Nosa Obaseki: How to stop sexual harassment in Nollywood

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Canada-based Nollywoood actor, Nosa Obaseki Agbonifo started his career in Nigerian movie industry in 1998 as a Production Assistant (PA). He grew up in Benin City, Edo and Lagos respectively. The actor relocated to Canada in 2011 where he presently work with the Toronto District School Board.

In an interview, Obaseki gave some insights about his movie career in Nollywood and how he made a name for himself in the industry. He also suggested ways to checkmate the incessant sexual harassment in the movie industry.

 

Acting is regarded as a tough career path to venture into because of the high number of actors in the field coupled with a tough business environment, leading me to ask how have you been doing what you do to stay afloat and grow in the field?

Acting in Nigeria for me was really competitive with the high number of good actors, but I guess I was blessed to be able to feature in some great movies before I left Nigeria, and since I got to Canada have been able to use my talent and skills to feature in great movies here.

Can you give details of your most recent film in Canada and share your experience during the production of the film services? How is the movie faring?

My most recent movie is titled “Exhale” produced by Deborah Ewedafe Films and Team Success Films (My company). And directed by Charles Uwagbai. The film was shot in Canada and Nigeria, starring some Nollywood top actors and some fantastic actors here in Canada. The likes of Chioma Chukwuka, Nosa Rex, Bobby Obodo, Amanda Ebeye, Jigan, Efe Irele, myself, Deborah Ewedafe, Blessing Ochu, Jasmine, Chelsea Macualey, Noel Chris, Isoken Ibie, Gabriel Olaifa, Dele Blacko, Elizabeth Obeng, Fola Quadri and host of other good actors. It was a great experience acting and co-producing the project. We had the usual ups and downs but at the end we did a great job. The film is presently in post-production, and we are looking at releasing this summer.

As an individual what motivated you to go into such a profession and do you feel your expectations have been realised?

I was always doing my normal street acting and cracking people up before my eldest bro (Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki) took me to lagos. When I got there I found out he was preparing for a stage play that he wrote and also directing, so I started watching and seeing how the likes of Richard Mofe-Damijo, Norbert Young and Segun Arinze do their magic, right there I knew this was going to be my job. Then that breakthrough happened on that same stage play. I started acting on stage and getting films roles. It has been a great experience so far.

Since last year, the movie industry like other businesses have greatly been disrupted by Covid-19, how has your acting career been affected and what did you do to ameliorate the negative consequences of the pandemic?

For the first few months, we couldn’t film. Every industry was affected. Then we started doing short films for YouTube until director Charles Uwagbai came to Canada. We figured out that we can film but with less crowd. So, we were able to shoot about four (4) films.

As an actor, what is your philosophy in the movie industry and life?

I will say the industry is a course of its own. When the industry started nobody thought it will grow this big or be a full-time profession for so many people. I thank God today Nollywood is ranked as one of the Top 3, and we are still growing. The industry has thought me so many things in life.

What are the big lessons you have learnt about being an actor both in Nigeria and Canada?

I have learnt a lot of lessons here in Canada. In Nigeria we were only battling the tribalism issues, but here I have come to realized that so many people take your experience and knowledge of the craft for granted. Though I also met some wonderful and loving filmmakers here. I just feel so many of them lack the ability to listen and learn. But I know with the in flow of good filmmakers coming to Canada, we will surely get it right someday.

What advice do you have to give to aspiring or young actors and actresses about the movie industries in. Nigeria and Canada?

Like I always tell people, your dedication, humility, talent, and knowledge of the craft will take you higher. Start humble and remain humble.

What were the initial challenges you encountered in your journey into acting in the movie business in Nigeria and Canada?

My major challenge then was the fact that I was from a minority tribe, and that really affected me. When I go for auditions or contact directors, they will tell me that the producer already cast someone for that role. Some director will tell you they don’t have a say in the casting, that it was solely done by the Idumota or Alaba producer/marketer. It was a serious issue for some of us.

What have been your worst moment so far as an actor?

When my role was taken from me because I wasn’t close to the producer. My role was changed to a smaller one. That was so many years ago in Nigeria.

Is there a new addition that Actor Nosa has added to his growing profile in movie industry?

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Yes, aside acting I have produced and directed few movies here in Canada and Italy.

Big businesses are scared of investing in the movie industry because of piracy how do reduce this scourge?

It’s simple. Government needs to be fully involved to fight and regulate the industry. Piracy is not only in Nigeria. We just need to set up a policy that will regulate and monitor it.

Presently, how widely you known and accepted in the Canadian movie Industry?

Canadian film industry is very broad. But we have been able to penetrate our black community here, but we are still doing everything to hit it big here and be widely known.

Based on your experience, what advice can you offer on how to survive in the acting and film industry in Nigeria and Canada?

Passion, consistency, be humble and be ready for that big break someday.

What has been your toughest moment as an actor both when you were in Nigeria and now Canada, and how did you scale the hurdles?

Like I said earlier, in Nigeria it was difficult getting roles because of the language you speak. Minority status was a big barrier. In Canada, it’s been good so far.

What makes Nosa different and from other actors plying their trade in Canada?

There’s nothing really different, I might just say being into acting before some of the actors makes me different.

As a Nigerian actor living and working in Canada, tell us about yourself, name, education, work experience etc.

My name is Nosa Agbonifo Obaseki. I have bachelor degree in Public Administration from the Lagos State University (LASU), and Diploma in Police Foundation, from Herzing College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I presently work with the Toronto District School Board.

How and where do you see yourself and your acting career in the next 10 years?

Obviously Hollywood, and also want to help in building our industry here in Canada and Nigeria.

What are the major challenges of being an actor based in the diaspora and which were the peculiar problems you encountered during the production of your most recent film?

Here in Canada is kind of difficult filming because most of the actors and crew do other jobs, so we kind of work with their schedule which is really stressful.

During your time in Nollywood, how rife was sexual harassment and what can be done to take out this problem?

We hear about this all the time even in Hollywood. We have seen situations were producers or directors ask for sex before giving you roles. I still feel we need to educate people more about it. Sexual harassment is a big crime and anyone caught should be properly investigated and persecuted if found guilty.

Credit: Vanguard.

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