Screenwriters are very essential in the success of movies. They play crucial roles in ensuring that movie script ideas are properly captured stepped down for actors to meaningfully interpret. Nigeria has produced high-profile scriptwriters of international reckoning. Here’s a list of screenwriters born in Nigeria who are well known for their escapades in the movie industry in Africa and beyond.
1. Alki David
Alkiviades “Alki” David was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1968. He is a Greek billionaire heir, a member of the Leventis family, whose holdings include manufacturing, bottling plants, property and shipping. In 2008 he was the majority shareholder of Leventis-David Group, which owns Coca-Cola Hellenic bottling plants in 28 countries.
David is a founder of online TV provider FilmOn.TV and Hologram USA which is known for providing holograms at festivals. He also has a business selling oil extracted from cannabis plants, which he markets as a treatment for a range of conditions – with the endorsement of celebrities including rapper Snoop Dogg and fashion designer Donatella Versace. His companies also include the home-shopping website 9021go.com, the streaming-video site BattleCam.com, and the modeling agency called Independent Models.
David has been faced with controversies along the path of his career and entrepreneurship world. He has been slammed with sexual harassment allegations in past, including a 2019 conviction by a court in California, USA, where he was told to pay $11 Million to former employee Chasity Jones, a single mom who accused him terminating her employment because he allegedly refused to have sex with him. Despite the controversies, David is still one of the biggest names in the film-making industry born in Nigeria. He is among the leading screenwriters from Nigeria. He has appeared in feature films and television programmes.
2. Anthony Onah
Anthony Onah was born in Markurdi in February 1983. He is a Nigerian-American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He studied at Harvard University after which he proceeded to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT), for another study to actualize his dream of becoming a filmmaker. The UCLA film school s one of the 11 schools within the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) located in Los Angeles, California.
Onah is best known for his debut feature, The Price (2017), which premiered at the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Award. Onah won the Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker Award for the film at the 2017 Indie Memphis Film Festival. He is a famous screenwriter you never knew was from Nigeria.
3. Branwen Okpako
Branwen Okpako was born in Lagos, Nigeria to a Pharmacologist fatherfrom Uhrobo and a Welsh librarian mother. She attended Atlantic College in Wales where she completed her International Baccalaureate before going to the Bristol University, England where she bagged a BSC in Political Sciences in 1991. She then proceeded to the German Film & Television Academy (DFFB), Berlin where she received an MFA equivalent in film directing in 1999. Her graduation film Dreckfresser (Dirt For Dinner 2000) won several international awards including First Steps – The German Newcomer Award for Documentary film 2000, IG Media Award (DOK-Leipzig) 2000, Distributions prize from sales 2000, The 24th Duisburg Film Week Award of the city of Duisburg for the best newcomer film Award Bavarian State Government Documentary Award “The Young Lion” 2001, Best graduation film at the See Docs Dubrovnik festival 2001. These feats marked a huge leap into a bright future in creative film making by this beautiful Nigerian-born film maker.
Okpako’s impressive career in film making distinguishes her as one of the best in this industry with international reckoning. The fiction feature Valley of the Innocent (Tal der Ahnungslosen, 2004) had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film festival in 2003 and went on to compete in the feature film competition at FESPACO in 2005. For her documentary film The Education of Auma Obama, Okpako received the 2012 African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary, the Festival Founders Award for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (both in 2012), and the Viewers’ Choice Award at the Africa International Film Festival (2011). Her documentary-drama, The Curse of Medea (Fluch der Medea 2014), about the life of the late German writer Christa Wolf, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014.
Branwen Okpako is Associate Professor at UC Davis in the Department of Cinema and Digital Media and is currently completing her sixth feature film entitled CHIBOK GIRLS based on the 2016 book of the same title by Helon Habila. She is among the best Nigerian-born film makers doing exploits in the international film industry.
4. Julius Onah
Julius Onah was born in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria. He is a Nigerian-American filmmaker, who was raised in Arlington, VA and Washington D.C. after having lived in the Philippines, Nigeria, Togo, and the United Kingdom. He currently resides in New York City. In the summer of 2010 he was selected as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and in 2013 as one of Studio System’s 10 Up and Up Feature Directors. Onah is a famous screenwriter of international reckoning.
5. Kingsley Ogoro
Kingsley Ogoro is another famous screenwriter, film director and producer born in Nigeria. He is best known for the acclaimed film Osuofia in London of 2003 in which he worked with Nkem Owoh. He has worked mainly as a filmmaker producer and director in the Nollywood film industry since 2003.
6. Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen
Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen is a Nigerian film director, screenwriter and film producer that is a household name among movie audience in the country. Imasuen’s are among the top most popular in Nollywood. He was born in Benin City, Nigeria.
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7. Ngozi Onwurah
Ngozi Onwurah is a British-Nigerian film director, producer, model, and lecturer. She attended St. Martin’s School of Art, The National Film (UK), The Television School (UK). She is best known as a filmmaker for her autobiographical film The Body Beautiful (1991) and her first feature film, Welcome II the Terrordome (1994). Her work is reflective of the unfiltered experiences of Black Diaspora in which she was raised in. She has many movies and awards to her credit.
8. Oris Erhuero
Oris Erhuero is a British actor, producer, writer, and former fashion model. After modeling for several years, he transitioned into television and film, with roles in The Adventures of Sinbad, The Bill, Highlander: Endgame, Black Mask 2, Sometimes in April, and Chicago Pulaski Jones. Erhuero has recently begun to explore film production and screen writing. He is a famous screenwriter you never knew was from Nigeria.
9. Pascal Atuma
Pascal Atuma is a Canadian/Nigerian actor, screenwriter, film producer, film director, and comedian. He was born in Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria in 1972. He studied at Government College Umuahia and the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Nigeria. He relocated to the United States in 1995. Paschal had initially tried pursuing a career as a civil engineer before switching gears to go for a career in the entertainment industry.
Pascal has recorded tremendous success as a comedian-turned-actor, writer, producer and director added to his credits. Among the movies he has directed are “The Trace”, “Who Is the Man?” “Okoto the Messenger,” “My American Nurse” and its sequel, “My American Nurse 2.” His breakout directorial debut, “My American Nurse,” premiered in the United States at the 2006 Pan African Film Festival. Its sequel, My American Nurse 2, also premiered at the Pan African Film Festival. As an actor, he’s starred in many of his own productions, as well as other Nollywood projects, including “Through the Glass,” “The Other Side of Love,” “Faithfulness” and “Secret Past.”
Paschal’s success in the movies industry is reflected in the selection of some of his films for recognition at prestigious film festivals. Five of his films have been official selections of the Pan African Film Festival and four in Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video. “My American Nurse 2,” was released into the North American market (USA and Canada) in 2010 and quickly became a top selling African movie in the States and Canada. His other films “Only in America” and “Hurricane in the Rose Garden” were released worldwide by Maverick Entertainment. In 2007, Hurricane in the Rose Garden received an honorable mention in the Pan African Film Festival. Pascal Atuma served as a keynote speaker at UCLA’s Fifty Years of African Writing: Novels, Filmmaking, Criticism Seminar on February 14, 2011. Paschal is an inspiration to several upcoming young film makers in Nigeria.
10. Tony Sebastian Ukpo
Tony Sebastian Ukpo is a British-Nigerian and currently based in France. He was born in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Tony studied film at the London Film School (LFS) after having already explored various creative enterprises in theatre, graphic novels, and photography, as well as of course, film. He has written and directed an eclectic range of films, including “Paris 60”, “The Fighter’s Ballad” starring Clive Russell, Japanese murder mystery “Random 11” with Haruka Abe, British Nollywood romantic comedy Mum, Dad, Meet Sam starring Joseph Benjamin, and immigration drama Simana among others. Tony knew early in life that he always had a creative streak, as many people do, but he narrowed his focus to film as an area he would want to carve out a successful career. He is among few successful Nigerian-born film writers with impressive international reckoning.