Tribalism Is Destroying Nigerian Film Industry – Tunde Daniels

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Tunde Daniels
Tunde Daniels

Tribalism Is Destroying Nigerian Film Industry – Tunde Daniels

Thespian Tunde Daniels is one of the few well trained artistes in the Nigerian Film Industry dubbed; Nollywood.  

He has since spent a decade in the industry and he understands the limitations and strength of the industry he has chosen.

While chatting with Wale Adegbuyi, he exposed some ills in the industry and how it has affected its growth. 

He opened up on tribal and ethnic sentiments amongst stakeholders, which he said is more pronounced than professionalism. 

He also noted that the industry is limited in terms of the expected performance because most of the practitioners are driven by quest for profitability rather than professionalism.

According to him, until the industry players return to professionalism and the government plays its part in the provision of basic amenities such as good road network, power supply and other basic necessities of life, things won’t work as expected and the expected returns from the industry won’t be met.

Excerpts:

Can you introduce yourself sir? 

I am Tunde Daniels, a Nigerian from Osun State and I am based in Lagos State. By training, I’m a professional counsellor and a relationship therapist, as well as a certified public and motivational speaker. I also run a modelling agency, where I train models and actors to fulfill their dreams.

I started as a fine art teacher in three public schools in Lagos State before I ventured into philosophy, psychology, modelling, art and entertainment. By the grace of God, I went through the following institutions and came out successfully with various awards and certification; Lagos State Polytechnic, University of Lagos, LlFE Theological Seminary, Crystalline School of Mentoring, Screen and Stage institute and London Royal Academy.

I am married to the most beautiful woman on earth and blessed with three adorable children.

“I strongly believe that AGN need to put its house in order. No one wants to invest in a chaotic environment”.

Can you tell us something about relationship therapy and its application?

Relationship therapy is helping people cope with day to day stress and issues that tend to bring breakdown in communication and that can lead to all manner of disaffection.

One important lesson everyone, who wants to have successful relationship must know is that life is all about people. Your ability to understand how to positively and correctly relate with people will determine how peaceful you’ll exist and how far you’ll go in fulfilling your purpose in life.

Diversifying into arts and entertainment from your profession is a laudable idea, what motivated you into this?

Thank you for this question. I like watching American movies a lot and I am always excited by the level of their professionalism in everything they do. I love excellent performance and display. I detest mediocrity.

Watching any Nigerian movie often gives me headache and I can boldly say that I never started and finished any Nigerian movie watching in the past, I always walk away with disappointment.

This continued until one day, when I was with my mentor, we were watching a Nigerian movie, where the actor was flying from one tree to another and I was going to change the channel, then he said to me, “you can keep on complaining from now till eternity, nothing will change until you decide to do something about what displeases you.”

I can never forget those words. It was those words that moved me to decide to be part of it. I’m currently going through studies and learning film production and directing.

“Be sure that it is what you really want to do and then get proper education. Be trained. Know your onions and wait for your time”

So how many years have you put into the industry and what has been your impact so far?

I’ve been around for about 10 years now. I started with modelling. Coming into the industry, I realized that it is true that “he who pays the piper dictates the tune.” Those who provide the funds determine what happens.

I also realized that the industry is all about profits. Professionalism has been replaced with profitability.

My impact has been enormous going by the feedback I receive from my students who went through my tutelage in A-Z School of mentoring. We are trying to bring professionalism at the core of things in the industry. I can say that things have not been the same in the industry, there has been tremendous improvement over the years.

Having discovered that investors determine the content of the script, what do you think we can do to make the industry more professional?

That’s where the industry needs serious assistance, both by the government and corporate bodies. I wrote an article in two national newspapers on the needs for corporate organizations to look into the movie industry and see how they could help raise the standard. I thank them for recognizing some celebrities and making them their ambassadors, but there’s need to do more.

Also, I appreciated Mnet, EbonyLife TV, and a few others for raising the bar, but I believe that more could still be done. Unfortunately, the group of people, who are supposed to look into the affairs of how things should be professionally handled in the country are in total disarray. By that, I’m referring to Actors Guild of Nigerian (AGN).

Tunde Daniels

Are ethnicity and tribalism cause of the setback in the film industry? Also, why do we have many associations and guilds, yet the industry is far from its expected standard. What is your way advice on the way forward on these?

My brother, like Senator Dino Melaye said, “if we talk true we go die, if we no talk true, we go die…” Tribalism is like a cancer in the film industry today.

I give you two instances. Firstly, I had a meeting with one of the A-list actors and directors in the industry recently, he’s from the South West, but his name does not show that he is from the region. He told me that he has to adapt to the name he’s bearing because he found out that he was being left out by most producers from the eastern part of the country.

Secondly, I was chosen as a cast in a movie. On the day of shooting, the executive producer walked in and had a chat with the director. He was told I was the one taking the role. He asked for my name. As soon as I said ‘Tunde,’ his face changed. He went outside and called the director on phone, only for him (the director) to appeal to me that the executive director had someone else in mind. He personally paid me some money as compensation. Guess who eventually played the role, an Ibo guy.

“I am married to the most beautiful woman on earth and blessed with three adorable children”.

I strongly believe that things should be done on merit. Remember what Martin Luther King said, “I had a dream… When my children will be judged, not by the colour of their skin, but by the contents of their character…”

This same evil is presently going in this country in the name of “federal character”. It’s one of the major reasons why this country might never become great.

As a stakeholder in the industry, how do you think we can move forward from this endemic trait of tribalism and ethnicity?

I strongly believe that AGN need to put its house in order. No one wants to invest in a chaotic environment. There was a rumor that the government of former president Goodluck Jonathan gave some money to AGN, but the money was pocketed by some individuals.

That’s unacceptable in our industry. In moving forward, there must be guidelines for people coming into the industry. Standard must be set and maintained by all and sundry.

Another way to move forward is for actors and other stakeholders to come together and produce more outstanding and great contents that will set the pace for others to follow.

Tunde Daniels

What do you consider to be the role of government in film industry and how do we ensure that these roles are played effectively?

The role of government is to build infrastructure and create a conducive atmosphere. I was on an Mnet-sponsored soap recently, I had a chat with the PM and complained about the inadequate welfare available to all actors on set. The guy said he was an actor too and he that he understood what I said, but that I should understand that they were the one providing power, water and security at the location. He said that this would never happen in South Africa and that’s why actors over there get far more than what we get here in Nigeria as renumeration, though Nigerian actors are more creative than their counterparts in South Africa.

How do we ensure that the government plays this role effectively? 

That’s where AGN comes in. But unfortunately, AGN is not what it should be as we speak now. A house divided against itself will never stand. I’m sure those, who are concerned understand what I’m saying.

Again, the issue of piracy has been over flogged. Our government must rise up to this challenge and protect both intellectual and copyright of everyone in this great industry.

Now let’s look at issue of DSTV and other digital television services providers, do you think they have done well for the industry and how has this reduced piracy. Does it also bring better returns to the producers and actors alike?

To be sincere with you, DSTV has really been helpful in the promotion of Nollywood. It has also curbed piracy a bit. Pirates now know that the film they’re going to mass produced would soon be on DSTV, so they know that going ahead won’t be profitable to them.

Does it bring returns to producers? Absolutely yes. Presently, ‘Ajoche’ and ‘Forbidden’ are showing on DSTV (I’m part of the two series). The producer, director, crew and actors are all Nigerians. I’m quite aware of the budget for each project. It’s very big.

Sir, what would you like to be remembered for as a stakeholder in the industry and as a Nigerian?

Very simple. A man who puts smiles on people’s faces and played his part positively in fulfilling the plan and purpose of God in his generation.

Tunde Daniels

Aside from AGN, are you a member of any other professional group here in Nigeria or outside Nigeria and what would you say they have done to better the industry?

By the grace of God, apart from being a member of AGN, I’m a member of associations such as Art and Design Students Association, Nigerian Modelling Agent Association; American Poetry Association; and American Council of Counsellors. I’m not permitted to make others public because it’s against the ethics of the associations.

I believe everyone is doing his or her bit to promote art and entertainment. I’m a strong believer in the industry. I believe it’s a multi-billion dollars Industry if all the potentials are well harnessed.

There’s an adage in my place that, “Omo to ba sipa niya e ngbe”. Which simply means until AGN puts its house in order, it’ll be difficult for outsiders to come and invest in it.

“You can keep on complaining from now till eternity, nothing will change until you decide to do something about what displeases you.”

What is your philosophy of life?

It’s simply; Life is all about people. You prove your worth by making others grateful to God for coming your way.

In those days, our scripts were more informative, but if we pick five films at random now, everything is about crime, prostitution and at the end it doesn’t even provide education. What do you think could be done to correct this anomaly?

Sincerely speaking, it’s so sad but what can we do? The people with creative minds don’t have the funds, while those with funds are only after quick or immediate profit. But the truth is that things are getting better. I strongly believe that it won’t be like this forever.

What advice do you have for the younger generation, who aspire to be in the entertainment industry?

My advice has always been: be sure that it is what you really want to do and then get proper education. Be trained. Know your onions and wait for your time.

What gets you going all these while?

I’m a man of many parts. My faith in Christ is solid. God is my refuge and strength. He keeps me going.

Tunde Daniels

What were your happiest and saddest moments and how do you react to challenges?

My happiest moments were: when I gave my life to Christ, when I got married, and when I had my first child. The saddest moments were when I lost my very good and loyal friend; Victor Oluwatosin and my younger brother; a minister of God, Pastor Daniel Abioye Agboola last year May.

How do I react to challenging issues? I take them as they come. I speak to them the language of positivity and victory.

What will you say about www.movietainmentmagazine.com and what do you think we need to do better?

I went through the website and I must say that I’m very impressed. I only think many people do not know about it for now. So there’s need to spread the good news to every nook and cranny of the society.