Roye Okupe, writer, director and founder of Nigeria’s YouNeek Studios, offers his thoughts on the state of TV drama, plus the challenges and opportunities ahead.
How and why is global demand for African drama changing?
Because the world is getting tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. Africa just happens to be rich in culture and lore – it’s the perfect storm. And we are here to fully satisfy demand for more content inspired by African history and culture. This is why I started YouNeek Studios five years ago.
What are the biggest challenges the African drama industry faces?
Capital. Right now trying to raise money is an uphill battle. We don’t have the luxury of showing data from box office success like Hollywood does. Investors still see Africa as high-risk, though Black Panther has begun to change that narrative.
How is the SVoD boom affecting African drama, both creatively and commercially?
It has become a lifeline. SVoD platforms are more willing to take risks than traditional investors. Because of that, we’re seeing more platforms like Netflix taking chances on not just African-inspired content but content created by Africans.
What are the biggest challenges that YouNeek Studios faces?
Our latest animated short, Malika – Warrior Queen, generated over 300,000 views on YouTube in just one month. However, we have issues raising the funds to do more episodes. Hopefully, that will change soon as we have several producers, investors and platforms reaching out to us. The focus now is seeing how we can take the success of the short and segue that into a full series or feature film.
How would you describe the current state of the television drama industry?
This is the best time to be alive as a content producer. With VoD, theatrical, social media, YouTube and more, the ways to pitch your content are almost unlimited. Unfortunately, this also makes it extremely competitive as many other producers are able to join the fray. But that’s a good thing because it will bring about more diverse content, which is something the industry has always needed.