Some of the best actors in Nollywood started from the theatre and Television before switching to films.

Some of the best actors in Nollywood started from the theatre and television before making the switch to films. The skills, experiences and structures of these mediums made the finest actors that became household names.

Television has quite a lot to offer when it comes to characterisation, storytelling and creating breakout stars.

Most films cannot equal the subplots and exposition of characters we have seen in series such as "Checkmate," "Violated," "Fortunes" and most recently, "Tinsel," "Jemeji" and "Battleground."

 

RMD started on TV. Ego Boyo started on TV. Ramsey Nouah, Alex Usifo, Gideon  Okeke, Linda Ejiofor and Segun Arinze got their big breaks on TV.

These actors have all featured in successful movies, but they’re still much better known for their TV works. And for most of them, their TV breakout is the most significant part of their careers.

 

Television is an avenue to nurture future movie stars, who, in turn, get discovered by the world. And for an industry like Nollywood, which is currently struggling to make new stars, new TV shows would play a huge role.

In “Battleground" -  Africa Magic's latest TV show - there are several first-time actors, including Nonso Bassey (Dr Emeka), Chike (Mayowa) and Ron Mgbatogu (The General). Just like “Tinsel,” which had Odugbemi as one of its producers, “Battleground” will create household names.

The extended storytelling advantage in television offers an actor the opportunity to grow and deliver characters which viewers, over time, can connect to on an emotional level that films can't offer. The amount of time actors spend in certain roles means that viewers can/will also become invested in their career.

TV actors are stuck with a particular character for months and sometimes, years. During this period, they become dedicated and attached to this character, which affords them an avenue to hone their skills. They eventually get better. Look back at all TV series you know, didn't the actors get better as the show progressed?

 

There's also theatre which has a role to play. You must have heard the popular saying that theatre actors make better screen actors. While that is arguable as I have seen great stage actors make disappointing transitions to  screen, one thing is obvious: Theatre is a nurturing art form.

Acting for the stage requires patience, discipline, dedication and passion - qualities we must agree every great actor should possess.

The biggest difference between acting for stage versus acting for the screen is the audience. While acting for the theatre, your audience is right before you, there's no screen between you.

Actors need to exaggerate their facial expressions and gestures for everyone, including those at the back. Everything happens in real time. There are no opportunities for multiple takes to get a scene right. Therefore, your feedback is instant; you can't afford to fail.

Theatre has nurtured talented screen actors such as Adesua Etomi, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Uzor Osimkpa, Femi Branch, Etim Efiong, Olu Jacobs, Deyemi  Okanlawon, Olumide Bakare, Seun Ajayi, Bimbo Akintola, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett among others.

 

There's something else that is needed to grow a film industry: Training.

In 2009, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva set up Lufodo Academy of Performing Arts, which provides practical training of international quality in Lagos.

Jacobs trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, while Silva trained at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

When they returned to Nigeria in the early 80s, they realized that apart from universities that were training practitioners in  the performing arts, we really didn't have any  Academy that was not so theory driven. We didn't have an academy that was practical driven as in other film industries in the world.

"We felt that we needed to bridge that gap between the University trained and those  who are working in the industry who don't necessarily want to go through the university, and yet  get a proper academic qualification. So it's  like a vocational institution," Joke Silva said during an interview with Pulse Nigeria.

'There are a lot of people in the industry right now. A lot of them have learnt on the job, which has made the process of us getting to that area of excellence pretty slow. Now if you come to an academy like that, it makes it quicker.

Unfortunately for us, for most of those who have been working in the industry and  who have no training whatsoever, because the media is there hyping them, they don't realize that they don't have the skill, yet they are not willing to come back to learn. And that is really sad."

 

Many of the best actors in Nollywood started in theatre and the small screen, and have gone through series of trainings to boost their craft, and the skills acquired in each medium has been pivotal to their success in films.

To solve Nollywood's trouble with producing bona fide movie stars, it needs these mediums to grow bigger.