Bunmi Famuyiwa Q & A

Jeremy Railton speaks to Bunmi Famuyiwa.

JEREMY: Bunmi, welcome to EDC, my welcome is a bit late since you have been here for nearly three months, however!!  Things certainly ran smoother soon after you arrived. You bring a wonderful energy and calm and humor and so, I start out by saying thank you.

BUNMI: Thank you for the warm welcome! Better late than never! I’m very excited to be a part of the EDC team.

JEREMY:  I believe you were in film and television production before coming to EDC; the land of everything Themed Entertainment!  Can you speak about your experiences in production, likes dislikes and opinions.

BUNMI: All of my experiences in production thus far have been really exciting learning ones. Postgrad I had a couple of opportunities to be involved in tv and film production working mainly on web series and indie short films. So, as you can imagine it was a lot of hurry and wait, long days and nights but also getting to be around a bunch of people who love doing what they do which is storytelling! By far those are the best types of sets I’ve been on. As of now, I don’t think I’ve had any drastically negative experiences in production that can solidify a dislike but definitely check in with me in the next 10 years.

JEREMY:  What education do you have and tell us how you became involved in production?

BUNMI:  I earned my BFA in Acting from Azusa Pacific University. I really loved my time there mainly because they made sure we were well versed in all aspects of theater both on stage and behind the scenes. I took many production classes in addition to my acting training so when I graduated I felt equipped to utilize my skills in any professional entertainment environment. Before I came to EDC I worked on many small low budget indie productions both in front of the camera and behind the scenes in crew as a production assistant. I also dabbled into costuming a bit, which I know is one of your many expertise’s. But the most exciting part was getting to play characters and tell stories in front of the camera, it’s always nice to utilize what you went to school for in the real world.

JEREMY:  Do you miss anything about those days (and nights!!)

BUNMI: I definitely miss the storytelling aspect. All of the projects I was a part of were very small collaborative productions, so creative juices were always flowing and there was always an active feeling of intentional collaboration which is always nice. I get that feeling at EDC as well being in a small boutique design firm. Everyone always makes a conscious effort to know what you’re passionate about and help steer you in that direction.

JEREMY:  How did we find you?

BF: I had just graduated, and I was auditioning scarcely and working part-time. Besides just generally being in a post-grad funk and trying to navigate my next steps, I really wanted to explore different areas of entertainment. I began to look for jobs and came across this Production Assistant position online. Before I came to EDC, themed entertainment was a sector that I had never heard of or learned about. So I was very excited about the possibility of being in a position where I could learn and develop a skill set that would be useful for me in the future. EDC has definitely been a great opportunity in that way.

JEREMY: What have you been doing at EDC?

BUNMI:  As the Production Assistant I mainly oversee the essential office needs from stocking the kitchen and office supplies to generally making sure everyone has the basics they need so they can focus on reaching their highest creative potential. I also help with finance and marketing. I get to build and send EDC’s monthly newsletter at the end of each month and create social media posts, which is one of my favorite parts of the job because I get to flex my writing muscles every now and again. I run a lot of errands, which is cool because I am used to being on my feet and it gives me a chance to move around, even if it’s just a small grocery run. EDC is really awesome at being interested in all of their employees and checking in to make sure I have work that aligns with what I’m interested in, so I’m super grateful for that.

JEREMY: Have we sparked an interest in this part of show business or are you eventually heading back into production, can you comment?

BUNMI: EDC has definitely sparked an interest in themed entertainment in a general sense. When I graduated I was really interested in learning about different sectors of entertainment. Although I have a heavy interest in TV and film, I’ve always loved themed entertainment and was interested in the ins and outs of the design that goes into it. I hope to head back into the writing and performance aspect of entertainment, but my time here has absolutely given me a deeper appreciation for all forms of entertainment.

JEREMY:  What are your long-term goals and ambitions?

BUNMI:  Long term I want to write and act in my own stories. Storytelling has always been something I’ve been passionate about since I was very young and it’s something that I hope to make a living on someday. Stories are what drew me to EDC and they are ultimately what fuel my passion. I rarely see narratives that are similar to my own on screen. This lack of marginalized perspectives really fuels me to create from my experiences and those similar to my own.

JEREMY:  I got so excited when I saw your name; Bunmi Famuyiwa!  As you know I am an African, albeit a pink one! But as it turns out you are American! But to make me happy please tell me about your parents and family, where do they live and or where do they come from?

BUNMI: (Laughs) Yes, I am a first generation Nigerian American. So I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but my parents are both from Nigeria. My experiences are very similar to those of most first-generation kids, it’s this beautiful yet sometimes confusing mixture of cultures and perspectives. There was definitely a long period of time where I felt I didn’t fit in with the American or Nigerian side of me, but now as I’ve gotten older I began to appreciate this mix of cultures that formed me. My mom used to tell me when she was young, her family said she always had a sense of bravery and adventure, and that was very evident because it takes A LOT of both of those things to come to a new country and start a completely new life on your own. I’d like to think that same sense of bravery, adventure and ultimately, faith is solidified in me as I venture into these pivotal years of my adulthood.

JEREMY: Were they encouraging when you decided you wanted to get into show business?

BUNMI:  YES! My mom was very unique in that she wasn’t like most Nigerian parents, she didn’t pressure me into being a doctor or lawyer or take any career path that guaranteed money and accolades. She always supported all of my creative endeavors. She just instilled in me that in whatever I do I should do it with diligence, patience, and faith. Now that she is gone I do my very best to honor her and that sentiment in everything I do. I honestly wouldn’t be here without her, without her lessons, her hard work, her wisdom and strength that she poured into me and my sisters’ lives. I write for her, create stories for her, and above all, work hard to honor her legacy.

JEREMY: For years I was doing so many shows for African American Performers and productions, and I really tried hard to find an African American designer to bring in as an Assistant Art Director and could never trace one. This was in the nineties, I know things have become a little better, but now in the Themed Entertainment and theme park world, I am really noticing the lack of color in the various production design companies.

Can you give us any random thoughts or opinions about why this might be?

BUNMI:  I don’t know much about the themed entertainment in particular but in the entertainment sector as a whole, there definitely seems to be a lack of opportunities for creatives of color. It’s definitely important to have a diverse array of individuals in a workspace especially a creative storytelling workspace. I truly believe this is one of the essential ways to reach the highest creative potential. That being said I can’t speak much on the why, but I do know a very simply how we can improve moving forward, which is making a conscious effort to employ diverse and talented individuals in the creative space. There is truly something to be said about a company who recognizes the importance and impact of different perspectives. In the future, I really do hope we see more inclusion happening all across the board.

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