THE DOWN PLAY OF CHILD STARS IN NOLLYWOOD MOVIES
“This is my house, I have to defend it” was said by who, and in what movie? Well, if you racked your brains for some unpardonable stretchy seconds rather than declare the answer on the spur of the moment, then it simply means that you were neither a movie enthusiast/freak back in the days, nor could you holistically comprehend the unfolding events in the flick you were watching on the full screen as a result of your tender age.
Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Caulkin) in the first prequel of Home Alone quadlogy was the answer. He foiled an attempted burglary on his parents house by the wet bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). The movie was served to the International viewing audience in a highly entertaining comedy dish, released on November 16, 1990. It held on to the number one spot at the Box office for Twelve weeks, and grossed $ 477,561,243 world wide.
Hollywood can certainly boast of an array of child stars whether or not they consequently opted to pursue a full fledged acting career as they underwent the transformation into Adulthood. Dakota Fanning (Man on fire, alongside Denzel Washington (2004), Hide and Seek with Robert De Niro (2005), War of the worlds with Tom cruise (2005), and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss sunshine (2006), Definitely, Maybe (2008), Nim's Island (2008) are some of the children stars making waves in Hollywood. Macaulay Caulkin, Drew Barrymore, Hilary Duff, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint were at one time referred to as child stars.
Shweta pra sad, Aisha kapoor, Rucha vaidya are children who have acted in Bollywood movies. Samuel Olaseinde (Abeni), Fidelis Abdulraham (white Waters 2007), Richard Chukwuma ( Small boy) have acted in Nollywood movies, but the question is how popular are these Nollywood child stars amongst the teeming Nigerian populace and even beyond our shores. Akin (Chinedu Ikedezie) and PawPaw (Osita Iheme) years ago were known as children putting up great performances in the numerous Nollywood movies they starred in. They shone like stars and had producers ready to part with large sums of money to have them take up roles in their movies. Had an alien visited Nigeria at that time and asked for children stars, their names would have popped up in the minds of the people. It was only logical to think in that line since they looked it. Doubts embedded in controversial arguments from different quarters, and the ill informed public's perception was put in the proper perspective when they finally declared their ages. They were not children as we all once hastily concluded, but “little men”.
It is amazing that children stars depicting the true meaning of the word are at the bottom of the popularity chain when compared to these little men. One then begins to wonder why script writers undermine the role of children in movies and focus more on Adults. Hasn't any child with the potentials of a great acting career been discovered so as to harness same? Are the one or two kids who act in 'hit movies' or who pick up Awards given the opportunity to act in more movies? Are they crowned with fame and fortune as their Hollywood and Bollywood counterparts? Are they given the extra push, support, help, conducive environment needed to help them pursue a successful acting career? Do casting directors have the patience to call for public auditions to screen and select the best for the roles or do they simply pick the children they know from among the Industry's personalities? Can't children's roles where greatly executed in flicks act as catalyst in landing the sought after prestigious awards on the laps of the directors? or do we simply lack faith in their acting prowess.
The bane of the problem facing child stars lies in the “lack of continuity syndrome” flowing in the veins of most Nigerians which is manifested in various spheres. It is lugubrious to note that we are yet to bring about challenging, deep characterization roles, performed by children and woven in dexterity and told in a deep, non formulaic, non water shed plot with all the filming intricacies in place.
One can not fail to mention the most famous child star known by her mop of curls, Shirley Temple, who reigned in Moviedom during the 1930's depression era in America and still holds the record till date. Amongst other achievements she holds the record for being the highest paid actor in Hollywood between 1936 and 1938, beating other Adult stars. It's high time we prove to the world that Nollywood children stars are indeed uniquely gifted and can deliver at any time when the tape rolls and the 'action' order is given.
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