Toyosi Etim-Effiong, founder of That Good Media, collaborated with the Essence Film Festival to head a delegation of Nollywood stakeholders for the festival’s first ever Nigeria Day.
For the first time in its history, this year’s Essence Festival of Culture includes an Africa House and Nigeria Day on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in New Orleans. Nigeria Day was a historic event that highlighted the booming Nigerian film industry, affectionately known as Nollywood, and aimed to promote diversity and representation in the film industry. Nigeria Day has a distinct role in exhibiting Nigerian culture while also touching on crucial themes affecting the film industry.
That Good Media, with a strong dedication to storytelling and showcasing Nigerian talent, played a critical role in our collaboration with The Essence Film Festival. The Essence Film Festival is a well-known forum for honouring African-American culture and exhibiting different voices in the film industry. Since its beginning in 1995, it has become a major force in developing inclusivity and highlighting films that reflect the experiences and perspectives of many cultures. By organising Nigeria Day as part of the festival, Essence recognised the global significance and beauty of Nigeria’s thriving film industry.
Speaking on this partnership with Essence, Toyosi Etim-Effiong stated:
“The Essence Film Festival attracts the best of the best in Hollywood, and having Africa be a part of it is a step in the right direction. Nollywood is the second-largest film industry in the world, and in this era of inclusion, diversity, and representation, its titles should be found on all content platforms worldwide. Through Nigeria Day at Essence, we are giving the rest of the world a glimpse into our world and, invariably, our stories. We hope that this collaboration sparks flames of cultural exchange between Nollywood and the rest of the world.”
The Chief of Staff of Diversity of Essence, Barque Tubman, said
“Being here right now feels like home. I have to say a huge thank you to all of you. But I must really honour the team, Ama and Lamonia, and of course our sister, Toyosi. She worked tirelessly. We have main stages, and what we do belongs on the big screens. The big screens that the world must experience Next year, we will do things in our spaces, but we must take them out to the rest of the world. That is the commitment that Essence Ventures has. That is what my role is as diasporic engagement: that we continue to bridge the gap and that we share all our stories.”
The panel session on ‘Promoting Cultural Exchange and Inclusivity in Hollywood Productions with Gina Yashere, Nkechi Carroll, Osas Ighodaro, Folake Olowofoyeku, and Kay Jegede saw discussions on the Hollywood-Nollywood connection. This conversation went on to highlight how, in recent times, Nollywood and Hollywood have been collaborating more. We are about to experience this global recognition even more on our screens now. This is a result of connectivity activations such as Nigeria Day at Essence as well as the need to foster cultural exchange and value integration.
The delegation is comprised of a collective of esteemed stakeholders from the film industry who have significantly contributed to Nollywood’s growth and success. such as Richard Mofe-Damijo, Stella Damasus, Yolanda Okereke-Fubara, Daniel Etim Effiong, Ayoola Ayolola,Biodun Stephen, Ijeoma Onah, Mofe Duncan, Osas Ighodaro, Deyemi Okanlanwo, Stan Nze, Omowumi Dada, Timini Egbuson, Shawn Faqua, Uzor Arukwe, and Seun Ajayi.
The activities lined up for Nigeria Day at the Essence Film Festival were very exciting. panel discussions led by Nollywood experts delving into ‘Creating and Promoting Global Content’ and ‘How to Partner with Nollywood’. There were also fireside chats, movie screenings, and networking opportunities that fostered collaborations between Nollywood and their global counterparts.