Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is"Great Acting"?

Though this post was originally posted on March/31/2010 - i felt the need to bump it up again cos I am still constantly receiving emails - readers asking me my defintion of "great acting". (when you read this thread - Well I guess My Wishes came through/true with the Sixpack actors lol lol )

So someone emailed me yesterday asking me what do i define as GREAT ACTING because many actors she/he thinks are great, yet I dont. Hm - am glad lady/dude asked me this question.

But am wondering why do what I think matter (:lol:) - afterall am not an actor / actress - No am not - but i am that part of an audience who spends my hard earned money to give you a paycheck cos i purchased your movie (for the producer to pay you)so the least i expect back in return is you give me my monies worth. I am just a mediocre critic of african movies, yes, but sometimes the best critic is not an actor or an actress but the other person on the seat watching that movie with a keen eye.

Who better to critique you than the audience watching the movie. Afterall arent you all doing this movie thing for us to watch. BUT - dont take my word for it - Denzel Washington has said in his interviews he doesnt read reviews - so maybe you can follow suit too - but bear in mind - he is a well acclaimed actor now - he read the reviews before - he can choose not to now.

We can agree to disagree. - right? :lol:

ps: A part of me thinks anonymous person might be as aspiring or an actress/actor or someone i havent really raved about on their movies on this site - so they are concerned or something. Dont take it personal - i just like to tell it like it is. I dont know you to be personal.

So - my definition of great acting is as follows (when i use the term actors in this following sentence, i am refering to both male/female)

A GREAT ACTOR IS ..............

- Someone with the all in one package "eloquence + articulation + attractiveness + talented enough to bring the character to life to make us believe in what they are playing - and diversity in playing different roles is a huge plus.

-For african actors - yes english is not our first language thats understandable, but the majority of audience watching it prefer it in english cos we all dont understand our 100s of native dialects, there fore a great actor must be eloquent and articulate in expressing themselves in the english language without coming across as forcing an accent that doesnt belong to them (i.e. BriMerican Accents - slanging doesnt make u a great actor).

Be natural and be yourself. If you struggling to express yourself, thats ok, just audition for a movie in your local dialect which you are comfortable with (Igbo, Yoruba, Ibibio, Akan etc).

Agya Koo the ghanaian actor is great at acting but in his own local dialect movies of Akan - he doesnt force to speak english cos he knows he is not comfortable with it and thats absolutely fine - English is not his first language nor ours neither.
-you need to learn how to raise the stakes, beyond simply being told you must do this.

-Commanding Eyes, Commanding Voice, Superb Timing a free-flow of emotions and impulses expressed in the body and voice; an understanding of how to create life-and-death, moment-to-moment acting; a vivid imagination; and a body and voice capable of telling all kinds of stories etc

- Actors who are master at using no dialogue/script but being able to tell the story with their expression (like they say actions speak louder than words) - (in nolly/ghollywood Majid, Genevieve, Bimbo, Jim, Rita, Mercy are masters at this, in Hollywood Elizabeth Taylor, Anthony HOpkins, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Sanaa Lathan, Gabrielle Union, Angela Bassett, Blair Underwood, Derek Luke, Terrence Howard, - just check out this link for my personal list)

I started watching Genny 10 yrs ago and theres is one particular movie that had me convinced that "this is it" with this lady - the movie was called "My first Love" and it was a particular scene between her and Tony Umez in Tony's House (to some that scene was nothing but to me, that scene said a lot about her acting potential and it sealed it for me that day), then came the Blood Sisters and the many others that followed

I love actors who understand the importance of continuity - having great balance between comedy and drama. Knowing instinctively when to go there ("there" as in the moment eg sad,happy, surprised, shocked), how to go there, when to give the funny, when to give the drama, when to pull back and when not to. Great actors dont even need direction if they are good at what they do. Bear in mind in Nollywood and Gollywood a BAD director (and lawd knows we got plenty more than we need) can bring the worst out of good actor (go back and read old threads to figure out who these directors are)

-When an actor is diverse and able to pull off any role - see how Leonardo DiCaprio played a convincing retard in "Whats Eating Gilbert Grape" or how Chalize Theron played a convincing lesbian serial killer in "Monster", Genevieve Nnaji playing a evil step mom in Blood Sisters, yet a timid & naive teenager in "" (starring with Zach Orji), or Funke Akindele playing a convincing Village Champion (yels) in "Jenifa" - i mean the list goes on and on - I will be here all day if i have to list them all.

Bottom line being diverse in your roles and playing the character to convince the audience and make us forget its just a movie - whether your evilness made us hate your character - then maybe yes you did your job

Once again i repeat as i have said in many threads, being attractively beautiful and/or handsome does not constitute great acting - so dont think you can fool me with your beauty - this movie thing is not a beauty contest abeg - I mean it helps and is a huge plus if you are cute BUT on top of great acting ability - not just cute. I love watching Blair Underwood & Denzel Washington, cos they are not just cute but also a great actors - that type of package is so good.

Many out there (especially a few i know who just started watching african movies less thatn 2 yrs ago - still go by actors who are just attractive to their eye - and are quick to shell out $5-$10 odd dollars to buy their movie - sometimes not even caring to read the story line - "So far as so so and so is in this movie - I am buying this movie - "ohhh they are so Handsome and and so Cute" - or they are so beautiful" - i love watching them. I dont make my choices like that - so to each his own. Id rather watch these cute talentless actors on mute as i cook, clean or do something around the house.

Shouting and screaming to get your point across doesnt constitute great acting. You crying all the time at the bat of an eye doesnt necessarily constitute great acting - I tell you the one actress who doesnt cry much in movies but when she does - its convincing you might end up crying together with her is RITA DOMINIC ( watch her in movie "All my Life", and "Sleek Ladies") - great actress who is able to play her roles so well and very convincing. When her character is hit with tragedy/bad news and she is crying - u forget you are watching a movie. She does it so well. And bear in mind she doesnt cry too much in movies but when she does - she does it well.

You wearing dark or black clothes and smoking doesnt convince me you are so bad as most directors may think with directing "bad character roles". I always ask when watching a movie and the characters are bad or suppose to be bad - whats with the smoking - are u trying to tell me if they dont smoke - i will not see them as bad. I mean c'mon. This is 2010 - nollywood/gollywood get it together, learn from the pros in hollywood.

Personally there is one actor I watched years ago - the actors name is Paul Campbell (very underrated actor) -
(an interview with Paul)

Watch CVM OnStage - Paul Campbell Interview - in Entertainment View More Free Videos Online at

(Paul in a scene Dance Hall Queen the Movie - go buy the movie - its a sure keeper)
He is a jamaican actor - and till date i cant separate his evil character from the real person (same way my one and only Patience Ozorkwor plays her evil characters so well)-

Paul Campbell plays his evil character so effortlessly and convincing like nobodys business (even Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal nor Al Pacino as Tony Montana character didnt scare me as much as this dude) - I am truly scared of him (and he didnt even have to smoke for me to be scared of him :lol). He was in the jamaican movie "Dance Hall Queen" (walk & live, talk & bomboklat dead :lol:), as well as "Third World Cop". Watch his movies and understand what am saying. Excellent Excellent Excellent yet underrated Actor of our time.

Loved and respected even more after watching his several interviews including the above on CVM - goes to show he is nothing like his character - he just played his role so well and so convincing - it was hard to separate the two. I mean if you listen to his interview you can tell he is a real talent - not just in acting but in several other stuff such as painting and all - and well travelled. He is to me one of the very best actors to come out of Jamaica and i respect him enormously (though i am still scared of him a lil :lol:) - I love jamaican patois by the way - it took me a while to understand at first - but its very easy after watching their movies as much as i did.

Another excellent underrated actor is Michael Wright who plays Eddie King in Mr Townsend famously acclaimed movie (and a favourite of mine ) "5 Heartbeats".

So Ladies and Gentlemen i open the floor for you to also contribute on what you define as GREAT acting - not "good acting" - but GREAT ACTING - i only care for the greats.

Not everyone can be a great actress or actor - MANY ARE CALLED AND FEW ARE CHOSEN, if we the audience are not feeling you (its nothing personal) - take some time off brush of ya skills (watch movies of great actors and study them like science) and come back and try and again and again - and if we still not feeling you - maybe this acting this is not your forte.

In nollywood and gollywood thus far i only consider a handful GREAT - but what frustruates me is i feel there are more out there - Africa is a huge continent - we cant possibly be ok with just a handful, We need more greats, and this is where i always have stated i want to lend my effort in finding those great, diamond in the ruffs who havent been discovered yet.

I yearn for a new male actor to be discovered this year who has all the package. I really do (having all packaged all in one talent and for once - a six pack wouldnt hurt either).

In conclusion Acting is a tough profession and yes i totally agree and understand, but then try and be perfectionist, either you going to be GREAT at it by investing in some classes to be great at what you do you or dont do it at all and make it come across as some type of hobby and expect us to go purchase your movie and watch (just cos u think u look cute or something else). You sit down yourself sometimes watch your own self and be truly honest to yourself and critique yourself.


Clearly in nollywood and gollywood a lot of aspiring actors are just jumping into this acting cos they simply want to be famous - PERIOD, they are NOT dedicated to the acting itself (and i can clearly detect those type of actors so easily) and the talentless producers who just want to make a quick buck are not challenging them either.

They better be glad they are not in brutal hollywood where there are worse criticism than what we give. All the lil criticism we do here is just chump change.


ashley akinwale said...

i think in order to be a great actress/actor i think you have to be able to show your emotions through the screen try to really feel inside the character and allow yourself too be become that character

Harry-Rami Itie said...

Well said

Myne Whitman said...

I think you've said it all, that was a very comprehensive definition.

Anonymous said...

@ ashley akinwale...well said...

but i believe a great actor needs a great director, e.g, Leonardo and Scorsese (The Aviator), Monique and Lee (Precious), Ron Howard and Crowe (A beautiful mind)...

we lack this so much...because sadly, directors are more focused on how good the film should sell...rather than investing more on the actors themselves...

e.g Majid...not a fan...but he has potential...if only he'd let himself free from being type-cast...

i know Ramsey has been in nollywood for like ever...but he hasn't impressed me once...swear...and all thanks to bad direction...

Muna is good...not great...good. But with good direction...alls well... and he best be losing weight and getting back on the an actor, its his right to look good...not for himself...for us...

Genny, Omotola, Bimbo, Nse, Mercy are brilliant at portraying their roles but could be better...way better with good direction...

as for Ini, Tonto, Stephanie...focus should be more on their acting and not their engrish...

Simplistichic said...

a great actor is believable..every scene has be natural for the viewers to connect with the characters n forget that its just a movie. many african actors over act, they over do they emotions as if they acting on stage in broadway which is very different from movie acting. when a person over does it, it looks fake and unreal. acting is like salt u gotta get it just right, if its too much or too little it wont taste good

William Aggrey-Orleans said...

Paul Campbell played the lead in The movie The Lunatic, of course he was much younger then and he played a maniacal killer in the jamaican movie "Shootas"....Ms Tili I agree with you on a number of points, what i think you failed to point out is that good movies always start with good writing.Our thespians are victims of bad writing. If the writing is bad the movie will invariably be bad. Most of our actors after taking their hefty fees and salaries cannot back out of the movie simply because the writing is bad, so they make the best of it...Secondly the consumers feed mediocrity. African movie goers, or should I say most african movie buyers are simplistic--meaning it very little to entertain them. They will buy a movie simply because the packaging is slick or because their favorite actor is starring. The producers, with this knowledge in mind simply feed them crap, like garbage on a conveyor belt it keeps on coming.They dumb down on everything, writing,production, directing and editing.So although our thespians are woefully lacking in skills most, in my opinion are victims of bad writing and directing.

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