Winning in a male dominated industry- Lessons from Tope Oshin
Historically, men led the movie industry. From the days of Late Hubert Ogunde, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala), Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade love) to the days of Ken Nnebue. In recent years, women like Tope Oshin are raising the bar for women too. Let us read her perspective on winning in a male dominated industry.
Mrsceonaija (MCN): Please, can you introduce yourself and your business?
Tope: I’m Tope Oshin, a Nigerian Film maker. I have worked in varying roles in the film and tv industry for 21 years. I currently run Sunbow Productions Ltd.
MCN: How did you break into a male dominated industry? What counsel do you have for other women trying to enter male dominated industries?
Tope: I started out within the film and tv industry as an actor/voice-over artiste/presenter. As the years went on, I took interest in working behind the camera, 10 years ago, I made the full transition. I started with personal study and research about the art of directing and filmmaking, then moved into the industry for some internships and on-ground learning. In addition to formal training, I got progressively into the work itself and all else now is history. I advise women trying to function in male-dominated careers to stop “trying”, but just “be”. The only way out is through. If you want to work in a field where you are a doubtless minority, you need to earn your slot. Be bold, be good, be better. Develop and equip yourself and keep learning and improving on your craft.
MCN: You are famous for your works like Shuga, Castle & Castle, Fifty the movie and more. What roles did you play in these projects and how did you attract these roles? What lessons can entrepreneurs learn on attracting what they desire?
Tope: I directed MTV Shuga, as well as Castle & Castle, but produced the movie Fifty. Fifty and Castle & Castle are both owned by EbonyLifeTV (Mo Abudu). I had met and worked with Ms Abudu as far back as 2007, producing her talk show Moments With Mo, and I’ve worked with her on several projects over the past 10 years, producing, consulting, as well as directing. With MTV Shuga as well, i had worked on the project over the years as Casting Director and then Director this season. With business, relationships and track records are important. Maintain good relationships with every client you meet, do a good job and leave a good impression. The future always awaits, more opportunities or not lay ahead, depending on how we have played our cards from inception.
MCN: Can you educate on what steps to take to become a movie director? And movie producer respectively?
Tope: As with any profession, you need to study and learn. Study, intern, get training, and then practice.
MCN: What lessons did you learn with the biggest project you worked on that made you a much better business woman?
Tope: At the time, this was producing the movie Fifty, for Ebony Life films. For both of us, it was the biggest project we had ever embarked on, and it was first of its kind in Nigeria at that time. We were well aware we were going to create a new record for the Nigerian film industry and cinema. By and large, if you want what to get where no one has ever gone, you must be prepared to go farther than anyone has ever gone.
MCN: It appears you had huge support from family and friends on funding and start up generally. How can someone with limited family support and limited connections start?
Tope: Use what you have, to get what you want. What is in your hands? Start with that. Which friends or family are around you that will listen to you or believe in your dream? Tell them about your dreams, someday, someway, somehow, you will find someone who will be willing to add to what you already have going and make your dream a bigger reality.
MCN: Recently, there has been a lot of uproar about women earning less than men in many countries for the same job done. Is this the norm in Nigeria movie industry? How do you address this?
Tope: This is a hard one to know definitively, as here, things like pay, are kept in strict confidence. So until, there is hard evidence regarding this here, as was presented in other places, we cannot start to address it as a definite issue.
MCN: How can the government and other stakeholders support women in the business better?
Tope: Understanding the fact that women are usually marginalized, financial support schemes for women in business will go a long way to fund their projects, startups as well as support their existing business concerns.
MCN: What are the key ingredients for any business growth in this industry?
Tope: Consistency and Excellence, all the time. Satisfied clients will come back, and make recommendations to new clients, and it goes on like that.
MCN: Who/what inspires you? What keeps you going?
Tope: Life itself inspires me. Life goes on, for as long as it can, never static, continuously evolving. And while it evolves and grows on its own, it always gives to other forms of life, gives new life. This is continuously my inspiration. To keep growing, evolving, as well as giving back to those coming behind and less privileged.
MCN: Any last words of advises to SMEs in Nigeria generally? not only those in the movie/advertising business.
Tope: Identify your brand. Carve your niche. Nurture your clientele, and keep them satisfied.
Please, drop your comments, questions and share.