Translate to your language of choice

Sunday, 9 March 2014

TOPE TEDELA, NAIJA’S OWN LUPITA



 
 
I am delirious as I type on my computer. I am delirious that Tope Tedela won the AMVCA 2014 Best Male Actor Award. I am very excited for him and you’ll know why as you read on.

It’s no news that he was nominated for the best male performance in a drama alongside heavy weights like Majid Michel from Ghana, and Jacob’s Cross Hlomla Dandala from South Africa, and two days ago he was declared the winner in that category.
Tope Tedela
 
I got to know Tope by chance in 2012, and it was on the set of a feature film I was collaborating on, A Longer Night, as the screenwriter and assistant director with some of my friends whom I had attended a film school together with.

Our well thought out shoot had turned out as a guerrilla affair when our would-be investors had pulled out without any warning at the last minute, and we had almost lost steam trying to see it to a conclusive end. That is a story for another day, but God bless the cast and crew for their patience, tolerance and labour of love on that project. Tope was one of them.

He came on board as a replacement for one of the very significant roles in the story. The actor initially cast to play the role was stuck in another state and we didn’t have the cash to cover his logistics so I was burdened with the task of finding a good substitute within Lagos.

Bothered about getting a very good actor in such a short notice and with no means of paying for the service I had discussed the matter with Eric Nwanso, who was playing one of the major roles in our movie and shuttling another movie location he had confided in me was undergoing a guerilla shoot as well.
Nadia Buhari (in red), Emeka Ike, Eric Nwanso and Tope Tedela
at the movie premiere of A Mile from Home

Eric excitedly proffered a solution. He spoke about this upcoming actor who was the lead character in the other movie, A Mile from Home, where he, Eric was playing a major role as well. He was certain this actor was our man, and would jump at the opportunity as Eric had shared the script with him and he, the said actor, loved the story.

I reminded Eric that we couldn’t afford his artistes fees and Eric replied that the said actor will be available when we needed him.

The D-day arrived for the scenes involving the actor and he turned up with an unkempt look, the type Chiwetel Ejiofor wore in 12 years a slave. I got to understand later his appearance was deliberate for the other movie he was shooting, A Mile from Home. He introduced himself as Tope Tedela, and was very soft-spoken and humble to a fault.
Tope on the set of A Longer Night movie digesting the script
 
I explained the situation to him and he told me he was already abreast of it and asked for the script for the scenes he would appear in. Honestly, I didn’t pay him so much attention as so many things were calling for my attention. O’boy I was doubling as an emergency co-producer, props man, and continuity on top my already established portfolio, so you’ll understand my not giving him full attention, and he understood. He wasn’t  pretending to understand, his actions were sincere.

So, I gave him the script of six or more pages of dialogue wondering how he was going to juggle it and do a good job as the shoot was one hour away or so. Fast-forward to the shoot. The director, Chinedu Omorie called the takes while the camera was rolling, and that was when I realized how truly talented Tope is.  He delivered his lines, word for word, no improvisation, delivering a stellar performance, and we didn’t waste any takes or retakes on him. The director, producer and I were so impressed we kept talking about him for days after he left. We agreed we needed to keep him close.

After we wrapped the shoot, he kept in touch and we rubbed minds on many things, one of them was his growing weariness of his acting career not taking off as he’d expected plus the rejections he had suffered in some auditions. I was maaaaad at the people who had rejected this raw talent, and asked, rhetorically, if they had no sights, to which he smiled. He went on about how he was considering quitting acting as he had bills to pay and the little gigs he was getting wasn’t sustaining enough. He looked and sounded very serious about it.

I chided him gently to rebuke the thought as I shared my challenges as a film-maker while encouraging him that soon his time would come, and his weeping shall turn into joy, and God will make everything all right. I don’t know if he took me serious but I remembered he laughed and thanked me.
Then one day I had checked my bbm updates and I saw Eric’s personal message on Tope being an AMVCA 2014 Best Actor nominee, and I was literally dazed at the news. I quickly buzzed Tope to confirm it which he did and thanked God seriously for.  Gradually his fame began to spread online and in the media circles but he remained Tope, cool and humble.

While the voting was going on, he wasn’t so sure he would win since the other contenders were more popular and have large followership than he. To confirm his concerns, one of my bb contacts had asked sarcastically when she saw my display picture of him canvassing for votes, “ na who e be? … Which film he don act? … I hear”

Notwithstanding, I tried to keep his eyes on the prize but he stubbornly stayed indifferent as he didn’t want to get his hopes high and end up getting them dashed.

I insisted he will take over from OC Ukeje, the previous winner of that category, and he will rise like OC too, and he retorted quietly, “what if I don’t win it?” to which I replied “you will rise still because now everyone knows who you are”
I went further and called him Nigerians Lupita to which he busted into a fit of laughter. I joined him laughing too, and continued asking him to start preparing his speech but little did I know God would make it come to pass. So, when the news got to me that he had won the award, I was really excited as the words of Lupita N’yongo came to my mind that, “ … no matter where you are from your dreams are valid”

Friday, 7 March 2014

Top Ten Comic Characters for 2013


Nothing can ever go wrong with a healthy dose of laughter. Last year I watched a couple of indigenous movies, television shows and skits, and I laughed so hard that tears fell from my eyes copiously.  I didn’t even care for the execution of the story; I didn’t mind if it had loopholes or potholes.  I was simply caught up in the antics of the comic characters in them.

Here is my top ten lists of the comic characters that made me laugh so much that I nearly forgot I live in a country where terrorism is a constant K, and corruption is a respecter of nobody.

In no particular order:
Tomi Odunsi of Tinsel
Tinsel’S Shalewa:  She is the main reason I always tune in to watch Tinsel on Mnet. Reminiscent of the Funke Akindele’s  wanna-be village champion Jenifa character in the movie Jenifa, Shalewa’s spoken English in  a get-used-to-the-way-I-speak  manner always left my ribs cracked from too much laughter. Also, the way she always handled her classy and snobbish mother’s disdain for her poor communication and etiquette made her a fun character to watch. I used to think Tomi Odunsi, the young lady cast to play Shalewa was a real life local girl until I watched a performance she gave at an edition of The Open Mic event. Kudos Tomi for a job well done.

- Tinsel is showing on Africa Magic Entertainment Dstv Ch. 128

Frank Donga

Ndani TV’s Frank Donga: The first time I heard about that name was on twitter. I followed the conversations of some of my twitter followers who were in awe of the character, and I was thinking what the fuss was all about until I clicked a link to watch one of the webisodes and ol’boy I was in awe too. My initial reaction was if it was make-believe or a reality show where the character was oblivious of hidden cameras on him. The actor, whose real names I don’t know yet, must be a damn good actor or he was probably re-enacting his real life personality on screen. His facial expressions in an attempt to reply questions thrown at him in all the interview scenes like he has something intelligent to say is classic.

-   ndani.tv/blog/the-interview-the-tale-of-frank-donga

Mary Ogbonna (Clinic Matters)

Clinic Matters Biliki Sisiraju: This illiterate cleaner from Ibadan who is not easily intimidated by the nurses in the clinic where she works is another hilarious character. Read my lips, she is funny as hell. I find her constant pouting when angry or feeling advantaged very comical. Thumbs up to Mary Ogbonna, the actress who carried the role effortlessly, and she is Igbo too.

-    Clinic Matters is showing on AIT Network, Wednesdays 7.00pm – 7.30 pm, STV Lagos, Sundays 5.30 – 6.00pm

Rita Dominic in The Meeting

The Meeting’s Clara Ikemba: I didn’t see this one coming at all. I didn’t know Rita Dominic was capable of acting a comic role. She used to be a stereotyped girl-in-love or heartbroken lover in most Nollywood flicks until I saw her play Clara Ikemba in The Meeting which was co-produced by her.  Did I find her funny? Yes, I completely forgot I was watching Rita a.k.a. ‘the usual love suspect’ on screen as I got engrossed in her cantankerous portrayal of a very annoying but funny secretary in a government office.   

-   The Meeting is available for sale on DVD in various film stores nationwide

Justice Nuagbe (Ushbebe)


AY’s CRIB’s USHBEBE – Ushbebe is the dumb fictional gateman in the house of the popular Comedian AY in the sitcom AY’s CRIB. Is he dumb? Yes, and in capital letters too.  Played by Justice Emonaerere Nuagbe ,  a banker turned comedian.

-  AY’S CRIB is Showing on TVC, Africa Magic, and AIT (Broadcast time not available at the moment)

Katherine Obang

Lekki Wives Uju: Lies, wannabe, runs-woman, bloody liar, greedy, and terrible liar are terms that will best suit the character Uju in the acclaimed webisode Lekki Wives. The truth, these qualities made Uju a fun character to watch, and we loved her that way until the writer decided to murder her so she could pass on a moral message. OAP Katherine Obang who played Uju did not disappoint at all.

-   Lekki Wives is available for sale on DVD in various film stores nationwide.

Seyi Law

Seyi Law’s Black Jeezus: We are used Comedians in Nigeria releasing various skits online to publicise their show or event, but the one that stood out for me last year was ‘The Return of Jeezus’ which saw  Seyi Law as a black Jeezus in a rehearsal of the passion of Jesus Christ. Unable to bear the lashing from the whip he yelled ‘Jesuuuu!’ and he fired back with the question, "if na so den beat Jesus, he for reach calvary?' That performance left me in stitches for days as I kept playing it back, over, and over.

- www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SwtejFJNnE

Jingle Bingle’s Sister Clara: Hmmm, okay this one was my creation. Yes ke, I am a screenwriter ni.  You didn’t know?  Okay, now you know.  While I was writing the script for the short film I’d chuckle at the things I had to make the character say and her reaction to people’s reaction to her actions. I had no idea how funny it would turn out until I watched the clip of the finished work.  I kept laughing and amazed that I created that crazy character. High five to Bukky Thomas, the upcoming actress that brought Sister Clara to live on screen.

-   www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MyiuJDD5Ss

Kelechi Udegbe as Officer Titus

Ndani TV’s Officer Titus: Officer Titus is satire of a traffic law enforcement officer always on the prowl looking for traffic offenders in Lagos. If you live in Lagos, you’ll be used to seeing several officers Titus on the road.  The fear of them … Kelechi Udegbe’s flawless portrayal as officer Titus made me wondered if that was the work he was used to before he discovered his gifting in acting. Very entertaining. Well done Kelechi.

- ndani.tv/blog/officer-titus-one-chance

Biola Segun Williams

Finding Mercy’s Yoruba Market Woman:  I had heard so much about Finding Mercy, especially about the new kid on the block Blossom Chukwujekwu whom I heard gave a stellar performance in the movie. Quickly, I searched for it and started watching it but really got blown away by Biola Segun Williams’s performance as his onscreen mother. Her portrayal as a Yoruba market woman was impeccable and a complete contrast of her role as diva on Tinsel.

-    Finding Mercy is available online on Irokotv.com

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

AMVCA 2014: THE MOST DESERVING VERSUS THE MOST POPULAR


The Oscars have come and gone which was very delightful and memorable for many Africans as one of their own Lupita N’yongo broke the ceiling with her win as the best actress in a supporting role. That was beside the many side attractions.
Lupita N'yongo
 

This weekend Africans will be celebrating their own film stars at the African Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA) but unlike the Oscars where the nominee’s fate is solely in the hands of the voting members of The Academy who are very knowledgeable film people, the winners for the AMVCA will be decided by the voting public which I think may obstruct transparency in the awarding of the most deserving of the lot.

The criteria used in awarding a best actor or actress in a film/movie awards is usually based but not restricted to the actors understanding of and commitment to the script, embodying the character both physically and use of vocal traits, believability of the character, overall effectiveness of the performance and many more technical jargons which cannot be listed here for paucity of space. But does the voting public know about these yardsticks, and if they are, will they be willing to abide by them since they are not under any obligation to stand by them. It’s simply who appeals most to the voting public, and who the public fancies the most may not be strongest in terms of performance.

 
Leonardo Dicaprio
Leonardo and Matthew Mcconaughey
 


Take for instance, the recent Oscars that saw Leonardo Dicaprio losing the Best Actor Award to Matthew McConaughey which met with public outcry as many took to twitter to register their displeasure. From the various comments I read online, Leonardo simply deserved the statuette more than the other contenders because he has never won any Oscars for the duration of his career. Their argument wasn’t even on the basis of a superior performance than the other nominees.

 

Imagine if The Academy Awards had been thrown open to the voting public? The tables would have been turned; Leonardo would have been the one given the gong and Matthew hugging him in congratulations.

 
Back to the AMVCA, where the popular such as Majid Michel, Nse Ikpe Etim, Obi Emelonye, Barbara Minishi, Ian Mbugua and Desmond Elliot are mixed with the not-been-heard-of-before like Tope Tedela, Stephanie Wilson, and Martins Onyebuchi  Onyemaobi in different categories I wonder if the public’s choice will be the most deserving at the end of the day.

For the list of the nominees click on this link: AMVCA 2014

 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

HEARTBREAKERS

One question for you. Just one question.

Michael Uchegbu and Mary Lazarus
 
What result do you think the mixture of diesel, kerosene, petrol and an electric spark in an enclosed building  will produce?

Do I hear words like “danger”, “disaster”, or “death” in your replies?

Well, that is how I envision the assemblage of Femi Branch, Nini Wasera, Michael Uchegbu and Mary Lazarus in this riveting soon- to- be aired Mnet/Afriwood Television Movie titled “Heartbreak”.

The movie’s theme of  heartbreak is a potpourri of shattered love and marred perception.  Although, it’s theme is cliché but it’s execution is different from the norm and who better to cast for the role of the powerful firebrand bank manager in love than Femi who came into public consciousness with his effortless, and somewhat annoying portrayal as the spoilt rich psycho son of the tycoon Lord Williams in the TV Series Domino.

Nini Wacera, the Kenyan actress and star of the TV series Kona, gave a good account of herself as Femi’s love interest while trying to come to terms with her husbands betrayal. Michael Uchegbu, the fast rising upcoming actor who headlined the action thriller “Four Crooks and a Rookie” as the leader of a ruthless bank thieves, spiced up the plot with his brilliant portrayal as Femi’s Personal Assistant whom his boss is having a hard time deciding if he is a foe or friend, while he struggles in reassuring his pretty but possesive  and insecured wife played by the talented and steadily rising Mary Lazarus (Desperate Housegirls).


Nini Wacera, Michael Uchegbu and Femi Branch



Femi Brainard, Michael Uchegbu and Femi Branch


Nini Wacera and Michael Uchegbu



 


Michael Uchegbu and Nini Wacera

 

Thursday, 16 May 2013


SEGUN OBE, SIMI, AND OTHERS SET TO IGNITE COTERIE


It is going to be party unusual as April City Entertainment is set to take Coterie (a gospel club) to a whole new level as plans have been concluded make this the biggest and most entertaining edition since its inception.
Coterie is a party social event that creates the perfect avenue for young adults to mingle and network whilst having fun with celebrities. The idea behind coterie is to give young individuals the opportunity to network in a serene atmosphere. Titled THE RAVE, attendees at this episode of Coterie will socialize and dance to music as played by the DJs.
This high energy and extremely entertaining event will hold at the Forks and Fingers Lounge, No 56 Opebi, Lagos on Friday, 17th of May 2013 by 6pm. In addition to loads of exciting activities, the event will provide a fair-like atmosphere for participants with comedians and artistes toting the fun filled event. Among other notable celebrities that will grace the occasion are Segun Obe, Simi, Isaac Geralds, Gaise Baba, Ik Worships, Sam Jamz, Mc Gollie, Mc Rain and Dj Xpressit.
This epoch making event is toll free and is the first episode in the series lined up for the year. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

WHEN LOVE IS WICKED


Katherine Ijedinma, Sandra's surviving twin sister

When Brick and Lace, the popular American sisters, sang ‘Love is Wicked’ I imagined it was for a scenario like this:

Henry fell in love with Sandra. How they met? No one knows yet.

Girl usually visits her boyfriend to get some TLC until one day some hoodlums busted into his apartment and ruffled her up for some purported ransom they claim her boyfriend Henry absconded with and that was when it dawned on her that her well-to-do lover was into the illegal kidnapping trade.

She called her family and confided in them her predicament. Quickly they rushed to Delta State to pick her up and brought her down to Lagos, Igando precisely, to treat her and probably distance her from Henry.
Just when she was settling into her new environment, the home of one of her elder siblings, and probably getting over the shock of learning what her boyfriend did for a living, an unwanted visitor shows up with an AK-47 riffle.

The first person he accosted when he jumped into the compound was Sandra’s twin sister whom she accused was responsible for the death of his relationship with his former lover. He accused the young lady whom was carrying her elder sister’s child of convincing her twin sister not to marry Henry, and she claims he told her he was going to shoot her. He ordered her to lift up her dress that he intended to shoot her belly, she obeyed and he carried out his threat.

She woke up later in the hospital to learn that the bullet had hit her thigh before she passed out and after he shot her, the heart broken lover had gone after his ex-girlfriend and her elder sister, Mrs. Ozor whom she lived with, and her children as well. Not done, he visited the nearby home of another sibling of Sandra, Mrs. Ngozi Odia and shot her and her children.

He ran away in his SUV before the police got to the crime scene where he had killed seven members of his ex-girlfriends family including her, and the surviving husband of Mrs. Ozor claims the murderer cum kidnapper had been threatening him on the phone.

Wonders shall never cease. Stories like this just keeps popping up every time, they used to be stuffs you only see in the movies but life is now imitating the arts.

A Breath of Fresh Air: Bridget Chigbufue



Young, beautiful, talented, humble, and female – these qualities rarely mix together, and when you discover someone like Bridget Chigbufue that has such fine qualities, all you can do is give her the attention she deserves for greatness beckons on her.
The first time I came across her was online when the Next Movie Star Reality Show had just released the names and pictures of those shortlisted for the last edition of the show. She looked untouchable in her pictures. She was looking like a star already, and I’d dismissed her to be cocky just by the glamour of her pictures.
‘This one is gonna give them a hard time in that house’

That was my summation but how wrong my thoughts turned out to be when we eventually came face to face.
It had started with a very polite email I had received from her based on recommendations by some of our mutual friends. We had fixed appointment twice and I had cancelled at the eleventh hour yet she was very understanding.

Finally, I had to make out time from my busy schedule to meet her anywhere in the world (I mean anywhere in Lagos) as I was really impressed with her attitude. Guess where our first meeting was? At an audition venue. My respect for her grew that moment.
For a beautiful talented girl who is occupying the same second position our dear Tonto Dikeh held in the same competition that shot her to fame, and not seeing herself as ‘someone that has arrived’, still attending auditions to prove that she is more than just a pretty face instead of using the back door like some would then she deserves a commendation.
We got talking as she shared her dreams and passion about her career as an actress and her determination to be a great act, I was convinced that in no distant time will this girl rise to the position she has dreamt for herself.
As I took my leave she handed me a CD of a Christian movie she had starred in, directed and produced by Lancelot Imasuen, before the reality competition to access her skills. When she chatted me later to know my assessment about her performance in it and I told her it was a good one, she replied that she doesn’t want to settle for ‘good’ in the industry and wants people to always remember her for a ‘great’ performance.
That instant my admiration and respect multiplied for this damsel who more than anything wants her talents, rather than her pretty face, to speak for her always. Indeed, greatness beckons on Bridget.
Watch out for her as several of her works will soon be out.
You can follow her on twitter: @Cmorls

Powered by: