Remi Vaughan-Richards: Playing the Boss

Filmmaker/director par excellence, Remi Vaughan-Richards says she enjoys using drama as a tool to convey entertaining, as well as educative messages. She started out in 1990, working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and then returned to Nigeria when she thought, “it was time to tell our stories.” She recently picked up an AMVCA award for Best Documentary for her 6-year labour of love, Faaji Agba, which explores highlife music in Nigeria. Well known for her versatility, Remi Vaughan-Richards shot, directed, produced and edited the documentary.

Who is Remi Vaughan-Richards?

Remi Vaughan-Richards hmmm, who am I? Well, I am a filmmaker. I started out at the Royal College of Art, studied Textile Design and as soon as I left, moved into the sci-fi and fantasy costume department, then into the art department as a storyboard artist for the BBC among others… In 1999, I finally became a fully-fledged director/filmmaker… Directing is in my blood!

Thriving in a male dominated industry must not have come easy, how have you been able to make and maintain a niche for yourself?

I worked in a male dominated industry in the UK, where I was mostly the only female and in some instances, the only person of colour. So it is a piece of pie here; I am very hands-on and very physical, there is little the guys can do physically that I can’t. My 15 years of capoeira has helped me, though I guess I am still a tomboy. I grew up in a home where there was no division of labour between the sexes.

What projects are you presently working on?

Well, I just finished rounding up a 6-year old passion project called Faaji Agba, a documentary on the history, music and culture of Lagos from the 1940s to 2015, through the lives of a group of Yoruba master musicians including Fatai Rolling Dollar, which Kunle Tejuoso of Jazzhole Records brought together to form the Faaji Agba Collective… It was a very emotional and personal journey, and an insight into their lives, as well as their perspectives of Lagos. The other project is a feature drama for the Ford Foundation called Unspoken, on the issue of young girls between 11 and 15 ending up pregnant and the impact on them. One character is an 11- year old northern child bride and the other, a 13-year old from the south. Both their stories collide in a hospital in Lagos.

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