From Mo Abudu to Ema Edosio, these women are transforming Nollywood for the better.
Women have had a place in Nollywood since its inception, but that was mostly in front of the camera. Behind the scenes, things have historically been governed by men: they produce and direct the biggest films and generally dictate the market for Nigerian film.
In 2019, the era of overwhelming male dominance is over, thanks to a new type of female mogul personified best by Mo Abudu. Since the release of her first film Fifty in in 2015 she has ruled the Nigerian box office. Three films she executive produced—The Wedding Party 1, The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai and Chief Daddy—sit atop the list of highest grossing Nigerian movies of all time. The original Wedding Party grossed ₦453 million, its sequel did ₦500 million, and her latest Chief Daddy made over ₦300 million in three weeks.
Four of the films produced by her film company EbonyLife are among the top 10 highest grossing Nollywood films. Mo Abudu's success has ushered in a new trend of women making boss moves in Africa's biggest film industry.
Since her transition from her couch on Moments with Mo to film, the involvement of women in Nollywood behind the scenes have increased: Mary Remmy Njoku, a Nollywood actress popular for her role in Blackberry Babes, founded ROK Studios which produced the popular Husbands of Lagos and is responsible for the bulk of movies and series shown on iROKOtv. Six of the 10 most successful Nollywood films have been produced by women: Mo Abudu, Kemi Adetiba and Omoni Oboli.
This is a testament to both women's power in Nollywood and Mo's influence.
As reflected in Tope Oshin's documentary Shooting It Like A Woman, women are beating the odds to succeed in the male-dominated Nigerian film industry and in 2018, the women of Nollywood stepped up their game and made the biggest moves in the industry.
Below are six Nigerian women who we're looking forward to seeing more of this year.