For the past three years, Toyosi Etim Effiong has been the driving force behind Nollywood’s increasing presence at the Essence Film Festival, the world’s largest festival celebrating black culture, held annually in New Orleans, United States. In this interview, Etim-Effiong, wife of the respected actor, Daniel Etim-Effiong, discusses her experiences as a talent manager and the mastermind behind ‘That Good Media’. She also speaks about the importance of collaborations and her vision for the future of Nollywood at the Essence Film Festival. here are the excerpts…

Tell us how you got the idea to position Nollywood as part of the Essence Festival?

I’ve known about Essence for a long time. Essence is a 30-year-old festival, and I have attended it multiple times. When I heard that they were having a film festival incorporated into the festival, I asked if it was for all black people or just African Americans and they said it was for black people. I thought to myself that Nigeria is the world’s largest, most populous black nation in the world. Nollywood is also the second largest film industry in the world, and there’s no reason we should not be a part of a black film festival. So, I made my presentation, sent a request, and it was granted.

What was the first thing you did after your request was granted, what was your first move to get stakeholders on board?

The first move was that I praised the Lord and shouted Hallelujah. To get stakeholders on board for the first year, I went with people who were close to me. These were people that I could easily reach out to because everything happened quickly. I reached out to some players in the industry who were available to travel and they made that trip down.

By the second year, however, we had a stakeholders forum where we told them about what we were doing. We’re doing the same again this year to let people know that this is happening.

Tell me about achieving a Nigeria Day at the festival.

‘Nigeria Day’ last year was a miracle. It wasn’t something that we expected. I expected us to just be on a stage again in one corner having conversations and trying to get people to know about us. But it’s clear that Nollywood is a force to be reckoned with, and so giving Nigeria its own standalone day was to give us enough time to showcase our content; have panel sessions that we had and to give us time again to interact with fans who had come from all over America and even outside America to attend Nigeria Day. There were existing fans, and there were people who saw RMD last year and wanted to faint. People saw Daniel Etim Effiong and were amazed. Nollywood has fans and black diaspora loves Nollywood, you can quote me on that. So, we’re just giving them an opportunity to partner with the industry and not just watch us from a distance.

What is the big takeaway for this year? What is going to stand out this year?

This year, we do not have a day to ourselves, however, we’re getting a place on the main stage. This means that we’re going to be interacting with every other filmmaker present there. Last year, we were in our own space and people had to look for us. This year, we’re all going to be together in the same space having conversations, which I believe would really foster that collaboration that we’re looking for.

You and your husband, Daniel Etim Effiong are both achieving big feats and are fast becoming a power couple in Nollywood. Was it intentional?

If you mean that did we sit down in the house and say we must become a power couple, then no, we didn’t. However, he’s doing excellently at what he does, and I’m doing excellently at what I do. I strive to have a touch of excellence in what I do and that excellence is always noticed. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. So, you cannot hide even if you want to hide, it will show up because your work will show for itself the excellent work you’re doing. So, again, my husband does excellent work as an actor, and he’s becoming an excellent filmmaker as well. He’s already a filmmaker but watch out for him, big things are coming.

Do you have plans of also featuring in any movie?

If they can pay me well…


How did you find this career path? Was it because of your husband, or was it something you naturally had passion for?

I get this question a lot and it’s fine. I have a degree in production. I also have a degree in broadcast journalism. This was all before I met my husband. I was in the banking space before but I realised that I wasn’t cut out for that, so I switched careers and decided to get a degree like a proper diploma before I started my journey in the industry. It so turns out that I fell in love with an actor and we’re now what I call a showbiz family. He’s the show and I’m the business.

Is it the show or the business that pays the bills?

The show and the business. My company’s name is ‘That Good Media’. We have a talent management division, the agency. The agency has Shaffy Bello signed to us; Omowunmi Dada is also signed to us. We also have Linda Ejiofor, Ibrahim Suleiman, Daniel Etim Effiong, Sophia Momodu, and Chimezie Imo who recently won the Trailblazer Award at the AMVCAs. Our job is to facilitate projects and get opportunities for our talents. Also, we go through all their legal contracts and everything to ensure that they don’t get in trouble and that they cross all their ‘T’s and dot their ‘I’s. So that’s the business and the business does make money.

Talent management is pretty new in this industry. How essential is what you do and do you think that more and more talents are beginning to recognise the need for managers?

Yes, absolutely, because when you have a talent manager, it gives you time to do your work and focus on your own work. You know you don’t have to really worry about the accounting, the legal aspects, and other different things. You can actually focus on your craft. If you don’t have a manager, then you are your own accountant and your own human resource manager and everything. So, I think talents in the industry, especially the up-and-coming ones, are beginning to see the importance of it and even those who have exposure also see how things work in other parts of the world. They understand the importance of having a manager. We can negotiate better than you can negotiate.

Apart from actors are other talents welcome at your agency?

Right now, it’s just actors. We’ve dabbled with other industries, but, right now, we want to focus on acting especially because it ties into what we’re doing now with the Essence Film Festival. We can look for opportunities for them in other parts of the world.

What’s the end game for you as a businessowner? Is Essence the goal?

There’s always bigger, but like I always say, ‘poco a poco’, which is little by little. This is it; just making sure that I stand as a bridge that people can cross between Nollywood and other industries around the world; primarily Hollywood. Some feedback that we got was they don’t even know where to find our actors because we don’t have a database or there’s nothing happening here and all of that. So very soon, by the grace of God, there will be a launch of a proper database that houses all of our stakeholders.