Behind the beautiful and captivating facade put across in movies, and the fame gained by the actors, actresses, producers, directors and others who are involved in this top earning entertainment industry – lies layers and layers of normalized sexism that has sparked a dialogue over the past few years. It is no secret that the movie industry like in many other industries, is male-dominated. Therefore, the given dynamics of both men and women in the film industry is bound to be far off balance.
Hollywood celebrated its 75th Golden Globe Awards. The evident show stopper was none other than Oprah Winfrey – 2018’s recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, who captivated the audience with an inspiring speech that addressed one main agenda, i.e. sexism – “…we have lived for too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men and for too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men (six armed white men who assaulted VC Taylor – a woman), but their time is up!…”
Oprah Winfrey – Recipient of the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award
The growth of the ‘#MeToo’ movement amongst actresses, and other female contributors created a dialogue that saw women share their stories with the hope to voice the level of sexism, harassment and address the injustice present in the industry.
Back home, over the past few decades, the African story is slowly being told and embraced. This in turn has led to emergence of the Nollywood (Nigerian) film industry, South-African film industry and the gradual growth of the Riverwood (Kenyan) film industry. Nollywood having established its footprint as the leading African film powerhouse and third largest industry in the world, faces evident signs of sexism and inclined misogynistic storylines that stamp the longstanding patriarchal narrative in the African culture.
Women mainly given roles that demean their sex, and less roles as strong female protagonists. Some of Nollywoods’ renowned female practitioners had a few remarks addressing the situation being faced by women such as the filmmaker Blessing Effiom Egbe noting that “…some actors don’t respect you because you are a woman”
Ladies and Gentleman, in Oprah’s words – their time is up! 2018 is the dawning of a new era where sexism will be confronted head on, and a growth in establishing a balance on both sides of the spectrum. According to Tope Oshin Ogun – an award-winning Nollywood filmmaker, director, producer, and actress “Women were usually there to cause the downfall of the hero. That’s changing. As for me, any project I develop has to have strong females or a female protagonist”.