I Am An African

: Other
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Pre-Production


A documentary series exploring what it means to be African through the eyes of an African when they are noticed by the world.


This series highlights the lives of hybrid and immigrant Africans who have garnered achievements on a global platform within their respective industries. Along with relevant source materials and creative reenactments, each subject will share narratives chronicling their lives from childhood to present and the basis of their African pride.


To understand why I why I want to do this project, one must first know my story. I’m a first-generation Nigerian-American and to escape a coup in Nigeria, was sent back to the U.S. to live with relatives. Five months later, I was homeless, emancipated and 15 yrs old. With a job at McDonald’s paying $3.25/hr, I worked every weekend to pay for the room in a boarding house with a singular focus towards my survival. After graduating top of my class, I went on to Georgetown University. I’ve since had 3 films premiere at Sundance and my first feature screenplay was optioned by Sony Pictures as a star vehicle for Will Smith. This is only a part of my story as an African in America, and speaks to why African narratives must be shared through the eyes of an African. The global lens from which stories for and about Africans are told have always been narrow. And when it does lend itself around true stories, it does so at the expense of the African, leaving us with very little worth celebrating. The docu-series I’m presenting is about celebrating native and hybrid African who have made a global impact in their profession while recognizing how being of African heritage is inherently a foundation of their success. Like my story, often these journeys are unknown, so much so that the next generation of Africans and Diaspora have lost focus on what it means to be of African descent. Since most of the continent has been affected by colonization, there’s a misconception that life outside the continent is the “holy grail”. Success and happiness is emulated by western standard and our accomplishments as African are either marginalized or ignored. This show is about changing the mindset on what we have achieved and what is attainable, in spite of ones beginning. No bigger has the impact of African pride been more apparent than with the blockbuster release of “Black Panther” bringing together a Diasporic celebration never seen before on film. The need to celebrate our heritage is a momentum that must be continued. In sharing the unique and diverse journey of the individuals profiled, the series is able to connect African countries to each other where xenophobia has been an issue. More than a tv series, it’s impact will bridge a global gap of who we are as Africans, beyond ignorant comments like “shithole countries” and “coolest monkey in the jungle”. It will be produced by Backdoor Films and Hyphenate Partners, a U.S.| South African production company founded and driven by African Women to empower and redefine the narrative stories for and about Africans and the Diaspora.


Adetoro Makinde - Writer, Director, Producer

A first-generation Nigerian-American, Adetoro is an award-winning filmmaker and graduate of Georgetown University and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. As a producer, she burst onto the scene when her award-winning short, WHOA, premiered at Sundance Film Festival with subsequent Sundance films, In Time and A Good Day to Be Black and Sexy. An alumna of Fox Searchlight’s Searchlab and the inaugural Universal Studio | Chrysler Extreme Filmmaking Challenge, she went on to produce a short from casting to premiere in ten days during the Cannes Film Festival. Her honors include an IFP | NYSCA Grant, Film independent’s Project Involve, and Chase Legacy Film Challenge, co-sponsored by HBO, Kodak, and Blackfilm.com. She is co-founder of the group Women Independent Producers (WIP), the former Chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives for Film Fatales and a member was selected as a 2018 Made in NY Fellow by the New York Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. While producing almost a dozen independent films screened worldwide, Adetoro served as UPM on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Mute Singer on NETFLIX, and is currently producing her spec Hurricane Katrina biopic, The American Can. Initially optioned by Sony as a star vehicle for Will Smith, it’s now being produced with Participant Media and MACRO. She continues to amplify marginalized, dynamic voices as a producer, recently co-launching a U.S. | South Africa production company, HYPHENATE PARTNERS to redefine the African narrative while creating inclusive opportunities.

Bridget Pickering - Producer

Bridget is the South African co-producer on the Oscar-nominated "Hotel Rwanda" and has produced some of the highest-rated shows on South African television ("U Gugu no Andile," "Monna wa Minno," "Usindiso," "Dreamworld," "End Game," "Sticks and Stones," and the SABC telenovella, "Keeping Score.") A graduate of Syracuse University, Bridget started her career at Universal Pictures, later returning to Namibia to produce films about the changing social, political, and intimate lives of communities in Southern Africa. Along with films for UNICEF and UNAIDS and the award-winning "Flame" at Cannes, she directed the short "Dreams of a Good Life" ("Steps for The Future" series) produced by Jennifer Fox. She co-founded Fireworx Media, becoming one of the most awarded companies in South Africa with over 10 television dramas and three feature films. Selected for the Producers Guild of America’s Diversity Workshop, she's been at the forefront of acquiring Moon Valley Studios, a female-driven studio in Johannesburg set up as a creative hub for African filmmakers and global artists.


Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024
IFP Film Week 2018 | Spotlight on Documentaries
HBO Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility Grant


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