If you conducted a survey on favourite movies or shows involving child actors, you’re most certainly guaranteed to hear mentions of the foreign movies like the Home Alone movie, or Baby’s Day out, a movie starring a two year old baby who had a range of emotion and expression way beyond the commonly found scripted tones of children cast in the average Nollywood movie.
It is 2018 however, and as of today, a young, playful and witty Nigerian comedienne who has rapidly become a favourite, Emmanuella Samuel, is set to feature in a project by Disney, a Hollywood famed studio headquartered in Burbank, California, which reeled out the likes of Cinderella, The Lion King and other well known teenage American sitcoms. The seven-year-old, who started when she was five, took to Instagram to make this announcement.
The African story is probably one of the hottest topics right now, akin to yet another natural resource from the many parts of the continent with everyone wanting a piece of the action as the low bar to entry created by social media platforms and technology are giving voices to those who would have found it a lot more difficult to cross gatekeepers of respective industries.
At a very young age, Emanuella already has a brimming resume with awards and accolades to her name. In 2016, she was crowned the Best New Comedienne and Princess of Comedy at the Afro-Australia Music and Movie Awards in Sydney, Australia by the Australian government. and is also the first African to have one million subscribers on her YouTube comedy channel.
She is one of the reasons why Mark Angel Comedy, a comedy platform run by her uncle, Mark Angel who also features as a fairly educated native of the Igbo tribe, has quickly risen to be the most viewed comedy channel in Nigeria and Africa after one of the several Mark Angel’s comedy skits she featured in – This Is Not My Real Face – went viral, and since then her weekly skits have all averaged 1 million views on YouTube, with the young comedienne going on to work with Wikipedia and also featured on CNN.
Nigerians both home and abroad have received this news with excitement, this is after all another leap in the direction of representation of diverse stories on the big screen, and this time, uniquely Nigerian, including the Senate president of Nigeria. Bukola Saraki, who invited the comedienne to visit the Senate to enable him discuss with her how to aid the development of young talents in Nigeria’s creative industry, described her story as “an inspiration” on his Twitter handle. However, as is the case with information like this, there’s always the nagging sentiment placed on countries and leaders of the continent to move beyond mere pats on the back to actually recognise these talents, develop and invest in them ourselves before the external recognition and validation of international communities, and create an ecosystem that is supportive of the efforts and contributions of its young and upcoming, and not just the finished or “made” talents.