When a fellow African blogger, Clarissa of This Afropolitan Life, asked me whether she could re-post this post on her blog, I was started my happy dance. #bloggoals. What I didn’t anticipate was getting a like and a follow on Twitter (you can follow me too!) by an über talented Nigerian-American television producer and director. After studying her page, researching every link and wondering why I haven’t come across her before, I knew I wanted to pick her brain about the TV & Film industry and being Nigerian-American.
Sade Oyinade is the co-executive producer of the TV One series Unsung & Unsung Hollywood. Drawing from the knowledge of TV production, Sade started an independent film production company, Flower Ave. Films. In her debut film, Who Do You Know?, she exposes the misconceptions of how to contact HIV/AIDS. For her current film, Yemi’s Dilemma, Sade taps into her cultural background to address sensitive issues like inter-cultural marriage and family loyalty. She and producing partner Deshawn Plair, are currently raising funds through Indiegogo to produce the film, which will feature actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and Akbar Gbajabiamila.
G&P: You are a Nigerian-American producer and director, tell me how you got started and the journey you took to get to where you are?
Sade: Well, later in high school, I kinda decided this is what I wanted to do. I’m a nerdy person. If I don’t know something I will go to the library to read books about it. I read producer books. I’ve always been interested in the entertainment business. Initially, what I had in mind, like a lot of Nigerians or First Generation kids you’re kind of pushed in the direction of science. You know…be a doctor, and I thought I was going to go down that route. I ended up winning a science award and working at NIH doing research for some heart disease. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to do that.
I went to American University in DC, which has a TV & media program. During school, I did some internships in LA. I ended up moving to LA after college. I started working my way up from there. Initially, I didn’t know what I was doing, because I didn’t have a lot of guidance or knowledge (about the industry). I interned at the Young & The Restless and ended up getting a job with the reality TV show A Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. After that, I hopped around from different reality shows. I did one season with America’s Next Top Model, which was a cool experience. I always worked as a Production Assistant, but always tried to do my best, so that I could move up. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t really like the reality world. I tried other areas until I landed where I am now.
G&P: You are the producer & director of Yemi’s Dilemma, a film about three Nigerian-American sisters who face family challenges because of Yemi’s wedding. Why did you decide to create a film like this?
Sade: I wanted to create a story that would give people a look into the life of first generation Americans, something I don’t think people really think about. We’re all here in this country and there’s a general sense of being a big melting pot and taking on American culture. People may think about the food and language some other people bring with them to this country, but they don’t realize all that comes with coming here from another country and the dual roles first generation children play living in America, but also living in another world – the culture and traditions of the country their parents came from. It presents a lot of amazing rewards, but also some major challenges. Something like choosing who to marry is one of the areas that is basic to your average American (well, most of the time), but can be such a colossal issue in a first-generation family. Lastly, I wanted to just tell a story that shows the tight bonds shared between sisters and how a family situation can affect those relationships. I think this is a universal film that anyone can relate to, because of the issues of family, love, and relationships.
G&P: What is a typical day like for you?
Sade: A typical day for me involves starting my day with prayer, just thanking God for His favor and that the day will be a great one. I think it’s a great way to go into each day with lots of positivity. I also read a bible verse and sometimes a daily devotional from Joel Osteen (he’s my favorite!). Then I usually get up to exercise, then get ready to head to the office where I work most days on “Unsung” for A. Smith & Co. Productions. If it’s a day where I’m writing, I’m typically working at home, but the only difference is I’m heading to my desk after exercise instead of the office. I usually finish up work around 7pm and either choose to unwind for the evening or work on my personal projects, like Yemi’s Dilemma.
G&P: What motivates you to create film and content in general?
Sade: I just love the creative process with film and television – creating a story and then going through the entire process of bringing it to life. I’m a huge TV junkie, because I just love watching creative stories. I also am motivated by knowing that I could create something that would help someone either by uplifting them, educating them or just sharing a perspective they can relate to. Or just by making someone laugh – laughter is the best medicine!
G&P: What #Girlboss icon would you like to shadow for a day?
Sade: I have two right now: Ava DuVernay and Gina Prince-Bythewood. Both are phenomenal directors with different styles who I admire and respect so much. I would love to just watch their creative process for a day.
G&P: What has been your biggest reward with filming Yemi’s Dilemma? Biggest challenge?