Lights! Camera! Surulere!

Story by
Last Updated: Monday, July 27, 2009

The frustration on Onyeka Madu's face was clearly visible as he drained his last glass of beer. Two years after leaving the university, his hope of becoming a movie actor is still what it has always been - hope. He has not starred in a movie, though he's been getting promises of one role or the other.

"When I moved to Lagos a couple of years ago, after my graduation; they told me if I want to get into the movies, I should come here," said Mr. Madu, a graduate of Mass Communication from the Enugu State University of Technology.

The ‘here' Mr. Madu was referring to is Winis Guest House, a three-storey building standing beside a Celestial Church of Christ building at Folawiyo Bankole Street in Surulere, Lagos.

Just over a decade ago, the guest house was the hub of activities for actors, actresses, directors, and anybody calling the shots in the movie industry.

"Those days, this place served as the gathering place for all the actors and actresses in Nollywood," said Sunny Onwordi, an assistant movie director.

Nollywood: the beginning

On how it all began at Winis, Mr. Onwordi said before the advent of Winis, ECOWAS Hotel on Agbonyi Street in Aguda, Surulere, used to be the popular hangout for actors.

"Around the mid-90's, we were hanging out at Winis. Later we moved to ECOWAS. When ECOWAS was closed down for unknown reasons, we came back to Winis," said Mr. Onwordi.

Mr. Onwordi said Winis has always been accommodating to artistes, and being situated at Surulere which, according to him, is the heart of entertainment, it became a meeting point for the artistes in the movie industry.

The guest house served, mostly, as lodging as well as a converging point for the Nollywood artistes. As a result, those already in the industry and aspiring artists started getting accommodation and offices around Winis, or at least, within Surulere.

"Winis always gave us subsidies when we lodge. And even when some artistes couldn't pay up, they were always understanding," said Patrick Chukwuedo, a production manager.

Artist hangout

A recent visit to Folawiyo Bankole Street showed some actors, actresses, and technical hands in the movie industry, hanging out around the guest house.

Restaurants within the vicinity served as relaxation joints and converging points.

A lady operating one of the numerous relaxation spots along the street, who didn't want her name disclosed, said artistes hanging out in the area has been good for her business. "I was operating a hair salon before but when I noticed that joints are better, I quickly switched. So far, it has been a wise business move," she said.

"Artistes love to relax, and this place has been most conducive for that," Mr. Chukwuedo said.

Move out

The plan to move artistes to an artistes' village at the National Theatre, Iganmu in 2000 was unsuccessful.

Mr. Onwordi said the move became imperative because they felt artistes were no longer respected, especially by the residents in the area. He said artistes often engaged in scuffles with the residents and area boys.

"The move was a monumental mistake. They moved only the Actors' Guild of Nigeria (AGN) but the other guilds in the industry were not moved. So Winis was still serving as their meeting point," said Mr. Chukwuedo.

He said that after a brief stay at Iganmu, everybody trooped back to Surulere.

However, with the establishment of the Actors Guild in all the states and the shooting of movies away from Lagos, the usual throng of artistes to Folawiyo Bankole Street has been on a steady decline.

Now, according to Mr. Chukwuedo, most of the artistes also hang out at O'Jez, another popular hangout for artistes, inside the National Stadium, Surulere.

"Asaba and Owerri are the happening places right now, in terms of movie locations. And the trend now is to call the stars you want to use to sell your movie, and then you can arrange for the other members of cast and crew. Gone are the days you pack actors from Lagos to a location," Mr. Onwordi said.

Actor's Guild

Situating the Actors Guild at 14, Nnobi Street in Surulere, less than 500 metres from Folawiyo Bankole Street, meant Winis was still relevant to the artistes.

"When we had no office, we used to gather at Winis whenever we wanted to hold a meeting. But now we are more organized, and we have an office," said Chikezie Uwazie, an actor and the financial secretary of the Lagos State chapter of the AGN. He said though artistes still go to Winis, "basically, we do everything in our office."

At the moment, Mr. Madu is contemplating relocating to his native Enugu State.

"I don't want to waste my life here. I would stay a little longer and if nothing happens, I would go back to Enugu," he said.

By nesx

More Headlines
Do you have a story/gist for publication? Please email it to [email protected]

Surulere is the right place.
Angel Tessy
7/28/2009 7:56:00 AM
When u go to Winis Guest House,onile gogoro area,u will feel d atmospheric of nollywood,is like institute,d artistes been respected like a students.Moving out of surulere area,pple dont valued them but call them sort of names,so surulere is a home for nollywood preiod.
ohhhhh heck
7/28/2009 3:09:45 PM
ohhhhhhhhhhhh i am feeling a pang of dissatisfaction every time i see most of my friends ,featuring in one flick or another, you see! that institution was one, which i still feel very sad not to have passed through. anyways i am so so happy that the level have really changed and there are loads of improvements now
7/29/2009 10:36:49 AM
mungo y are u hiding using my name? u shd hv come out fully let me giv u and ur father my menstruation drink,imean it, if una like make una use my name write r*****h i knw the gv up,me i no the tire o! you who is using my name is the ones that will get tired,i dont knw who is doing it but i bet whoever, the ppls will get tired,esty is galant no shaking ok?make all of una papa come drink my menstruation,i tink una say una no de fear? y ar you hiding posting wht i did not write shameless ppl,till tomorow i stand on my ground.chioma as 4 u dont useless god name u c..wht u put urself in2 this is esty cool if you follow wht i post u will cee the i knw the carry last.JANE,MEG,CNN,KKK,SOLANGE,MUNGO THE GOLD DIGGER,AND THE REST MAKE UNA HERE O! ME I NO DE GV UP SO STOP POSTING WHT I DID NOT WRITE,STOP USING MY NAME.ESTY NO DE FEAR ANY OF THIS f**lS, RATHER THEY AR D ONES DAT ARE SCARED THEY ARE HIDDING USING MY NAME IF U AR CAPABLE COM OUT FULLLY.U POST THAT I`M SRCEEMING OF MADNESS,MAYBE U ARE DREAMING IT 4 UR WIFES AND HUSBAND IF U PPL HV ANY O!
Esty - Mad woman
7/29/2009 6:50:05 PM
The ranting of a fustrated mad woman!!!! Instead of discussing the topic, you are calling names. This forum is not a place to settle scores, you demonic she goat!!!
Are you not ashamed of talking about menstration and urine? I have never read one reasonable comment from you. All your comments make me ashamed. Mungo is a man and has nothing to loose, if u dont know. All the other people are against u bcos of your useless way of writing. Last time you talked about your kids digging grave for cnn and them giving him aids. There is no difference between you and a naked mad woman in the market place. Shame on you. i***t!!!
You disgust me. Mumuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
Esty - Mad woman
esty hot
7/29/2009 7:28:31 PM
Subject : Attention ! I am a lunatic!
Posted by : Esty Cool | Abj-9ja
Date : 7/23/2009 9:32:22 PM

Attention all! Please I suddenly realised that I am going c***y. I am gradually becoming a psychiatric patient. I need help. Can anybody in this forum help me? I am going mad, that is why I write the way I do. Help me please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reply this thread
Esty - Mad
For esty
7/29/2009 8:47:43 PM
Below is a recommendation from HU - CHINA. Ha ha ha!!!

Subject: MADNESS
HU | 7/29/2009 7:17:57 PM | CHINA-CHINA Esty, as a psychiatrist, after reading all your comments , I concluded that your madness can not be cured. As a spiritualist also, your madness was a spell cast by somebody you snatched her husband, the remedy is in the atlantic ocean. So, I am sorry you will remain mad for ever. But there is a way out;repent and beg for forgiveness to all the people you have offended including mungo. This can give you a little bit of sanity like 30%. It's up to you to decide on what to do.

Post your comment

Disclaimer: Do not use this forum as a channel to promote hatred, tribalism or any other kind of personal grievances. The administration can delete or edit a post that violates these guidelines. Keep the posts relevant to the topic in an attempt to keep the forum organised and maintain the focus on each topic. Thank you for your understanding. READ MORE

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The Nigerian entertainer industry seriously needs prayers and God's intervention
Monday, May 2, 2016
Nigerians were shocked to their bone marrows when Tee Billz, the husband of Tiwa
Friday, May 20, 2016
Controversial ex of actress, Toyin Aimakhu, Seun Egbegbe, has chosen to put his
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
After much denials, more information has revealed that the hubby of top Nollywoo

Other sites of NFC Media Group are Nigeria Films, The Nigerian Voice, Modern Ghana