Foremost producer, writer, director and a leading player in the Nigerian motion picture industry, Amaka Igwe may not have started shooting movies in 1992 but it is not in doubt that Amaka Igwe’s effort as a motion picture practitioner has drawn international recognition for the burgeoning Nigerian motion picture industry. Some of her early efforts like Checkmate and Violated has largely remained a watershed in the history of soaps and movie production in Nigeria. Born to Isaac Ene, a retired civil engineer from Obinagu-Udi in Enugu State whom Amaka described as ‘very principled’, Amaka whom her father called GOC (General Officer Commanding) because of the leadership trait she exhibited as a tot, was born and bred in Enugu.
An old girl of All Saint School, now Trans Ekulu Primary School, Girls High School Awkunanaw, Enugu and Idia College Benin City where she had her A levels, It was at Idia College that Amaka’s arts inclination fully germinated. While at Idia, Amaka recalled organizing variety shows for her house which attracted a fee paying audience. She acted and directed the plays that were staged and she also taught the group the famous atilogwu dance which became the schools official dance. She recalled leading the group to a performance at the Ogbe Stadium in Benin. One of the foremost movie directors and by far one of the few contemporary filmmakers in the professional class, it was as a class one pupil of All Saint School Enugu that the once skinny Amaka who gained some weight after her first delivery experienced a play production. It took that production written by Amaka’s sister who was in secondary school then for a creative zeal to be fired up.
Popular in her early school days as Ogwu Azu, (Igbo word for Fish bone) because of her slim built frame, Amaka wanted to study law but in the wisdom of officials of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) she was offered a chance to study Education and Religious Study at the University of Ife. From University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Amaka who signed the MNET short celluloid film ‘Barbers Wisdom’ as director proceeded to the University of Ibadan where she grabbed a master degree in Library and Information Services. In between, Amaka took part in a number of theatrical productions particularly as a member of the NYSC drama troupe. With the NYSC troupe, Amaka took plays around.
It was when she returned to Enugu after her NYSC programme that she started learning about television. She found the massive studios of the Enugu State Broadcasting Service from where such classics like the long rested Basi and Company and the New Masquerade were produced, a good ground to learn how programmes are produced. Not only was Amaka fascinated by the sheer massiveness of the ESBS studios, her creative drive was further accelerated when she encountered on screen, the work of the inimitable female television director Lola Fani Kayode. An icon who is well regarded and who a number of practitioners consider a mentor and big auntie, Amaka disclosed that she conceived Checkmate by watching Mirror in the Sun. She had written a script about an all conquering female hero like Queen Amina and had conceived it like a traditional stage play. But when she saw Mirror in the Sun, she decided to make it a modern all conquering female hero story.
The driving force behind BOBTV an acronym for the Best of the Best African Film and Television Programmes market and CEO of Amaka Igwe Studios an outfit that is best known for dropping off quality television and video offerings, Amaka Igwe’s vision of providing a common access point for good and authentic movies and television programmes led to her conceptualizing and eventual staging BOBTV, an annual event that has clearly facilitated the buying and selling of audio-visual content, the brokerage of production deals as well as the facilitation of world class skill transfer and training for African producers.
An amiable and warm personality who is in love with African prints, Amaka who has received numerous industry awards including that of life time achievement from the organisers of the annual African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) has her creative pouch filled with works that have been rated as best seller. Amaka who has penned scripts for some notable producers and production outfits is married to Charles Igwe who is not only in charge of the business angle of what is liberally called Showbiz but he has brought his experience to bear as a banker in the management of the resources of the families well regarded production company.