Toyosi Etim-Effiong founder of That Good Media partnered with the Essence Film Festival to lead a delegation of Nollywood stakeholders for its first ever Nigeria Day. This year’s Essence Festival of Culture, for the first time in its history, included an Africa House and Nigeria Day on Saturday 1st July 2023 in New Orleans.
Nigeria Day was a momentous event that celebrated the vibrant Nigerian film industry, fondly known as Nollywood, which significantly aimed to promote diversity and representation in the film industry. Nigeria Day held a special place in showcasing the Nigerian culture as well as touching on important conversations that affect the film industry.
With a strong commitment to storytelling and promoting Nigerian talent, That Good Media played a pivotal role in this partnership with The Essence Film Festival. The Essence Film Festival is a prominent platform for celebrating African-American culture and showcasing diverse voices in the film industry. Since its inception in 1995, it has become a powerful force in cultivating inclusivity and spotlighting films that reflect the experiences and narratives of diverse communities. By hosting Nigeria Day as part of the festival, Essence recognized the global impact and brilliance of Nigeria’s booming 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 it 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 comprised of a collective of esteemed stakeholders from the film industry who have contributed significantly 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, Seun Ajayi.
The activities lined up for Nigeria Day at the Essence Film Festival were very exciting. From panel discussions led by Nollywood experts delving into ‘Creating and Promoting Globally Content’ and ‘How to Partner with Nollywood’. There were also fireside chats, movie screenings and networking opportunities which fostered collaborations between Nollywood and their global counterparts.
Apart from Nigeria Day New Orleans, a cultural hub welcomed Nollywood to its vibrant center. On Wednesday 28th June the Mayor of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Film New Orleans welcomed filmmakers to explore their craft and shoot their films in the city. The Mayor recognized and celebrated the art of storytelling, the magic of cinema, and the power of cultural exchange which transcends borders.