Zuriel Oduwole, The World’s Youngest Filmmaker, Started Her Career At Age 9


If you ever hear someone talk about a person being “too young” to do anything of significance in the world, be sure to mention the name Zuriel Oduwole. This 14 year old girl is no ordinary teen, she is said to be the world’s youngest filmmaker who began her career at the age of 9.

Zuriel was born in Los Angeles to a Nigerian father and a Mauritian mother, and resides in California. Aside from making 4 documentaries and interviewing 15 world leaders (including countries such as Kenya, Liberia, South Sudan and Jamaica, she is a passionate activist wanting to bring attention to the issue of girls education, especially around Africa.

In 2013 she was listed as one of “100 Most Influential People in Africa” by New African Magazine, making her the youngest person of African descent to be described as such. To date Zuriel is also the youngest person to be featured in Forbes Magazine, where she was profiled for her advocacy work for girls education in Africa.

It all started with a school film project in 2012 titled ‘The Ghana Revolution’. In 2013 she released a documentary called ‘The 1962 OAU Formation’ and in 2014, at the age of 12, self-produced a documentary called ‘A Promising Africa’. This film was screened in 5 countries, making her the youngest filmmaker to screen a self-produced film commercially.


Her current project is called Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up, which she started in 2013 and focuses on the promotion of girls education throughout Africa. Her accolades have started to get recognition around the world and in some major media outlets. Zuriel’s badass story and achievements have been featured in Elle Magazine, Business Insider, on CNBC, BBC, Bloomberg TV and CNN.

While she is not the youngest filmmaker in history (according to Indiewire which gives some info on the filmmaker from India who started the record almost a decade ago), she is without a doubt the current record holder and more than that, a huge inspiration to girls everywhere who are passionate about making their mark on the world and using their voice to create change.

Zuriel told CNN in 2015 that she is mostly self-taught, and learned the basics of filmmaking in order to get her documentaries made.

“As I edit, produce, set up and write the scripts for my documentaries, I have to learn a lot of things,” she said.

While like any filmmaker she no doubt wants her projects to be perfect, we can’t help but think even if her work is not up to Hollywood standard, no one would fault her because she is leading a generation of go-getter girls who are going to have their voice heard like never before. Zuriel particularly wants to use her heritage and filmmaking skills to show the world a different side of Africa.


“I’m hoping that when people see these documentaries they will see Africa is full of positive things — not just the things that are on the news like war, famine, disease. I want to show them there is a lot more to Africa than what we see on the news — there’s dancing, music, great culture and more,” she said.

Zuriel was home schooled in California, but now travels the world regularly interviewing people and advocating for girls education. Through her current project Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up, she has had the opportunity to speak to 21,000 children in 9 different countries.

On a continent like Africa where the lack of access to education for girls is far greater than boys and has become a focus of many efforts to prevent poverty and empower women economically (including through the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015), Zuriel’s voice and advocacy work is reaching other girls on a level that a powerful CEO at a corporation perhaps never could. Which is precisely why the efforts of younger generations should never be shunned.


“Girl’s education is important because on the African continent, where there are not as many resources, the boys are the first [to get an education]. The boys go to school and get an education while the girls stay at home. And those girls aren’t educated and have fewer options in life when they get older.

We feel there is a surge of girls like Zuriel standing up and making their mark on the world. We’ve seen just how powerful Malala Yousafzai’s voice has been in advocating the right of girls to have access in education in conservative societies where they are considered less valuable than boys. Closer to home, actress and blogger Tavi Gevinson is known as a mini-media mogul who started her uber popular Rookie Mag online destination at the age of 11, and was once described by Lady Gaga as “the future of journalism”.

And speaking of journalism, you may have recently seen the viral story of 9 year old Kate Lysiak from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, who started a news website called Orange Street News when she was 7. She goes out in her neighborhood and reports on local news stories and has started to amass quite a following, but not always for the right reasons.

Because of the increased popularity of her blog and Youtube channel, she started getting negative comments because she broke a story before other news outlets, but mostly because she was a young girl not spending her time sitting around “being cute” like some expected her to. Being the fierce and determined young girl she is, Kate responded to her critics by saying this:

“I know this makes some of you uncomfortable and I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m nine but if you want me to stop covering news then you get off your computer and do something about it. There, is that cute enough for you?…It kind of gets me angry because, just because I’m nine doesn’t mean I can’t do a great story. It doesn’t mean I can’t be a reporter,” she said.

This kind of backlash is a hangover from a mindset developed in a time where women were not typically seen as the people who ruffled feathers, spoke out of turn, or caused massive change. While the world is a much different place than it was 100 years ago, the only way we are ever going to break free from lingering sexist mindsets is by equipping the younger generation, like Kate, Malala, and Zuriel with the open-ended opportunities to define life on their own terms.

If the result is journalism, filmmaking, activism and education, who in their right mind would be against that?

Check this short video from Always featuring Zuriel for their “Like A Girl” series:

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