Nollywood has been at the epicentre of the African entertainment industry, creating stars and producing content that’s resonated with fans across the continent. This year, Netflix joins hands with some of Nigeria’s most talented creatives to bring their unique stories to the world. With this newfound access to the global stage, the powerful stories crafted by Nigerian creatives will now enjoy a worldwide audience.
Ben Amadasun, Netflix’s Director of Content Acquisition and Co-Productions in Africa who hails from Nigeria explains: “Great stories come from anywhere in the world, and Africa is full of incredible stories that we finally get to share with the world. We have a wealth of fables that have been passed down from generations, and Netflix has a great opportunity to bring those stories to the forefront, which will resonate all over the world.’’
According to Actress and Director Genevieve Nnaji (Lionheart), “We have amazing talent and we haven’t had an adequate platform to showcase our talent across the board. It’s a good thing, especially for upcoming artists who want a chance. We have so many more stories to tell.”
In the pipeline is the Nigerian Netflix Original, Untitled Akin Omotoso directed by accomplished filmmaker Akin Omotoso, starring Kate Henshaw, Ade Layoe, Richard Mofe Damijo and Joke Silva amongst others. This six-part series, announced in February 2020, is set in contemporary Nigeria and shot in Lagos. There is little doubt that the upcoming projects will find a welcoming audience on the service – as Kate says: “African content will resonate around the world because there are Africans all over the world, not just in Africa. ”
Acclaimed filmmaker Akin Omotoso adds, “It is my firm belief that a great story will always find a receptive audience, regardless of where it’s from, or how different the world is from their own reality. Ultimately, people want great entertainment, compelling storylines and powerful acting. Netflix represents an incredible opportunity to get Nigerian stories to 190 countries – it’s an indescribable moment for the Nigerian production industry, and we’re thrilled to share our stories with the world.”
“For so long I’ve been fortunate enough to experience how African content can, in fact, travel and this investment by Netflix is going to help grow the African industry and get our stories out there,” says Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife which has several licensed titles including The Wedding Party, Castle & Castle and Fifty on the service and recently signed a groundbreaking partnership with Netflix to create multiple titles including the on-screen adaptations of literary works by two critically-acclaimed Nigerian authors: a series based on contemporary author, Lola Shoneyin’s best-selling debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and a film adaptation of Death And The King’s Horseman, a play by 1986 Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, author, poet & playwright, Wole Soyinka. “The stories that come from Nollywood are stories of the Nigerian people. These stories are uniquely African and they are told by creatives who live, breathe and are born from African culture”. Celebrated filmmaker and actor Kunle Afolayan (Mokalik, The CEO, The Figurine) further adds, “I believe so much in my culture and I’ll do everything possible to use audiovisual to project, preach, educate and also preserve the same culture. Aside from entertainment, you can educate, and you can inform.’’
Kenyan-born, Dorothy Ghettuba who leads African Originals for Netflix explains that “our continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity, and beauty in stories that have yet to be told and we want to be top of mind for creators in Nigeria, especially when it comes to stories they haven’t had a chance to tell yet.”
On recognising the significance of African stories on a global platform like Netflix, Abudu adds, “We can only continue to rise and do better with how we tell our stories to those who are receiving it. This step that Netflix is taking is going to help grow the African industry and get our stories out there”.