We had the good fortune of connecting with Ebi Ikuku and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ebi, can you talk us a bit about why you love what you do?
As a Filmmaker (Producer, Writer, Director), Actor and musician, I love the fact that I get to create regularly, in creative spaces with fellow artists. Though I have many gifts and abilities, my focus the past five years has been producing, writing, and directing cinematic content. Since working professionally in the filmmaking industry in Hollywood, I have had the privilege of creating music videos that have accumulated a million streams on YouTube, Over 20 film awards, and global accolades, worked closely with industry professionals, and I’m just getting started. My experiences in life shape the way I view the world and therefore influences my art. Why do I love what I do? FREEDOM. I grew up in a traditional African, specifically Nigerian household, whereby the only professions that were recognised were; law, medicine, engineering, etc. I always knew that I wanted to be a storyteller, but, what is a storyteller to an African parent? Someone probably unemployed; that’s what. After going through a journey of self-discovery from ages 15 – 21, I discovered my passion for cinema. I grew up watching a lot of movies. However, I didn’t know that becoming a filmmaker was a possibility for an African girl like me. I felt trapped. But finding my purpose freed me. I am a storyteller who can tell stories through more than one medium. What I love the most about what I do? i) inspiring and encouraging the youth ii) changing the ‘poor’ African narrative through my films and documentaries iii) bringing the world together and unifying people iv) make iconic content that will outlive me, etc.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In the past six months, I have been writing episodic scripts for a new series I am developing. We’re still in the pre-production process, and I just signed a distribution deal for that with an established production company, which is fantastic. I’m excited to finish writing the scripts and developing the characters, though doing this during the quarantine has not been as easy as one might think, I’m getting the job done though, so that’s all that matters. What sets me apart from the thousands of filmmakers and creatives that move to Los Angeles to pursue similar dreams to mine? Staying true to myself and culture, and reflecting that in my projects, my bachelor’s degree in Journalism might not be solely responsible for where I am today in my career. However, it directly influences how I communicate with people, never underestimate the power of asking the right people the right questions, be so intriguing that people want to get to know you on a personal level. Genuine human connection is the goal, don’t aim for a transactional relationship. Some of the lessons along the way include i) Network, network, and then, network some more! ii) There are no two filmmakers or creatives that are entirely alike, stay true to yourself iii) Finding your voice, purpose, and niche takes time. It also takes a lot of trial and error. If you’re not making mistakes and learning from them, you have a long way to go. iv) You don’t have to go to film school to be a filmmaker; you need a camera or phone, and a remarkable story to tell. v) People say it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. If you know nothing, who you know does not matter, in my opinion. vi) Most people will not believe in you till they start seeing results. Believe in you anyway. And lastly, the entire goal of my brand is to inspire people to chase their dreams and to walk in their God-given purpose. Help people, heal Africa, inspire the world, make art that will outlive me, eradicate world hunger, and poverty. etc
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favourite spots in the city include; CAFES: Breakfast & Brunch – Blu Jam Cafe, Sweet Butter Kitchen and Marmalade Cafe. All in Sheman Oaks if you’re in the valley. Some other brunch spots in the valley (Burbank) include; Basecamp and High Horse Dinette and Another broken egg cafe. LUNCH: Janga by Derrick’s Jamaican Cuisine, Nkechi African Cafe, Little Ethiopian restaurant, Aroma Cafe & Tea Co, The Frontyard, Sugarshfish Sushi, Wild Living Foods, veSTATION, ART: California African American Museum, Venice Beach boardwalk, Santa Monica, The Broad DTLA, LACMA. SHOPPING: Beverly Center, Rodeo Drive, The Grove, Westfield Century City, Burbank town centre. NIGHT OUT: The Hollywood Roosevelt, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, The Sayers Club, Tenants of the Trees, The Study Hollywood. BEACH: Manhattan Beach, Little Dume Beach, Point Dume State Beach.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
MY MOTHER: For birthing me, praying with me, being one of my few role models, encouraging me, being my biggest fan and critic, teaching me to continue to have high standards in every area of my life. Also, for always recognising the crown that was on my head, and for ensuring that I never let it fall. She always reminds me to hold my head up. Teachers from my past: If it weren’t for some mean teachers from my past, I don’t think I would have had the courage to pursue my dreams and find my truth. In Secondary School, I was never the teacher’s pet. Teachers only cared for students that excelled academically, and I did not. Not because I was dumb, but because I didn’t apply myself, and quite frankly, I did not care about school. The metrics in which they used to measure one’s level of genius were outdated and limiting. I still remember daydreaming about being at an art school like one shown in the movie Fame. Anyways, If those teachers hadn’t made me feel like a failure, my six years in high school, if they didn’t always make me feel unworthy and dumb, then I may not have had that extra push to find what I was good at and my purpose. So, to the teachers at O.I.S, thank you. You know yourselves. I forgive you. BOOKLIST: The Bible (ultimate favourite book), Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, The Art of Happiness, Purple Hisbiscus, Milk and Honey, Steal Like an Artist, Time to Think, etc.
Photo credits: Kanya Iwana, Brandon Scharping, Kormi Lamarr and Pamela Garcia.