"I will give you all I have, so you can add it to what you have and be better than me."
Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Nigerian-raised, Brooklyn-based guest artist Data Oruwari, celebrates award-winning Nigerian writer, director, entrepreneur, and producer Amaka Igwe on her 57th birthday. Igwe helped transform the Nigerian film industry and built a media empire from the ground up.
Uzoamaka ‘Amaka’ Audrey Igwe was born on this day in 1963 in Port harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. At an early age, Amaka showed deep interest in the performing arts, as she organized her school's variety shows, taught performance dance, as well as wrote, acted, and directed plays.
During her postgraduate studies, Igwe started focusing on theater and what she considered to be her first gift: writing. She developed her first television series screenplay, Checkmate, widely considered the best Nigerian soap opera of the 1990s.
This led to her directorial debut in the feature film Rattlesnake (1995 for Crystal Gold Limited), a smash hit in her home country, followed by films like Violated (1995 for Crystal Gold Limited) and A Barber's Wisdom (2001 for Mnet), which helped set a higher production standard for “Nollywood” at the time. She wrote and directed the phenomenally successful Fuji House of Commotion (2001-2012 for Crystal Gold Limited), which gave her dominance of the national television series industry.
Passionate about growing the local industry, Igwe also helped organize the guild system that served the executive boards of the Association of Movie Producers, and was also a patron of the National Association of Cinematographers, the Screenwriters Guild and the Guild of Movie Editors.
As a champion of efficient local distribution as the basis for Nollywood’s growth, Igwe and her business partner also organized an enhanced market distribution system and helped improve quality and fairness in the industry.
On an international level, Igwe led delegations to South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and France, among other countries, to present the unique Nigerian approach to visual storytelling, propogating global awareness of Nollywood.
She also co-founded the African Film and Media Content Expo, entitled BOBTV, with Big Picture Limited, with the aim of providing a global platform for Nigeria’s creative industries. For 11 years, they presented BOBTV to the world, engaging more than 400 departments from 104 Nigerian universities, as well as the Motion Picture Industry Practitioners and the Nigeria Government through its agencies.
Cementing herself as a matriarch of Nollywood, Igwe evolved a media empire by co-founding a production company, radio station, and TV network. Amaka Igwe shall be remembered as a gifted storyteller, producer, director, pioneer of Nollywood, wife, and mother of three.
In 2011, she was announced as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR), an award that honors Nigerians who made significant contributions to the nation.
Here’s to Amaka Igwe, a true pioneer of Nigerian entertainment.
Guest Artist Q&A with Data Oruwari
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Nigerian-raised, Brooklyn-based guest artist Data Oruwari. Below, she shares her thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: This topic was very special to me because I grew up watching TV shows and movies that Amaka produced. My personal favorite was “Fuji House of Commotion” with the diversity of its characters, original storytelling, and how refreshingly funny it was.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: I felt honored to be able to immortalize such an iconic woman and was immediately occupied with thoughts of how best I could translate Amaka's visionary and creative essence.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: This Doodle was inspired by Amaka's vision for the Nigerian film industry (Nollywood) and some of the tools she used to bring these visions to life. When researching about her, I came across articles and quotes that eluded to how she saw the big picture when it came to the quality and type of films she chose to make. Her belief was that Nollywood had the potential to put Nigeria on a global platform and a need for more women to bridge the gap in a male-dominated industry. She left behind a legacy of entertaining movies, TV shows, and a production company that propelled this vision into existence; and also paved the way for more female filmmakers.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: I hope they will be inspired to dream big and be daring enough to challenge the status quo.
Early concepts and sketches of the Doodle