Funa Maduka, a young Nigerian who left the shores of the country when she was four years old, has just left her position as Director of Netflix International Original Films. During her tenure here, Maduka was respected globally for her film acquisitions and push to have more African films on the streaming platform. She shares with The Interview some of her earliest memories of her beloved country…
You left Nigeria when you were four years old, what are your early memories?
Eating endless Jollof and running around mostly!
Did you have a culture shock when you returned to Nigeria?
Yes and no. My mom kept our culture solidly instilled in our home. Even though I grew up in the United States, I always knew I was Nigerian. That said, nothing can substitute landing in Lagos and immediately feeling the energy and vibrancy of our country.
Your short documentary ‘Waiting for Hassana’ was adjudged the first Nigerian documentary to screen on an international film festival; how has that breakthrough impacted your subsequent productions?
It was a very proud moment to see the film world premiere at the Sundance International Film Festival and then go on to screen at over 50 top tier festivals around the world.
It showed me that we are just scratching the surface when it comes to the potential that our stories hold.
You also have a passion for girl education, what initiatives have you put in place to achieve this purpose?
My grandmother recently passed away and she was a big influence on my life. She was a school teacher and believed very much in the importance of education for women and girls.
My current job hasn’t allowed me to be as hands on as I was as a Dean of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, but I do speaking engagements and mentoring sessions several times a year.
What is a typical day in your life like?
I’m usually in an airport about to fly somewhere in the world to meet filmmakers. On the plane I’m reading scripts or doing notes on completed work – it’s full immersion in the storytelling process from start to finish.
Do you party as much as you work hard?
Vacations are critical. I sometimes can’t take long ones so now I’ve been trying to shut off for three-four days at a time when I can.