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The Woman Encouraging a Fuller Perception of Africa Through Film
“Oluwaseun Babalola—or 'Seun, for short—is a Sierra Leonean-Nigerian America (her mother is from Freetown, Sierra Leone; father is from Lagos, Nigeria) who grew up and is based in New York City.
As an African who grew up in America, Babalola was exposed to more than her share of all-too-common Westernized misconceptions about her homeland. Stateside, and even worldwide, views on Africa remain decidedly misleading, mostly perpetuated by Western media and trickling down to "everyone else.”
Telling The Authentic African Story
“Have you always wanted to be a filmmaker? If so, how did you make it happen? (Please try to be as descriptive as possible).
When I was younger, I wanted to be a lot of things. There was a long time where I assumed I would be a doctor, but I also had dreams of being a choreographer, photographer or a musician. Filmmaking came naturally. My sister and I would always make home movies with our father’s video camera, editing the footage to make it look like we were completing magic tricks..”
Seun Babalola: A catalyst for hope and change in the presentation of Africa to the world
“SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:
Founder and executive producer of Do Global Productions, Oluwaseun ‘Seun’ Babalola, is the filmmaker behind the youth documentary web series SOJU Africa. She is also a consultant for Collective Industry Conventions Africa (CICA), which will soon be launching the first UNICON Africa event – a creative convention that Babalola will be co-hosting in Nigeria.”
The Dawn of African Superheroes
“In the fall of 2017, Marvel Studios released the teaser to end all teasers- Black Panther. 24 hours after it went live, it had racked up 89 millions views on YouTube . Immediately, two things became clear: 1) Marvel was not ready for what it would mean to bring an Afro-superhero to the big screen, because 2) Black Panther was going to take the world by storm, then usher in the age of African superheroes. The question then was, would African creatives be ready for what comes next?”
FEAT:HER Filmmaker and Producer Oluwaseun Babalola, Creator of SOJU Docuseries
“DS: Hi Oluwaseun! We are so excited to get a chance to speak with you and learn more about your work! Can you give a brief introduction of who you are and what you do?
OB: Hello! My name is Oluwaseun Babalola, I’m a filmmaker of Nigerian and Sierra Leonean descent. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and my work in documentary focuses on identity and culture. I’ve traveled to Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Botswana, Spain, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Ghana to showcase a slice of life in those countries, from a young African perspective.”
Guest Post: How Making a Doc Series Helped Me Preserve My Identity
“Creative content, like film or television, is integral to identity and cultural preservation. Have you ever heard of “Cool Japan”? It’s a reference to Japan’s quest to become a cultural icon. The idea was to export their pop culture to other parts of the world in hopes of rebuilding their reputation and boosting their economy after World War II. Now we have anime and J-pop. Thank you, Japan.
Content can also serve as a time capsule: In Hollywood, the 1940s saw an increase in war movies post-WWII, while the ’70s had a slew of films experimenting with sex and violence, due in part to the activity surrounding the Vietnam War.
Whatever you’re watching, the storytelling you’re consuming helps you make sense of a culture and an era.”
SOJU AFRICA: Waiting For The Moment
“This world is full of people doing amazing things, so I’m often inspired. I’m especially motivated when I can relate to the person. Not too long ago, I watched Issa Rae launch The Mis-adventures of Awkward Black Girl on YouTube. As I watched, it was an “a-ha” moment, an affirmation that there can be an audience for self-made content (by and for people like me), and that perhaps I could do the same.
How many of us are still waiting for that moment? “
BOTSWANA’S DEATH METAL SCENE IS CELEBRATED IN DOCU SERIES
“Death metal is alive and well in Africa. Winter Metal Mania Festival is quickly becoming one of the biggest heavy metal fests on the continent and will celebrate it’s 8th anniversary this year in Ghanzi, Botswana.
ṢOJU, my ongoing docu-series about youth culture in Africa, caught up with cousins and bandmates Tshomarelo Mosaka /Vulture Thrust and Shalton Monnawadikgang /Spencer Thrust. The two are members of the band Overthrust, and began the festival to create a space for the growing metal scene in Botswana.”
Visual Stories for Nonprofits: Foodies Without Borders
“Oluwaseun Babalola is the founder and executive producer at DO Global Productions. DO Global Productions is a video production company specializing in documentary media and providing positive narratives of people of color since 2015.
How were you connected with Foodies Without Borders?
I connected with the founder of Foodies Without Borders, Anthony Njigua, via an online non-profit message board. After a few conversations about entrepreneurship in Africa, we both decided to work on this project together in Malindi, Kenya. The company didn't have a large budget, so I agreed to do the project under the condition that all of my expenses were paid (my flight, food, and accommodation) and that I maintained ownership of all of the footage captured. In exchange, I delivered the final video. I believe that if you're passionate about a project, you can determine what conditions you agree to and can balance that with the amount of work you put in. Just make sure that whatever you decide, you're comfortable.”
Africa doesn’t care about its women
“I remember it well. One afternoon, in an immigration office in Freetown, I applied for my Sierra Leone passport. It was difficult because the officials would not believe that my mother was my mother. The birth certificates and family photos were insufficient, my Yoruba name threw them off—my dad was born and raised in Nigeria—and they thought I was a scammer. I was exhausted from an afternoon of arguing, to say the least.
My mother, small, thin and powerful, was fed up. I’m sure, as she cast her threats, she managed to make the four grown men in the room feel like children. But her presence was only making things worse, so I pushed her out of the room and pleaded with the men.
In my (broken) Krio, I asked, “Sir, wetin na problem? Ah nor sabi.”
INTERNATIONAL PODCASTS - SEUN BABALOLA: DOCUSERIES ON AFRICA
Oluwaseun Babalola is a Sierra Leonean-Nigerian-American filmmaker. She founded DO Global Productions, a video production company specializing in documentaries. Her focus is to create and collaborate on projects across the globe, while providing positive representation for people of color. She is a co-founder of BIAYA consulting, a consulting firm that bridges resource and knowledge gaps for African entrepreneurs in emerging industries. BIAYA’s first project was a convention in Lagos, Nigeria to help build a sustainable creative industry that can grow and export content.
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In Conversation with Oluwaseun Babalola
shado caught up with documentary filmmaker Oluwaseun Babalola to talk more about her aims, process, motivations and, in particular, how she use her film series ṢOJU as a platform for self-narration in order to challenge the stereotypes associated with the African continent.
I Am Fortunate Enough To Create Content For A Living —Babalola, Producer Of SOJU Series
Seun Babalola is a Nigerian-Sierra Leonean-American content producer. Founder of Go Global Productions and producer of award-winning ṢOJU series, she has travelled to nine African countries, changing African narrative through documentary films. In this interview by Kingsley Alumona, she speaks about her triple national identity, the Ṣoju project, her passion for telling African stories and the things she likes about her three countries.