By Tariemi Oreoritse
November 13, 2022 | 6:00 am
In 2016, the global streaming service, Netflix, announced its presence in Africa’s most populous country with the streaming on the platform of “Fifty”, an Ebony Life Studios film directed by the late Biyi Bandele. Four years later, in 2020, Netflix Naija was born, as the company set up an office in Nigeria and acquired the rights…
In 2016, the global streaming service, Netflix, announced its presence in Africa’s most populous country with the streaming on the platform of “Fifty”, an Ebony Life Studios film directed by the late Biyi Bandele. Four years later, in 2020, Netflix Naija was born, when the company opened an office in Nigeria and acquired the rights to Genevieve Nnaji’s 2018 film, “Lionheart”, as they began their own commissioned projects.
Fast forward to 2022, Netflix Naija has developed a strong fanbase with an impressive portfolio of over 200 Nigerian movies streaming and several original projects, some in the works and others already released.
Over the past four years, Nollywood has seen a huge change and overhaul with the acquisition of the streaming platform as more and more storytellers have come to show the richness of stories, culture, cinema and action of Nigeria on the world stage. Thus, creating a noticeable narrative as more quality projects are released, a testament to the creativity and influence of Nigerian filmmakers.
This year again, Nigeria is celebrating the Netflix-cum-Nollywood partnership by highlighting its already released and upcoming projects of 2022. Guardian Life sat down with some key actors from these films to discuss these projects, their roles , as well as their opinion on Netflix’s acquisition of the Nigerian “Nollywood” film industry.
No stranger to Netflix Naija, in particular, for his role as “Oba” in Kemi Adetiba’s 2018 political thriller “King of Boys” and its 2021 sequel “King of Boys: The Return Of The King,” Sola Sobowale has now earned a new and well-deserved title of ‘everyone’s sugar mummy’ after his flawless portrayal of ‘Awarun’ in ‘Aníkúlápó’, an epic Nigerian film directed by Kunle Afolayan.
Emulating the role of a wealthy aunt in what became Netflix’s first Nigerian original film to reach number one worldwide, as Awarun, Sola embodies the dynamic of a powerful African woman, proud of her conquests and who knows how to put his wealth to work. his.
Describing her process, she references the role of hard work in her flawless delivery of Awarun. For her, “hard work and understanding the character” are essential to her embodying any role, Awarun included.
Not short of words to describe the film “Aníkúlápó”, she lists a series of them, including “fantastic, superb, fabulous”, adding that teamwork remains her favorite memory on the set of this film.
Playing a pivotal character in ‘Aníkúlápó’, the first Nigerian film to rank No. 1 worldwide on Netflix, she feels thrilled that the film is based on her culture and language.
Unlike many actors, she’s not one to turn off the TV when a movie she’s in appears. In fact, she’s taking the time to enjoy it, a change she’s been undertaking more recently. Looking at herself as Awarun, she blushed as she wondered, “Hey Sola, it’s you,” and she’s just as grateful that everyone loved the movie as she did.
Highly revered for his impressive roles in the Yoruba film industry, there is no better choice for the role of ‘Elesin’ than actor Odunlade Adekola. As he takes the stage for his interview, he wants things done right. Not one to shy away from a joke, he takes advantage when the interviewer shouts, “silent people of God”, jokingly retorts, “who says they are people of God”, making everyone laugh.
Set in pre-colonial Nigeria, ‘Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman’ is an adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s 1975 play ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’. The play details the Yoruba tradition of the ancient Oyo Empire which called for ritual suicide of the king’s horseman after the king’s death, as the only way for him (the king) to ascend into the afterlife. Directed by the late Biyi Bandele, Odunlade notes that the film’s powerful script would largely explain its impressive performance after its release.
Foreshadowing huge achievements for the film, he says, “Elesin Oba would be the number one movie on Netflix for the next five years. It’s something everyone wants to see,” noting that this was the best time for his adaptation.
As with many Netflix Originals, he highlights teamwork as his favorite on-set memory, taking the time to pay tribute to the late Bandele, whom he describes as a “wonderful director”, adding: “everything in him was so wonderful”.
An Ebonylife Studios and Mo Abudu project, Odunlade comments on the working relationship he has with them, saying, “This is the first project to work with Ebonylife, and it was awesome, I really loved it, and I felt so comfortable working on this project and I look forward to working with Mo Abudu as she is a wonderful producer.
Young, charming and jovial, Mike exudes a level of humility that speaks to his great personality, especially after landing the role of title character “Ishaya Bello” in Netflix’s first Nigerian original young adult series “Far From Home”.
He recounts the exhilarating feeling that accompanies this achievement. “It’s a huge responsibility to be at the helm of a show of this magnitude, and I thank the good people at Inkblot and Netflix for trusting me with this opportunity.”
Not so different from his character, Mike portrays him as an ordinary Nigerian kid trying to make sense of his life, and the story follows him on that journey. Like many young Nigerians, Ishaya tries his best to make the most of the unfair situation life has placed him in, and so it becomes much easier for them to identify with his character.
Predicting audience reaction to the series, he notes that it would be a mix of love, relativity, admiration, and even hate. But one thing is for sure, everyone would find a little bit of themselves or their situation in “Far From Home”, adding that the recurring themes of family, survival and loyalty are just some of the many takeaways for viewers.
The best part of filming this project for him was working alongside his friends in the industry. But one scene that stood out for him was his scenes with RMD.
Therefore, he is surprised to hear the distinction between old and new Nollywood. He reveals that he doesn’t see it as a “new school/old school thing”.
His words: “I see it as an industry that grows over time, and new talent comes in as the industry grows, and certainly those new talent would meet and work with veterans who paved the way before them. .”
Enjoying Inkblot and Netflix, he notes that they were supportive and good to him throughout the project. Going further to applaud Netflix for its wonderful contributions to the Nollywood industry, he says there hasn’t been a better time to be in the industry than now.
Before you ask, yes, it’s Timeyin, and if you remember her flawless delivery on ‘Blood Sisters’, you should expect nothing but the best.
After getting the chance to audition for Zeenah for the first time in 2020 and not booking the role, getting another chance to audition was indeed a dream come true for Genoveva.
Describing Zeena, she says, “Zeena puts the Zee into Gen Z.” She adds that a younger one would have liked to emulate Zeena’s confidence and energy.
Teasing Easter eggs in the film, she reminds viewers to look out for the show’s outstanding cast roster.
Expressing her excitement for her second Netflix Original, she describes the experience as “life-changing” and a “dream come true”, reminiscing on the journey from packing a single suitcase from London to Nigeria to pursue her dream of tell African stories and now see that dream come true with two Netflix Originals under his belt.
For her transition from watching top Nollywood talent, like RMD, Sola Sobowale and Chioma Akpotha, to performing on set with them and seeing them as colleagues has been an exciting ‘crazy’ experience, one for which she remains grateful. towards Netflix. .
Predicting audience reaction to the show, she hopes they find each young character relatable and, just like Mike, find themselves in those characters a bit.
A welcome inclusion in the Nollywood film industry, Netflix continues to empower Nigerian creativity through storytelling and filmmaking. This year, Nigeria is celebrating the streaming platform’s commitment to improving the entertainment industry through filmmaking with select titles like “Aníkúlápó”, “Far From Home” and “Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman” as “we hold our breath in anticipation of greater things”. come.”