Friday, 22nd September 2023

Toyosi Etim-Effiong: ‘Until women unravel their identity, purpose, there will be no lasting fulfillment’

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
10 June 2023   |   3:24 am
Toyosi Etim-Effiong is a versatile media entrepreneur supporting the telling of authentic African stories to a global audience. With almost a decade of multifunctional experience across the media industry, she has garnered vital exposure and skills to drive media-related and experiential projects, as well as creating communication strategies for personal and corporate brands.

Toyosi Etim-Effiong

Toyosi Etim-Effiong is a versatile media entrepreneur supporting the telling of authentic African stories to a global audience. With almost a decade of multifunctional experience across the media industry, she has garnered vital exposure and skills to drive media-related and experiential projects, as well as creating communication strategies for personal and corporate brands.
She has served as the Global Director of Content for the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) and as the Publishing Editor of the CNN-powered Folio.NG. She is the founder and chief executive officer of That Good Media.
As a visionary person committed to the growth and development of the Nigerian creative sector, particularly the media and movie industries, she initiated the independent producers’ workshop for budding TV producers and media executives. She was recognised as one of Nigeria’s most inspiring and influential women by the Leading Ladies Africa organisations in 2022. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, Etim-Effiong shares her drive to continually make impact.

Take us through your life trajectory.
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria to Taiwo and Temitayo Phillips. Taiwo and Temitayo were easy-going people and I believe I got thrown into their midst to add some excitement. I was raised in Lagos. I was a handful. You would always find me where the action was happening. I went to Corona School, Victoria Island; Queen’s College, Yaba; Bowen University where I graduated with a 4-point GPA in Economics and the University of Nottingham for a Master’s degree in Economic Development and Policy Analysis. Post-Nottingham, I came back to Lagos and got a job in the internal audit department of a bank, which was one of the worst experiences of my life.

I, a staunch lover of joy, fun and laughter, had no business being in audit department. I found it boring and excruciatingly monotonous, and after a very long three years, I resigned and moved to New York to study Broadcast Journalism and later Producing at the New York Film Academy. It was during this period that I started to write for BellaNaija as a guest contributor.

I interned at Complex at the Rockefeller Center for a few months and got a job with Sahara Reporters in the Entertainment Department where I produced and presented a show called, ‘The Gist with Toyosi Phillips’. I also tried to join the US Army when my visa was expiring, but it wasn’t successful. Once again, I moved back to Lagos. My first job back in Lagos was as a production manager on an NdaniTV series before I joined ARISE News as a producer and presenter.

I then joined Folio by CNN as a publishing editor where I was responsible for creating and overseeing the production of short-form content for the Folio Platform. I eventually produced my talk show, ‘As Toyo Sees’ which was licensed by Africa Magic. I then went on to produce shows for other people, including Aunty Betty Irabor, Linda Ikeji and the Adefarasins before setting up my company, That Good Media, a media solutions company specialising in talent management and international strategic partnerships.

As a versatile media entrepreneur, passionate about telling authentic African stories to a global audience, how are you achieving this?
I start with the platforms that I have control over and use one of my most prominent gifts – writing to tell our stories. Over the years, through my work, education and travels, I have built an international following of people who love to read my stories. All my stories are written from a place of authenticity and love and I’m aware of how they form the bane of the perception that people have not just of me but also of Lagos, Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

So, I tell my stories authentically and with a sense of responsibility to the continent. Besides this, I actively seek out opportunities for our stories to be told on global stages. Last year, I led a delegation to the Essence Film Festival where, for the first time, a Nollywood movie, Jolly Roger was screened and a panel was dedicated to Nollywood and its contribution to the global film industry.

We are going even further with Essence Film Festival this year, with a full day dedicated to Nigerian cinema and I’ll once again be leading a delegation of industry stakeholders – Nollywood studios, producers, talent, filmmakers and more to New Orleans for two main activations. The first is a stakeholders forum with the Film Commission of New Orleans, while the second, as mentioned earlier, is the Nigeria Day at Essence Film Festival. We’ll be screening our movies, hosting panels and networking to create more opportunities for the industry and to spread the importance of Nollywood at Essence.

With your experience, you work in multifunctional fields, locally and internationally. How has your experience helped you evolve?
My experience locally and internationally has given me a bird’s eye view of the media and entertainment sector, especially with regard to the movie industry. Now I’m very aware of the gaps on both sides and the solutions to some of the gaps.

My experience has also given me a heightened desire to firstly, adjust the perception of Nollywood globally, and secondly, create opportunities that will make Nollywood attain the heights that have been reached by her blood-sister, Afrobeats.

The Nigerian creative sector is constantly expanding. How much impact would you say you have made towards its growth?
I consider myself as still being in the building stage, so measuring my impact is not priority right now. I’m more inclined to cheering other serious players in the industry on and again seek out opportunities that will translate the industry’s numeric growth to monetary and influential growth.

Social media make huge impact in various sectors. How are you uncovering the dynamism it offers?
I take time to actively engage with social media platforms and immerse myself in various conversations and a diverse range of content so that I have knowledge of other things besides my core industry. I also stay abreast of trends and observe updates and algorithms. I read industry reports that focus on social media dynamism.

Share with us some of the challenges you have faced in the course of your career and how you’ve been able to surmount them?
Moving back to Nigeria from New York was tough for me. The energy, the pulse of the city… most media people would want to stay there and maybe occasionally shuttle to other parts of the country from there.

New York is very alive and I wanted to live and work within its life. But the true Giver of life had other plans and I had to come back to Lagos to what seemed like starting from the scratch. It was a very painful transition but as one of my gym buddies says, ‘gradual by gradual’, I sought out opportunities and was committed to them. This led to more opportunities, which were good training grounds for me before I eventually made the bold decision to stand on my own and ‘till the land allotted to me’.

Through your community, you are helping millennials navigate and nurture authentic relationships. Tell us about its impact so far?
The Good Friend Zone gives me so much joy. It stemmed from me writing a book, ‘Now You Know Me Better’ available at Roving Heights and Amazon. It was supposed to be a community where people receive excerpts and updates about the book and release dates but it grew to become a community of people with a common desire to navigate the complexities of friendship better.

We have held several physical, fun-full hangouts and the general consensus is that good networking and socialising prevent depression and is good for the mental health. So, this is our quota to solving the global mental health issues plaguing young people all over the world.

How do you stay inspired and motivated?
At the core of my being is the knowledge that what I’m doing is bigger than me and not about me. So when I think about the lives that will improve because I’m playing my part well, I’m inspired to keep on moving.

How can we get more women to become successful and rise to the top as you have done? What tips do you have for younger women?
Success is relative but I’ll say that the journey to contributing and playing one’s part excellently to the point of being recognised starts with finding oneself. Until women know who they are, why they’re here and a few other things that will unravel as they take a deep dive into their identity and purpose, there will be no lasting fulfillment to any accomplishment or success attained. So, in my humble opinion, the journey starts with self-discovery.

What key lessons have you learned in your years of practice and impact?
The key lessons I’ve learned are that there’s always something new to learn and it’s more potent to let your work speak for you.

What is your life mantra?
Live for an audience of one. Extend grace. Protect your peace.

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