Thursday, October 20, 2016

How to become a successful actor in Nollywood

I thought I should share this...

"I recently had an ‘interview’ with my old high school and one of the questions that was asked was one of the questions that I find so hard to answer. “What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become an actor?” Whenever I’m asked this, my first thought is – who am I to be giving advice? Especially when I’m still figuring it out myself. But this is what I said and it came out pretty cohesively, so I’m going to keep this and make it a monologue whenever I’m asked again in the future.

“Don’t do it. Find something else to do that you can be happy doing. It’s not glamorous, that’s only what you think it’s like because of what you see and read in magazines and the internet. There’s no money in it, you’ll be poor, poor to the point that every penny seems like $100. You’ll have to leave all your friends and family behind at some point, if you truly want to pursue it on a professional level. You’ll be rejected over and over and over and over again on a daily basis, countless times you will hear NO before you get out of bed in the morning. You can work and sacrifice for fifteen years of your life and never see a dime or even get a single part in a TV show or movie. If you can read all that and be unfazed, then you can start thinking about pursuing a career in front of the camera.
This is always a tough question to answer, one that I asked a long time ago too. And you’ll find so many people saying the same things – DON’T. I never understood why established and successful actors and celebrities, who were obviously successful at what I want to do, advising hopefuls to ‘do something else’. Now, over ten years of being in this business, I fully understand what they meant and whole heartedly agree with their advice. It’s a tough, tough business. I don’t think there’s anything like it, no industry to compare it to. There’s no corporate ladder to climb, there’s no step by step process, you don’t make money for a long time (if ever), and there’s just no guarantee of a job, ever. It sounds harsh but that’s the reality of this business.

To help paint a picture, when I started out, I didn’t have any idea of where/how/who/what I was supposed to do – heck, some days, I still don’t. It took a good two years just to get my bearings straight and even begin heading towards some kind of path I thought may be beneficial. I worked for free for many, many years, never saw a dime from acting. I worked various part time jobs to make rent and eat, spent tens of thousands of dollars that I didn’t have (thanks Visa, Mastercard and American Express!) on classes, workshops, pictures and more. It’s been doing this for over a decade and I’m still paying off the debt I created from many years of struggle. I was prepared to live out of my car, I never had to but I have friends that have had to, I know people who couldn’t afford anything except bread and peanut butter for every meal, every day.

Over a decade and I’m not a household name – my neighbor doesn’t even know my name, I’m not a millionaire, there’s no fame, there’s no fortune. I’m rejected everyday, I fail daily. I get about 1% of the acting jobs that I audition for, out of more than thousand auditions which has spanned over more than ten years, I only have about fifteen legitimately professional credits . I still work a day job. Often times, there is no free time, no time for hobbies because of classes, workshops, working a job, studying, etc. For awhile it was and still sometimes is, eat, sleep, breathe acting business, and not even because you want to, but because you have to in order to keep your dream alive. The worst of it all, I’ve had to leave all my friends from high school and college, and my family behind. And I’m not whining, I’m telling you this because this is typical for any actor and it’s what to expect. Sure we all hear stories about someone plucked from obscurity and thrust into stardom for instant fame, money and “success”, but that is not going to happen to you. You have a better chance of reciting the script of my favorite movie BRAVEHEART, better than me – it’s just not gonna happen. One of my favorite quotes is (not from Braveheart), “How does one become successful? – Right Decisions. How does one know which are the right decisions? – Experience. How does one gain experience? Wrong Decisions.” You will fail, hopefully over and over again until the doubt creeps in and you just want to give up. And that is exactly how you will succeed.

And honestly, there’s no one path to take. Every actor finds their own way and I promise you, they’re all different, all million of them. All I can really offer is that you keep consistent, do the work – no shortcuts, have patience, persistence, positivity and be yourself, not what you think others want or need you to be. And just know that this industry is full of opinions and don’t listen to any one who tells you that there is only one way or the way to do it, including me. Believe in yourself, your talent and don’t ever underestimate that you belong.”

The above are opinions based on our experience. We are not experts and do not make any guarantees as to the success or practice of these opinions."

I read through the above, mirrored the thoughts of the writer to mine and those of so many others in Nollywood and thought to share. I owe the writer big time.

                         Emeka Amakeze writes...

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