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Life and Work with Oluwatoyin ‘Toyin’ Giwa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Oluwatoyin ‘Toyin’ Giwa.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a first generation Nigerian American raised in Chicago, my love for storytelling began at an early age. I loved reading books and watching movies. Growing up with Nigerian parents culture was heavily instilled in our household. We often watched Nollywood films and I would find myself intrigued by the storylines and life lessons. I have always felt a great responsibility to tell authentic stories to elevate my community and unite humanity, but I never felt like I had a place in the entertainment industry.

In the Nigerian community pursuing a career outside of medicine, law and engineering were highly frowned upon, so for years, I found myself suppressing my passion and purpose. In 2010, after receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Public Relations I got my first corporate job as a Marketing Sales Associate for a Tech company based in Southern California. After being laid off, I realized that I had been living my life to meet the standards of others, which ultimately left me empty.

In 2012, I returned to my alma mater as a graduate student and began my journey in Film and Television. In the Spring of 2013, I made my production debut as I wrote and produced my first stage play that attracted over 200 people. Taking it back to my roots, in the spring of 2014, I successfully defended my graduate research study on the Nigerian Film Industry. My research,” Nollywood: A Case Study of the Rising Nigerian Film Industry Content & Production” was published later that year. To date, it has been downloaded over 10,000 times.

Shortly after receiving my Masters in Media Management with a focus in Film, I moved to Los Angeles. Transitioning into Film and TV, I landed an internship as a Production Assistant at the American Film Institute for the Directing Women’s Workshop. Since then my experience has spanned across a variety of Film and TV genres including short film, scripted, studio shows, late night talk, docu-series, dating/marriage docu-follows, and competition series.

Nowadays, you can find me freelance producing on a variety of TV/Film productions for networks such as ABC, FOX, GSN, BET and Lifetime.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Entering the TV and Film business has been quite the journey. My faith in God comes before anything and I trust my hard work and dedication will not return to me void. I’m blessed to have supportive parents and siblings. My tribe consists of cousins who are more like sisters and friends who see me. The best advice I have for a woman starting a new career journey is to understand her worth, don’t be afraid to hear “no” and most of all don’t allow people to project their fears on you.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
My career started in Corporate America, but I quickly realized that my soul wasn’t satisfied. I’m most alive when I’m creating. I produce television shows across various genres. Most of my work can be seen on networks like ABC, Lifetime, BET, SyFy, Fox and GSN. I’m a content developer, writer, and director. When I’m not on set, I’m reading, researching, exploring a new city or spending quality time with people I love. I create with inspiration from my environment, culture, and experiences. I’m most proud of my directorial debut, Changes, which will be screening at the Indie Night Film Festival this summer!

Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
A lot of the barriers that were once in place are being knocked down by determined women every day. I honestly feel inspired by the women leading the TV and Film industry. Because of great women like Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil and so many more, I feel like I belong. There are women around the world who are defying the odds daily and they also inspire me. My hope is to inspire a new generation of creative young girls who will continue the journey.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Olamide Giwa

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