A MAKER PODCAST exclusive interview with dermatologist, entrepreneur and filmmaker, Dr. Clare Anyiam-Osigwe
“Purpose-filled work is nourishment”
We invite you to see the film here before listening to our in-depth conversation with Clare and Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe.
I was introduced to the work of Dr. Clare Anyiam-Osigwe via a mutual acquaintance in the Netherlands. Although Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe lives only 529 Kilometers (+/- 328 miles) away in London, I had neither heard of her, nor her work. I was very pleased to have made her virtual acquaintance during our podcast recording and to have learned so much in such a short period of time.
Art and science have been entangled since the beginning of time and are inextricably related. So, when I found out that Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe was both a dermatologist and a filmmaker, I was immediately intrigued by her complex creativity. Join MAKER on a deep dive into the colorful world of Dr. Clare Anyiam-Osigwe.
Dr.Clare Anyiam-Osigwe is a fascinating and multifaceted individual. She is the embodiment of the intersection of science and art. Born and raised in Islington, UK to Nigerian parents, Clare Eluka was raised in foster care from age nine. From her time growing up in foster care, coupled with her seemingly innate sense of internal self-love, she has developed an instinct to thrive and a monumental drive to succeed.
As a child, Eluka was bullied and often verbally insulted and recalls, “The rhetoric for me since I was 14 was that I was pretty for a dark-skinned girl. This, to me, was deeply disrespectful, because I’m a very proud Igbo, Nigerian, British-born woman and my heritage, my mom, my aunties who have those traditional African features, I think they’re stunning.” Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe has since overcome her challenging start.
Skin care products fit for a queen
Necessity is often the mother of invention. Suffering from skin allergies, brittle nails and sore throats inspired Eluka to begin to research ‘Free from’ (‘free from’ perfumes, allergens, gluten and chemical substances) beauty products on the UK market.
Though she had a background in skincare technology from her early experience working at The Body Shop, she was unable to find suitable, authentically natural products for her skin. Consequently, she began mixing products in her own kitchen and, in 2011, created Premae UK Skincare, a line of beautifully packaged allergen-free skin care products that
were “natural, no nonsense, plant-based products that were good enough to eat.” The Premae products immediately began to be nominated for natural skin care awards, of which they won several; including a 2017 British Empire Medal, from HRH (Her Royal Highness) The Queen for services to Dermatology.
Despite her phenomenal success in the natural skin care sector, Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe no longer manufactures Premae products, and has informed her customers that her distributor, Amazon Luxury, may still have some items in stock, but the official Premae website is in Beta mode until she decides to sell the brand or open her doors again. She advises her fans to watch this space, as she is unsure she will formally go back to manufacturing skin care products.
She says, “Some days I miss the relationships I forged with my lovely customers and as a natural orator and educator, I miss teaching people about well-being and how to take care of themselves. That was the real joy for me in Premae - everyone’s unique stories fascinate me.
My customers ranged from an 84-year-old white woman from Bournemouth, England who would ring me once a month to have a chat about [everything from] God to her own dry skin issues then [she would] spend £150 on Premae products.
Then, a black woman customer from Ohio with a disabled daughter would talk to me about [how she was] studying to be a Doctor at night and raising her daughter as a single mother. It was a wonderful 5 years of support, bonding, learning and growth.”
Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
When Clare met her now husband, entrepreneur, Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe in the summer of 2014, she was impressed that he was willing to “risk it all” to make his own business, British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) a success. They married in 2016. Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe became BUFF marketing director and has since then aided upwards of 250 filmmakers to market and promote their work worldwide.
Emmanuel told MAKER, “The penny finally dropped when I attended Prince Charles’ annual urban music concert (Prince’s Trust Urban Music Festival in 2005) for disadvantaged black people aged 18-30 where one white guy got all these urban youth energized in one space […] I thought, if he can do that, why can’t black people do something on our own? […] this is when BUFF was born.” Emmanuel went on to produce Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe’s first film, No Shade.
Around October 2017, Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe began receiving patients in her clinic who were specifically requesting skin bleaching and lightening creams. Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe was unwilling to provide this product to her clients as she felt it “championed a philosophy which is alien to me, which is to hate your natural self […] that felt very anti-Premae.”
Ever the storyteller, Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe began asking her clients why they sought these skin lightening creams. Her 2018 debut film, No Shade, contains the responses to her query.
Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe says she stopped producing Premae products on December 31st, 2017, and told MAKER, “I woke up on January 1st, 2018, nervous but excited for my new future as a full-time filmmaker and embarked on the production of No Shade from January 19th to February 11th and shot the film in 6.5 days during that 5-week period.”
No Shade is a thoughtful and exploratory film packaged as a witty romantic tale which looks at the treacherous psychological damage done by the phenomenon known as “colorism/colourism.”
While Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe’s film focusses on colorism/colourism as it is manifested in current British society, colorism/colourism as a phenomenon dates back several millennia and can be seen in the literature and art of Classical Greece, as well as in many other cultures. For example, there is abundant evidence that light skin is preferred to dark skin in East and South Asia, as well as Mexico.
Does what it says on the tin
No Shade is clearly a labor of love and compassion for Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe’s. Determined that the topic of colorism/colourism reach the big screen, she wrote, directed and co-starred in the film. With carefully selected actors, ranging from the beautiful and fairly unknown Adele Oni, who plays the lead character, Jade,to newer actors: Kadeem Pearse, Zephryn Taitte and Algie Salmon-Fattahian. From Shone Romulus (Top Boy) to the heavyweight, Judith Jacob (Eastenders).
Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe positions No Shade as a freshman’s effort, well-worth the 1hr:44 minutes it takes to experience the story. If nothing else, No Shade will encourage you to think about the ideas of self-concept, self-image and self-identity as cornerstones in the structure one’s self-esteem in general and the issue of colorism/colourism specifically. A bold and courageous conversation starter, No Shade is an educational resource, a piece of United Kingdom film history and a must see for all humans.
Since its release, No Shade has won multiple awards, including the following:
Power of Women in Film Award, DFS Honour Award, March 2019
Best Film Directed by a Woman of Colour Director, NYADIFF Dec 2018
To learn more about Dr. Anyiam-Osigwe and her husband, Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, click here: