I grew up watching a lot of Nollywood movies.
An Industry that came into being when I myself was a toddler, I have always felt like we grew together.
Both of us making mistakes and learning – sometimes the hard way – from them.
By the time I was 8 or 9, I was already an avid watcher – my eyes had seen enough Nollywood posters to rival the insides of a video club.
I also loved it – the high fashion of the early 90s aka shoulder pads and shiny sequined dresses, the blood spillage that came with an era of themes of blood money and a constant stereotype of some of my favorite Actors in Characters that stay with me till this day.
It was a lot of spectacle.
Maybe a little too much for me, at that age. But for me, it did not matter. Never has.
As a little girl, whose mates could sing along to the many catchy songs in Annie and who absolutely loved The Lion King, I was more vast in the soundtracks for movies like Nneka the pretty Serpent, Ijele, Chain Reaction and the score for Silent Night.
I sang along, hummed songs as I did chores.
It became a huge part of me. A guilty pleasure and eventually, a career path.
It felt for me, like Nollywood and I shared a bond.
Of course, as I grew, Nollywood itself grew – movies with certain genres gave way to more movies, with different genres, more stars were born and more importantly, more hands got on deck.
As a teenager, the Sunday newspapers my father bought caught my attention for one sole reason – to devour line after line of the news in the entertainment corner.
Every week, I looked forward to who would be profiled, what gossip was the juiciest and more, whose exclusive interview was to be served fresh for me to devour.
As I grew in interests, the Industry had also grown in its ability to balance showbiz and indulge me in the glamor of the lives of my stars after the camera stopped rolling.
One of my favorite things to do eventually became reading about my newest favorite.
At the time, there was no social media – even if there were, I was a skinny teenage girl whose mother would have barred from the gates of social media and insisted that I picked a book instead – so magazines like Hints and Hearts and, the entertainment section of Sunday Punch were my saviors.
I remember reading the hell out of everything Genevieve Nnaji when I saw articles on her.
She had caught my eyes since Ijele in 1999.
I was to remember much later that she had first been in Most Wanted, a film where she had featured in just one scene as newscaster.
My love for Genevieve grew with every single role, movie, character interpreted and more. And it looked like Nollywood shared this interest because it cast her a whole lot in that decade.
I on the other hand, kept my Genny dedication intact.
I followed her from the jungle of Ijele to the fast-lane traveled in Sharon Stone and ultimately, to when she belonged in Girls’ Cot.
The fervor with which I devoured article after article, watched everything she became involved with was the same way I followed any new favorite I had in the movie Industry from the pages of newspaper and magazines and eventually, social media.
I watched Nollywood and supported it. In turn, it birthed new stars for me.
Ours was a symbiotic relationship.
One which worked effortlessly, for years.
For many years, every major movie industry in the world has birthed new stars. It was a formula that worked in that, new stars eventually took up the mantle, whether as talented as their predecessors or not, eventually became the new face of TV, Film/Box Office and sold out films etc.
However, in recent times, Nollywood has not only stalled, but has a strong case of imbalance going on.
Again, it felt like Nollywood and I had found ourselves in the same place.
You see, a little over a year ago, my body scared me.
For the first time in my life, I saw symptoms of what i was going to eventually realize was hormonal imbalance.
Thing was, I heard it was normal occurrence among women around my age, much later. Before then, I had, in sheer horror, worried if I was going to die especially since my imbalance brought with it, a missing period.
I wondered about too many things, one of which was – was I going to have problems procreating?Because, no period meant no ovulation and no babies (if I wanted) you know?
Yet, just like our growths had happened at the same time, it seemed Nollywood was also having its own share of imbalance.
In what seemed like the second year in a row with ailing box-office numbers and a stagnant creation of stars.
From its (generally agreed date of) inception in the early 90s, Nollywood has steadily produced major superstars.
Those stars sold the hell out of VHS cassettes, DVDs and eventually, box office tickets.
Problem though, was, after a while, even with a new crop of Actors coming to fore, the same stars from the DVD era continued to sell in the box office era.
Filmmakers, Mildred Okwo (The Meeting, Surulere) and Kunle Afolayan (October 1, Figurine) have in the recent past, cited the reason for casting some of the faces of ‘old Nollywood’ because they needed someone to ‘sell the film.’
Now, years after Nollywood made a seamless transition to the Box office, there does not seem to be a star as big as the ones made when it was a mere industry thriving on DVD sales.
Its imbalance just like mine took away my period, took away its ability to create new stars.
And with each year, this ability weakened.
In the year 2017 alone, there was NO breakout star in Nollywood.
Same continued for 2018.
Now, a few days into 2019, a year coming after Nollywood had an ‘ok’ year (the Industry’s numbers were boosted by Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys much later in the year) the question remains – why are there no new stars?
Who would sell the films and continue to keep the audience entertained?
Who do we want to check out beyond social media and give our money?
Isn’t this a dangerous act, one which would inadvertently hurt the business?
The heck is going on with Nollywood and its imbalance?
At least, I have started seeing my period.
Nollywood, what’s good?