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Amarachi Nwosu's Rise in Light: Promoting Cervical Cancer Awareness Through Storytelling

By Hillary Essien | Sep 15, 2023

Armed with a passionate commitment to dismantling stereotypes and exploring global identities and cultures, Amarachi Nwosu, the CEO of Melanin Unscripted has consistently pushed the boundaries of storytelling.

Beyond her impactful work in film, Nwosu's remarkable journey as a photographer and director has earned her accolades, with her work gracing the campaigns of renowned brands like Nike and Sony Music. While her achievements are noteworthy, she remains dedicated to her mission of pushing creative boundaries and exploring the world through her unique lens.

Nwosu has blended her creative pursuits with her commitment to making a positive impact. She has curated social impact initiatives that extend a helping hand to children in Nigeria, particularly in the Makoko slums of Lagos State, through collaborations with organizations like the Khan Foundation.

In a 2020 fundraising effort, Melanin Unscripted mobilized over $11,000 in COVID relief funds. This effort was propelled by Nwosu’s short film"Rise in Light," featuring Alton Mason. On Thursday, Melanin Unscripted and The Cervical Cancer Free Nigeria Campaign announced a $10,000 film grant through the “Rise in Light” campaign. 

This grant aims to empower Nigerian filmmakers to craft compelling narratives on cervical cancer, leveraging the power of visual storytelling to raise awareness and drive change. 

In this interview, Nwosu discusses her inspiration for the "Rise in Light" campaign, a collaboration with The Cervical Cancer Free Nigeria Campaign, and how it aims to empower Nigerian filmmakers to create compelling narratives about cervical cancer. Her journey and vision reveal a creative force at the intersection of art, activism, and storytelling.

Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the Rise in Light campaign and your collaboration with The Cervical Cancer Free Nigeria Campaign?

The inspiration for the Rise in Light campaign stems from a personal connection. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and seeing her strength and resilience during one of the most challenging times of her life has been a huge inspiration for amplifying this initiative around Cervical Cancer. 

She was lucky that during a visit to the U.S. there was a free screening she was able to take advantage of, which may have gone undetected in Nigeria where she was living at the time. Witnessing her experience, I realized the immense importance of early detection and awareness. 

Her story compelled me to amplify the initiative around Cervical Cancer, driven by the desire to extend knowledge, support, and grace to others. As a longstanding ambassador for CCFN, I saw the power of storytelling and wanted to use it to empower the next generation of creators to turn their lens on humanity.


What motivated you to focus on cervical cancer awareness and support for Nigerian filmmakers in particular?

The motivation to focus on cervical cancer awareness and support for Nigerian filmmakers is deeply rooted in the need for accessible and impactful education. It's the second most common cancer amongst women in Nigeria but unlike cancers like breast cancer, there is little to no understanding of it. My mother's experience highlighted the discrepancy in resources between regions. Her life-saving diagnosis in the U.S. might not have happened if she were in Nigeria due to limited access. I envision this initiative as a bridge between education and creativity, giving storytellers the power to raise awareness and potentially save lives.


How do you envision the $10,000 film grant making a difference in addressing cervical cancer awareness and prevention in Nigeria?

The $10,000 film grant is designed to enable a "storyteller for change" who can use their artistry to illuminate the issue of Cervical Cancer. Beyond the monetary support, recipients gain access to prominent industry figures and collaborate with partners such as LL&B and Family Inc. This creates an environment where their storytelling resonates far and wide, becoming an educational and impactful force for addressing cervical cancer.


Could you elaborate on the criteria and process for selecting the recipients of the film grant?

The selection process is comprehensive. We're looking for projects that deeply engage with cervical cancer topics and creatively inspire awareness. Judges evaluate storytelling strength, social impact potential, creativity, technical excellence, and alignment with Rise in Light's ethos. The goal is to identify projects that can effectively reach and resonate with audiences.


What outcomes or changes do you hope to see in Nigerian society as a result of this film being created?

The film's impact is multifaceted. I hope it triggers a widespread awareness about cervical cancer, fostering discussions that save lives. By empowering storytellers, we aim to catalyze more impactful creative initiatives. Additionally, I envision the film erasing taboos surrounding sexual and women's health, and dispelling any misinformation associated with cervical cancer.


How can aspiring Nigerian filmmakers apply for this grant, and what resources or support will be available to them during the filmmaking process?

Aspiring Nigerian filmmakers can apply via The grant's $10,000 budget covers production, including key aspects like crew fees, equipment rental, travel, post-production, and promotion. Filmmakers also benefit from partnerships with LL&B and Family Inc, mentorship from judges and industry veterans, ensuring a holistic support system throughout their journey.


Are there specific themes or messages you hope these films will convey regarding cervical cancer?

The core theme of the films should center around cervical cancer awareness, prevention, early detection, and treatment. While the genre can vary, the films should align with Rise in Light's mission of empowerment and change through storytelling, effectively conveying the message in a creative and impactful manner.


Beyond the financial grant, what other forms of support or advocacy will be part of the Rise in Light campaign?

The Rise in Light campaign aims to foster a comprehensive ecosystem of support. We're dedicated to offering mentorship, guidance, and resources to filmmakers throughout their journey in addition to amplifying causes we believe in. Our collaboration extends to leading industry figures who will offer insights, workshops, and invaluable networking opportunities. Additionally, we plan to facilitate screenings and discussions, using the films as catalysts for public engagement and discourse on cervical cancer awareness and prevention.


How do you plan to measure the success and impact of the films created through this grant?

The films' success and impact will be gauged through their reach and engagement on digital platforms, evaluating resonance with audiences. Additionally, we'll assess the depth of conversations sparked on cervical cancer awareness. We'll also track how the films change perceptions, dispel myths, and encourage actions like screenings. Filmmakers becoming advocates will highlight sustained impact beyond the films.