Women in filmmaking: Their excellencies the creative cash madams of Nollywood – Part 3
It will be impossible to exhaust the list of the creative cash madams in three straight series as we planned. Their names keep popping up as we wind down. Two Saturdays ago it was Emem Isong, Mo Abudu and Biola Alabi. Last week the spotlight was on Blessing Effiom-Egbe, Peace Anyiam Osigwe, Chinwe Egwuagu and Bolanle Austen Peters—seven of the few significant women of the arts that now play big in the motion picture club that was hitherto exclusively for men. This week, the follow spot shines on another set of creative cash madams- Mildred Okwo, Uduak Isong Oguamanam, Uche Jombo and Omoni Oboli who are at the driving seat of major film projects in Nollywood. Celebrity salutes these set of creative cash madams of moviedom and many more for their quality contribution to Nollywood.
Clearly one of the leading lights and an influential figure in the Nollywood industry, Mildred Okwo is one personality who is many things rolled into one. She is a producer, writer, director, entertainment lawyer and talent manager. A filmmaker in the professional class, Okwo who studied theatre arts at the University of Benin before she proceeded to study law at Whittier Law School, Orange Country, California shot to limelight when she wrote, co-produced and directed the star studded movie ‘30 days’. Starring Genevieve Nnaji, Joke Silva and Segun Arinze in leading roles, ’30 Days’ was well received. It was released in the USA in 2006 and earned 10 nominations in the 2006 edition of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) including a nomination for best director and best picture. The next feature for the CEO and Co-founder of The Audrey Silva Company (TASC) was the highly successful romantic comedy ‘The Meeting’ starring Rita Dominic and Femi Jacobs. Like ’30 Days’, the movie was well received. It won a lot of industry awards including the audience choice award of the Nollywood Film Festival in Paris, France. A member of the Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee and an advocate for a professionally run Nollywood industry, Okwo has also signed the comic movie ‘Surulere’ as co-producer and Director and recently wrapped up shoot of a television series titled ‘BankersNGR’. Outside writing, directing and producing, Okwo manages the shinning talents of Rita Dominic (who is co-founder of TASC), Femi Jacobs and the Efik princess Kate Henshaw.
Uduak Isong Oguamanam
Younger sister of the prolific writer, producer and later day director Emem Isong, Uduak runs one of Nollywood’s factory machine from where works like ‘Okon Lagos’, the sequel ‘Okon Goes To School’, ‘Kokomma’ and the latest one ‘Lost in London’ featuring Bishop Umoh who is now popular as Okon Lagos have come out from. A short story writer and screen player, Uduak who won the 2006 Commonwealth short story award, holds a first degree in Communication and Arts/Russian Language from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and a Masters degree in New Media and Society from the University of Leicester, UK. She delved into the industry as a writer but she has risen to become a notable producer and entrepreneur. Chief Executive Officer of Afriville, an African Resource Centre in Surulere Lagos, Uduak first feature film was a comedy ‘Okon Lagos’. With that blockbuster movie, an award winning writer and producer walked into Nollywood. No doubt, the movies success story announced Uduak’s entrance on the scene. So far, Uduak has written a number of critically acclaimed scripts including ‘A Piece of Flesh’, ‘Unfinished Business’, ‘Ekaette’, ‘Edikan’, ‘Through the Fire’, ‘Entanglement’ and ‘Timeless Passion’. She has also co-written ‘Bursting Out’, ‘I’ll Take My Chances’, ‘Weekend Getaway’ and several others yet to be released. Described by close friends described as witty and frankly truthful, Uduak revealed that she is signed on permanently as a filmmaker- writer and producer and she will continue to be at it as long as she lives.
Uche Jombo- Rodriquez
Clearly one filmmaker who has maintained a gracious attitude toward her stardom and who is rightly respected for her consistency and professionalism, Uche Jombo- Rodriquez combines being a busy actress with being a writer, producer, mother, wife and more recently a director. She has featured in movies as much as she has produced. A warm personality, the Abia born actress started off as a scriptwriter near a decade and half ago but she has so far produced over twenty movies including the trilogy ‘Damage’. The Mathematics and Statistics graduate of the University of Calabar whose early acting heroes include Joke Silva and Whopi Goldberg, has equally featured in over a hundred movies and has written and co-written several scripts including ‘Visa to Hell’, ‘Games Men Play’ and ‘A Time to Love’. Born under the horoscope sign Capricorn, the Abriba born actress and star of some critically acclaimed flicks like ‘Adure’ and ‘Shakara’ recently joined the ranks of those who call the shots behind the camera. The unpretentiously Uche just signed her debut directorial effort, Lost in Us, which tells the story of a man mourning his wife who died of cancer. She revealed recently that even though she has taken up a new role as a director, she wont stop writing, producing and acting.
Although best known as an actress and indeed blessed with a captivating screen presence, this Mosogha, Delta Sate born leading actress has since joined the exclusive club of movie directors and producers who have proven that with hard work and determination one can hit the right mark and maintain a steady lead. A disarmingly humble personality, the New York Film Academy trained digital filmmaker and French graduate of the University of Benin has shown over time that she is remarkably versatile. Nearly every movie she has signed as a producer and director has turned gold. Her directorial debut (Being Mrs. Elliot) was a hit; so for her second (The First Lady) which shattered box office records. The third (Wives on Strike) was a blockbuster and the fourth one—Okafor’s Law (starring Richard Mofe Damijo and Ufoma McDermott) not only had an impressive run at the box office, it had its world premiere in 2016 at an important film festival like the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). A devoted disciple of the motion picture vocation, Omoni’s professional acting career commenced nearly two decades ago as an undergraduate, with a beatific performance in the urban telling ‘Not My Will’. Omoni had a few cameo performances-like when she was cast as a maid in ‘Shame’ and ‘Another Campus Tale’ but the busy filmmaker took a break off acting and returned to the turf almost a decade after to stare in Emem Isong’s ‘Unfinished Business’. Since then Omoni who has earned the alias of ‘queen of all moments’ has not looked back.