African Scriptwriters: Nigerian Scriptwriters Kemi Adesoye and Omoni Oboli
Kemi Adesoye is a renowned Nigerian screenwriter. She is popularly known for writing the screenplay for the highly grossing film The Figurine.
She attributes her love for filmmaking to her childhood days. She grew up watching films which cut across different genres. However, when she joined university, she studied architecture since she did not know that scriptwriting could be pursued as a career. Moreover, there were no scriptwriting schools in Nigeria. She holds a master’s degree in architecture.
After reading Irwin R. Blacker’s book “The Elements of Scriptwriting”, while still in college, her interest and passion in screenwriting grew. After her graduation, she turned to the internet to learn everything she could on screenwriting. Later, she enrolled at the New York Film academy for a course in screenwriting. This marked the beginning of her career as a screenwriter.
Kemi wrote her first script for a short film in 1998. She submitted a script for a competition and hers was among the finalists, although she did not win. This did not put her down but acted as an encouragement that her work was worth recognition. She submitted another script in the next season of the same competition and this time her script won. It was used for a short film. She submitted the following year and won again. These wins gave her an opportunity to meet top Nigerian filmmakers and eventually she was picked as one of the writers for a DStv-produced series Doctors Quarters (2005-2006). She was commissioned as one of the writers of Tinsel, a Nigerian soap opera that has been named ‘the most successful television drama on Nigerian television in recent times’. The series has been running since 2008.
It was around this time that she met Nigerian film director Kunle Afolayan, who gave her the opportunity to make her feature film screenwriting debut for the film The Figurine (2009). The film became a major success in Nigeria and beyond, making Kemi one of the most sought-after screenwriters in Nigeria. The film won several awards including 5 Africa Movie Academy Awards. The film currently stand at 22nd position in the list of 50 Nigerian highest grossing films of all time.
In 2013, she wrote the screenplay for another film The Phone Swap. The film also became a hit and received 4 nominations and one award at the 8th Africa Movie Academy Awards. It ranks 26th in the list of 50 Nigerian highest grossing films of all time.
Kemi Adesoye has written other short films, feature films and TV series including Fifty, New Horizons, Prize Maze, Hotel Majestic, Edge of Paradise and Shuga (2013).
“There is need for you to have a particular pattern of writing especially now that the industry is growing and the world becoming a global village. You must come out of your comfort zone to write yourself into prominence.”
Omoni Oboli is a Nigerian scriptwriter who is popularly known for her feature film Okafor’s Law. She is also a film producer, director and actor.
Omoni began her career in filmmaking as an actor when she featured in the film Bitter Encounter in 1996. This was followed by other films; Not My Will, Destined To Die and Another Campus Tale, in the same year, for which she played the lead role. She took a hiatus after this and only rejoined the film industry a decade later. Once back, she went ahead to be featured in popular Nigerian films like The Figurine, Anchor Baby, Fifty and Being Miss Elliot; as the lead for all 4 movies, among others. For her role in Anchor Baby, she won awards at the Harlem International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Movie Awards, making her the first Nollywood actress to do so.
In 2015, she wrote the screenplay for the Nigerian Film The First Lady. She also directed this film which stands at 27th position on 50 Nigerian highest grossing films of all time. This was followed by Wives on Strike and Okafor’s Law in 2016. Both films currently stand at 8th and 6th positions respectively on the list of 50 Nigerian highest grossing films of all time. In total, she has 3 films on this list. She has written other films including The Revival, Fatal Imagination and Being Miss Elliot, among others.
At only 39 years, Omoni Oboli has achieved a lot as a filmmaker.
“I like to educate. So, I would be really scared to make a film that doesn’t achieve any of these – it doesn’t make anyone happy, it doesn’t educate anybody, it doesn’t uplift anybody – that would be my worst nightmare.”