Despite the huge success recorded by Nollywood in the last 20 years, the Nigerian motion picture industry, currently ranked second globally in terms of quantity production, keeps recording bizarre occurrences.
Gone are the days when sexual harassments or sex-for-roles are in vogue in the industry.
What reigns supreme these days among some crop of filmmakers is financial payment in exchange for movie roles, which in most cases does not come the way of the desperate up and coming actresses trapped in this new scam shamefully scripted by Nollywood insiders.
EE investigations revealed that this new scam which is gradually taking over Nollywood, has been going on secretly in the last couple of years.
A victim who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity, disclosed how these racketeers in Nollywood operate with reckless abandon.
In the exact words of the up and coming thespian: “I was shocked when I went to an audition last year and the producer of the said movie told me to pay him money to be able to get a role in his forthcoming movie. Initially, I thought he was joking, but he insisted and brought out a form. I eventually walked out on him when he kept pestering me to pay N15, 000, to enable me have a permanent place in his production outfit.”
Another emerging actress who spoke with EE and does not want her name in print, said a popular filmmaker (names withheld), told her to bring N100, 000, as ‘sign on fee’, if she wants to be appearing regularly in his movies.
“He said after paying the sign on fee, I will automatically become a regular member of his production house, which will also guarantee me major roles in his movies. I told him I do not have such amount of money as an up and coming actress…but he kept pestering even till date. He later told me to pay the money by instalments. Surprisingly, after almost a year, he is yet to shoot the said movie he wants me to part with money.”
EE gathered that some desperate actresses that recently parted with huge sums of money in order to be part of a ‘new’ production that was billed to commence early this year, are still waiting for the producer.
“After collecting N25,000, each from all of us in October last year, as registration fees for his new soap, we are yet to hear from this producer. All his phones are permanently switched off and his office under lock and key,” a frustrated and obviously duped actress told us recently. She continues: “My case is even better, one of my female friends, had fallen prey to three different producers in Nollywood, after parting with large sums of money for jobs that never saw day light.
Cash payment for roles is now the order of the day in Nollywood and the producers and directors involved in this scam do not give a damn. It is an open secret in Nollywood that most filmmakers demand money from up and coming actresses before casting them for roles.
It is no longer only sex they demand from us, but also money. And if you are lucky, a minor role will come your way after a long wait, but if you are not, you will wait for years after parting with money and sometimes, your precious body. The leadership of AGN should come to our rescue before this heartless producers milk us dry. To them, merit no longer counts, it’s your money and sometimes your body.”
With this ugly trend fast gaining grounds in Nollywood, especially among the new breed filmmakers, we tried reaching Miss Ibinabo Fiberesima to react and proffer solutions on the possible ways of tackling the ugly development, but her phones were switched off.
However, a revered filmmaker Chidi Nwokeabia, who spoke with EE heaped the blame on the actresses. He said their desperation and greed for overnight stardom are what some filmmakers, especially the new breed ones are exploiting and capitalising on.
“Most of these girls will do anything to become stars overnight. And this had led them into the arms of exploitative filmmakers. Again, with the lull in the industry, these filmmakers, most of whom are jobless, need the money from these desperate girls to survive and stay alive. It is a very bad trend and the earlier we stop it, the better for our industry and rising actresses.”