By Victor Ajihromanus
Despite the many obstacles they face, women in the Nigerian film industry are paving the way for themselves and the next generation. The Inkblot Women In Film (IWIF), an initiative by Zulumoke Oyibo, is creating its own table, big enough for everyone to sit around.
From acting and directing in iconic films to shattering records at the box office and across streaming platforms, women in the industry have earned incredible success while breaking barriers, fighting for better pay and inspiring future generations of entertainers.
There are countless women whose influence can be felt in the worlds of film and television and over the past few months, these trailblazers and pacesetters have been meeting monthly through the IWIF initiative over lunch to brainstorm and chart a way forward.
“The IWIF is majorly an informal networking event to discuss and brainstorm. It provides a great opportunity to bounce off ideas, talk about the challenges we face individually and collectively as women in film, and proffer solutions to advance the industry.” said Zulumoke Oyibo, co-founder of one of Nigeria’s most successful film companies, Inkblot Productions.
She revealed that the monthly IWIF lunch is not limited to women in film or the actors alone. From lawyers to health practitioners, insurance brokers , directors, costume designers, scriptwriters, finance experts, marketers, PR practitioners and more, the IWIF brings in people who have the expertise and experience to affect all aspects of the value chain in film and television production. “For example, there is no reason why a production company should not have insurance, HMO plan, and an intellectual property lawyer who can help ensure that all parts of the production including the people are well taken care of.” she added.
Seeing as they are mostly in the same industry, some of the women who attend the IWIF lunch know each other, while those who are meeting for the first time bond almost immediately. This instant connection is a result of their shared experience as women working in a challenging terrain.
“Women bring a lot to the industry. They are more technical, better nurturers and will handle the equipment and production set so well, such that things are excellently taken care of. It is also important to see more women get technical roles” – added actor, producer and host, Eku Edewor
“From the past events we’ve done, after speaking with people, we found that pensions and insurance are big in the minds of people in the film industry. We have now seen that it is very important to have insurance plans for every member of a production” Zulu added. “There is no reason why a veteran in the industry should be asking for donations to pay for their medical bills as has become the norm over the years.”
She revealed that plans are being put in motion for the IWIF to host up to two events before the end of 2021. The proposed events will include symposia on pensions, insurance and finances that can help women and even the men in the film industry to get more knowledge in these crucial areas that affect almost everyone in Nollywood.
The discourse of the IWIF centers around social, ethical and professional issues affecting women in the film industry, the push for more women to have seats on decision making boards, the importance for data documentation, the recognition of the contributions women are making in the film industry and more, all geared towards the advancement of the film industry in Nigeria.
“Creating platforms like these where people can meet, have relevant conversations without any hidden agenda except to move the industry forward for women is very commendable. It also creates the opportunity for women in film to support each other and collaborate professionally for the advancement of their careers” – said Joy Azumara, lawyer at Jackson Etti & Edu.
The third edition which held on Thursday 8th of April 2021 in Lagos, had in attendance Michelle Dede (Actor and Presenter); Eku Edewor (Actor/Producer/Host); Omowunmi Akinnifesi (Beauty Queen/Founder, Global woman Africa); Efe Irele (Actor & Producer); Nancy Isime (Actor & Talk show host); Jemima Osunde (Actor & physiotherapist); Joy Azumar (Lawyer); Ibukun Omisore (Insurance broker); Dr. Funmilola Odubitan (Insurance broker); Teniola Olatoni (Director/Producer), Uche Odoh (Director/Producer) and Omawumi Ogbe (PR & Communications consultant).