Is a career in Nollywood worth it?

Published on: October 12, 2021 (Updated on: April 22, 2024)

Is a career in Nollywood worth it?
Is a career in Nollywood worth it?

Is a career in Nollywood worth it? For most people, a career in the entertainment industry is a quick way to become rich and famous. However, this does not seem to be the case as over and over again we have seen cases of old veteran actors and musicians coming to solicit for financial assistance due to one medical condition or the other. While the industry may look like a flourishing sector from the outside, proceeds from film sales usually go to producers of the movies and sponsors while the actors are paid a not-so-great amount.

Though the movie industry is a valuable one, most Nollywood stars need to diversify into different businesses to get by. For young actors who are yet to make a name for themselves, it could take years of training and even free roles to be able to make reasonable money from the Industry. Speaking from personal experience, I had an opportunity to work as an extra on an episode of a TV series and got paid five thousand naira for the role. While this might look like easy money, it should be taken into consideration that I was just one person out of thousands of people that auditioned for the role. 

The Nollywood industry employs almost 1 million people annually but for those who desire a career in the industry, it is not a good enough reason to quit your day job yet.

Here are some reasons why a career in Nollywood may or may not be worth it

1. Breaking in

It takes years of training, a lot of auditions, a great deal of connections, and also luck to become successful in Nollywood. Yes, talent is not enough. While there are a lot of talented actors out there, it might take a couple of years before your talent is recognized. To gain experience and opportunities in Nollywood, you might need to get proper training and certification at acting institutes in the country or take a lot of jobs as extras. This may work out for some while others may not be so lucky.

2. Low pay

Upcoming actors have to settle for whatever they get in acting gigs as there is no standard body or agency that regulates the price actors are paid. Many stars in the industry have had to take a lot of these low-paying roles before they were able to make a name for themselves. Value in the Nigerian movie industry is determined by how popular you are and not by how talented you are. Movie producers seek out famous actors who can help them sell movies and make a lot of money, so it's not surprising to see the same set of actors in different movies every time. 

3. Gatekeeping

This is defined as an act of limiting or controlling access to something or someone. This is a common trait in the Nigerian movie industry, young and upcoming actors are rarely welcomed into the industry. Certain producers or directors prefer to work with a certain set of actors and tend to recycle them in all their movies, this does not allow upcoming actors to benefit from these career-boosting opportunities. To overcome this challenge, one would need a lot of luck or good connections in order to force one's way into the industry.

4. Sex for roles

Most female upcoming actors are usually faced with a case of solicitation from male producers, directors, or actors. Sex for roles scandals are very prominent in Nollywood, most female actors have been faced with this challenge at one point in their career or the other. Naive actors who fall for these tricks sometimes never get the roles they are promised and become objects of sexual gratification for these producers.

Actors who eventually make it into the industry need to understand that income in the business is not sustainable and they need to put their hands in other businesses. There are also other sacrifices that come with the price of fame, celebrities are forced to forgo their personal lives and privacy once they are in public.

People seeking a career in Nollywood should also understand that there are other aspects of the industry that are easier to get into. It is vital to seek out other opportunities available in the film-making sector. Opportunities such as assistant directors, screenwriting, dops, sound engineering, video editing and so much more are viable options in the movie industry.

You might also be interested in an article on Nigerian movies on Netflix.