Ni Nyampinga journalists interview teen film-maker and girls' education advocate

15-year-old film-maker and girl advocate Zuriel Oduwole talks to Ni Nyampinga journalists about her film-making journey and why she’s committed to girls getting an education.

Zuriel Oduwole is an American film-maker and girl education advocate. At just 15-years-old, she is one of the world’s most inspiring and powerful teenagers. She’s already made five films, interviewed 26 presidents and travelled the African continent to talk about girls’ education, all whilst running her own project - Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up-  aimed at keeping girls in school. As part of a recent trip to Rwanda, Zuriel visited Ni Nyampinga where she met with some of our girl journalists. Zuriel shared her journey through film-making and explained why she thinks more platforms like Ni Nyampinga are needed.

Listen to Zuriel Oduwole being interviewed by Ni Nyampinga journalists on Soundcloud

Read the interview below: 

Why did you decide to come to Rwanda?

As part of my ‘dream up, speak up, stand up’ project, I started the DUSUSU Award because I wanted to get women in positions of power to do more in the area of girls’ education and gender development. The award recognises an African First Lady and an African Gender Minister who do a lot in those areas. Since the award started, it’s been given to the First Lady of Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, and this year, Senegal. It’s also been given to Gender Ministers of Mauritius and Ghana. So, for the 2017 DUSUSU Award, I came here to Rwanda to present it to your Minister.

What attracted you to make films?

It started when I was nine. At school, we had to do this project where we had to create a short documentary on a revolution that happened in history. Most of my peers did the Interstate Highway revolution, the Beatles revolution, the American revolution, but I wanted to do something different. Because my parents are from Africa, my roots are from here, so I wanted to tell a story about a revolution that took place on the continent. I did a lot of research, and found that the Ghana revolution was one of the most successful held here, so I chose that as my topic. So that’s how my filmmaking started. I went to Ghana, I shot some scenes, and while I was there I saw a lot of girls out on the streets instead of in school, and that’s what first prompted me to start my girls’ education project.

Zuriel speaks to Ni Nyampinga journalists

-Zuriel speaks to Ni Nyampinga journalists 

Who are your role models?

The role model I have today would probably be my mum because she has a full-time job and she still has time to home-school me and my siblings. She helps me with my projects, makes sure we do all our chores and helps us with all our extra-curricular activities like soccer and church.

There is always a challenge when you want to achieve something, or whenever you want to reach somewhere. What are the challenges you met on your journey to becoming a film-maker?

When I first started off I didn’t know that much about film-making, editing, how to use a camera properly or how to get good angles. So a lot of the challenges I faced involved editing software and how the final product looked. I first entered that competition when I was nine - I won the first round, but I didn’t go any further than that and I understood why – the quality could have been better, especially compared to some of my peers. But I took what I learnt from that, and made a second documentary when I was 10, and that’s the one that went on to win in the largest county in the US. I think those are the main challenges I’ve faced as a film-maker. First, learning the things I need to do, but also because I am young, being able to get my voice heard and across to other people.

What do you think of Ni Nyampinga?

I think it’s an amazing platform because it’s an inspirational magazine. In the world today, especially with all the teen magazines that you have in the West, like in the US and Europe, like Teen Vogue or any of those magazines. I think we need a lot more magazines like this one because it’s inspirational. They inspire, tell positive stories and get good messages across.

Zuriel explains what she loves about Ni Nyampinga

-Zuriel explains what she loves about Ni Nyampinga 

Do you have anything to offer girls who are listening to you right now?

I would say that someone who is successful isn’t somebody who has never failed. Someone who is successful is someone who fails and then never quits. You hardly find someone who becomes successful without ever making mistakes. So, I think someone who is successful makes those mistakes and fails sometimes, but then says, you know what? I’m going get back up again and continue on my journey.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

I want to congratulate your magazine for doing such wonderful work to inspire girls here in Rwanda. I’m hoping to see this magazine reach other countries in East Africa and the entire continent as a whole. And even other countries outside of it as well.

Listen to Zuriel Oduwole being interviewed by Ni Nyampinga journalists on Soundcloud

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