Award-winning Nigerian actress Omowunmi Dada finished her tenure as DAAS’s 2023 Global Artist in Residence in mid December, bringing a close to her semester-long collaboration with the department and the African Studies Center. During her residency, Dada visited classes to give lectures about the Nigerian film industry, developed African language resources alongside instructors and shared her knowledge of Nollywood with the greater Ann Arbor community.

“It's been a beautiful … and eye opening [and] warm experience,” Dada said of her time at Michigan.

As a part of her residency, Dada gave guest lectures in classes such as AAS 322: Introduction to Environment Politics: Race, Class and Gender and the Swahili language classes. She shared that one of the things she enjoyed most about Michigan was how welcomed she felt in these environments.

“What struck me coming to Michigan was how warm the people were. Everyone just wants to make sure you're fine,” she said. “Everyone has a smile on their face … They just want to make sure that you're fine, [that] you're comfortable, you're having a good time and that has been so beautiful.”

In November, Dada hosted a Q&A session for
Ayinla, which was screened at the State Theater. Ayinla is a Nollywood musical that tells the story of Ayinla Omowura, a famous Apala musician who was killed in a bar fight. Dada commented on how many people turned out to see the film, saying she was happy to see how the Nollywood industry was received during her visit.

“I think that me being here and talking about Nollywood and getting them to see what Nollywood really is opens up their perspective to realize that whatever tiny … or insignificant thing they might have thought about Nollywood is actually not true,” she said.

Stepping into the role of Global Artist in Residence was an exciting prospect for Dada, who graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in Creative Arts. Though she had taken a break from academia to pursue acting, she was excited to return with her knowledge of the Nigerian film industry.

“I was looking forward to being back in academia. I was also looking forward to experiencing the world of Michigan. I was looking forward to impacting students and telling, showing … Michigan, the African stories, African culture, the beauty of the African people, language, and the value of Africa … And I think to a large extent, I've been able to do that.”

Dada also thanked DAAS and ASC staff for their help during her tenure, as well as all of the lecturers she visited. “I want to say a very big thank you to the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and the African Studies Center, to the head of the department, Professor Bénédicte Boisseron, Wayne High, to Professor Omolade Abundi, to Dani Williams and Beth James, to everyone. Jaleesa Miller, and all the lectures that I have been with – they have been quite amazing.”