Funmi Olutoye is a London-based producer, director, writer and multimedia journalist.
In 2012 after studying, she landed one of just four places on ITV News’ traineeship programme where she learned to be a producer.She later worked as a video journalist at local station London Live, before returning as a freelancer for ITV Daytime in 2017 where she now works full-time.
She has worked across ITV Daytime’s main shows, This Morning, Lorraine and Good Morning Britain. Most recently she was one of the producers behind the reboot of The Big Breakfast.
We spoke to Funmi about being part of the BAFTA Breakthrough Cohort 2023 …
Please introduce yourself …
My name is Funmi Olutoye, I’m a producer / director, video journalist, writer and formerly presenter / reporter. I’m from London and my heritage is Nigerian. I’m half Igbo and half Yoruba. Now, I’m the first person from daytime television ever to be named a BAFTA Breakthrough!
What’s been the most significant project of your career to date?
Interestingly, it was an exclusive report that I did when I was working in local news about the sheer amount of illegal skin lightening creams being seized by a local authority, which hadn’t been publicised before. It was significant to me because when you work in local news, you’re a one-woman band. I.e. You find your own stories, you produce them, you self-shoot, you edit the footage of the report yourself and then send it to air. When I did this for this particular scoop that I got through a contact I had, I felt proud of myself. Because it boosted my self-belief that, yes, I can do this. I couldn’t believe that I did it completely by myself. So I thought just imagine when I get to a place with more resources – I’ll be able to tell even more stories and in an even better way.
You’re a producer because … ?
I know the power the media has to shape public opinion and to be “edutainment”. Because of this, it means you have the ability and privilege to really spread light and positivity into the world. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
The second reason is that I constantly get to meet the most amazing, usually inaccessible, interesting and varied set of people in the world and tell their stories – it’s an amazing job, that doesn’t feel like a job. It’s a Privilege.
And is everything going to plan …?
I would like to think so! I’m definitely excited for what the next year will bring. I’m hoping becoming a BAFTA Breakthrough will broaden my horizons and open my eyes to sections of the industry I perhaps have never considered.
Why was now the right time to apply / be submitted for BAFTA Breakthrough?
I’ve been in this industry for 14 years so far. I had been working within local television for the first half of my career and then moved into national programming as a freelancer for a number of years. I then went full-time a couple of years ago which opens you up to more opportunities to lead on certain projects or at least have more responsibility in your hands than you would as just a freelancer. So when I had the opportunity to lead on Good Morning Britain’s Black History Month project for 2022, it was the first time I would lead produce on a strand for a major national daytime show like GMB. For me, this level of responsibility so far in my career is a personal breakthrough. I’m honoured that BAFTA thought the same.
What was the first thing you did when you found out you are part of this year’s BAFTA Breakthrough Cohort?
I thanked God and called my Mum! Without the two of them I absolutely would not be where I am today. My faith is important to me and I strongly believe that God is always ordering my steps through life. My Mum brought me up by herself and she has personally sacrificed a lot to get me to where I am. She has always believed in me from day one and supported me in very difficult times in my career and in life generally. This recognition is for her as much as it is for me.
What does it mean to be recognised by BAFTA, and what are you hoping to gain from the experience?
It’s a privilege and an honour on two levels. The first being personally – next year will be 15 years since I’ve been working in the media. It’s good to know that work you’ve created is not going unnoticed by your peers in the wider industry. Also, that BAFTA sees something in me today that is worthy of profiling but also where they see me going in my future. It’s fantastic to know that not only do they want to be a part of that but they’re willing to back me on my future endeavours.
Secondly, it indicates to me that BAFTA recognises the work that daytime television producers do. We work very hard to put out live television shows for the nation every single weekday and throughout the year. And we do this with extraordinary turnaround times without compromising on quality. The long hours and the work we do overnight while the rest of the country is sleeping is tough but it’s worth it to bring the news and entertainment to people’s screens every morning.
Who of your peers would you recommend for next year’s BAFTA Breakthrough cohort?
Joel Duncan – he’s a senior creative producer at ITV who mainly works within the digital space but we’ve both worked at Good Morning Britain together some years back. But this year he brought me on as a producer on a brand new television show he created from scratch called Breaking Through with ZeZe Millz. He’s a very talented man.
Tell us about a challenging moment during your career that you had to dig deep to get through?
It was trying to get into the industry in the first place! I left my post-grad journalism school with all the gumption and ambition in the world. But I soon realised that this industry is all about who you know. I did a million internships just to gain experience, keep busy, make connections. It took me almost two years after journalism school before I got my first break into the industry as an ITV News Trainee. I was told almost 1000 people applied and I was one of four people they chose. When I got the call to say I got it, I X-Factor-contestant cried like a baby. Because I knew, finally, I was in!
I’m open! I’m on secondment to The Lorraine Show at the moment and I go back to Good Morning Britain in February 2024. I’d love to do more side projects and explore more genres within television. Also, I’m keen to do more creative video work within the social media and digital space.
How do we keep up to date with you and your work?
I’m on social media 🙂
Twitter / X: @FunmiOlutoye
Tik Tok: @Funmio
What are you reading, watching, listening to right now, and what’s the last thing you saw
- I’m watching Squid Game: The Challenge – insanely addictive. Also, the new series of Deal or No Deal – so nostalgic and yet the way they’ve brought it back with a new presenter, it feels refreshed.
- The last thing I saw on stage was the musical The Time Traveller’s Wife. Very good musical. The set design was amazing – so much so I had to message the designer on Instagram just to
give her her flowers!