Tayo Elesin is a British-Nigerian actress. She also prefers to be referred to as a “storyteller.” Famous for her roles in some BBC TV productions including Casualty, Law and Order, Doctor, among others, Tayo has also acted in the critically acclaimed play by late Ola Rotimi ‘Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again’ produced last year by Lookman Sanusi. While in the country recently, she paid a courtesy visit to the Vanguard corporate office, where she disclosed why she hate the name ‘Nollywood’; and how to reposition the Nigerian film industry, among other issues. Enjoy!
Do you have any intention to work with Nollywood stars?
I don’t like the word, Nollywood. I really don’t like it.
There are several reasons. One of which is, when I think of the word, Nollywood, quite frankly, it reminds me of a mimicry, if you will, of Hollywood. Now, Hollywood is the home of the American film industry. It’s actually a location in Los Angeles. I have found nowhere in Lagos or in Nigeria called Nollywood. Except if you are telling me it’s located in the Mushin or Ikorodu area of Lagos. But I’m yet to see such a place in Nigeria.
That’s why I don’t agree with the word, Nollywood. Incidentally, the word, Nollywood was not actually created by a Nigerian, but by a newspaper publication back in the States which started to identify Nigerian films as Nollywood. But when you read through that article, it wasn’t used respectfully like Nollywood. Rather, it was used to describe the film industry in Nigeria in a mocking way.
But Nigerians took it up and turned it the other way. But for me, Nigeria is a big country with a flourishing film industry. It doesn’t need to mimic the word, Hollywood. Also, there are films from countries like Finland nobody calls such films Fin-wood, or British-wood referring to films from Britain. It’s called British films. What I want to see is a Nigerian film to be called a Nigerian film. There is no need for the mimicry at all. We don’t need it
Would you want to star in Nollywood films?
I intend to tell good stories. I’m a story teller. If a good story comes from Nigeria, South Africa, Italy or from any part of the world, I will do it. The thing here is that a good story is a good story irrespective of wherever it’s emanating from. If a Nigerian film maker has an excellent story and it’s directed by a tested hand, why not? I will do it. But I don’t think I can answer the question; ‘do you intend to be part of Nollywood’ because of the fact that I don’t agree with the word, Nollywood.