On May 27, Etisalat, one of Nigeria’s more innovative telecommunications company, brought on the wunderkind film director, 14-year-old Zuriel Oduwole, to talk to a group of hundreds of secondary school students in Lagos State. Etisalat brought Oduwole as part of their Etisalat Employee Volunteering Scheme, a program designed to help secondary school students make career decisions beneficial to both their family’s and their nation’s future. Oduwole gave a speech encouraging the students to pursue their dreams, and talked about her experiences.
Oduwole was born in California to a Nigerian father and Mauritian mother, and began her young career at the age of 9, when she produced a documentary film about the Ghana Revolution for a school competition. After receiving positive feedback, she decided to learn more on her own about editing and voice work. She continued working on documentaries about African development.
Oduwole then made headlines when she released A Promising Africa in late 2014. In the film, she showcases interviews that she was able to organize with over a dozen African leaders, including Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Ghanaian president John Kufuor. In addition to appearing in theaters across Africa, A Promising Africa received a limited theatrical release in the United Kingdom and Japan. This led to Oduwole making Business Insider‘s list of 100 most powerful individuals in 2014.
Since her rise to fame, she has made a conscious effort to enjoy her childhood while she can. In an article she wrote for Nigeria’s The Guardian for this year’s Children’s Day, she talked about being booked for a talk with 400 students in a different part of Lagos State. The day before, after talking about filmmaking with a smaller groups, she says, “we did what all children do: laughed loud, played, and took goofy pictures.”