Laide Daramola – a go-getting storyteller with a message


Meeting Laide Daramola, who is affectionately known as ‘Lady Laide’ or ‘LL’, for the first time and talking with her, you’d agree that she is an everlasting spirited party, one whose substance matches her style. She is a bubble of optimism; thus, her sense of heritage and history can be felt in the movies she produces as a filmmaker.

For a personality whose creative spirit knows no bounds, it’s not surprising that she has and continues to excel as a professional photographer and filmmaker, balancing her roles as a devoted mother to spirited 6-year-old twins, a trailblazing media executive, and an astute business consultant with flair.

She is the brain behind Lady Laide Media (LLM) – a production hub which holds a dynamic fusion of music, film and TV. As an entertainment powerhouse headquartered in the United States, they are passionately dedicated to crafting compelling content for Africans across the continent and the global diaspora.

We caught up with the lady whose recipe for success spins around leading, inspiring and conquering. We started by asking, how and why she went into production…

B&FT: At what stage did this idea ignite; then tell us where you are now in terms of growth?

LL: My love and fascination with TV and film have been a lifelong affair, dating back to my undergraduate studies when I pursued dual degrees in Computer Science and Media and Film. Ultimately, I completed my degree in Computer Science, opting to immerse myself in hands-on media experiences. My journey began at Fox 45 as an assistant teleprompter operator and production hand, gradually exploring various roles and interning on film projects in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

My growth has been fuelled by my experience as a senior project manager, coupled with my previous media encounters and networking. Embracing every opportunity to learn, I merged my diverse skill set to establish my own film company, ‘Lady Laide Films’, two years ago. We’ve already produced one film ready for streaming and have three additional projects in pre-production, all reflecting my distinct vision for storytelling.

B&FT: With what you do currently, was there any moment you felt an iota of scepticism, fear or the mind of not starting at all?

LL: Absolutely! As a mother, the responsibility to provide for my children weighs heavily on me, and it seemed more practical to continue my role as a senior project manager. However, life is about taking risks, and I chose to believe in myself and my ability to achieve anything I set my mind to.

Throughout the journey, fear has been a constant companion, tempting me to retreat. But I am fortunate to have a supportive tribe who encourage me and hold me accountable, making a U-turn virtually impossible. Together, we forge ahead with unwavering determination.

B&FT: Aside from production-related matters, what other things does the Olaide Daramola brand involve in?

LL: As mentioned earlier, our brand encompasses TV, film and music. For instance, with Hotel Labamba – our latest movie, we created original music that will soon be available for streaming. Additionally, I’m deeply committed to philanthropic endeavours, particularly in the areas of blood diseases and cancer. I passionately advocate for resources and treatments for children affected by these conditions, striving to make a meaningful impact in their lives.

B&FT: ‘Hotel Labamba’ is your project coming up in few days from today; let’s talk about the whole experience in bringing it to life.

LL: The journey of Hotel Labamba began early last year (2022), around February or March when I had the pleasure of being introduced to the exceptionally talented director, Biodun Stephen. Together, we navigated the process of discovering the perfect story to tell, resulting in a truly amazing experience.

Like any project, we faced our share of challenges and ups and downs, but we persevered and assembled an outstanding cast from the industry. Now, we stand ready to unveil the magic we’ve created for the world to enjoy.

B&FT: Let’s talk about the challenges with ‘the magic you’ve created’; from when you started up to now…how have you conquered them?

LL: One of the primary challenges has been overcoming cultural barriers and understanding our niche market. With this film, we aimed to resonate with the Nigerian audience while trusting that viewers from not only West Africa, but all across the African continent and the diaspora would appreciate the love, passion and fun we infused into our creation.

The most difficult aspect was balancing delivering an entertaining story and imparting valuable lessons. I’m proud to say that we’ve successfully achieved that harmony.

B&FT: Blessings come to the patient and bold – have you clocked that ‘blessings’ stage with your brand yet?

LL: I consider myself blessed, but I believe we’re currently in the working phase with our brand. We’re wholeheartedly committed to building something remarkable at Lady Laide Media, and everyone on our team has rolled up their sleeves for the hard work ahead. This diligent approach is the cornerstone of our journey toward even greater blessings.

B&FT: In a continent where a lot of people are into this venture, doesn’t it scare you that you may not do well,  ..and how have you been able to master your mindset in it?

LL: I firmly believe that there’s ample room for everyone to thrive in the industry. Each of us brings our unique qualities, talents and perspectives to filmmaking, creating a diverse market for all. I choose to concentrate on honing my craft while allowing others to pursue their vision. The presence of numerous industry professionals doesn’t intimidate me. Instead, it reminds me that like other professions – such as doctors, lawyers and teachers, there’s space for everyone. My mindset is focused on claiming my place and making an impact with passion and determination.

B&FT: How would you describe the movie industry in Nigeria and Africa at large?

LL: The movie industry in Nigeria and Africa is vibrant, dynamic, and rich in cultural diversity. With Nollywood at its forefront, it has gained global recognition and continues to evolve, showcasing the immense talent and storytelling prowess on the continent. This thriving industry not only entertains, but also plays a crucial role in preserving our cultural heritage and shedding light on vital social issues. As African filmmakers, we are proud to contribute to this growth and present authentic, captivating stories to audiences worldwide.

Being a filmmaker with a dual perspective – as a Nigerian-American and Nigerian who has lived in Nigeria for a decade – allows me to cater for both worlds. Men and women as well as individuals from different cultural backgrounds, all have distinct approaches to storytelling, and diversity is our strength. With an ever-growing African diaspora in Europe, the US, and Canada, people seek connections to their roots. I aim to give them glimpses of what they’re missing, evoking laughter, nostalgia or deep thought. Having experienced life in both places, I feel honoured to contribute to these shared moments through my work.

B&FT: Movies, music, art and lifestyle in Nigeria, Ghana and Africa at large, are moving at a quick pace, do you think that from what you have seen, read and felt so far… the continent’s entertainment industry is moving in the right direction?

LL: Absolutely! The entertainment industry across Africa, including Nigeria and Ghana, is making significant strides and moving in the right direction. The rapid pace of growth and innovation reflects the boundless creativity and passion of the continent’s artists, musicians and filmmakers.

Their unique voices and stories are gaining international recognition, showcasing Africa’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. Collaboration and embracing modern technology have further propelled the industry. I am genuinely excited to be part of this remarkable journey as we continue to shape the future of African entertainment.

B&FT: You are an executive producer, a mother, role model, among other thing, how do you combine your passion and still have time for your family?

LL: Family is unquestionably a top priority for me. One aspect that makes it easier is the involvement and support of my loved ones. My children, who are also in show business as models and actors, actively share their thoughts and ideas for our projects.

My parents are similarly engaged, always eager to contribute suggestions. This family-centric environment helps to seamlessly integrate my work and personal life. Furthermore, I’m committed to prioritising quality time with my children, parents and siblings, ensuring everyone feels valued and cherished.

B&FT: For passionate persons like you who are giving up on their passion, how would you encourage them not to give up?

LL: I would say that pursuing my dream has been a journey spanning over two decades. If I can persevere, so can anyone else. Life presents us with various challenges, whether it’s health issues, career obstacles or personal matters. It’s essential to recognise that it’s never too late to chase your dreams, regardless of your age. Remember, there’s always hope; and I stand as a testament to that.

B&FT: Everyone has their guiding principles that guides them, would you tell us three of yours?

LL: Certainly! My guiding principles are crucial to my identity and shape my approach to my personal life and my work in the film industry.

  1. Authenticity: I believe in staying true to myself and my vision. This means creating films that resonate with my values and experiences while ensuring that the stories we tell are genuine and impactful.
  2. Perseverance: Success in the film industry requires unwavering dedication and persistence. I have always been determined to push through challenges and setbacks, learning and growing from each experience to become a better filmmaker and leader.
  3. Faith: My faith is a cornerstone of my life and guides me in every decision. It provides me with a sense of purpose, strength and hope, which ultimately help me navigate the complexities of the film industry and maintain a strong moral compass in all aspects of my work.

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