My biography would have to begin with my life as a filmmaker, since that's when I officially began producing stories for enjoyment for the general public. Prior to then, I made up stories and stored them in my head. Of those that made it out of my head, I wrote them down then shelved them on my bookshelf.
In 2002, I bought a digital camera then ran around New York City documenting the struggles of the African immigrant. My motivation was simple: I wanted the general public to glimpse the every day and day-to-day life experiences of the African immigrant. I saw these people as filled with a quiet and noble dignity that almost always filled me with pride and compassion. I called the documentary series AFRICAN LIFE, and aired it on the local access cable channels from 2002 to 2005.
What began as social commentary to balance the all too numerous negative images of Africans in America quickly evolved into the life-altering key to my own existence as a filmmaker. Before then, I had no clue how to be a filmmaker. Columbia University - the school where I earned my MFA in Film - drummed into me the awesome amount of financial resources one would need to make one film.
I got the message all right and immediately declared screenwriting as my concentration. Paper was cheap. Hence, upon graduation, I had no idea about film production. All that changed with AFRICAN LIFE, where I became "producer", "director", "camera" and "editor". Most important, I learned how to tell a story with images. It was not long before I moved from making documentaries to writing and directing feature films. I produced four feature films before hitting the proverbial glitch in what was, at that point, an immensely rewarding endeavor - the DVD retailer and the bootlegger. The retailers wanted the movies at next to nothing, and when I did manage to sell any copy, its bootlegged hybrid would hit the streets in less than a week!
After my last film, I threw in the towel and decided I would not make another film. I lay on my bed and wept for if I was not telling stories, what am I? Somehow, the idea for the book arrived. I write very quickly, and from what people say, my stories are engaging. I thought, could a book work?
I immediately went to work - beginning MY SONGBIRD CAN DANCE around October 2009 and completing it December 2009. I am immensely proud of the book and look forward to writing many more titles. There is so much I want to say about this thing called life. As for my own personal life, I was born in Nigeria and arrived to Houston, Texas as a child. The first degree I earned from the University of Houston, though I left Texas in the early 90s to come to New York City. I fell in love with Harlem and have been a resident for almost 20 years. All my stories take place in its backyard.
As for why I am a writer I can't honestly say. Nothing else will do for in nothing else do I derive as much pleasure. So I guess I'm a griot, plain and simple. I see the world through a storyteller's eyes - a perpetual observer of the motivations behind why people do the things they do. Above all, I am a lover of good stories told well. Towards that end, my vision is to bring audiences everywhere profound stories that give an insight into the workings of the human heart.