Monday, 13 August 2012

I Want African Entertainers to Reach a Wider Audience- Egor Efiok

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I have always wanted to showcase African talent worldwide and not just limit them to Africa. For instance, good Nollywood stars should be known in the US the same way good Hollywood stars are known in Africa and both industries should be encouraged to have more access to network.

Some talented African music and movie stars have had the chance to work with Hollywood stars, which is a good thing; but what about the rest of the talented ones that haven't had the same chance? These were some of the thoughts running through my head before I contacted Hollywood Weekly. Please click to continue reading…

We live in the 21st century and you cannot hide talent, no matter the location. You have seen an example with Bollywood movie, Slumdog Millionaire, which was shot in India. Freida Pinto and Dev Patel proved themselves to be internationally worthy right from India. It was their talent that stood out and their location did not matter. We have similar talent in Nollywood that have not been showcased internationally, so I decided to find a way to showcase some of my most talented stars in Hollywood.

Amitabh Bachchan recently returned to India after going to Hollywood to feature in 'The Great Gatsby'. He is already a big A-list Bollywood star and Bollywood is the 2nd largest film industry in the world. Despite his success, he still knows the importance of networking with Hollywood, the largest film industry in the world, so it was an honour to feature in the movie. It is the same scenario with successful Nollywood stars; a lot of them are very comfortable, so their sole interest is in networking. Nollywood closely follows Bollywood and is recognised as the 3rd largest film industry in the world, and thanks to some of our talented movie-makers, Nollywood and Hollywood have already started networking. However, our producers cannot cast every single talented star, so it will be nice to profile as many of our talented stars as possible, right where they can easily be noticed.

Many of us tune in to watch shows like American Idol and are entertained by Steven Tyler doing crazy things like taking his clothes off and jumping into the pool, live on tv, straight after judging. Similarly, we also tune in to watch Nigerian Idol and look forward to the next entertaining stunt that our very own shock rocker, Charlyboy, would bring to the judging table and whether it is his huge python wrapped around his neck or the skull he sometimes carries with him, it is still enough to shock and have people roaring with laughter. No matter how outrageous, the truth is, you will still tune in to watch him, because of the entertainment factor he brings to the table. We buy magazines featuring talented Hollywood actors - should they not also be encouraged to buy magazines featuring our talented African stars? If our talented stars are projected in Hollywood the way their stars are projected in Africa, they will definitely take an interest, and this would encourage more networking.

We rush to buy magazines featuring designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Georgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and many others; We have similar talent in our African fashion world - designers like Kosibah, Alexander Longe, Frank Oshodi, Oswald Boateng and so many others, who also dress A-list stars, and it will be nice to showcase their designs in Hollywood. We have our own answer to Kabuki Magic in Princess Amayo, we have many other good celebrity MUAs like Lola Maja, stylists, photographers, hairdressers, etc. We promote Hollywood stars on our sites all the time. US sites now promote Bollywood stars as much as they promote their own stars, because they feel like they know them; so they will definitely promote talented African stars if they are made to notice them more often. A good example is Hollywood Weekly - they didn't just take my word/hype about my talented Nollywood stars. They did their own research and realised that they were on good soil and by the time Nollywood fans flocked to their site, they were overwhelmed.

I could go on and on with more examples, but I am sure you get the general drift by now that my main interest is to get African entertainment to reach a wider audience, rather than just limiting ourselves to Africa.

Magazine owners also know that they'd only put people on their covers whose faces would help sell their magazines. Hollywood Weekly had never heard of Nollywood at the time I approached them, so this was one of the challenges I faced. I decided not to 'shove too much down their throats' at once, with the entire African entertainment industry, until they had at least familiarised themselves with Nollywood.

Hollywood Weekly Magazine has their own concept, which is more about quality than quantity. They are located on the Sunset Gower Studios lot in Hollywood, hence they mainly feature Hollywood stars; so my request was taking them completely outside their comfort zone; and in order to take this risk, it was left for me to convince them about why Hollywood and Nollywood should network.

I assured them that just my four chosen A-list Nollywood stars would generate a lot of interest there in Hollywood, not to talk of the entire African entertainment industry, and that if they feature them first in their magazine and find my claims about them to be credible, that will be sufficient proof that I will only recommend to them for future feature, the stars that meet their required standards. Look at how well respected BET and MOBO are for acknowledging rising African stars with Awards. There are Africans all over the world and we are always patriotic. The fans there in Hollywood will be the first to show their support and help create the buzz.

Before I go further, I have to publicly congratulate our A-list Nollywood stars, Desmond Elliott, Monalisa Chinda, Jackie Appiah and Joseph Benjamin, who proved their worth by making Hollywood Weekly Magazine's first ever cover and feature of Nollywood so popular, and giving them record-breaking traffic to their site, that not only have Hollywood Weekly agreed to all my requests, they have also added some extras, as they are so pleased with the results. I am very proud of my stars and am particularly pleased for the big opportunity presented to other talented stars, as I cannot take on every star that requests to join E4 PR, but can now use my platform to help project the international worthy ones.

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