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The Matchmaker Who Brought African Content onto Netflix

As director of international original films for Netflix, Nigerian-American Funa Maduka built an Oscar-winning powerhouse. Last year she left Netflix to work on her own projects, likely aimed at lifting hidden voices. It started at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for underprivileged girls in South Africa, where Maduka rose to become dean and saw the girls go on to pursue PhDs, fight for social justice and even share the stage with Michelle Obama, accomplishments she reels off with pride. It continued when she got to Netflix in early 2014 and didn’t see any content from Africa. “I naturally just asked why,” she says, eventually helping lead a global film powerhouse as its director of international original films. Now Maduka is placing her boldest bet yet, leaving the streaming giant last year to work on her own projects. “I’m taking a break from corporate life and speaking more about telling our stories,” she says.