In celebration of Africa Magic’s 20th anniversary, Nollywood actress, Ireti Doyle, in this interview, shares her audition experience with Africa Magic and how the platform has become a ‘safety net’ for creatives. Excerpts:
How would you describe the contributions/impact of Africa Magic to the growth of Nollywood in the last 20 years?
Personally speaking, I don’t think there are any words that can accurately capture Africa Magic’s contribution to the growth and development of Nollywood over the last two decades. To get a more accurate view, one would have to use numbers – Africa Magic Channels (that run 24 hours a day), three of them in our indigenous languages. Think of the number of original content that have been created or commissioned and produced to keep these channels running over the period under review. Imagine the number of people who have been gainfully employed in that time. Think of the number of filmmakers who have received world-class training because of this across the entire value chain. Think of the number of hitherto unknown actors who have become superstars and household names because they’ve appeared on the platform. Think of the amount of money invested in systems, infrastructure, and human assets. Their contribution to the growth of Nollywood is immeasurable.
How would you describe the contributions of Africa Magic to the growth of Nollywood in the last 20 years?
Everyone in the business knows that one of our greatest challenges is funding. I stand to be corrected, but I doubt that there is any other single entity that has injected as much into the system as Africa Magic has in terms of Naira and Kobo and they don’t just inject this cash; it is done with intention. I describe them as a “safety net” especially for first time producers, providing not just funding but support systems, infrastructure, technical and artistic mentorship, business planning and accounting.
They have created systems and business templates that work when adhered to; enforcing accountability and ensuring that the ‘business of the show’ runs smoothly, creating wealth and sustainability for everyone involved. Africa Magic has added colour and variety. They produce and offer such a wide bouquet of entertainment: there is something for everyone. They are constantly looking for ways to add value. They have upped the ante.
What’s your take on talent discovery and development in the entertainment industry?
Aside from funding and infrastructure, this is another area where Africa Magic have outdone everyone. Some of Nigeria’s biggest names cut their teeth on Africa Magic projects. Africa Magic is the one place where you can walk in with raw talent and in a space of one show become a household name. Do you know how many films an actor must appear in before they ‘blow’? They are constantly on the lookout for new talent – in front and behind the camera, and arguably one of the biggest employers of Nigerian talent.
People who work on Africa Magic projects are some of the best trained. Why? They get to do it over and over and over again. The more you do a thing, the more proficient you become. Africa Magic is a training ground, a not so informal school, where you can come in as one thing and in a space of years (should you choose to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves and work hard) become something else.
Any personal landmark moments for you on Africa Magic?
My entire 13/14 years journey is a landmark. I am a walking testament of all the things I spoke of earlier. Not only has working with Africa Magic made me a household name across the world, it has given me the space to grow and explore/express all my creative talents. The biggest landmark of my journey with them thus far, would be, being commissioned to produce a 13-part TV series – AM mThe Hidden. In the space of that time, I’ve moved from Principal Actor, to Head Writer/Executive Producer. Growth.
What was your first memory of Africa Magic?
Funny enough, it wasn’t pleasant. I was barred from auditioning for a show in a manner I thought was most unfair. Two years later, I got a call from a friend that they were auditioning again. Still smarting from my first encounter, I was reluctant to go. I finally, (thankfully) swallowed my (foolish) pride and went and got the role. The rest, as they say, is history. Name of the show? Tinsel.
What are your expectations of Africa Magic moving forward?
My expectation is that they will continue to grow from strength to strength and compound and consolidate the great work that they have been doing. All that’s left to say is thank you Africa Magic, for a really great ride! Congratulations on our 20th anniversary. Here’s to many more years of good success!!