Nollywood has been receiving a lot of international recognition, but the truth is that no Nollywood actor has had a break in mainstream Hollywood.
Nigerian actress Adesua Etomi has a higher mission than just making it in Nollywood: she wants to win an Oscar and put Nollywood on the map.
“I’d love to win an Oscar in the near future. I would love the opportunity to put Nigeria and the UK on the map,” the actress said in an interview with her alma mater, University of Wolverhampton.
The statement elicited more negative, sarcastic and positive reactions on various social media platforms.
Etomi is one of the biggest stars to emerge in Nollywood in recent years, with big budget films such as “The Wedding Party” and “10 Days in Sun City” to her name. She has also won several awards, most recently the 2016 AMVCA Best Actress in a Drama for playing Muna in “Falling.”
But for the actress, being a successful actor isn’t good enough: she also wants to be an ‘impactful actor.’
In recent times, Nollywood has been receiving international recognition. For instance, in 2016, eight Nollywood films were selected to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as part of its City to City programme.
There’s also “Dinner” and “10 Days in Sun City,” the first two ever French dubbed Nollywood films to officially receive their CNC visas for a commercial exhibition in France.
Nollywood films have also made it to American entertainment streaming company, Netflix, creating an opportunity to reach a wider audience. But the truth still remains that no Nollywood actor has found his or her way into mainstream Hollywood. But of course, there have been several attempts.
In 2011, Mirror.Co.Uk reported that Genevieve Nnaji was being considered to become the next Bond girl – it eventually didn’t happen. In 2013, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde made a cameo appearance as Akon‘s date in “Hit The Floor,” a VH1 popular drama series.
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde and Genevieve, two actors who have conquered the ranks of Nollywood to become unforgettable household names in Nigeria, couldn’t crack into mainstream Hollywood. With “Quantico” and “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”, Bollywood stars Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone managed to break into Hollywood.
For an actress whose movies “The Wedding Party” and “Arbitration” already screened at TIFF, Adesua understands that Nollywood is no stranger to the world and the map. But she wants more: She wants to catapult herself and the Nigerian film industry into the American consciousness.
She started her journey to this task in 2014, when she introduced herself to Nigerians with her debut feature film, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” She has since then featured in successful or critically acclaimed films such as “The Arbitration,” “Couple of Days,” “A Soldier’s Story” and “Falling.”
She will next be seen in “The Wedding Party 2,” a sequel to the highest grossing Nollywood movie of all time.
Etomi is currently working on “Muna,” a movie by US-based Nigerian filmmaker, Kevin Nkem Nwankwor. For her role as the titular character, Etomi will get to show off her martial arts skills alongside Mayling Ng, who played Orana in “Wonder Woman.”
Etomi said the role will ‘definitely be the most physically challenging project’ she has done to date.
She is already working towards her dream of winning an Oscar and ‘putting Nigeria on the map.’
Africa is no stranger to the Oscars with countries like Algeria, South Africa, Ivory Coast, and Mauritania having been nominated in the past, with Algeria being the first African country to win one, and South Africa’s “Tsotsi” the first non-French African film to win.
No Nigerian film or actress has ever been a contender, and that’s something Adesua Etomi hopes to change. Her dream to put Nigeria on the map, considering the context, is reasonable.
Etomi is talented, her confidence and optimism is also refreshing. She has what it takes to achieve her dream of winning an Oscar.