This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences set its eyes on four Nigerians making boss moves. Or have done so in the past. We have paid homage to East Africa as Wanuri Kahiu announced her membership into this hallowed club for film. But we need to celebrate our own. Extending invites to 928 people and reaching a record new number, The Academy is ostensibly trying to diversify its voting electorate, following the backlash from 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite leaking from the previous year.
The invitations were sent out on Monday and if all the 2018 invitees accept, the overall membership would be 9,226. This new class has four Nigerians spearheading the culture, but trusting their individual judgement is a different ball game, won’t you agree?
Omotola’s acting career is almost as old as Nollywood, but I’m kind of grateful The Academy proprietors didn’t base her membership on her 2017 comeback film Alter Ego, which was…well…woefully bad. Instead, they looked at old entries in her catalogue, 2010’s A Private Storm and 2012’s Last Flight to Abuja. Omotola was terrific in the latter especially, and viewers were introduced to Nollywood’s attempt at making disaster thrillers (and please, forgive the Photoshop calamity below)
With a career spanning industrious years, and a luminary in her own right, Omotola does deserve a seat at the Oscars voting table.
Responsible for scripting and producing television series and feature films like Gidi Blues, Battleground, Maroko, Bariga Boy, and the M-Net hit drama Tinsel, 55-year-old Odugbemi is finally getting a deserved recognition. The filmmaker shared the news of joining the 2018 voting class for The Academy on his Instagram, and a wave of congratulations poured in.
This is coming following his invitation from American universities – Illinois State University and Northwestern University, Chicago – to study the filmmaker’s works and Nollywood at large.
I wasn’t sure I knew who Mosaku was until I went through her filmography and saw that she was in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, in which she starred as Beryl, and the DC offering Batman v Superman which, let’s be honest, was a box office flop. But the Nigerian-born British actress has risen from that cinematic ash, winning the 2017 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Gloria Taylor in the TV film Damilola, Our Loved Boy.
Before going into film, Mosaku has quietly built a portfolio from British television, from ITV to BBC One and BBC Two. Born in Zaria, Nigeria before moving to Manchester, Mosaku’s other movie credits include 2011’s Stolen and the Ben Anthony film Don’t Take My Baby.
Omwurah’s invitation to The Academy’s voting body doesn’t surprise me. In fact, it’s long due. Her oeuvre as a director and producer is sturdy and canonical, centering the human experience and women. Her political action thriller, 1994’s Welcome to the Terrordome, also dips its toe into science fiction and was the first independent Black British feature film to be released.
Her first work, Coffee Coloured Children (1988), uses Onwurah’s own personal narrative to look at the experiences of being a black mixed-race child in England. Born to a white mother and a black father in 1960s Nigeria, Onwurah was raised in England by her mother. She now resides in L.A. with her husband, German cinematographer Alwin H. Küchler.