By Omoye Uzamere
And even then… anything can happen.
Things can be reshot, the project may never see the light of day or a fire can gut the entire project.
I remember a shoot I did early in my career with some industry stalwarts. It was to be my big launch and that of several others, but it got lost in a fire.
Many years ago, when I first started out as an actor in Nollywood, I was with Joke Silva, Olu Jacobs, Femi Odugbemi and May Mbu after a meeting, for which I had acted as a scribe. We sat at one of the Ikoyi Club lounges, having conversations and all. Actually, they did. I was just the ‘smallie’ who was hanging out with the greats.
I got a text message inviting me to a callback audition. I can’t remember what it was, but it was a big project and I was excited. The excitement shone through as I made the announcement, beaming like a lighthouse. Uncle Olu leaned forward with a tender fatherly frown and said, “That’s nothing to celebrate. You celebrate when you get the job. There’ll be many callbacks and many disappointments, don’t let this get into your head.”
Wise words from a true sage they were. I didn’t get the job and many others after that, but in a sense, I was prepared. I have heard a lot of no’s, held vigils by the telephone and even got calls to say I had been cast for a role, only for the offer to be retrieved. In fact, if you’ve been an actor or performer in this industry and haven’t had any similar heartbreaking experiences, then consider yourself lucky and possibly inexperienced, unscathed and freshly green.
Once, a Writer/Producer contacted me about playing a role in a movie he wanted to do. He sent me two drafts of the script in the course of our correspondence. We negotiated fees and a shoot date was set. Two weeks to principal photography, I met with the makeup artist and costumier. A week later, dude invites me to a reading and I thought “isn’t this a little backward?” The reading turned out to be an actual audition, and then another.
Another time it happened and I began to question my abilities. At the end of the day, I’ve come to accept that people do not always keep their word and will play any tricks to shirk the responsibility of communicating that change.
This is where I tell you to guard your heart. Be open-minded about every opportunity until it is actually in your hand.
These disappointments are the things that toughen you and refine you. Think of it as the fire that purifies gold. I read a story about Funke Akindele (who I thoroughly enjoyed on ‘I Need To Know ‘way back when) where she said she had heard so many no’s in her career and how she cried a lot of times. Today, she is a successful actor and producer. I believe her journey through rejection led her to take some of the decisions, which have led to her success. Think of it, if she was busy enough as an actor, she MAY not have been driven to produce Jenifa, which became a resounding success and propelled her far ahead.
Back to my gist. I’ve learned through the years, so I’ll advise you wait until you’ve started filming, to make announcements about work. Wait till the actual negotiations are sealed before you start counting your chickens.
Live a little, but know which steps to tread cautiously.
Love, Joy and Peace!
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