Dilemma of Child Actors and the Nigerian Video Film Industry

Dilemma of Child Actors and the Nigerian Video Film Industry

Uduakobong Sunday, Rotimi Williams Olatunji
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0329-4.ch014
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Demands on the actors include ability to interpret the writer's scripts, memorise the lines, and be at rehearsals anywhere, anytime, and anyhow; obvious dilemma is associated with the involvement of child actors. A child has the right to survival and development, education, leisure, amongst others, which are to be undertaken under the guidance, supervision, and care of parents. If a child actor has a dutiful parent or guardian, effectiveness may be attained in creating a balance between acting and other areas of needs; without a conscientious parent, where the child actor is overwhelmed by the acting environment, his education may suffer even as he can commit himself to the lifestyle of the make-believe world of acting. Drawing from two child actresses in Nigeria, this chapter exemplifies the dilemma of child actors and the challenge it poses to such child rights. It offers suggestions on how the effect of the dilemma could be resolved.
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There seems to be a consensus on the power of video film in this contemporary age (Adenugba, 2007, Alawode & Sunday, 2013, Giwa, 2014) & Ekwuazi, 1991); where the primary essence of the video film, like all other forms of media, is to provide enlightenment, education and information to the audience, while also entertaining them. These are done through employing characters in screen plays to represent real life persona in order to effectively convey required messages and situations convincingly. The characters would necessarily constitute all kinds of individuals who are representatives of the real world and societies which the situations and story lines subsist. These would include children, youths and all categories of older people as represented in every human society. While all categories of people are connected to video films as actors and actresses, the involvement of children in acting careers, particularly in very major roles which requires serious rehearsals and participation evokes streams of questions, considering their age and expected development levels with associated expectations. The implications can be overwhelming, if they are not effectively harnessed. One of the questions that can readily occur is the possibility of balancing the rights of the child actor with the demands of the acting as a professional.

Acting places high demand on the characters to be nothing but real in their portrayals. A child of school age is expected to concentrate on his or her education in order to learn as effectively as expected; as well as have lots of play and rest schedules to enhance proper development and growth. The child’s involvement in acting places exceedingly great demand on him/her as he/she has to grapple with studying of scripts, research into roles, characters and situations as well as auditions and rehearsals. The film industry, being a make-believe world is associated with show business and fantasy, which can expose the child actor to situations that may have untoward implications on the child’s growth and development as well as eventual lifestyle, if he or she is not properly guided. On the other hand, a child actor, who is well guided to function in such manner that is viewed as acceptable within the norms and values of the society may be deemed as a positive model, even as such can undoubtedly be known as a celebrity. While the acting profession enables the actor (of whatever age) to serve the society as one that interprets roles for effective communication, a disconnect between being a message carrier as a child actor and his/her rights, will make a mess of whatever message is being passed across by film producers in correcting the errors of the society. Definetly, it would be most unlikely for any film with good storylines which reveals happenings in the society to be produced without involvement of children. The video films cannot possibly be sustained without the involvement of children as performers because there would always be scenes of families, schools, and the like where children should be represented otherwise the storylines would not be realistic. This is why it is necessary to resolve the dilemma of child actors and its implication on the Rights of the Child as stipulated in the Child Right Acts of 2003.

This chapter which is primarily based on desk research discusses the dilemma of child actors and actresses in the light of some items in the Child Right Act of 2003. Towards ensuring effective understanding of the subject, the concept of children would be explained, followed by identification of Child Rights Acts of 2003. The chapter shall also establish the role of film as a communication medium before giving insight into the Nigerian film industry. Reflection of the person of an actor as well as the actor as a child would be clarified, before identifying relevant theory that guides the subject matter. This would lead to discussion on dilemma of child actors in Nigeria and probable suggestions to tackle the identified challenges.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Child: A boy or girl whose age is not up to eighteen years.

Superstar: An actor or performer who has exceptionally exceeded his or her peers in the media industry in performance.

Nollywood: Identity of Nigerian (video) film industry.

Model: Emulate, copying to be like another person or an individual whom another person copies or aspire to be like.

Film: An audio-visual recorded medium of communication which consists of moving pictures, to provide entertainment, information, and/or education to its audience.

Talent: Actor/actress, performer, or star (who is involved in the film production).

Audience: Consumer or beneficiary of media content who views or listens to media contribution.

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