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Damilola Aleje: Telling Unique African Stories  Through Her Camera Lenses

Damilola Aleje: Telling Unique African Stories  Through Her Camera Lenses

A woman of many talents, Damilola Aleje, has been a journalist, writer, and, most recently, a TV/film and documentary producer with over six years of experience in the media industry generally. Damilola has participated in local and international film projects aired in global film festivals, including the British Film Institute (BFI) Film Festival and Indieview Film Festival.

Damilola Falling in Love with Broadcasting Media

Damilola is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). However, before majoring in journalism and media, Damilola had always known that she would be involved in the intriguing and diverse world of journalism. She has iconic Nigerian broadcasters such as Cyril Stober and John Momoh to thank for igniting this interest.

“I remember listening to and watching Cyril Stober, John Momoh and the rest of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) newscasters on NTA News by 9 am. I was engrossed with how they spoke and felt a sense of connection to them.”

Damilola was also talkative as a child, and her dad recognised the gift that some parents would have called bothersome. Unlike those parents who project their career dreams and hopes on their children, Damilola says:
“I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because my dad would often say, ‘just go and become a newscaster.” And like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Damilola has had an good newscasting career and evolved to achieve more incredible feats.

Where It All Began

Damilola started her journalism and media journey as an intern at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in 2014. Although a TV station, one considered the choice of the older generation, wasn’t on her list of choicest internship placements, working with this significant local TV station proved to be one of Damilola’s best experiences.
“I wanted so badly to work in a radio station, but my department posted me to NTA because it was close to my house and the unpaid internship was to last for just four months”.

Despite fighting tooth and nail to get posted to one of the top Nigerian radio stations where gifted radio personalities such as Toolz of Beat FM, Manny, and  the late Dan Foster of Cool FM were making waves and attracting a younger audience, Damilola eventually saw the silver lining in working with a local TV station and according to her, “thankfully, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had”.

Damilola’s first big break came when she was assigned the challenging task of anchoring the Yoruba News section. At the time, she wasn’t proficient in speaking or writing Yoruba, but she embraced the challenge. Alongside her co-anchor, Salewa, and with the help of a Yoruba dictionary, she excelled at casting news in Yoruba. The reward of the duo’s hard work was visibility and preference from in-house show producers.

“News directors and producers were so excited to work with us and always wanted our names on their end credits.”

“News directors and producers were so excited to work with us and always wanted our names on their end credits.”

The Challenge of Maintaining a School-Career Balance

Damilola’s career growth was rapid. By her third year in school, she already had her show and the opportunity to express her creativity via a live entertainment show every Friday.

Then, in her final year, she finally achieved her dream of working with a radio station. Damilola felt she could merge her last year of school and job commitments, but it was more challenging than she thought.

“I was one of those students who were hardly in school because I had a radio gig for a midnight show but couldn’t merge my day job, school and the midnight show. It was just too much.”

She had to cut back on work so that her education won’t suffer, but the essential part of this phase for this multi-skilled creative was that she gave her all to the various aspects she explored.

Becoming a Producer

“My work with NTA started and ended with my education at NIJ.”

Having evolved from an intern reading Yoruba new stories to hosting a live TV show at NTA, Damilola felt the need to explore and develop untapped parts of her media skills. She got a job as an intern producer with a documentary film company, and this was where her current journey as a notable producer started.

“This was a really big deal for me because I worked with the ‘best documentary filmmaker in Nigeria’ ”. It is the dream of every creative person to work with and be guided by the best in their industry.

Damilola Aleje

For Damilola, her employer was arguably the best in the docu-filmmaking sector in Nigeria. The impact of working with this filmmaker is evident in her remarkable solo creative accomplishments.

“This amazing experience brought me into the world of filmmaking and opened my eyes to producing. I understood other potentials that I had that were different from presenting on TV.”

It is safe to say that Damilola is cultured and exposed to the reality of many Africans because of her work as an intern documented film producer, which involved travelling to various African countries to tell the stories of Africans in different industries.

“I was mostly intrigued by this job because we told nonfiction stories and things that happen in reality; that resonated with me.”

Part of her unique experiences with this company was her exposure to 3D and Virtual Reality (VR) as storytelling tools.

“The company had 3D and VR niches, and I had a taste of both worlds, which was very exciting for me.”

If she chooses to venture into technology media, Damilola has these additional skills and experience to tell stories via virtual reality and 3-dimensional imagery.

 The Exciting Journey Ahead

After leaving the docu-filmmaking company, Damilola came back full circle to writing, but this time, for and about filmmaking and the African filmmaking industry in particular. She has written various stickers and interviewed filmmakers and producers from different African countries, including Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya.

“I believe that before we think about projecting other people, we should project ourselves because there are so many untold African studies, and we need to do them ourselves.”

Currently, Damilola is a producer and has a production company where she and her partner produce a wide range of digital content.

“I’m fully into producing, which is an amazing leap for me. My company focuses on helping clients to tell unique stories across the continent of Africa.”

Damilola is going behind the African frontier and reaching for the skies by partnering with international filmmaking corporations to tell the unique stories of Africans.

“We told our first story this year in collaboration with a company in the USA, and we are looking to do more.”

Our multifaceted storyteller recently won the prize for the ‘Our Future’ filmmaking workshop, which sought to create an enabling environment where collaboration between gifted Nigerian and British filmmakers can thrive.  Also, one of the most remarkable short stories that Damilola produced, ‘Ounje Ale’, was nominated for the Best Short Story category at the 2022 African Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA).

Conclusion

It is always encouraging to see people achieve their childhood dreams as in the case of Damilola Aleje. Stories like this shine a beacon of hope in the hearts of people who doubt the validity of their childhood dreams.

There’s little doubt in our minds that our Big Showcase Creative for today is bound for the stars, and we look forward to viewing her among the galaxy of prominent filmmakers emerging from Africa.

Deborah Alfred

Deborah Alfred is a content writer, UX writer, and copywriter. A published author, she is the founder and community leader of WriterPreneurs' World, a writing community of over 2000 people. She employs simple yet effective writing and storytelling techniques that draw and capture her audience. Her moniker, Insightful Parrot, is a testament to her ability to see minute details that are usually oblivious to others and can improve any situation.

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