In a move that signals a big recognition of the Nigerian film industry, five of its practitioners – Richard Mofe-Damijo, C.J Obasi, Jade Osiberu, Kunle Afolayan and Shola Dada — have been invited as part of the 398 new members of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body responsible for the Oscars.
This landmark achievement, announced by the Academy in its 2023 member intake, further cements Nollywood’s place on the global stage and acknowledges the exceptional contributions these individuals have made to the film industry, not just in Nigeria but worldwide.
Veteran actor Mofe-Damijo, popularly known as RMD, has a career spanning over three decades. With countless accolades to his name, he has been instrumental in shaping Nollywood’s narrative and raising its profile. His invitation to the Academy is a testament to his enduring influence and the respect he commands within the international film community.
Obasi, a renowned filmmaker, has continually pushed the boundaries of Nigerian cinema, blending genres to create unique narratives that resonate with audiences across the globe. His films, often rich with social commentary, have been instrumental in diversifying the stories emerging from Nollywood. Obasi’s induction into the Academy is a recognition of his innovative approach to storytelling and his commitment to elevating Nollywood’s international status.
Osiberu, an accomplished director and producer, has achieved significant success within the Nigerian film industry. Her films, which frequently explore the nuances of Nigerian life and culture, have been lauded for their authentic representation, strong female characters, and aspirational themes. Osiberu’s inclusion in the Academy further solidifies her status as a leading voice in Nollywood, and her influence is set to extend even further on a global scale.
Afolayan, a multi-talented filmmaker, has been at the forefront of Nollywood for over a decade. Known for his dedication to quality and his ability to weave intricate narratives, Afolayan’s films have received many accolades and have been showcased at film festivals worldwide. His invitation to the Academy underscores his significant contributions to Nollywood and the wider film industry.
Shola Dada who worked on Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Anikulapo’ and Bolanle Austen- Peters’ ‘Man of God’ was also invited based on her incredible work for those films. Dada was the winner of AMVCA 2023’s Best Writer for Drama/ Comedy which solidified her status as one of the best in Nollywood.
The inclusion of these five Nollywood figures in the Academy is a significant milestone for the Nigerian film industry. It not only validates the progress Nollywood has made but also puts it firmly on the international map. This achievement also opens up more opportunities for Nigerian films to be recognised in the Oscars, particularly with the expanded Best International Feature Film category.
While Nollywood has long been a powerhouse in Africa, producing thousands of films each year, its recognition on the international stage has been comparatively limited. However, with the inclusion of four of its figures in the Academy, this is set to change.
These invitations to the Academy offer a platform for increased representation and diversity in the Oscars voting body, which has been a point of contention in recent years.