Toyosi Etim-Effiong: ‘I’m after three things for Nollywood: global recognition, respect, and rewards.’

Toyosi Etim-Effiong is a media entrepreneur reimagining how African stories are told on a global stage. Over the years, she has demonstrated an amazing ability to contribute to compelling strategies in order to support and amplify authentic African voices, ensuring that the best of the continent’s talent reaches a worldwide audience. Her expertise and vision continue to pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive media landscape.

Since 2022, she has contributed to Nollywood’s growing presence at the acclaimed Essence Film Festival. This July, the assignment remains the same. The Essence Film Festival, set to take place in New Orleans, will celebrate the work of Black filmmakers and content creators. It is a platform that represents diverse voices and stories that are often underrepresented in mainstream cinema. Recognising this, her company That Good Media, continues to collaborate with the platform in order to reimagine the possibilities for Nollywood and the Nigerian media industry at large in the global arena.

As the brains behind That Good Media, a media solutions company stationed in Lagos, Effiong who has placed a strong focus on talent management and international strategic partnerships for the Nigerian film and TV industry, continues to make a positive impact. Her creative ability to not only anticipate trends but also set them is unparalleled, making what many thought impossible for Africans, suddenly seem within reach. A key aspect of her work is her role as a champion of cultural exchange, forging partnerships between Nollywood and international film industries. 

The upcoming Essence Film Festival is set to showcase the best of Nollywood to a global audience, marking the third year that Effiong’s company That Good Media will be leading the Nigerian delegation to New Orleans for the festivities which are set to take place with the Nollywood activation on July 5th. The aim is to amplify new and underrepresented voices and perspectives in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, both parties seek to empower the voices of Black filmmakers and storytellers. This ongoing collaboration highlights Effiong’s dedication to giving African voices a platform on the world stage. To add to this, 2023 sealed a partnership between That Good Media and the office of the Mayor of New Orleans; a partnership which was with Film New Orleans and operating under the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy. 

New Orleans boasts competitive state film tax credits, diverse neighborhoods, and stunning architecture. The city’s award-winning independent film community and rich cultural heritage further elevate its appeal. Acclaimed productions like Queen Sugar, American Horror Story, and 12 Years a Slave were all filmed in New Orleans. Its allure as a premier filming location continues to grow, cementing its reputation as a hidden Hollywood in the heart of the South. In her quest to bridge the gap between Nollywood and its international counterparts, she recognized the importance of connecting Nigerian delegates with New Orleans film industry stakeholders, including independent filmmakers and union leaders. Film New Orleans facilitated this by organizing a comprehensive stakeholders’ forum, an exclusive tour of one of the busiest soundstages, and a networking cocktail reception. This forum provided invaluable insights into the local industry and fostered discussions about co-productions, training programs, and investments.

Effiong’s further commitment to the growth and development of the movie industry is also evidenced by her creation of the Independent Producers’ Workshop, a multimedia workshop for budding TV producers and media executives. In addition to her contribution to the film industry, she has held impactful, cultural exchange-focused roles. The importance of doing so, is to continually shine a light on the beauty and diversity emerging from African soil; creating a path of appreciation among different groups from across our borders. 

She has also served as the Global Director of Content at MIPAD (Most Influential People of African Descent), a global civil society initiative in support of the International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by the United Nation’s General Assembly; as well as the Publishing Editor at Folio by CNN, where she developed and produced short-form Afrocentric content for a global audience. In 2022, she was the Programs Coordinator for the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) and in the same year, hosted the Nigerian International Film Summit in Paris, where she facilitated the discussion between Nigerian film stakeholders and their French counterparts. Her achievements haven’t gone unnoticed, as she was recognized by the governor of Lagos State in 2022 as one of the Eko 100 Women uplifting the state. She was also recognized by the Smart Stewards community for amplifying authentic African narratives worldwide and championing financial independence through arts and entertainment. In 2022, she was listed among the Top 100 Most Influential Women by Leading Ladies Africa and was named one of Her Network’s Women of the Year in 2023. Her impact resonates far and wide, evident in her features in numerous publications, including CNN. As a sought-after media entrepreneur, she has made contributions on multiple panels, given notable keynotes, and graced the TedX stage in Abuja, sharing her insights with eager audiences. Last month, Effiong was honored with an appointment to the Advisory Board of MWANKOM, the influential organization behind Rolling Stone Africa. Being part of such a prestigious board not only validates her efforts in the industry, but also fuels her passion for shaping the future of African media and storytelling. Toyosi Etim-Effiong embodies a blend of passion, expertise, and visionary leadership, driving the Nigerian film and TV industry to new heights of global recognition while celebrating the rich storytelling heritage of Africa on a global scale.

As the brains behind That Good Media, why was it important to you to place a focus on the strategic process of getting the right talent onboard and representing them?
Many of our talents have lost opportunities due to a lack of proper representation. In developed countries, some companies won’t even engage with talent without an agent. Our industry hasn’t fully adapted to this yet, which works in our favor. We can reach out to dedicated, focused talents who currently lack representation and explain why it’s essential. I’m just going to add that something big is coming for Nollywood, and those without adequate representation will miss out.

Are there any other upcoming projects or initiatives that you are particularly excited about and willing to share with our readers?
There’s one in particular that I’m excited about but not quite willing to share just yet but like our friend says, it will be hoooge!

As a female leader in this industry, what unique perspectives would you give to someone who looks up to you, and how do you envision the near future for future generations of women in media?
Women in media in Nigeria, myself included, are very fortunate to have many role models to learn from. From Mo Abudu to Busola Tejumola, Chioma Ude, Ijeoma Onah, and Kadaria Ahmed, these women are globally recognized forces. I have relationships with most of them and take time to glean from their wealth of wisdom. Besides speaking with them, I follow them on social media to learn about their latest projects, observe their interactions with people and international agencies, and gain insights from their captions and talks at speaking engagements. I would say to anyone looking up to me to not just learn but apply what you learn from those ahead of you. I think Nigerian women will continue to dominate media within and beyond the shores of the country. I believe they will set standards that the rest of the world will follow.