In Her Perfect Life, Onajite Johnson-Ibrahim (played by Pearl Thusi) appears to have it all. She’s a 39-year-old entrepreneur with the perfect Instagram profile — a fantastic career, a loving husband (played by Ahmed Ibrahim), and two bright and beautiful children — but Onajite is secretly suffering from depression. She’s contemplating suicide.

Iyawo Mi (My Wife) follows the story of Eniola (Lateef Adedimeji). Economically, she’s on the other end of the scale to Onajite, living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lagos. Her husband, Kunle (Segun Arinze) works as a driver. One night he returns home to find his wife in the throes of madness, hallucinating, screaming at their children and threatening to kill them. With little understanding of mental illness and no access to a support system, he decides to take matters into his own hands, with tragic results.

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These are two stories of women on the edge.

Both films, helmed by Nigerian producer and media mogul Mo Abudu in her first directorial efforts, have qualified for the Oscar race after generating interest on the festival circuit. They debuted in Cannes’ Short Film Corner and screened at the Toronto Film Festival, Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, the HollyShorts Film Festival and the Rhode Island Film Festival.

Her Perfect Life

‘Her Perfect Life’ Mo Abudu Films

Besides their dramatic appeal, Her Perfect Life and Iyawo Mi (My Wife) break new ground for African cinema in their exploration of mental health, particularly among women, exploring issues rarely discussed in the media or in popular culture.

“For years, I’ve strived to elevate African stories, to amplify voices that deserve to be heard on a global stage,” says Abudu. “African storytelling isn’t just confined to our borders; it’s a universal language, resonating with the human experience worldwide. Her Perfect Life and Iyawo Mi were born from an intrinsic need to explore societal nuances, to peel back the layers of our existence. These stories, set against the vibrant tapestry of Lagos, delve into complex emotions and the intricacies of human relationships. Through these short films, I’ve witnessed the immense power of narrative to bridge cultures. They’ve graced prestigious platforms, not merely for accolades but to spark conversations, to challenge perceptions and to offer a glimpse into narratives often overlooked.”

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Abudu is already an established media mogul, in Africa and beyond. This year, she topped The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual list of the Most Powerful Women in Global Entertainment. Her company, EbonyLife Media, is one of the continent’s largest and most important production outfits, producer of Nigerian box office hits such as Fifty and The Wedding Party, and the Netflix series Blood Sisters. Upcoming projects include the political drama series WAR: Wrath and Revenge and Òlòtūré, about a courageous female investigative journalist, both for Netflix and multiple in-development films and series set up in partnership with Westbrooke, Will Packer Productions, Universal Studios, the BBC, Sony Pictures Television, Starz, Lionsgate and Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures.

Her Perfect Life and Iyawo Mi (My Wife) were produced under the Mo Abudu Films label, which aims to broaden the spectrum of Nigerian cinema by making more “personal and intimate” films that champion “the voices and perspectives of underrepresented communities.”

“As an African woman and storyteller, I stand committed to shaping a narrative landscape where our stories are not just seen but celebrated — where the authenticity and depth of African storytelling find a place in the global canon,” says Abudu. “The world is hungry for diverse stories, and it’s time to showcase the richness of our narratives, to empower African voices and to craft a more inclusive storytelling mosaic on the world stage.”

Entering the Oscar race is a “testament to the universal resonance” of the narratives in Her Perfect Life and Iyawo Mi (My Wife) Abudu says. “We’re humbled by the consideration of Oscar voters. It’s an honor to be in contention, and we hope for the best as we eagerly anticipate the possibility of these stories resonating with audiences worldwide.”

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