I’ve seen a lot of interviews from Nigerian actors, both male and female (and some very famous actually), and in these interviews, they are asked “what is your ultimate goal or ambition for your career?” or “where do you see yourself in the future?”. You listen to their answers and you find that for the most part (at least 99% of the last few I’ve heard) have responded saying that their goal is to make it into Hollywood or to make it big in Hollywood.
And this is where we are going to pump the breaks for a second and take a detour.
If you have heard about YouTube celebrities then you know that they are a group of young people who simply make videos on YouTube and have somehow been able to convert that into a career. Some of these people are millionaires. Some of them are making that million on a per month basis (and I am not exaggerating at all… look it up!). They have a fan base not only in their country (mostly America) but also internationally (I’m talking Singapore, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, London and everywhere in between). When they have shows in these countries, they pack the rooms. These people are brand faces, they sell products and have varied sources of incomes.
However, you see their videos of when they go in for auditions in Hollywood and how humbling it is. This is because when they go in for these auditions, no one knows them in that industry. When they attempt to come into that industry they are on the same level as every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
I mean when you think about it, including all the other big industries, how many international stars have actually been able to gain that level of acceptance in Hollywood?
Only one name comes into my head readily and that would be Priyanka Chopra from Bollywood and her entry into the American media via her TV show on ABC, “Quantico”. But how did she do it? Did she go about dreaming for Hollywood? Was this her goal?
You’ll find that in many established industries with international fan bases and appeal, the response from many is that they have no desire to cross over into Hollywood, that is not their end game. This stems from a realization that any two industries are very different bullpens. A transition between both is seldom a horizontal transfer to the same level on the other. Instead, you start from the bottom.
There is no recognition. No special privileges. Instead, it is a humbling experience.
In the one case that we spoke of with Priyanka Chopra and Quantico, she was only able to make that transition as fluidly because ABC came to her. ABC from America, came to her in her home in India with a proposition because they had seen her work because they liked her work and because they were able to respect what they saw.
So I’m not saying it is a useless goal that our people want to crossover, however, the only way to achieve that without starting afresh is to elevate your industry.
The goal should be to bring Nollywood up to a position of respect in the eyes of the world. Hollywood will not extend her hands to us unless they have something to gain. Unfortunately, as we stand, we are not offering a lot.
We need to rechannel all this lust for another industry and put it into intensifying our attempts to elevate the stature of our industry. That involves elevating our production levels, our talent levels, the artistry, the storytelling, finding what is unique about us and focusing on that. It involves trying less to be Hollywood but trying harder to find out what Nollywood is and what makes her different. It involves trying to find out what we have to offer.