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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Actress Folu Storms Shines in Leading Role of Short Film ‘Afefe’ Tackling Women’s Struggles

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Nigerian radio host turned-actress Ada Ogunkeye, better known as Folu Storms, has made her mark as the lead in ‘Afefe’, one of the series in MTV’s five-part anthology, ‘In Bloom’.

‘In Bloom’ is a collaboration between MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Paramount Global, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, presenting a compelling five-part short film anthology dedicated to advancing gender equality.

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Directed by talented female filmmakers from Nigeria, Kenya, India, the US, and Brazil, this anthology boldly confronts gender-based challenges, including period poverty, child marriage, gender-based violence, HIV, self-stigma, family planning, and women’s economic empowerment.

Actress Folu Storms takes lead in short film ‘Afefe’ addressing women’s challenges

Each film in the anthology carries its unique narrative, shedding light on diverse experiences and struggles.

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They include “Aféfé” by Dolapo “LowlaDee” Adeleke (Nigeria), featuring Folu Storms; “Period” by Nicole Teeny (USA), featuring Yasmina El-Abd; “Alta” by Priyanka Banerjee (India), featuring Mazel Vyas; “Maré” by Giuliana Monterio (Brazil), featuring Vanessa Giácomo; and “Kifungo” by Voline Ogutu (Kenya), featuring Brenda Wairimu.

Within this anthology are multiple short films, each presenting its narrative yet bound by a common thread of theme or authorship.

In ‘Afefe’, Folu Storms embodies the character of ‘Simi’, portraying Nigerian women’s challenges.

‘Afefe’ follows the story of a young wife and mother, Simi, whose elderly and ailing mother-in-law moves in unexpectedly, ending her ability to work at her craft as a hairstylist.

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Reflecting on her role, Folu told PREMIUM TIMES that the character she played, ‘Simi’, epitomises the essence of many Nigerian women – diligent, nurturing, and devoted to family and work.

She added that her story resonates with countless women who bear immense burdens silently.

The 37-year-old actress said, “Simi is a hard worker, a mother, and a wife. She is somebody who believes very much in duty and responsibility. In the story, she is allowed to be elevated on her chosen path.

She said, “Simi is somebody we all recognise, especially in Nigeria. There are dynamic and hardworking Nigerian women everywhere. Women carry so much on their backs, but nobody knows it publicly. Simi’s character shows us how easy it is for society to sideline someone who has put everything into work and her family: Afefe and the In Bloom anthology challenge society’s perception and expectations.”

She sheds light on the unrecognised labour often shouldered by women in Nigerian households, emphasising that women are often compelled to sacrifice their aspirations, whether they are the primary breadwinners or not.

She said, “So many women have been told to put their dreams aside, whether they are the breadwinners or not. Simi is somebody we can empathise and connect with. Some of us are ‘her’, and I hope everyone else pays attention to how they can support someone like this and ensure she does not give up on her dreams, which will have a long-term effect on her family and benefit society.”

Folu also advocates for open dialogue among women, urging them to reclaim their dreams and seek support, stressing the importance of communal assistance. She remarks, ‘Women mustn’t bear their burdens alone. Sharing our challenges fosters solidarity and paves the way for collective solutions.’

She said, “If a woman is not in a good place mentally or physically, it is going to be very hard to raise children who are in a good place, and it is going to be challenging to have a society that is in a good place.

“My big message to women is to talk to their sisters and other women. You can find solutions when you share your challenges within your unique family setup. There are ways women would bend for you that you don’t expect. If you don’t reach out and ask for help, it won’t come.

“Women have difficulties in asking for help. We feel we are meant to burden ourselves alone with everything, which is wrong. Also, talk to the men in your family. A disservice we sometimes do is not explaining to them how difficult it is for us as women.”

According to her, portraying the character of ‘Simi’ in the anthology was a delight, as she found a personal connection with the role and its representation of the struggles many Nigerian women face.

MTV Staying Alive Foundation adds that the series Afefe catalyses change, amplifying marginalised voices and fostering dialogues essential for dismantling systemic inequalities.

Addressing these pressing issues head-on, ‘In Bloom’ contributes significantly to pursuing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal Number 5: Gender Equality.

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