Emeka Rollas, national president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), has explained why the guild held its International Festival in Miami, Florida, USA.
The event tagged “The Future of Nollywood Actors in the Global Economy” started on November 16 to November 18 and was attended by Nigerian film practitioners living in Nigeria and those based in the US.
Explaining the decision to host the festival in Maimi, Mr Rollas, in a recent interview with newsmen, said one of the reasons the guild took the Festival abroad was to establish the first edition of the event and another reason was due to the Screen Actors Guild of America (SAG) strike in Los Angeles at the time.
He said: “The visioner always understands what his visions are. Maimi, because at the time we had planned the programme, the Screen Actors Guild of America was on strike and the strike was happening all around Los Angeles so it would have been a misplacement of priority if we took the festival to Carlifionia because, at that time, we won’t receive the desired effect so we decided to do Miami, one for the weather. Miami weather is just like Nigeria, all those days we were in Maimi, we weren’t wearing all winter jacket because we were just free.
“We said okay let’s take it to Maimi so we can establish the very first edition of this event, then next year we move back to Carlifiona and I can authoritatively tell you that we already have a venue in Los Angeles, we already have a partnership with Dream Magic Studios which is a subsidiary of Silverbird Group and 2024 AGN International Festival is already on its way.”
Disclosing another reason for hosting the event in Miami, Emeka Rollas said: “Then the reason why, another why from your why is that people think we should have done the AGN festival in Nigeria but our target is not the Nigerian market our target for AGN international is to showcase actors to the international casting agencies, using their craft to create a good diplomatic relationship so that our actors can begin to get roles in the international film business.
“I watched Wakanda Forever, from the beginning to the end of Wakanda Forever, you know there is an African story. Now, rather than consider Nollywood actors to play in that film, I know a South African made it but as big as we have seen Nollywood is, anybody who sat down and crafted that story or did the casting for that film should have considered an actor from Nollywood.”
Speaking further, Emeka argued that the role of Shuri in Black Panther played by Guyanese-British actress Letitia Wright could have been played by Nollywooed stars like Kate Henshaw, Destiny Etiko or Ini Edo.
“All the things that Letitia did in that film is not more than what the Kate Hanshaws of these days can do, the Destiny Etikos, the Ini Edos, so what is so special about bringing Letitia from one of those countries to act in an African story where you mentioned a General Okoye, that lady called General Okoye in that film, that name means ‘we have the interest to enter Nollywood to do XYZ’. So I don’t want to limit the Nigerian actors. If you are in Nollywood as an actor and you have been here for 20 years and you have not been able to hit a movie that can be able to give you residuals or royalties till you die, you have never made impact.
“All the cinema films that they are doing right now, how many of the actors in those films can say that yes, our payment is worth the payment? what is the kind of contract they are entering with those people? So yes, we have our objective and our objective is to expose Nigerian actors to the international community,” he said.