This conversation takes place somewhere in an office on Cole street in Lagos at 7:30pm between a "wanna be celebrity actress" and a "producer/filmmaker/major stakeholder" with regards to an audition the former went for. The latter was part of the casting team, (typical of the Industry), and to a large extent calls the shot...
"I'm talented, I did well during the audition, and i'm sure of clinching the role. I even received a round of applause for it, I'm going to be a star" the wanna-be actress said.
"Well that's great, but do you really think that's what it takes to really clinch the role?" The producer asked.
"What else could I possibly need, I did well and you can attest to that fact because you were there."
"Yes, you did well, but you left out one important detail."
"And what might that be?"
"I can highly influence who gets what part."
"Well, you were part of the casting team, so you should know who gets what role."
"I can see you're naive about the realities of this game."
"I'm sorry, I don't understand, what game?"
"Life is a game, and so is politics, sports, business, name it, they're all games. You can only succeed if you make the right move."
"Okay, let me make it clear to you, how many people came for the audition?"
"... I guess we were roughly over a thousand."
"And how many people were given that same role you performed."
"I don't know"
"I'll tell you, 300"
"And how many did you think did well?"
"150 flunked out rightly, 80 were on the average, 40 had potential, 20 were good, 7 scored nearly on points and 3 were outstanding. You made the outstanding team"
"Hold on, but outstanding doesn't get you the role. I said 3 made the list but there's only one spot which I get to choose."
"But... you should know who was the best. I mean I really need this, I've worked year in, year out, waiting for this opportunity, please you've got to help me."
"Help you? well I figure that can be done."
"Thank you so much!"
"Hold on again... it can be done if you play your cards right, remember it's a game."
"I'll hit the nail on the head, I take you bed and you get the role."
"What! Take me to bed and then I'll get the role?"
"Just like that baby! Look you're grown up and we can work things out, are we on the same page honey?"
"But it's unethical, you're trying to take advantage of me because I want to act?"
"Spare me the lecture, if you're ready to play ball, call me, if not, kiss the role and your desire for fame and fortune good bye! The choice is yours, after all, no one will know. The other two have accepted my offer, but you are actually my first choice. You've got two days to make up your mind."
"Yes two days... and I trust that you'll do the right thing."
What exactly is the right thing? Sleep with him? Get the role and watch your life shred into a million pieces when the truth pops up one day into the open. Golden couches operate in various movie industries and it is sad to note that some desperate "wanna be celebrity actresses" even initiate the sexual moves. This unethical practice exists in Nollywood even though its been denied in some quarters. Nothing good comes easy and patience in such trying times will see you through. A lady who has dignity, self worth, self respect and is highly principled will not stoop so low as to commit such acts. Ladies who engage in the golden couch act are loosely referred to as 'glorified hookers', selling their bodies in exchange not for cash, but for roles (which they might not even get at the end of the day).
Now, if she has to sleep with 10 men to get roles, then it means she'll do it. This is wrong! And certainly nothing to be proud of. Patience pays of in the long run and compensates you handsomely for the dark times you spent waiting. A worthy example is AMAA Best actress 2009, Funke Akindele (a lawyer turned actress) who went from one audition point to another, sometimes trekking, underwent stress, and rejection. Her patience certainly paid off with her hit movie "Jenifa". She's become a star and has done advert endorsements for the Lagos state government, Adam and Eve, and Glo. She takes delight in helping up-and-coming actresses to live their dreams.
The Golden couch is a serious problem in Nollywood and should be checkmated forthwith by the authorities. Proper relevant mechanisms for combating this should be put in place. Female actresses and wanna be celebrities should be encouraged to report cases of sexual harassment, assault, molestation, solicitation for sex and stringent punishment meted out to the erring parties after a thorough investigation. The males have not been left out of this evil practice as the good looking ones have also been victims of the golden couch.
As a result of this unethical practice the industry looses good, credible worthy ambassadors and absorbs morally bankrupt ones into the system (both those that can and can't act). As long as this issue is not addressed by the relevant authorities, it would remain a clog in the wheel of Nollywood's progress.