A True Comet In Every Sense
When the US Secretary of State calls you the “World’s Most Powerful Girl” at age 14, he has either seen something most haven’t, or he is saying something most already knew, but were just not sure how to communicate it.
The Zuriel Oduwole Story
Becoming the youngest person in history on January 11th 2017 since the formation of the US State Department in 1789 to be so accorded, Zuriel was invited to meet and sit down with US Secretary of State – the Rt Honorable John Kerry, who honored her for her Girls Education advocacy overseas and her new skill transfer initiative for unemployed youths. It was the climax of a most remarkable journey that began 5 years earlier.
As the world’s youngest film maker, who made her first documentary film at age 9 on the Ghana Revolution, she traveled to meet and interview in Accra for that project – the architect of the revolution, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, who later became President of Ghana. In November 2014 at the age of 12, her first full feature film which she wrote, produced, edited and scored herself was released on the big screen in two movie theater chains overseas, and showed in 5 countries on 3 continents – the UK, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, and Tokyo – Japan. Her newest film in post-production was shot across 5 countries on 3 continents – Brazil, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mauritius and the US.
Beyond Film Making – A Strong Education Advocacy Path
But it’s not all about Film Making for this young Los Angeles Girl. A strong advocate for early education, but especially the continued education of Girls across the globe, she began her education advocacy in March 2013, with her Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up project, an initiative to inspire young children globally to dream big, and reach higher.
Along the way, she has now spoken to more than 24,700 youths in 11 countries about the importance of Education [including in the UK, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Mauritius, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, Kenya, Ethiopia and in the US – 16,000 screaming youths at the SAP center in San Jose – California.], the most by anyone under the age 40 in recent years.
Becoming the youngest person in the world to be profiled by a Forbes magazine Edition at the age of 10 in 2013, ELLE Magazine named her in its prestigious list of “33 Women Who Changed The World” in 2015. Why is this list prestigious, well, it also has in it the Federal Reserve Bank Chairwoman Janet Yellen, the President of General Motors Mary Barra, and one of the most prolific producers of our time – ABC Producer Shonda Rhimes, creator of the hit TV shows Greys Anatomy and How To Get Away with Murder.
New York’s Business Insider named her the Most Powerful 11 Year Old in the World in April 2014, in recognition of her exceptional ability in making her case, and commanding the attention of global political and business leaders.
Zuriel’s Global Odyssey
To make her case for the education of children at the highest level, she has now met one-on-one with 24 President’s & Prime Ministers, including the leaders of Jamaica, Tanzania, Samoa, Guyana, Tuvalu, Liberia, Malawi, South Sudan, St Vincent & Grenadines, Guinea, Malta, Cape Verde, Kenya, Mauritius, Malawi, Lesotho, Croatia, and St Kitts & Nevis, in the Caribbean region.
As evidence of her reach and influence, she began giving an annual award to First Ladies and Gender Ministers on the African continent, to recognize measurable efforts towards children’s education. In 2014, the awards were won by the First Lady of Tanzania, and the Gender Minister of Mauritius, in 2015 by the First Lady of Kenya and the Gender Minster of Ghana, and in 2016 by the First Lady of Namibia
Zuriel has been featured in the last 20 months on every major Global News platform, including single or repeat appearances on BBC in London, CNBC Power Lunch, Bloomberg TV, CCTV, TRT World in London, and CNN.
In recognition of her work on Girls Education and Humanitarian services, she received the Governors Gold Coin Award
Speaking & Inspiring Beyond Boundaries
An inspiration to the young, old, business and political leaders alike as an example of what can be accomplished at an early age, she has been a guest and featured speaker at institutions across the globe, including Ashesi University in Ghana, Lagos Business School in Nigeria, and University of Pretoria in South Africa.
Her premium speaking events include being a TEDx speaker, a key note speaker for the Maryland State Department of Education, a Panelist on the prestigious annual Women In Entertainment Luncheon in Los Angeles, a key note speaker at the Columbia University Economic Forum in New York, and her most powerful speech yet, at the United Nations in New York, in September 2016.
The Future for Zuriel
This 14 year old 11th grader who speaks English and Mandarin fluently is still the very normal girl next door, who likes Robotics engineering and competes in both a soccer and basketball league. But to others looking inside from the outside, the bets are that she would become one of two simple things, within in the next two decades – “The Youngest Secretary General of the United Nations”, or “The Youngest President of the United States”.
Perhaps there is nothing simple, or normal, about these two probable destinations.