Post below - Originally Posted in May 9 2009
In Hollywood we have uncountable and numerous child actors - such as Dakota Fanning and Tatum Oneal (oscar at age 10) .
I watch a lot of black and white movies and sometimes when i see child actors from the 60's such as - Hayley Mills (Parents Trap) - Shirley Temple (oscar at age 6) .
Then from the 80s and 90s we got the
- Drew Barrymore (uncountable movies as a child)
- Raven Symone (was phenomenal child actress in Cosby Show as Olivia)
- Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy from Cosby Show)
- Olsen Twins (Mary Kate and Ashley) etc etc
- Dakota Fanning .
In Black Hollywood we have young actors who have now grown into successful teen such as .
- Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Spelling Bee)
- Journee Smollet (Eves Bayou and the Great Debaters) . i find it amazing how they were able to intepret their roles like that.
I remember years ago watching a movie starring Angelina Jolies dad Jon Voight and Ricky Schroder - it was called "The Champ" (released in 1979)- at such a tender age of 9. . The story was about Billy Flynn, an ex box champion, is now horse trainer in Hialeah. He makes just enough money to raise his little boy T.J. over which he got custody after his wife Annie left him seven years ago. T.J. worships The Champ who is now working on his come-back in order to give his boy a better future. But suddenly Annie shows up againRicky Schroder at age 9 played his role so damn well in a scene where he accompanies his dad to one of his boxing matches and something happens- that scene was unbelievable, I cried my eyes out uncontrollably. .
I forgot i was watching a movie - i promise you - u will ball ya eyes out if you watch this movie. . Here is a link to memorable quotes from that movie . http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078950/quotes .
The kids from Slumdog Millonaires did a good job for first time actors. I was very impressed. . One of my all time favourite actors is Leonardo Dicaprio (and no its not because of lovey dovey romantic Titanic) - I had never seen or heard of him before until i first watched a movie of him (i think he was 19yrs old) titled "Whats eating Gilbert Grape" (1993 release) where he plays a retard. . For months on end, i was 100% convinced Leonardo was indeed Retarded in real life to have played that role and thus thinking "Oh oyibos in hollywood are kind enough to give equal opportunity for even disable people to play a role in their movie.) No one could tell me different until i recognised his face again in another movie - I was shocked. And from that day he became my number 1 hollywood white actor (and thus why i have boycotted watching the Oscar Shows until they give him one - he is waay overdue - how long would it take before they give an oscar).
I guess one of the reasons are child actors are not so experienced as their HOllywood conterparts is cos they dont have the experience or training and "Acting" is still not "fully" respected nor accepted by our (west) african parents and as such auditions or any extra curricular training for a child whilst still in school is not seen as important. Becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer or banker is all that is foremost in their mentality of success - anything else is secondary.
There are many and numerous success stories of hollywood successful actors who still have degrees under their belt from great Ivy League Schools and at the same time doing well with acting in Hollywood. . Thank God in the last few years it seems "some parents" or our society are finally warming up to their adult children acting in Nollywood movies. There is hope for change.I have so much hopes and aspiration for our african movies and actors and i hope our society or african parents are able to embrase creative arts such as acting for our youth, even at young ages. . It is still possible for these kids to go through school and with their education and still train as successful actors and be successful at both.Though i cringe hearing most of our child actors intepret their roles in Nollywood movies - which always sound so rehearsed, however there are four Nollywood Child Actors whose performance are memorable to me are as follows (i dont know all their names per se) . -
- CHELSEA GABRIEL - movie: Blood Sisters (The young girl who played Omotola's daughter)
- SHARON EZEAMAKA - movie: Romantic Attraction (played as RMDs daughter), The Maid, Little Angel etc
- NAME UNKNOWN - movie: Alice my First Lady (the young girl who played Alice's daughter)
- SANDRA UCHEMBA - movie: Prophecy (the young girl who played Genevieve's Daughter) - she also recently (2009) starred with Desmond Elliot and Mercy Johnson in All I Ever Wanted (click here for review) . I just learnt she is actually the sister of William Uchemba whom i name below and now that i think of it they do resemble each other. I guess talent runs in the family. Kudos to the parents.
- PRINCESS NNAMMA ORJI - movie: BANK MANAGER (there are rumours she coud be Zach Orji's)
- SOMADINA ADIMMA - movie: SPEAK THE WORD, BREATH OF ANGER etc
- TEMI ALLEN - movie: APOTI ERI (yoruba movie - i think the yoruba movies have a lot of great child actors) - .
-WILLIAM UCHEMBA (as mentioned above - she is the sister to Sandra Uchemba)- movie: SECRETS OF THE NIGHT (oh i remember this boy with his mischief characters - feisty mouth - GREAT ACTOR) -
Ghana has many great child actors but once again - the talent is frowned upon and not nurtured cos parents want Doctors and Lawyers and not Actors in the family. I have see a many in our primetime TV sitcoms from the past such as SUN CITY, THINGS YOU DO FOR LOVE etc, however i hardly see these kids in movies. (unfortunately i dont have any memories for young boy actors) .
QUESTION: . If you are an african parent and your gifted child showed interest in acting, would you encourage them. If not why? If they are some drama classes they can take to encourage your kids would you invest in it for them. Are they any theatre arts or drama school for kids in nigeria or ghana (for Ghana i know we dont have any apart from the standard courses in primary/secondary schools).I would like to pose this question to all and particularly those already in the industry (actors and actresses).
When i have my child someday and they seem like they have potential of being on stage, I will encourage them from early age, and invest in them by puttingthem thru some training to polish their craft. That doesnt mean i will not also encourage their academics and school. For sure by Gods Grace they can have a degree as well as do what they love if that is in the arts. .