Enyinna is a not the biggest Nollywood star but he gives us (foreigners) reason to trust in a Nigerian actor to interpret uncommon roles and deliver the quality of acting that is needed to breakout globally.”

In June 2015, Jake Bright published an article titled Meet Nollywood: The second largest movie industry in the world on Fortune Magazine website. In his write-up, Jake detailed the growth process of Nollywood, from an accidental franchise to becoming the second largest movie industry in the world, in terms of movie production volume. He projected the enormous prospects of the commercial enterprise and he did well by highlighting the industry’s existing limitations, pointing it out that “Nollywood lacks production value and that African actors are yet to breakout globally.”

Jake Bright’s words about Nollywood and its actors in 2015 were correct, but a lot has changed since then. Nollywood has since experienced an up growth in several areas including production value and the acting in Nigerian movies is starting to have positive impression on the international movie community. The success of 2016 Nigerian comedy movie, The Wedding Party changed the reality of Nollywood movies for good and hopefully forever. Having raked in returns as high as #450million in an environment where it was said that only 1% of the total returns reaches the movie producers. It means that Nollywood movies could be nearing billions in coming years especially if the leaks are covered.

With the economic upturn in the business side of the Nigerian film industry, the art aspect started to see better days. In the past, the only way to enjoy seeing flawless acting in a Nollywood movie is to watch a movie marred by basic level acting and imagine that you saw world class acting on display. Then, watching a Nollywood comedy movie was a constant battle between pretending to be thrilled and questioning why a filmmaker would expect a learned person to be amused by offensively unrealistic plots. The epic movies almost had no new narrative at some point and the convincing action thrillers were few, while the parodies were, and are still many. Foreigners had reasons to undermine the African narrative in Nollywood movies, while Africans remained largely uninspired by it.

The release of a movie like Black November broke new grounds for Nollywood by attempting to capture the tale of corruption polluting the oil trade in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria, in a way that it sparked the sympathy and the concentrated attention of the international community. The cast of the movie was made up of a mix of International and native stars, and at the centre of the glittering, Enyinna Nwigwe’s portrayal of Tamuno stood out like a beacon. In several forums, critics picked apart some of the actings in the movie but not once was the character interpretation of Tamuno by Enyinna faulted. He played the role of a dedicated police officer turn rebel, but his rebellion got him the role of a brave activist who fought for the freedom of another activist and the liberation of his people.

The manner with which Enyinna interpreted the role is enough to suggest that he lives his everyday life as a voice of the people. But in deed he does, not just in the confrontational manner that Tamuno did in Black November. Rather, Enyinna seems to selectively go for movie roles that task him with delicate social messages to pass across. He appears to be a ‘sub-delivery man’ that takes the impactful content from the script he is given and translates it into an expression that it is believable. He played the role of a faintly aloof son of a wealthy Eastern Nigerian business man in Wedding Party 1, who surprisingly turns down the many advances of a beautiful white girl to keep his focus on running his father’s booming oil business.

Like he did in Black November, Enyinna Nwigwe again fit into the role like hand in glove. The truth is that he almost formless adopts different characters on different projects and still consistently leaves an impression of realness on his viewer. A foreign fan of Nigerian movies once said of him, “Enyinna is a not the biggest Nollywood star but he gives us (foreigners) reason to trust in a Nigerian actor to interpret uncommon roles and deliver the quality of acting that is needed to breakout globally.”

No wonder he was given an unusual privilege to audition for the role of Nonso Onwuka in The Wedding Party, after missing the general audition. The highly contested role was reserved for the actor who portrays the character most convincingly and Enyinna Nwigwe must have slayed it in the audition, the same way he did in the first part of the movie. His good works, among other factors that surrounds the internationally acclaimed movie, made the filmmakers proceed with the movie’s second part in which he plays the lead role. The movie is set to debut in Nigerian cinemas on December 15, 2017 and Enyinna Nwigwe believes that the standard of the movie betters even that of Wedding Party 1.

According to him, other projects which he worked on, would hit the cinemas at a scheduled time and a lot of these projects are bid to take him a step further in his border-crossing adventure. One of such movies is a Jude Idada directed film which the filmmaker revealed on Twitter that an American investor refused to fund because “it is too deep.” Enyinna Nwigwe spoke confidently of the quality of the cast and the storyline, while hinting at the potentially huge societal impact of the yet-to-be-released movie. He described his role in the movie as “physically challenging” and he spoke approvingly of such conscious movies in showing the International community that there is more to Nollywood than comedy and black magic films.

In a time when African art is starting to reject the redundant role it was given, Enyinna Nwigwe is playing an active role in protecting the narratives and happenings that form the features of the African culture and heritage. The black race is gathering its best talents to represent on the global level, and Enyinna Nwigwe comes in the area of acting and professional theatrics. The experienced thespian is the rank of men and women claiming new audience for Nollywood. For him, who is a lover of adventures and is constantly seeking opportunities, he is expected to continually take on new and daring projects that would one day open new doors to Africa, through Nollywood and through Enyinna Nwigwe.


This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets and culled from Issue 18

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