Interview by Cheta Chukwu
From working as a publicist to being a renowned fashion stylist and sitting on the film director’s chair, Ifan Ifeanyi Michael has always been a trailblazer. He continues to find a way to leave lasting impressions with his work, solidifying his place in the entertainment scene with every hat he wears. Having collaborated with the finest celebrities in Africa and winning numerous awards in film and fashion, it doesn’t seem like Michael is slowing down. He is moving beyond his niche market and charting a new course to becoming a global sensation.
In this exclusive interview, he sat down with Glamour to talk about his transition from fashion to film, his inspiration of telling black stories and his upcoming film project.
GLAMOUR: How has your experience in the fashion industry influence your films?
Ifan: Working in the fashion industry has contributed immensely to my transition to film. I bring with me that knowledge to every film project and I use that to empower the characters in my stories. I understand the power of colours and the message every piece of fabric conveys and I try to use that to say something. I am not only interested in the words put in the actor’s mouth but also in what they are putting on when they say their lines. You’d be surprised how the choice of wardrobe, no matter how insignificant, can hugely elevate an actor’s performance. When it all comes together nicely; the costume, the set design, the music, it can produce magic.
GLAMOUR: What inspires the type of stories you tell?
Ifan: I am inspired by the human condition. I want my films to say something and inspire imagination and compassion. All genres of films are great, but I am mostly drawn to films with strong messages and that evoke conversations, whether it is about overcoming obstacles, fighting discrimination, surviving loss or finding oneself.
GLAMOUR: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Ifan: My great achievement is my journey from a homeless little boy to producing my debut feature film “Lotanna” to where I am at this moment in my life personally and professionally. I don’t take any of it for granted. There are lots of accolades and awards that come with my line of work but what I am most proud of is my growth and transition as a person.
GLAMOUR: You've been very vocal about about things going on in the world. You do it in your work and in personal capacity. What sparked that?
Ifan: Sometimes when you have been through so much yourself, you feel a certain responsibility to not only protect others from pain but to stand up against any form of injustice. So, yes, that is what has inspired my voice. Whether personally or through my work, I want to keep adding my voice to the things that matter and that I care about. It’s easy to look away when something is not your experience. But empathy brings understanding and understanding can result in action.
GLAMOUR: What is the most expensive piece of item in your wardrobe?
Ifan: I would rather not share.
GLAMOUR: If the world was ending today, what is the one thing you would take with you?
Ifan: My cellphone.
GLAMOUR: What is to you the greatest fashion film of all time?
Ifan: “Funny Face”. It is easily one of the most delightful movies of the 50s with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire at their most charming. And let’s not even talk about the featuring of iconic gowns by Hubert de Givenchy and a selection of beloved songs by George and Ira Gershwin. More than 60 years after its premiere, the film still dominates conversations both in the fashion and film world.
GLAMOUR: Are you planning on making a fashion film in the near future?
Ifan: Only time would tell. Right now, I am focused on other passion projects.
GLAMOUR: Tell us what is next in line for you?
Ifan: I am working on an exciting project titled “We Were Born Girls”, which follows the complex relationship of two best friends and their place in the world as queer people. My team and I have been buried deep in work on this project for quite a while. I can’t really give out much details for now. But everything is coming together so well and we will be able to share more details very soon.
GLAMOUR: What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
Ifan: That a better world comes from every one of us playing our part, no matter how small. And a kinder world starts with a kind personality.
Connect with Ifan on Instagram.