What made you choose UC Davis?
It was a combination of factors. I was excited about the faculty and the program. The cinema and digital media department is growing, and I was keen to be a part of the team. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students, many of whom are the first in their families to go to college. I grew up on the university campus in Ibadan, Nigeria. My father, who is a pharmacologist, was a “first generation” academic, and in fact, he was one of the first in his family to learn to read and write. Education was always very important in our household, and non-Western forms of knowledge and education were also stressed. We were raised to respect the idea that knowledge manifests itself in many ways around the world.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by learning. I love to learn, and find that teaching students about what I have learned enables me to learn again and expand on my understanding of my area. The creative process of filmmaking inspires me as well. Researching my projects gives me the chance to enter unknown worlds and empathize with the experience of others. Filming fragments the experiences into legible images. And, finally, editing those fragments and piecing them together again to construct arguments and narratives that explain and reveal certain truths as I see them inspires me.
What research are you currently working on? What makes it unique?
I am currently preparing three new films. Two of them will play on the African continent, and one of them here in the United States. What makes them unique is that they are stories about people and events that have hit the headlines at different times in recent history, yet have never been told in their entirety. The surface has been made visible, but my films intend to illuminate the many facets of the story and, perhaps, reveal an unexpected conclusion. Film is linear. It can’t help it. It is a series of images that are projected in time. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. Nevertheless, film can do more, and I am interested in challenging the boundaries of film language in terms of content and form.
If you could impart one piece of advice to our undergraduates seeking a course of study/career path, what would it be?
Enjoy yourself. Know your power. You can change the way things are and make them better. Learn more. Life is for learning.
When not in the classroom or conducting research, what do you like to do?
I really like walking and cycling.
Have you found your favorite spot on campus yet?
I love my office! From my window I see students, faculty and staff walking or cycling to and from class engaged in conversation or lost in thought with the beautiful blue sky above them and the mighty oak trees shading them. One recent morning, a student meandered past my window on horseback, chatting softly to her horse. Magical!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love the ability to be able to beam myself — like Scotty from Star Trek — to be with my family members and loved ones all over the world, and spend time with them whenever I want. I suppose Skype is the next best thing.