Life Through the Lens of Tayo Amos, A Film Student

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“Our society needs to realize that representation in pop culture, filmmaking, media, is not a superficial desire. But something real and necessary in our collective social psychology. I truly believe that positive representation in our media will make our society better.”

A typical day on University of Southern California’s (USC) campus is never dull for a final year MFA film production student, with a demanding schedule that varies from production meetings in the mornings, classes throughout the day, part-time jobs/internships, and more film prep work at night. But Tayo takes it all in stride, having realized her desire to pursue film from an early age. She attributes her sense of perseverance to a memory of learning to drive, when instead of hitting the brakes to park her father’s car, she accelerated, crashing into their garage. The experience left her shaken and anxious about driving the next day. But she got up and did it anyway the very next day, and that, her father says is one of her best qualities: the ability to fall and get right back up. It’s this attitude she takes in her daily approach to film work.

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The young director, only 26, is one of six children born to two Nigerian immigrants raised in the Bay Area. Tayo’s love for film started as a hobby, where she would get her entire family to participate in the creation of short films. In middle and high school she learned to shoot and edit film, but it wasn’t until her senior year of undergraduate when she was selected to present at the Academy Awards as a member of Team Oscar, she decided to take filmmaking seriously as a career.

“I am aware of the statistics of course, but I choose to see my identity as a black woman as an asset, not a hindrance.”

Since, Tayo has had the opportunity to travel the world to certain places in Europe and Africa, as well as parts of Asia and Central America where she’s worked on creative projects such as documenting the Nigerian community in London and her a capella group in South Africa.

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As a black woman in the film industry, she considers herself fortunate to have experienced mostly positive encounters but shares she and fellow female filmmakers have been exposed to harassment and being marginalized. But being at a disadvantage is not on Tayo’s agenda who states, “I am aware of the statistics of course, but I choose to see my identity as a black woman as an asset, not a hindrance.”

“Just seeing the image of all these beautiful, black women together was very possible. Creating positive images for black women is definitely one of my goals as a black female filmmaker . . .”

Her work seeks to shed light on matters of social justice, specifically for young women of color, in ways that entertain yet inspires audiences to reflect and assess their purpose and impact in society. Tayo strongly believes the images we create are psychologically powerful in shaping the environments in which we live, quoting writer Junot Diaz, “. . . if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves” (Diaz’s quote making reference to the lack of cultural representation he saw for his ethnicity and his pledge to change that for next generation).

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Some of Tayo’s accomplishments include her feature script ELITE being a finalist in the #ProjectCre8 competition, which is sponsored by BET and Paramount Players and sharing her passion for film through speaking engagements. Her work can be described as vibrantly insightful and beautifully executed. To learn more you can use the contact details provided below and search her credentials via IMDb.

For other young aspiring filmmakers, the best advice Tayo has to offer is to above all else, “take joy in the process. Making film takes a lot of time and energy, so it’s easy to get caught up in the end product (i.e. the film itself, film festivals) but I have to constantly remind myself to find joy in the process . . . for specifically female filmmakers, don’t let the stats discourage you. If you have something to say, work on your craft and pin down exactly what you want to say. You will find an audience.”

Website/Speaking Engagements: http://www.tayolamos.com

Instagram: @tayo.shoes

Twitter: @tayolamos

“For me, I’m definitely attracted to projects that have a social justice element that entertains and inspires and allows the audience to critically think about their own place and actions in the world.”

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