If you ask an average Nigerian who his or her best actress is, they will still mention the likes of Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, whereas these actresses hardly have new movies out.
More Nigerian actresses are looking beyond Nollywood to survive, as their take home pay is abysmal. So many are turning down roles and using their new found fame to focus on personal businesses. While many are surviving on brand endorsements, some now run fashion houses and a few unconventional businesses, not forgetting a few who have also tried to diversify into the music industry.
Whatever happened to the new comers you may ask? Is it that they lack the talent and the appeal? A movie critic and consultant opines that Nollywood as an industry in recent years has failed to create an enabling environment for new talents to grow. ‘There’s so much nepotism in the industry. People don’t get role by credit anymore, how can real talents then be discovered? Now it seems like only those involved in scandals that seem to make the headlines. We know the likes of Nuella Njubuigbo, Anita Joseph and Susan Peters more for the scandals they have had than for movies they have acted’.
Many at times, producers have been accused of having preference for pretty faces rather than talent in their choice of actresses. In most cases, these pretty faces are nothing but just pretty faces with little or no talent.
It can be recalled that the essence of reality shows like Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO) and Next Movie Star were to discover the next Nollywood stars but sadly not many of the products of these competitions have made it to the mainstream. The reason isn’t far fetched. They are not serious about doing the right thing, giving the Ghanians the express way to take over.
Besides OC Ukeje who was named ‘Best Actor in a Lead Role’ at AMVCA 2013, other AMBO winners; Azizat Sadiq (2005) (who has now turned to music), Bhaira McWizu (2007), Wale Ojo (2008) and Ivie Okujaiye (2009) are still finding it hard to make a strong presence in the highly competitive industry. Same can be said of the Next Movie Star winners and contestants who apart from enjoying the largesse that were doled out to them when they participated in the show and the attendant movie role, have not made any significant mark.
So what makes the Ghanaian actresses tick? Ghanaian actresses are a lot sexier and talented as well. Apart from enjoying a good movie, the fans want to see their stars looking good and trendy.
Are the Ghanaian over-celebrated more for their good looks than for their acting? For some time now, the industry has been plagued with internal wrangling. Intra and inter association bickering and tribal sentiments which has left the industry divided into Nollywood, Kannywood and the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP)-led Yoruba movie industry- all following tribal etymology. These intrigues have denied Nollywood the capability to function as one strong united front.
In many cases, viewers look out for much more from a movie than a good actor and a good story. ‘When I watch a movie, I want my favourite actors to not only be able to act, but to also look great and that is why I would still love Genevieve, not because she’s the best actress in my book, but she certainly knows how to keep it trendy,’ says, an ardent movie lover.
Yvonne Nelson has transformed into a household name in Nollywood. When her movie ‘House of Gold’ premiered in Nigeria, it was definitely a huge success. The success was also replicated when fans troop to the cinemas in the following weeks to watch the movie.
Not only has Jackie Appiah been clinching many of the prestigious awards, she has starred in over 20 Nollywood productions in the last few years making her the most featured Ghanaian actress in Nollywood with movies like ‘Victim’ and ‘Passionate Liar’.
Talented and sexy Nadia Buari has the highest fan base in Nigeria and that’s as much as what it takes to score a lead cast in much of Nollywood’s production. The 31-year-old actress who is currently enjoying a controversial romance with Nigeria’s Jim Iyke, in the last few years has managed to maintain her place at the top.
Whether they be over-celebrated or not, one thing that cannot be in doubt is that these Ghanaian ladies have left a lasting impression in the hearts of Nigerians and for one reason or the other, movie lovers have come to love to see their faces on their TV screens.