UHV student's interest in movies leads to start of production company

University of Houston-Victoria student Jeslyn Atanu is bringing a little bit of Hollywood to Texas.

Jeslyn Atanu
Jeslyn Atanu

Atanu, a UHV communications major, acts in and produces movies. After she got a part as an extra in an independent movie filmed in Houston a little more than a year ago, Atanu, her aunt and three friends started Diaspora Network, a Houston-based production company that specializes in African movies.

“There is no joy like hearing one of our movies is successful,” she said. “Knowing we have created something that could possibly touch someone’s life is priceless.”

Atanu is interested in sharing the story of Africans because she is a native of Cameroon and was born and raised in Nigeria. She has lived in Sugar Land for the last nine years and has written four movies, two of which are in development and one of which is in preproduction.

Diaspora Network premiered its first movie, “Blood n’ Destiny,” on June 26 at Bollywood Theater in Houston. The movie was made to appeal to U.S. audiences and is a story about the struggle between twin brothers as one turns to a life of crime and the other becomes a priest.

“As a producer, the most challenging part is choosing a cast and crew to work with,” Atanu said. “Knowing which actor can successfully translate a character is crucial to the success of the production.”

Producing a movie can take up to nine months, but it’s all worth it to Atanu when she is able to see one of her movies on the big screen. Atanu has started work forming her own production company and is planning on launching it after she graduates this summer.

“Producing movies takes a lot of time and effort,” she said. “But when you’re doing what you love, it’s worth all the sacrifices.”

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact UHV Communications Manager Paula Cobler  or call 361-570-4350.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.