Lawyer, defunct OAP, filmmaker and television director, Kemi Adetiba was born in Lagos on the 8th of January 1980 to the family of Dele and Mayen Adetiba. Dele Adetiba was a veteran and is a living legend especially in the advertising and broadcast industries and played a pivotal role in the development in Nigeria. He was also the former CEO of Lintas; the oldest advertising agency in Nigeria. Her mother Mayen, a Civil Engineer was the first female engineer to be elected into the Executive Committee of the Nigerians Society of Engineers as well as past vice President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and past President of the Association of Consultant Engineers. Boasting of a rich Heritage, Kemi Adetiba is both Yoruba and Efik.
Kemi attended Atlantic Hall High School in Nigeria and proceeded to obtain her law degree from the University of Lagos, Akoka. After her studies at the University of Lagos, she proceeded to the Nigerian Law School and was called to t bar. Kemi has said she went into the University to study Law because she needed a safety net. She always knew she was going to be in the media and is thankful for her privileges growing up, as her family was a huge influence in her exposure and desire to move on from a conventional career to one where she is a pioneer in the Nigerian scene. She has since championed a line of women that are breaking career norms along the lines of gender roles and cultural expectations of women.
While she set out to work in the media as a radio presenter with Silverbird’s Rhythm 93.7 FM, her first foray into the media was as a thirteen year old when she was casted on two national television jingles for legendary Nigerian detergent brand OMO by her father Dele Adetiba. Her entry into the radio was easy as a friend was trying out to join Rhythm FM and had been approached to recruit some young, virgin voices for their radio shows. She was found to have a very good music knowledge and he asked for her to come through. One thing led to another, and she ended up with a job on the station. At Rhythm 93.7, her smooth voice headlined two national hit shows Soul’d Out which she hosted with Demola Sadiq and Sunday at the Seaside.
Kemi then moved from radio to TV by producing and presenting. Her first gig came with MNET where she produced and presented Studio 53 and Temptation Nigeria alongside Ikponmwosa Osakioduwa who was known as Wildchild but since his marriage, has been known as simply IK. She also presented for Soundcity TV hosting its Lifestyle, Celebrity Profiles, Chat Room and various red-carpet specials. Because of her personality, she was tapped to host numerous events including Silverbird Entertainment’s 25th Anniversary Gala, the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Year-End Celebration show beside DTH founder; Arthur Michelle, the launch of HAUTE fashion magazine in New York, the 2008 Future Nigeria Awards beside Raz Adoti, the 2009 Hip-Hop World Awards, and MADE Magazine’s “Celebrities on the Runway” show.
In 2007, she moved to New York and enrolled in the New York Film Academy to learn about the behind the scenes work of the visuals she had previously appeared on. While at the New York Film Academy, Adetiba shot and produced ‘Across the Bloodied Ocean,’ a 2008 short film that dealt with a crisis that arose in the home of a wealthy US based immigrant family when their teenage daughter refused to return to Africa to participate in a traditional coming of age ritual. Shortly after its release, her short ‘Across a Bloodied Ocean’ was screened at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta.
On returning to Nigeria, she directed the music video for Ekundayo by multi talented singer, writer, photographer – TY Bello which was named Best Female Video at the 2009 SoundCity Music Awards. She also directed videos for Omawunmi, Bez and Banky W – bodies of work for which she has gotten nominations and awards for not limited to the Nigerian Entertainment Awards and the Soundcity Awards, the Headies and City People Entertainment.
Occasionally doubling as a disk jockey, Kemi Adetiba finds herself in underground parties or gatherings with her friends spinning wheels and changing tracks becoming the life and heart of the party. Her love for music goes beyond directing music videos but she’s also vey knowledgable about the working of music especially the story telling involved in the building of a song.
All of this work she did didn’t quite put her in front of a camera. Her three year stint in Maltina’s Dance All shot her into limelight in Nigeria. Her time in the dance reality TV competition got her the adequate publicity inside of Nigeria and cemented her position as one of the best MC’s in Nigeria. With her impeccable delivery of English and the ability to effortlessly hold on to the attenion of her crowd, Kemi Adetiba garnered fans from the common man and has been able to keep the loyalty of her fanbase to translate into success of her other projects.
Fashionista and nomad, she’s able to serve as a style icon for this generation and is creating a blueprint on how everything she touches and does will be in the next couple of years. She once said in an interview that she’s in love with Jamaica but despite travelling around a lot and having to meet new people and try new things out, she’s a germophobe. She absolutely hates touching people and new places where there might be germs.
After years of work weaving stories with music videos such as 2015’s “Last Bus-stop” by Niyola, “Dance Go (Eau de Vie)” for Hennessy Artistry ’15 featuring Wizkid and 2face Idibia, “Out A Magazine” by Lindsey , 2014’s “My Darlin” by Tiwa Savage , 2014’s “My Place” by Lynxxx, 2014’s “Love to Love You” by Niyola, 2014’s “Sitting on the Throne” by Olamide, 2014’s “Anifowose” by Olamide, “Onye” by Waje, “Toh Bad” by Niyola, “Say” by Bez, “If I Die” by Da Grin, “Tease Me/Bad Guys” by Wizkid, “I Believe” by Ego,”Follow You Go” by Banky W., “The Future” by TY Bello, “Fall in Love” by Ego, “Lagos Party” and “More You” by Banky W.,”Today Na Today” by Omawumi, “Ekundayo” by TY Bello, she finally got to make her first film.
She directed and wrote the screenplay for 2016 Nigerian romantic comedy drama – The Wedding Party that featured Adesua Etomi, Bankole Wellington, Alibaba, Ireti Doyle, Sola Sobowale and Richard Mofe Damijo. Set in 2016 Lagos.
“The Wedding party follows the shenanigans that go on during the planning of a wedding in Nigeria. Dunni, a 24 year old art gallery owner and only daughter of her parents, Engineer Bamidele and Mrs Tinuade Coker, is about to marry the love of her life, IT entrepreneur Dozie, the handsome son of Chief Felix and Lady Obianuju Onwuka. The couple took a vow of chastity and are looking forward to a groundbreaking first night together as a married couple. Between matchmaking attempts on the bridal train, a wedding planner on a mission to succeed, the unruly behaviour of some ‘village’ guests much to Tinuade’s horror, Dunni’s uncertainty about her new husband’s faithfulness during the time of their courtship, amidst colourful aso-ebi, eclectic music, small chops, and souvenir drama, we begin to wonder whether Dunni and Dozie will get through their wedding reception unscathed.”
The project seemed like the beginning of a new type of journey for the filmmaker and media icon, but it is something we have already seen – Kemi Adetiba is reaching legend status right before our eyes and it is beautiful.
While she runs her own YouTube channel, she currently puts out amazing stories about King Women on Access Bank’s Accelerate TV where she documents the stories of Young and talented Nigerian woman but there’s a plot twist. In telling these stories, she is telling her own story – albeit subtly.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin