It is with this reason that director, producer and entrepreneur Oluwaseun Babalola works tirelessly to widen this narrow narrative to create a diverse and authentic global black identity. Whether that’s through her docu-series Soju, her documentary Paola y Lucia, which won Best Emerging Storyteller at the Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival, or her piece at the I Am a Woman exhibition hosted by London-based magazine Shado, Oluwaseun has always focused her lens to detail a more complex narrative surrounding the global black identity.
Part of her conviction for authenticity derives from her personal story; born to a Nigerian father and a Sierra-Leonean mother, Oluwaseun and her sister grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and it’s clear that this ever-present duality in her life has motivated her to pick apart the nuances in cultures that have, for the most part, become homogenized. This underlines all of Oluwaseun’s work and is most perfectly captured in her series Soju. Using the Yoruba word for ‘represent’, Soju depicts both vastness and diversity highlighting the work of figures such as Afua Osei, co-founder of She Leads Africa, a media brand for millennial African women, to the rise of death metal music and fashion in Botswana.
It’s through this that Oluwaseun hopes to contradict persistent perceptions of Africa in the mainstream media. “I’ve been looking at how I can merge creativity with entrepreneurship and create opportunities for people.” Now, she’s turning her attention to the mother-daughter relationship; a dynamic can exist as either the closest relationship a woman can have or the most fraught, and sometimes, it can be all this at once.