She is the President, Electronic Media Content Owners Association of Nigeria. She is also the Executive Director of Royal Roots Communication Network Ltd. Deborah Odutayo bares her mind on sundry issues in this interview
What is your background?
I am Deborah Odutayo and an experienced television producer. I am a graduate of Mass Communication and also earned a certificate in TV production and another in marketing. I have attended several TV and media workshops, courses all over the world which has helped me to broaden my scope in my chosen field.
Can you relive your growing up days?
Growing up was not a bed of roses. My father, a retired air force officer, was very disciplined. I am the firstborn and was expected to show a very good example to my siblings. Then, my father was an elder in his church and we had to attend church service, bible class and choir practice. We are Catholics and I am proud of my faith.
How did you get into television production?
I think it is the ability to tell a story in a picture form. I wanted to make a difference and prove that women could also tread the path alongside the men in our industry and be accepted. I started work as a contract staff in NTA in 1986. Then, whenever, we were on vacation, I would always rush back to NTA to work on any available production. I worked with all the producers- Enebeli Elebuwa; Sadiq Daba; Danladi Bako; CY Okonkwo and a host of other NTA great producers.
A woman in a career like yours would have experienced intimidation especially from male colleagues. How were you able to cope?
I have been very lucky and not experienced such. I love and enjoy my job. That passion in me for what I do always gets the best out of me. Truth is, I have never applied for a job in my life. I was offered three jobs before I joined my husband at Royal Roots Communication. He asked me to leave MINAJ TV and join him when he saw all the energy I was putting into another man’s business. That’s who I am- when I take up anything, I give it my all.
Meanwhile, when your counterparts and male colleagues see how passionate and committed you are, they usually give their support.
You work with your spouse in the same organisation, how have you coped?
I get this question all the time and I guess it’s because we have worked together for 16 years now. It has been bitter and sweet but the good thing is that we are both very passionate about the job. We have great respect for each other’s responsibilities. We do not take the home to the office but we have had to take the office home. My husband is MD (My Dear) but he is also the Managing Director. The running of the company lies on his table. I supervise all the departments and we both make and take decisions in consultation.
Are there challenges in such a partnership?
Challenges? I’m not sure that we can call it a challenge. We disagree on professional principles and work ethics but we always reconcile at the end of the day. He is the boss and I accord him all the respect that he deserves. At work, I am the Executive Director / Producer, while MD is our Managing Director /Creative Director. When we have a shoot, MD wants to have all his creative requirements and everything he needs to make the production unique and outstanding but as the producer, I manage the production and the budget. There, we are always at logger heads especially when he wants something like an helicopter shot. My goodness! We will argue over and again but at the end, he sometimes gets his wish done. Sometimes, I stick to mine and say, ‘no sir, I can’t afford this with my budget.’
As president of EMCOAN, what are the achievements so far?
The Electronic Media Content Owners Association of Nigeria has been able to sensitize content owners of their importance in the industry. Content is king and we have made our presence felt in the industry. We are now partners with most of the television stations in Nigeria and most of them have cooperated with us. The same would be said of our media partners but unfortunately, majority of our members are being owed monies. This is a phase we are gradually trying to handle and deal with very consciously. We are hoping that with the new Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Emeka Mba, content owners will be able to sing a new song very soon. He happens to understand the industry and challenges we are facing. We are putting together workshops and orientation classes for all our members, especially the young content owners. Our members have been so wonderful and cooperative. It’s not all well yet but the battles are being fought together by us all, we believe that we will win on all fronts.
Are there challenges being the president of the body?
As the first female president of this great association where 90 per cent of our members are men, it has been very encouraging. They don’t see me as a woman but as their president. We have been and are all working together very well.
How do you juggle your different parts-a wife, mother and career woman. How do you strike the balance?
Everyday, the grace of God sees me through everything in my life. Be it at work, home, church and my associations. I am able to manage my time because I love all that I do with a passion. I am a trained and disciplined producer. Managing projects, people, budget and time is now a hobby for me. It comes so naturally. My mantra is, God first, my family and then my work. I don’t compromise.
What will be your advice to any woman who is in a career and aiming higher?
Give it your best shot always. Don’t be intimidated by anyone, trust your heart and enjoy whatever you do. If you don’t enjoy it, then, change career. I spend 80 per cent of my time in my office. Life is too short not to make the best out of it. My husband would always say, ‘we are paid to enjoy ourselves.’ Truth is, we do not see our job as a job anymore, we see it as having fun.