Editi Effiong, the producer of the blockbuster movie ‘Black Book’, recalls a moment during the production of the movie when he was profoundly moved and brought to tears. He narrated how he was being comforted by the venerable actress Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett, with her cradling him in her arms.
Editi describes how the tears came as a result of the immense pressure he was going through. He had just returned to work after a COVID-19 break, which had already taken a toll on the production’s budget and schedule. Editi shared the challenges of leading a team during a time of crisis when he needed to be strong and supportive of others. He explained how leaders often bear their burdens silently, and no one inquires about their well-being.
In this instance, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett recognized Editi’s emotional distress and took him aside for a private moment. She commended his efforts, acknowledged the immense pressure he was facing, and provided a comforting space for him to express his vulnerability. The interaction with the respected actress allowed Editi to release his emotions, and he cried as he felt seen, understood, and supported.
Editi shares his vulnerability with Chude:
CHUDE: I looked at that image of you when you were crying on Aunty Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett’s lap, and she cradled you. What made you break down in tears?
EDIT: There are days I have to carry people—people who are veterans. People who I asked so I could lean on, and you always had to carry them. There were days when I had to be carried; that was one of them.
We had just come back from a COVID break. Two weeks of COVID break means that 20 per cent of your budget is burned; it’s gone. I had to watch people with whom I was working side by side suffer through illness. I had just recently come out of COVID. I lost 11kg. So I knew what it meant.
And so you had lost this much budget; you had just come back, and the art team didn’t prepare the sets. And then Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett will be with you within a fixed number of hours. And how are you going to execute this? You’re under so much pressure. We’re losing money, and we’re losing time. And at that moment, many people who you thought you could cheat by bringing on so that you could lean on them were leaning on you.
And you see, no one ever asks the leader if they’re okay. The leader always has a brave face. The leader always knows what’s to be done. The leader always leads. And so every day, I had to put on a brave face. And so you are so scared, but you have to lead.
Now this woman walks in and takes one look at me. She knows this guy is dying inside and says, ‘Come, come’. We got to my office, which was the green room for the day. It had been set, ‘sit!’ And like a lost child, I sat. She said, “You have done so well, my boy, my poor boy”.
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