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An actress has waved aside the allegation of “sex-for-role” in the movie industry – insisting that in every other sector, the “boss” sleeps with the underling. “ The casting couch exists, but it is not just in the movie industry. There are some banks where you can’t get a job if you don’t sleep with the boss. Or in their marketing department, if...
An actress has waved aside the allegation of “sex-for-role” in the movie industry – insisting that in every other sector, the “boss” sleeps with the underling.
“ The casting couch exists, but it is not just in the movie industry. There are some banks where you can’t get a job if you don’t sleep with the boss. Or in their marketing department, if you don’t sleep with some clients, you might not get the kind of money your boss is expecting. There is no drug that was given to producers that says they must be randy or that they must have a high sexual urge, it’s there in basically every other sector. There are just some men who believe that they must get something from a woman for anything they give her. But it doesn’t mean that every marketer or every independent producer is like that”, says Darlene Benson-Cobham.
I’ve experienced it
But she says you don’t have to sleep with anyone to make it to the top.
“ There are people who made it to the top without having to sleep with anybody and there are others who slept their way to the top. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Some people did it, it worked for them, some do it and it doesn’t work. I’ve experienced one or two things like that but I didn’t have to do it and I’m still here. I might not be in every movie. Any woman who succumbs to it has herself to blame
Away to marry
Darlene’s one of those in a number of supporting roles in Nigerian movies. But she’s been off the screen so long many thought she had quit acting. Well, Darlene Benson-Cobham left town for a while to face marriage demands. “ I got married and my husband works in Bonny. So some of the producers decided to give me a break, one that I didn’t ask for. Now only a few producers know that I’m back in town”, she told Saturday Sun, recently.
But then, at Bonny, she did a few shows. “I organized most of their shows there, performing also. Even before I went, I was a performer, a singer. I do shows, studio jobs, jingles, back-up for some artists like Lt Shotgun, Sonny Nneji, Sammy Okposu. I’m working on my own album now.”
Working in Lagos, away from her man must be strenuous. “ Yes, the distance is challenging for us, but he loves my career, so he encourages me more than anything. He doesn’t try to keep me from my work. It’s true that no woman wants to be away from her husband for that long. You’ll miss him sometimes. He does come to town once in a while.”
She says she has also been a victim of the seasonal disease that happens to most actresses in Nigeria.
“ I’ve faced the same challenges every actor faces in Nigeria. You hope you can get roles that you can interpret properly,” says the UNILAG graduate of Theatre Arts. “ The seasonal thing that happens to almost every actress also happened to me. I started out well, appearing in quite a number of productions. All of a sudden they stopped using me for reasons best known to them. I don’t even know why actresses have to have seasons. It seems the producers and marketers have just created that situation. But I’m still here practicing my craft.”
Yet some other actors and actresses have been accused of being over-exposed because they appear in too many films. But she doesn’t think such allegations are valid.
“ I think it’s the same thing that is obtainable in basically every country that produces movies on such a large scale as we do. The people whose faces appear in almost all films are just privileged because they started out before others and the few lucky ones who started recently and have made it to the top. It’s what we find even in America that some actors’ faces sell movies, no matter what the movie is about. So the Idumota marketers have decided that if they want to sell their films, those faces have to be on it. But I think they are discovering some new faces now. Someone like Desmond Elliot was not a known face before, but he’s becoming better known now.”
Benson-Cohbam believes that the one thing that has kept her consistent in the industry is her acting style.
“ I believe that my acting style is different. Some producers have told me that I give the most realistic reactions. I’m not all into making it glamorous. I’m more particular about the very natural responses that would come if it were a real life situation. The way I see it is that you have to be as genuine as you can with your expressions because at the end of the day, you want to offer a slice of real life. It is like you’re trying to represent what happens in real life in the most realistic way possible. If you have any incidents in your life that resemble that scene you’re about to act, you can draw from it. And if you can’t, imagine it. It works for me all the time.”
She has some advice for any young person going into acting.
“Don’t go into acting because it seems glamorous and because everybody is doing it. You have to have a passion for it. You also have to go into it with the right attitude. Do what you’re doing decently. And for the ladies, you don’t have to start off on the wrong footing by giving actresses a bad name. Be yourself, don’t try to act like any other person. Everybody will know you for your own style. They’ll come for you because that’s who you are.”
FILMOGRAPHY: Brides Apart, Honeymoon Hotel, Engagement Night