Leadership (Abuja)

21 November 2010

Nigeria: Nollywood Splits Over Tonto Dike

Tonto Dikeh's role in her recent movie, Dirty Secret, has continued to generate controversy among movie lovers and practitioners. Many have berated the fair-skinned actress, claiming her role in the movie is un-African, untraditional and shameful. Others say she is only being a professional and therefore has the right to choose what role to play.

Absolving the actress of guilt, Barrister Ope Banwo, the CEO of Stingomania Records believes the actress has the right to act any role and that others do not have a right to impose their morality on her.

Lending her voice to the controversy, respected artistes manager, Ms. Mildred Okwo took a feminist stand on the issue. She wondered if this is not just a case of the tabloids picking on a woman. "I wonder why everyone is condemning Tonto. Did she act the film alone or is this just another case of the tabloids picking on a woman?", She queried.

Speaking further, she said "...first, I have to know exactly which film everyone is talking about, because we like to gossip without facts in this country. If it is indeed a porn film, the censors' board will not release it , so, I suspect that people are being less than truthful".

Julis Agwu said acting is all about make-belief ,but Africa is not yet ripe for such exposures. He said "...first, as a trained theatre artiste, I believe that acting is make-belief. But I don't think Africa is ripe enough for such exposures considering womanhood and motherhood. Be that as it may, the buzz is also helping to popularise the movie!!!"

On the other hand, popular movie producer, Charles Novia was against the actress' role in the soft porn movie.Hear him' "...first, the 'soft porn' movie is a debased genre, in my opinion, for a segmented immoral audience. Such movies strive to sell more on sexually simulated scenes than the subject matter.

Most producers who delve into this genre usually look out for actors and actresses whose careers are at an abysmal low or who just wish to re-invent themselves from attendant controversies such movies would generate. I cannot rate her as a truly trained thespian, because there are moral tenets in being a fully trained theatre artiste. So, in this case, her claim of being "professional" in taking that role is ambiguous in my rating. However, she strikes me as a pseudo-bohemian ."

In Nigeria, her new found 'soft porn' status could very well boomerang on her. No matter how she and many others think the Nigerian society is hypocritical when it comes to moral issues, it's that moral restraint that defines us as a nation and a people! Tonto would very well do herself a favour to compare notes with Cossy Orjiakor and see if notoriety in a stereo-typical immoral role is akin to stardom. For Tonto, who by the way has some malleable talent, an extra fifteen minutes of fame may be added to her career by this but the clock ticks fast!

The controversy took a new turn when Tonto took to on-line social network Twitter to defend her role in the movie, saying she was only being professional. "Why should we enjoy seeing nudity in Hollywood and not Nollywood? It's my profession, peeps grow up. I'm all out doing my job, I have got the fake damned tradition. I have got the mind and heart my profession requires. Period".

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