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Hot Ticket Productions, and Executive Producer of Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters (LBMM). She bagged a degree in Geology in the 90s, after which she worked in the Oil & Gas industry for many years. However, Amidu has always had an avid interest in the theatrical arts, as evident by her participation in church drama presentations. She would both write scripts for the skits and perform roles. Although her interest lies in the performing arts, producing an animation movie became a reality in a bid to create a balanced atmosphere for kids and adults alike to be entertained, hence LBMM was born. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she talks about her passion for the arts, her kids as inspiration, and the animation movie billed to be released in cinemas from December 11, 2020. Excepts!

Take us through your career journey?
My career journey has been an exciting blend of sorts. I spent a few years in Public Relations and Marketing. I have put in at least 15 years in the Oil and Gas sector and I have been a businesswoman for quite a number of years now. However, my siblings have all been in the arts and I was just supposed to be in the arts, but then the stubborn part of me didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing; I wanted to be different. So, I went into the sciences, but then I think it is out of lack of guidance, else I would have focused on the arts, but then, I am a Geologist.

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How has your growing up influenced your passion for the arts?
By the time I was eight years old, I had read more James Hardly Chase novels than a number of adults put together; one of my uncles literally had a carton full of them. I had read very voluminous books like Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and many others too by the time I was eight. Everything about me pointed in direction of the arts, but I guess I was too proud to admit it, especially at a time when there wasn’t much prestige attached and perhaps for lack of superior judgment. This is by no means saying that I regret my years spent as a Geologist, rather I would say it has made my interpretation of the art stronger.

With a background in geology and has worked in the oil and gas sector, how was it easy for you to switch to the world of movies and animation?
My early years contributed a lot and I wouldn’t call it a transition as such. Rather, I will say it was just a part of me crying out for expression these many years. Within the period though, I had written, directed plays in church, and even performed roles. Growing up, a part of me wanted to do arts as I said earlier, but there was this notion that people in the arts are not intelligent. So, I wanted to be in the sciences despite the fact I knew I was good in the arts. So, everyone in my family, my siblings, cousins, and even uncles involved in the arts, my best grades were in the arts subjects.

Tell us about your animation project Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters (LBMM), how did it all begin?
LBMM is the story of a ‘know it all’ little girl who finds out she has probably bitten more than she can chew and learns a few not so pleasant lessons in the process. It began one beautiful evening when we all sat – my kids and I were in front of the television watching cartoons – and my twin boys wouldn’t just quit walking in and out of the room barefoot and in their underpants. They were acting like cartoon characters themselves. They were about five years old at the time and would often love to be chased around the house to go take a bath, brush their teeth, or even put some footwear on. And the first four characters were born that same day- Ladybuckit, Pantylegs, Slipperhead, and Cupsticks. The idea was originally to create something that would teach kids to commit to cleaning up themselves.

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Did motherhood influence your passion? What really drives you?
I would say a big yes to that because I get inspired daily by spending as much time as I can with my kids. And oftentimes when they open their mouths to speak, I get many different meanings or interpretations of what they may be trying to say and or express. A child needs to be able to express his or herself either at play or work and it was one of such thoughts that made me begin to cultivate the idea of an entertainment facility where everyone whether a child, teen, a parent can come together in a friendly atmosphere to discover more about themselves.

How were you able to venture into this, being a woman in a not too familiar terrain?

It has been very challenging, managing the home front, work, and doing this. I have had a lot of support from family and I have been able to build a strong team to get this project running, which has helped tremendously, and in areas where we could have had gaps; we have been able to manage it. For me, in another life, I will just stick to the arts and not try to do geology.

This is not something I will advise anyone to do; it is possible but really challenging. There were times when we had to go for table reading and voice recording and Geology on its own is tough, so I have had to strike that balance. I think that being a woman doesn’t change anything; anyone who is exposed to the kind of funding I have will also achieve more. Also, I self motivate a lot and I see possibilities in everything I do; I go where people have dared not to. It is not a woman thing, but being a woman has helped a lot; I have this resilience.

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And for women generally, I think there is this extra touch and finesse when it comes to being a woman doing a particular thing; women tend to have that extra edge, and so that counts.

The movie has some talented minds, who are they and how did you get them to work on this project?
Adebisi Adetayo worked on the TV series, Game of Thrones, and has served as the director on this project. The other is Chris Ihidero. With a host of many other great minds, this project is what it has turned out to be. It didn’t take much convincing. I suppose my passion for the project was genuine, coupled with the fact that we had a terrific story.

How has the LBMM journey been so far? How much was invested in this?
The journey thus far has been nothing like I experienced in my entire life. The challenges were real – from funding to a global pandemic wherein we had to work all through the period of the lockdown and to the recent #Endsars protests. However, in the end, we triumphed and here we are today. The LBMM project is valued at one million dollars and it is not even compared to the dedication and commitment from ‘Team 3’, everyone who finally made this happen.

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What is the key message for you with LBMM?
The girl child is the future; we want every girl out there to know that they don’t need to feel less of themselves regardless of the society holds. We want them to think and believe more in themselves.

How does it feel to have achieved this feat of creating the first feature-length animated movie in Nigeria?
To be honest, it hasn’t quite sunk yet; we are still taking it in. It’s a great achievement not just for the team alone, but also for every other creative out there and for the entire country as a whole.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge aside from finances was finding the right team with the right combination of skills, commitment, and dedication. We had two failed attempts and it was by far the most challenging since we set out on this project. However, when it comes to funding when you try to get investors, they feel like it’s too risky, as people have done it and no one succeeded at it; everyone is scared, especially at a time like this. If not for the funding I have been able to pull into this, I doubt I will be here.

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Do you see more people following this path, and would you advise this?
Oh yes. I think LBMM has opened doors for Nigeria’s entertainment industry – doors that hitherto seemed almost impossible to walk through. Countless numbers are inspired already, and my advice would be to go all out and explore this niche. We need to tell our story to the world at large.

How should women position themselves to achieve their dreams?
I would say do not relent; let your voice be heard. Do not let obstacles or challenges determine who you are. Be sure to dream big. Maintain focus! Go for it and not even the skies will be your limit. Be dedicated, be committed, don’t give up even in the face of adversities, I don’t give up, it just takes purpose and focus, it can be done. I self motivate a lot. I think what has really made it for me is that Geology is a course where you are neither considered male nor female; that alone didn’t make me feel like I was less a person, which has helped me in this path. Geology has given me strength all the years and so I consider this a conquered feat.

How do you combine all the caps that you wear, with family and still be at your best?
I have had to do a lot of joggling between fronts in trying to strike a balance. It’s been quite challenging but on the home front, my family has been very supportive, and this has kept me going strong. There were times I was tempted to throw in the towel of course, but I knew I had come too far and would just self-motivate at such instances and not give in.

What’s your life mantra?
Always put your, heart, totally in what you do, and then be sure to finish what you started.

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