BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
Tope Oshin Ogun is presently one of Nigeria’s fastest rising female directors in the make-believe industry. Also a producer, actor, dialogue coach and casting director, the lovely mother of four boys was for five years the only female director on M-NET’s multiple award-winning ‘Tinsel’. Tope’s movies have received several nominations and awards from reputed bodies like African Movies Academy Awards (AMAA), TAVA (Television and Audio Visual Awards) and more. The year 2000 graduate of Theatre Arts, TV and Film Production from the Lagos State University currently owns Sunbow Productions Limited and she is happily married to Yinka Ogun, a screenwriter, content provider and developer. Enjoy our chat with her.
For how long have you been into directing?
About seven to eight years now. I worked on Tinsel where I directed about 350 episodes and I’ve shot other movies that earned me some awards. I also shot Journey to Self which was in the cinemas last year.
We have more male directors than female. Why didn’t you settle for acting?
I actually started my career as an actress. After I got married and started having kids, precisely while pregnant with my last child, some seeds dropped inside me from an older colleague who felt I should look into directing and working behind the scene because I seemed very concerned about how the whole process come together.
So, at a point when I couldn’t act while pregnant, I gave more thought to it by doing more research and reading, trying to see if working behind the scene was for me. Gradually, I fell in love with it and that was it! After my baby came, I started assistant directing, interning, and more. I did less and less of acting until I found that there wasn’t time for me to act anymore. I got unto big projects like Apprentice Africa and Tinsel where I directed for five years and later became box and content producer. I’ve worked on Moment with Mo and a whole lot more.
What would you say is responsible for your fast rise in the industry?
I would say consistency and shooting hours. In other parts of the world, your career is judged by how many shooting hours you’ve had. Before I left Tinsel in April last year, I had shot about 350 episodes and if you calculate that in shooting hours, that’s probably some people’s experience in 20 years. I’ve worked on talk shows and reality shows, and my experience cuts across different genres. It may look like a fast rise but I tell you, it’s a rise well-deserved because I have worked.
You’re only seen on very low hair cut; why this choice of hairstyle?
It’s convenient. I don’t have time at all; after taking care of my four boys everyday and shooting on locations, I really do not have the time to be weaving or fixing. This is convenient for me and I love it. I’m lucky my husband is in same industry because we often work together; I shoot content, he produces vice-versa.
Let’s talk about your recent project which is currently airing on EbonyLife TV…
Yes, that’s New Horizons. It was a totally different experience. I had never worked with all four star actresses- Funke Akindele, Uche Jombo, Rita Dominic and Kate Henshaw on the same set before. Primary though for me, the joy was in shooting a movie that had a strong message and the propensity to touch lives. Knowing that someone out there would watch the movie and have the courage to say no to being abused in marriage or whatever relationship, will have the courage to step out of the abusive situation and to shout out for help. For me, that’s the most important thing about the movie because as viewers are being entertained, they also discover that there is hope.
You sound very passionate; any personal experience from the past?
Nothing personal at all. I’m just very much concerned about things that change the world. I believe that we have too many problems as human beings to continue to entertain ourselves for entertainment sake. We can’t smile, laugh and dance like everything is okay with the world. People are killing each other everyday, children are dying everyday and women are dying everyday! We have issues and the earlier we find ways to deal with them and look for ways forward, the better for us all.