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A closer look into the life of a Nigerian-born filmmaker, cinematographer, and creative director, Oluyinka David, and the evolution of building his career, as an immigrant, and upcoming series Prim and Proper.
“My passion lies in telling African stories that resonate with a global audience and I want to shed light on the often overlooked contributions and experiences of African people,” said Davids. I met with Davids and absorbed the distinct and powerful story of how Prim and Proper came to life.
Born in Nigeria, Oluyinka Davids is a South Africa-trained cinematographer, filmmaker, and director at media and film production company, iFocus Pictures. The multi-talented artist has been involved in the film industry for sixteen years and attended film school in South Africa. Currently, he is based in the United States and lives in Dallas, Texas. One of the first films Davids directed and produced are 5th Anniversary, Akwuna, a story about a woman’s survival as a prostitute in an unknown land and Stay, a feature movie about suicide prevention that can also be found on Amazon Prime.
His remarkable projects, Stay, Akwuna, and Prim and Proper, have earned numerous selections at notable film festivals around the world and have helped to bring attention to the immigrant experience in America.
Throughout his career, Davids is committed to spreading the power and history of Africa. While he continues to evolve and make his dreams a reality, he sheds light on African people’s often overlooked contributions and experiences. Davids is devoted to challenging stereotypes and misconceptions through his filmmaking.
With a keen eye for storytelling and a passion for creating meaningful content, his films have captivated audiences both nationally and internationally, earning him critical acclaim and recognition for his outstanding contributions to the field. David’s unwavering commitment to using film as a tool for education and social change has earned him numerous accolades, including a certificate of recognition from the State of California Senate and an award from the A.D. King Foundation Inc. USA for his leadership and dedication to global development. With a fierce commitment to pushing boundaries in the art of filmmaking, he continues to inspire and impact lives through his work and is dedicated to bringing African stories to the forefront of the international film scene.
As an immigrant in the United States pursuing his dream career in filmmaking, Davids is celebrating the diversity and richness of Nigerian culture through his unique four-episode series Prim and Proper, now airing on Tubi and Moodbox TV.
Last year, on July 1, 2022, Prim and Proper originally released an episode on YouTube (Moodbox TV). The series showcases Nigerian immigrants and their unique perspectives on living life in the United States.
“I believe that sharing our stories can help to break down cultural barriers and promote empathy. Through the show, I hope to convey the message that immigrants are an integral part of American society that contribute positively to our communities,” said Davids.
Davids hopes to challenge stereotypes and encourage his viewers to see immigrants as individuals in a “new light” with extraordinary stories to share with the world. According to Davids, by sharing these stories, communities are able to learn from one another. Therefore, one of his goals is to continue promoting dialogue through shared experiences like Prim and Proper.
Prim and Proper encourages viewers to consider the true struggles and impacts that immigration policies have on families.
Co-star on the show Nkem Mbamalu a Nigerian US-based actress and makeup artist describes the series ‘Prim and Proper’ shines a spotlight on the glamorous yet poignant real-life experiences and struggles of Nigerians in the diaspora. Through a diverse cast, it explores our triumphs, challenges, and the poise with which we navigate live, fostering empathy and understanding along the way.
Davids opened up about the filming process and shared that, although there will be an occasional guided narrative, the series is meant to be as raw as possible.
“In TV production, when you say something is scripted, there will definitely be some sort of story guide whether that [may be] a call of direction or brief. [However,] every story we reenact is real,” said Davids.
The director carefully selected a cast who could bring their own unique perspectives and backgrounds to the series. He said that his goal was to form a “creative and diverse cast that would showcase a wide range of experiences.”
Yemi Blaz US Army personnel and co-star on the show in her comment about the series, “It is a masterpiece you need to see, an eye opener for whoever would love to japa (immigrate abroad) “It prepares you”. We all have a success story; it is a relatable series“
With an extremely limited budget, Davids and his production team had to seek creative ways to expand their resources and utilize them while still delivering a high-quality product.
Creating a detailed shooting schedule and timeline aided the team in this process which led them to make the most out of their resources and video shoots.
Originally, Prim and Proper was set to be a YouTube series. However, during the first week of its release on YouTube, the production quickly received over 50,000 views.
“It was so encouraging. Everybody was saying ‘This is too good to be on YouTube.’ It seemed like people loved it based on the comments and reviews,” said Davids.
After receiving a great amount of positive feedback and exposure, Davids says that a distributor found his video and reached out to him about the show. Then, he informed Davids that he was able to move the show to Tubi.
In my opinion, prim and proper is the “Total package” of some sort. It delivers excellence in production, realness, and relatability in content with sprinkles of inspiration and encouragement to its viewers. Working with the entire crew has been quite gratifying an experience and I hope the viewers enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it… commented Segun Ajayi a Master of Ceremonies and co-star on the series.
After getting approved for Tubi, Davids’ team pulled episode one from YouTube and began making edits and poster redesigns for Prim and Proper in preparation for Tubi.
“I love to put my best in everything that I do. To be honest, I never saw this going [further than] YouTube. [However], I am so excited that [our hard work] really paid off,” said Davids.
Prim and Proper will soon be available to watch on Amazon Prime.
While filming, Davids faced the small challenge of telling “emotionally charged stories in a sensitive and respectful manner.” Davids shared that the team had to be mindful of the cast’s feelings while filming because certain moments could get emotional.
To overcome this challenge, the team orchestrated a safe and open-minded environment on the set. The cast felt very comfortable with sharing their stories and met their goal of making their stories sound authentic.
Davids shared that sometimes there are certain perspectives on how Nigerians are perceived. Therefore, he wanted the title, Prim and Proper, to encourage people to see Nigerians in a different and more elegant light. Through his characters, Davids wants his audience to see that even though they went through many hardships as immigrants before and after arriving in the United States, “it was worth it.” They got through their journey and are very thankful for the success that they have earned today.
“I started from the bottom. I started from being a production assistant. Even without being on set, I just wanted to be on set, and I didn’t worry about the money,” said Davids.
After learning from the set production, and gaining more experience and camera knowledge like filming, editing, and specific camera parts, Davids followed his passion to film school.
“I am so pumped and encouraged. So many people felt that the picture quality, audio, and the way that the stories were told were unique,” said Davids.
Davids exclusively shared his upcoming plans for new productions in the near future.
He is currently working on a documentary that originally served as a mother project to Prim and Proper about Nigerians in the diaspora. By the end of the month, they will start the filming process and Davids says that “anyone who enjoys Prim and Proper will definitely love this documentary.”
“Prim and Proper offer a fresh perspective on the immigrant experience in the United States, exploring the challenges, triumphs, and day-to-day realities of a diverse group of individuals. Every story you will hear is based on authenticity and sincerity. My goal is to encourage people with similar stories, especially those who are still in Africa and looking to relocate to any other part of the world. I [want them to see that] no matter how it looks, some people have been where you are and have survived. Especially those who are still in Africa looking to relocate to any other part of the world,” said Davids.
Watch the full interview with Oluyinka Davids and follow his socials at Twitter/Instagram/Facebook: @oluyinkadavids or Oluyinka Davids
Edited by Abolaji Omitogun