Funmilola Iyanda stands or sits in a class of her own; no competition, no vanquished, no wannabes, no copycats. She just is.
One of Nigeria’s most celebrated TV Personalities, Funmi Iyanda was nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011, joining the ranks of popular personalities such as TV show host Oprah Winfrey and Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg; the same year, she was listed by Forbes as one of its 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa. She is an African Leadership Institute Tutu Fellow and a fellow of the ASPEN Institute’s African Leadership Initiative; and that’s not all.
The multi-award winning, multi-talented Media Entrepreneur, Producer, Talk-Show Host, Journalist, Activist and Mountain-Climber is the CEO of Ignite Media, a Production Company and holds the record for independently producing and hosting Nigeria’s most popular, down-to-earth and cutting-edge talk show ‘New Dawn with Funmi Iyanda’, which ran on the national network [NTA] for eight astounding years. The Show used its influence as a vehicle for social change and transformation by advocating the cause of the vulnerable members of the society, particularly women, youth and children. New Dawn gave birth to the “Change-A-Life” social intervention project.
Where and how did this media maverick emanate? I too would like to know!
A graduate of the University of Ibadan where she studied Geography, Funmi threw her certificates to the wind when she chose to delve into sports journalism; driven by passion.
Reportedly one of a few Nigerian female sports journalists, she covered the 1999 female Football World Cup, the All Africa Games in Zimbabwe, as well as the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games in Sydney and Athens. She was also an active member of the Nigerian Football Association between 1995 and 2003. Surprised?
The vivacious TV personality that she would become reared its proverbial head when she started to present the ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ Show, a breakfast magazine television show. The show became a hit and Funmi sought bigger waters to swim in. Thus the advent of the ‘New Dawn’ daily Show in 2000 which was allegedly terminated in 2008 because she hosted a gay rights Activist.
No. this did not deter the daring amazon; in 2010, she returned to the Tube with a ‘Talk with Funmi’ (TWF), a Show intended to capture the pace of life in Nigeria; from the streets, to the market-places and the corridors of power. In her usual hands-on journalistic style, a ‘Talk with Funmi’ is a thought-provoking, informative and entertaining journey into the life of Nigerians from all over the country.
A philanthropist and change-agent, Funmi’s Change-A-Life project has affected the lives of many children and people through its scholarship, healthcare, counselling and micro-finance intervention scheme.
The gifted lady is also the producer of several internationally nominated productions including ‘My Country Nigeria’, a documentary which aired on the BBC celebrating the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence and nominated for “Best News Documentary” 2011 at the Monte Carlo TV Festival and a realistic and innovative web series documenting the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy protests via chopcassava.com.
Talking about protests, Funmi is no shrinking violet when it comes to publicly and articulately stating her views. In addition to rallies and walks, Funmi raised the bar by climbing to Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2012, with other activists in order to raise global awareness on ending violence against Women and Girls in Africa, as well as secure concrete national commitments from African governments to be implemented by 2015 to end violence against women and girls.
I daresay the disturbing kidnap of over 200 girls in Nigeria will be a test of how much effort has been put into ensuring an end to violence against girls and women of all ages and creed. Once again we reiterate, #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS!
A whetted writer, Funmi writes for local and international newspapers and blogs. The Queen of Tube, who is said to be a voracious reader, also holds a certificate in Global Leadership and Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
So, Aunty Funmi, when you read this, could you let us know:
- Why you chose to make a difference in Africa?
- Your most important tip for remaining successful and relevant?
- If you could change one thing about your life/past, what would it be?
- How you keep motivated in the face of failure/disappointment?
- Time-management tips?
- Best way to translate dreams to reality?
- Your greatest achievement to date?
- Do you believe it is possible to have a wildly successful media career and a wildly successful home?
- You have summited mountains some of us still dream of attaining; so what new challenges are you set to tackle?
- Africa will truly rise when…