TigerFireRose: “I don’t want to get to heaven and say, ‘I had a million stories in me, but I was fine with just telling 50.’”
Female voices are being amplified in Nollywood now more than ever thanks to the power of inclusion. Gone are the days when women were known for playing one role in Nigeria’s film industry: being an actress. Now, they are taking charge of their own narratives by being bosses behind the camera.
Telling human stories as only they can, they’ve made their voices heard and have inspired countless other females in the film industry and beyond to dare to dream.
The key to success is to always take that leap of faith and one woman that has done that and so much more is TigerFireRose. She is a producer, screenwriter, and CEO of TigerFireRose Media, a production company that specializes in amplifying human stories and questioning the status quo.
TNR sat down with this leading lady to discuss everything, from her passion for producing films to her vision for Nollywood.
TNR: How did you start your filmmaking journey?
FireRose: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in movies. Growing up, I was a straight-A student, and the automatic assumption was I was going to be either a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. I desired to be a doctor, but I also wanted to be on the red carpet. So, I figured I’d be a doctor on the red carpet, that is be a “filmmaking doctor.
When I was in high school, I was always that person organizing social events. I’d write letters to the principal, send out invitations, and call everyone to make sure of their attendance.
I’m a very persuasive person. So even if it’s the President, I’d talk to him and convince him to hear my side of the story. At the time, I never realized that what I was doing was producing. My mission was just to make sure that the organization process went on smoothly.
High school ended and I shifted gears. I went from dreaming of becoming a doctor to seeing myself on the big screen. I wanted to be an actress. Somehow, that never took off and I got into writing.
My first official writing job was, if my memory serves me correctly, for a series on African Magic. I saw the advertisement online and sent my sample in and they loved it. At the time, they had a budget for only one writer and had indeed hired one, but they were so impressed with me that they brought me on board. My co-writer and I had such a beautiful working relationship, and it was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. He is one of the coolest people I know.
After that, I kept on getting recommended. A lot of the writing jobs I secured had been through word-of-mouth. As for producing, I like to get things done and find solutions to problems swiftly.
My content producer at the time told me that I had a knack for producing but I’d always say, “No, I’m a writer and an actress.” She put me through and gave me responsibilities and I realized that producing would be my career path. Look at me now!
If the opportunity does present itself, would you revisit your desire to become an actress?
God, no. Unless, of course, I want to embarrass myself. I’ve been a producer way too long, so I probably want to take charge of the whole production. Before you know it, I’d be asking questions such as, “Where are the lights? Why are we wasting time?” I highly doubt that would be appreciated. In the spirit of “never say never,” I’m open to cameos in, maybe comedies. Nothing too serious or intense though.
When did you start TigerFireRose Media?
It should be around 2018 to 2019.
What made you want to start your own production company in the first place?
I like telling good stories and nothing brings me more joy than seeing my vision come to life. I wanted to be able to control the narrative. When another production company handles your story, you have limited control over how the story pans out.
If I had my own production house, then I’d be able to hold myself accountable. If something goes wrong or I make a mistake, I can’t shift the blame to anyone else or any other production house.
I always try to judge myself fairly and I strive to be better. My first project was a mess! I haven’t put it out there yet−maybe someday I would−but I made so many errors. I learned from them though and did a few other projects that I was proud to show the world. Production is a learning process. You have to keep going until you get to where you want to be as a creative.
A lot of production companies always sell the “telling African stories” brand. That is something your company also does. What makes TigerFireRose Media different?
We are not only in the business of telling African stories. I love Africa, I’m African, and I’m passionate about everything we do. I have another company dedicated to African culture and archiving. We seem to have lost that indigenous storytelling streak in us and I guess I should blame the Western world for that.
I did a project in Ile-Ife, Osun State for the Ooni of Ife and I was pleased to find out that they use their oriki to trace down their ancestry. That just shows the power of storytelling.
The goal is to tell relatable human stories. That’s what TigerFireRose Media is about. I don’t mind taking on difficult subjects because subject matter is subject matter. Anyone can talk about it, but what makes it unique is how you tell it. That’s what distinguishes us from the rest; our storytelling is relatable and with our works, you see that we try to create complex characters.
Why? Because humans are complex, and their behaviors sometimes defy logic. A person can do the right thing for the wrong reasons and vice versa so the point is to make the character whole. I want audiences to put themselves in the character’s shoes and think, “If I were in this situation, would I react in this manner?”
TigerFireRose Media invites audiences into the real world where humanity is not black and white. Our storytelling is simple, yet pragmatic.
How many films has your company produced thus far?
So far, we have three movies under our belt. To Freedom is our first feature-length film and the first to go to the cinema. Interestingly, the film has also made its debut on Amazon Prime Video. It did so on July 28, 2023. It is a co-production with K Minds Production and working with them was one for the books.
Are any other projects in the works?
My brain is constantly moving. I always tend to work on multiple projects at once. I currently have three finished scripts that are in pre-production and another project I’m really excited about.
I’m excited about all my projects, but this one is special because it’s based on facts that people never get to explore. It’s based on a reality that exists but is often ignored. It’s a family-comedy drama and I guarantee it to be a lot of fun.
Pile of Rubbish is also on my itinerary. It’s a climate change film that’s told through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy. In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I aim to inform the public on the important issues of recycling and waste management.
There are also other tv series and reality shows. As the ideas come, I try to get them to a point where they can be executed properly. One of my goals in life is to leave this world empty. I don’t want to get to heaven and say, “I had a million stories in me, but I was fine with just telling 50.”
How have the prevalent economic challenges in Nigeria impacted production?
To speak plainly, the economic situation in Nigeria has not been favorable. However, my job as a producer is to find creative solutions to economic problems. Adjustments have to be made and that in itself takes a whole lot of divine intervention. Jesus Christ is eighty percent of my creative solution plan; the remaining twenty percent is executing whatever He tells me to do.
Since you’re in the business of storytelling in Nollywood, what do you want to see more of and what do you want to see less of?
One of the quotes that have stuck with me and resonated so well with my company is an African proverb that goes, “Until the lion can tell its own story, every tale will glorify the hunter.”
Recently, there has been an influx of African stories and I think that’s great because we as Africans need to tell our own stories. If we let others do it, it would never be authentic. I want to see more tales with the use of Indigenous languages, clothing, and mannerisms.
What I want to see less of is excessive nudity and sexual content. I understand that filmmakers use those tactics to push their stories forward, but is it really necessary?
From a storyteller’s perspective, there are artistic ways of showcasing this aspect of art. Inference, for instance, is a good way to do that. I pose a question to filmmakers: “If the scene had happened without the nudity, would the story have lost its touch?” If the answer is no, then take it away. Tell a story that all age groups can enjoy.
Less is more, in my opinion.