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Rising Star Film Director Osaretin Oghomwen On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

I wish I was more prepped on how much harder it is for women to gain the same respect we hand out to men who do the same roles. Ex: I’m often introduced as a model director in some media features in the past, like people just coin the phrase because they’re like, “Oh, you look like a model” but I would prefer to just be introduced as a director since I’ve never been a model or pursued it.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Osaretin Oghomwen.

Osaretin Oghomwen was born in Los Angeles, to Nigerian immigrants. She attended the State University of New York, at Albany, where she made her directorial debut Infatuation (2012), which screened at the New York Filmmakers Quarterly and the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. She is also noted for her short film, Goodbye, Apathy (2013) which was acquired by Shorts International. Her feature film, Strip premiered at Peachtree Village International Festival in Atlanta and Golden Gate Film Festival and is currently streaming on XOD network.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

My family is from Nigeria, but I was mostly raised in Virginia, which I’ve been in and out of since I was a teenager. I grew up in a divorced home and was raised by my single mother with a younger sister. My hometown is Fredericksburg, VA. I went to college in Upstate NY and am such a fan of the Northeast, as I’m always in and out of Virginia and always venturing to spots either in NY or Vermont.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I fell in love with filmmaking as a really young girl. It’s the first thing I truly loved. I was skimming through Teen Vogue 15 years ago and came across an ad for the New York Filmmaking Academy and a spark went off that has never dimmed since then. I went on to make my first short professionally in my college town, Albany, NY and the rest is history.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I definitely have had a plethora of interesting experiences since beginning my filmmaking journey, it’s really hard to pick one but I will mention a story from shooting my recent feature, Strip. There was a time where for the first time in my life I did not sleep for 24 hours. We had a shoot in Upstate NY then we drove to Long Island for a shoot, then drove for a shoot in Manhattan, at this point it was over 24 hours and I had not shut my eyes. We had another shoot but I completely passed out. The actress had to wake me up because I really was knocked out.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was very green and was just a newbie, I made the mistake of calling cut too early, which made the edit a little jumpy. Also, not working with enough production assistants was a funny mistake, because I would end up starving on set. The sets were way too hectic and I would always end up not having time to eat or nourish myself.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I currently have some really unique concepts for development. I haven’t written new material in about 6- 8 years. Strip was a really time-consuming piece that I dedicated myself wholly to. So embarking on another production would be a surreal chapter for me.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Honestly, there are so many lows and so many depressing moments along this journey. Success is not really just about being talented but also having the stamina and perseverance and making a promise to never give up. My advice is to prepare and anticipate the low moments so you’re not thrown off guard when you hit a low point.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I feel like we have nothing to lose, but everything to gain by allowing more inclusivity amongst people of various heritages, orientations, and gender because every industry should reflect the natural diversity of the world we live in. Particularly in the film industry, because different vantage points from different cultures and heritages just add a wealth to the art form. Our culture would become more enlightened and intelligible by continuing the effort to welcome other perspectives and heritages.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. I wish I was more prepped on how much harder it is for women to gain the same respect we hand out to men who do the same roles. Ex: I’m often introduced as a model director in some media features in the past, like people just coin the phrase because they’re like, “Oh, you look like a model” but I would prefer to just be introduced as a director since I’ve never been a model or pursued it.
  2. I wish I knew that I would have to work harder to be seen as a legitimate director, as I’m often pressured to pursue another line of trade because of my looks. Ex: I shot a media interview and one of the actors I worked with and the gaffer told me that I would make a great model and that I should probably get into acting as well, and I was like, “Is there something wrong with me directing?” It’s just one of those awkward moments where I felt like my real skills were being overshadowed by my physical appearance.
  3. I wish that I had known how difficult securing distribution would be. Ex. I know this is something a lot of independent filmmakers can relate to. I submitted probably hundreds of emails and was not given the time of day by many contacts in the distribution world until finally, I was able to acquire a streaming platform deal last year
  4. I wish I had known how difficult it is to be given an opportunity. Ex. I got into filmmaking for the love of it, and the awe of the art form than later found out as an adult it’s really hard to be recognized in this industry and to be given a chance. I definitely had to embark upon a feature before I could garner attention from almost any agency representing directors.
  5. I wish that I had known that you most likely will have to end up producing your indie film as well. Ex; Due to not having connections and working with a low budget, I had to adopt the producer’s hat on my feature as well, and this is also something I know independent filmmakers can absolutely relate to as well. You just want to direct and stay in your niche but to salvage your film, you end up producing as well due to the constraints.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I definitely recommend that before embarking upon a feature that you thoroughly prepare for pre-production, production and post/distribution so that you’re more prepared.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I actually re-discovered activism last year during the resurgence of Black Lives Matter. It’s absolutely a movement with deep personal meaning to me. Outside of filmmaking, I’m currently in touch with activists in my college town, I keep tabs on the quest for reform in Upstate NY. If I wanted to do an amount of good, it would most definitely be in this sector of activism.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m most grateful to my mother who truly has been one of my sole fans and the one person in my life that is always enthused with my artistic path. A story that I can share is that I attempted to shoot Strip in Las Vegas and failed to do it, I had to start from scratch and shoot it at a slower pace in New York. However, my mother borrowed me $5000 which I used towards the production and I was finally able to pay her back for her contribution last year.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is “ Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” This quote is such a summary of my existence right now. It’s relevant to me because sometimes I debate whether I should censor myself in some way to not make other people uncomfortable. Sometimes, I do get caught up in what people would think instead of just being authentic and true to myself, but the reality real friends accept you for who you are.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Actually yes, I’ve had a lifetime crush on someone out of my league, but I would rather keep it a secret!

How can our readers follow you online?

IG: @director.omo

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group

Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group

Specializing in acquiring, producing and distributing films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subjects

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