top of page
  • Writer's picturebird story agency

Omotunde Akiode is bringing joy to children. It's what she always dreamed of.

Omotunde Akiode posing for a picture. Photo Courtesy: Omotunde Akiode

A love of drawing led Omotunde Akiode to architecture. Then she discovered film. Now she does what she always dreamed of.

Gbemisola Esho, bird story agency

Omotunde Akiode sits at her workstation in Lagos, appearing to doodle. To the occasional visitor, this may look like play but the result of the creative session will be a very real cartoon character, possibly for an acclaimed African cartoon series -- like Supa4.

“I grew up watching Sesame Street, the Muppet show animations on television. I saw the vibrant colours, fluid movement, and captivating storytelling. It intrigued me, and I could not help but wonder how these enhancing worlds were created and dreaming of one day I could be the writer of those shows,” Akiode said.

Akiode has always had a desire to bring people, especially children, joy. Using her drawing talents she found herself studying architecture and then designing beautiful homes that would bring joy to their owners. But as the years went by in architecture, Akiode felt an unfulfilled void growing inside.

Then came an unexpected turn. Through a drama group, Akiode met the award-winning screenwriter, Kehinde Joseph.

Omotunde Akiode posing for a picture. Photo Courtesy: Omotunde Akiode

“When I met Omotunde, she had an unquenching thirst for knowledge about storytelling for the screen. She was already smart, had interesting ideas, and loved books and films. Whenever I shared screenwriting books with her, she read them at record time and would visit me every Sunday to discuss the concepts she learnt,” Joseph recalled.

Joseph found in Akiode more than a willing learner, She was also someone who craved new outlets for her creativity. Film was an easy fit.

“Truth be told, Omotunde Akiode already knew storytelling by her vast exposure to films. My conversations and the books she read were just the science to the art of storytelling," Joseph added.

Not long after that first meeting, Akiode's name appeared as a screenwriter in the credits of a TV show. The show was Tinsel, described as the most successful drama to run on Nigerian TV. In 2022 it won the Africa Viewer Choice Award for the longest-running TV show in Africa.

Today, Akiode has 15 years of screenwriting experience under her belt. Known particularly for her work on Tinsel (she wrote on 11 episodes of the show), she has also written for other successful dramas, like MTV's award-winning Sugar. Locally, she has written for a number of Nigerian TV series including Dear Mother, Spider, Ajoche, and Lasigidi Cops.

"She is highly imaginative. The most remarkable thing about her is that she has no borders, you can't define her, underlining all of her work is boundless creativity and much-desired freshness and originality,” said Tope Oshin, an accomplished television and film director, who has worked with Akiode on several films.

“She is an outstanding, unique, and very imaginative storyteller with the proven skills to create engaging, relevant, and relatable stories and characters," Oshin said.

Those skills would soon find their way into a new outlet for Akiode's creativity. With her Sesame-filled dreams still knocking at the door and a desire to write for children -- writing in a way any child could understand the world around them better -- still unfulfilled, another opportunity came her way.

It presented itself in the form of a training course for animators, offered by Storyteller Pod, a Johannesburg-based screenwriting school 'where screenwriters come to grow'. Akiode jumped at it.

Intrigued and inspired, Akiode embarked on a new journey of self-discovery. She spent countless nights delving into the art of animation, studying techniques, and experimenting with software.

As she honed her craft, Akiode discovered that her background in architecture provided her with a unique advantage. Her keen eye for detail, combined with her understanding of spatial relationships allowed her to create stunning and immersive animated environments.

This, combined with her love and skill for storytelling, got her and her craft noticed. In 2017, Akiode got her first animation writing gig fresh from her training school with the Storyteller Pod team. Together, they worked on Princess Sissi and then Bino and Fino, which premiered on YouTube.

Her venture into children's writing using animation has produced pieces like Boy, Girl, Dog, Cat, Mouse, Cheese by Watch Next Media, Kiya by E-One/Frogbox, Jungle Book Preschool series by Baboon Animation, Mini Beat Power Rockers by Mundolocco Studios Argentina - and Supa4.

Supa4 was a game changer for her new path in animation. A futuristic tale of Lusaka, Zambia, the cartoon series is about four teenagers who are brought into a new world by a former spy who makes them realise that they are heroes.

Supa4 has the distinction of being the first African animated series to appear on Netflix. Akiode wrote for the Kiya and Kimonja characters in the series, which has been nominated for Best International Series in BAA (British Animation Awards) 2024.

With the accolades rolling in, Akiode is becoming an established figure in children's entertainment. Over the past eight years she has worked with global entertainment powerhouses including MTV, Netflix and Disney.

"It came as no surprise again, that she is holding her own in animation. She is able to conceptualise abstract things and juxtapose them. She is a lifelong learner,” Joseph said.

While the animation sector in Africa is still in its infancy, it is beginning to resound with the exploits of African animators like Akiode who are winning awards -- even if many in new markets like Nigeria still need to run side hustles to pay the bills.

“The space is growing gradually into an industry in Nigeria but lacking funding. Unlike in South Africa who have schools, those here are mostly self-taught but still pushing. We've got what it takes but opportunities are not abundant and distribution platforms are still few,” explained Adebimpe Adebambo, a creative director, filmmaker, and animator.

Even with these challenges, Akiode believes in the industry’s potential; she also trains and hosts workshops where she seeks to raise a new generation of African storytellers who can use animation to tell authentic African stories. Her next goal is to get African investors excited about the opportunity, too.

“My challenge so far is to get Africans to see the need to invest in children's content for Africa. Hopefully, this will change in the future as more investors start showing interest,” she said.

“My mantra is: 'do what you love and get paid for it',” she concluded.

bird story agency

1 comentário

Smith Joel
Smith Joel
23 de fev.

You are about to go on a remarkable adventure that will change your life and astound you. blob opera

bottom of page