When I was nine years old I remember being eager to finish school so I could go play with my cousins or watch Sister Sister.
But when Zuriel Oduwole was nine years old she was busy packing up her camera to jump on a plane and interviews presidents!
How crazy is that?
Born in California to a Nigerian father and a Mauritian mother, Zuriel is often described as “the world’s youngest filmmaker.”
Aged 14, she already has already directed four documentaries – all of which focus on issues affecting Africa.
The teen’s passion for creating thought-provoking content started when she decided to enter a documentary-making competition at school. The then nine-year-old made a film about the Ghanaian revolution.
After the competition Zuriel was bitten by the director’s bug and wanted to make more movies.
The hard working girl then went online to find the tools she needed to aid here in figuring out the whole filmmaking process.
“As I edit, produce, set up and write the scripts for my documentaries, I have to learn a lot of things,” says Zuriel, who is now self-taught and uses online editing and voice software.
Her second documentary, “Educating and Healing Africa Out of Poverty,” looked at the creation of the African Union in 1963.
She followed this up in 2014 with her movie “Technology in Educational Development.”
But it was her most recent project that garnered her international acclaim.
Released late last year, “A Promising Africa” is the first in an ongoing series which will profile five African nations – starting with her father’s homeland of Nigeria.
“I’ve interviewed 24 heads of state and a few of those include the President of Tanzania, Liberia, Kenya, South Sudan, Nigeria and Cape Verde, to name a few,” says Zuriel.
“I’ve also been able to interview business leaders like my friend Mr Aliko Dangote.”
To date, “A Promising Africa” has received a limited-release on the big screen in five countries — Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, UK and Japan.
The talented teen was named by Business Insider as one of world’s 100 most powerful individuals last year.
“I’m hoping that when people see these documentaries they will see Africa is full of positive things — not just the things that are on the news like war, famine, disease,” Zuriel says.
“I want to show them there is a lot more to Africa than what we see on the news — there’s dancing, music, great culture and more.”
14-year-old Zuriel – who is home-schooled through an online Californian system – is already a 9th grader. She is two years ahead of the rest of the kids her age.
Her mother, Patricia, has a full-time job as a computer engineer, whilst her father, Ademola, has taken time off his work in the tourism sector to help his daughter – all while looking after her three other siblings.
“There really is a lot happening in our household but somehow we make it work,” says Patricia Oduwole.
Zuriel is also a human rights and education advocate. She often travels to different African countries to talk to students about the importance of education.
So far, through her side project “Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up” she says she’s had the opportunity to talk to 21,000 children in nine countries.
“Girl’s education is important because on the African continent, where there are not as many resources, the boys are the first [to get an education],” says Zuriel.
“The boys go to school and get an education while the girls stay at home. And those girls aren’t educated and have fewer options in life when they get older.”
Keep working hard Zuriel!