Mahmoud Olympio, Founder of Moly Network

In Mahmoud Olympio’s world, being a creative is a sacrifice and a reward that can often come at a price. At times, creatives face various challenges from staying inspired, financial sustainability, being consistent, not having their vision taken seriously and burn out, among many others.

The Houston-based filmmaker, photographer and founder of Moly Network has spent the last 20 years finding solutions to uplift creatives. Since the launch of his media platform in 2019, his purpose has been to tell the stories of everyday people, creatives and businesses through cinematography and photography.

Moly Network is an online television platform celebrating and showcasing the best of entertainment, short film documentaries and interviews on fashion, lifestyle, celebrities.

He’s worked with several notable artists and entertainment platforms across the Black diaspora including MTV Africa, and Nigerian musicians Sunny Neji, Cynthia Morgan, Dotman, rapper David Banner and the City of Houston.

Olympio is a self-taught film director whose goal is to uplift creatives and improve the marketing and branding behind them through the art of storytelling.

Though he spends most of his time behind the scenes, he came out to the forefront with the Defender to talk about his journey as an independent filmmaker and how he wants to help creatives succeed in the industry.

Defender: Where did your passion for film making begin?

Olympio: I was 18-years old. My grandfather used to ask us if we were to live to America or anywhere in the world, he would advise us to find something that we did very well, that is handy and useful. He used to live in America. At the time I liked carpentry and editing. My mother was a media presenter. She was always on television and the radio when I was younger. So, I learned to strengthen my editing skills with the support of my mother who took me to a studio as an apprentice. From there I became an editor at a television station and did that for four years. I later went to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism to study mass communications and journalism. To be honest, I got fed up with the Nigerian education system. I dropped out of school to learn independently. I created my own system of education in my house from editing, animation, filmmaking, cameras, books. From there I started applying my knowledge and reached out to different artists to shoot their music videos. From there I connected with many artists and advertisement agencies. Around 2007 I started studying photography to expand my skill sets. By 2015 I moved to the United States to take my business to the next level.

Defender: What are one of the goals you wanted to accomplish coming to the U.S?

Olympio: With my television background, the idea is to be a full-time filmmaker and television executive. I’ve been building my brand and connecting with people here and in Nigeria.

Defender: Houston was your first home coming to the states. As a Black creative did you see there was a fit for what you wanted to accomplish?

Olympio: When I got to Houston, everywhere felt like home. There is a large Nigerian population here. There are a lot of people who speak my language and understand my culture. Luckily, there was no major culture shock. People were welcoming. It was easy to find a compelling story to tell. I worked with non-profits developing stories for fundraisers, and collaborating with other creatives for video campaigns.

Defender: What other challenges have you experienced as a creative here?

Olympio: I eventually established Moly Network in 2019 to help creatives expand their stories and brands. A lot of people in creative arts have to come out of pocket to fund their dreams, the same way I did. There aren’t a lot of major companies, distributors or major record labels in the city who are heavily invested into film or artists like you see in Hollywood, Atlanta and New York. I want to be able to find a solution to that. Also, everyone has a 9-5. Not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just that people spend eight hours each day at work and by the time you are done, sometimes you are exhausted from fully investing into the craft. Like I said previouslyMoly Network is a platform to contribute to the life of artists, to help them develop to make them more marketable for the world at large. Like talent development through storytelling.

Defender: What advice do you want to give young Black creatives about your journey in the industry?

Olympio: I’ll tell them to go big or go home. I’ve noticed a lot of people who migrated to the US as creatives and entertainers and switch careers when it got tough. I haven’t switched in the last two decades. I stayed the course for better for worse. Sustainability as a creative is a challenge, but this country has resources and there will always be a way to make your dream a reality if you strategize well. Getting paid in this industry is going to require investment of your time and money, so you have to be focused and serious about your purpose.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...