We sold our 'birth rights' to Nigeria - Mawuli Semevo
Veteran actor, Mawuli Yaw Semevo has said that the Ghanaian movie industry totally died at some point after stakeholders "sold the industry's 'birth right'" to Nigeria resulting in the huge influx of Nigerian movies into the country.
“At a point in time...yes it was dead after selling our 'birth right' to the Nigerians. Yes, that is how I term it as an individual maybe someone will say [a different thing],” he said.
He was quick to blame producers as the cause, explaining that these producers destroyed the industry by determining and dictating what stories and cast are used in movies because they had invested their monies.
The hypocritical lifestyle of Ghanaians of refusing to acknowledge the truth by pretending to like such mediocre movies being produced, Mawuli said, resulted in the low patronage of locally produced movies paving the way for the influx of Nigerian films.
He hinted that we are still 'buying' back our birth rights but that could fully be achieved if we are bold enough to shy away from their (Nigerian) movies.
“We have to get to this pedestal where we will be able to tell ourselves that, Oh Nigerian films, we are not watching it, forget it we won't watch. The Nigerians do that, why do you think they started collaborating with us? So the market will have a dual face – [a presence in both markets - Nigeria and Ghana].”
Mawuli suggested that the system should be streamlined for the discovery and usage of talented wannabe actors who would be blended with the old and new casts. He further called for very good stories to change the face of acting in Ghana.
Mawuli Semevo is not a new name when it comes to stage and screen plays but surprisingly, this talented actor has been lost from the screens for some time now.
Asked whether he has gone into hiding, he was quick to say, "as far as acting is concerned, I have not gone into hiding because that is what I do for a living. I work at the National Theatre," admitting although he has gone off the screens (movies) he is still actively involved in stage performances.
For an experienced actor like himself, he revealed that he is not lucky with auditions, a reason for his absence from the screens, "I am not lucky with auditions so I always run away from auditions and most of my life time, I am always called upon."
He also blamed his absence on the mentality of industry players that the young and upcoming ones should be given the chance to play major roles in movies and they have gradually become the choice of most movie directors.
The veteran actor said the industry today has changed into a business, a clear contrast to situations during their early days. "We did it [bearing] in mind that you want to bring about a change in society. That was the first and foremost thing they (teachers) were always reminding us about. In as much as we were learning, it was not the money."
Recounting that their quest to learn more came with a lot of sacrifices including walking from places like Chorkor in Accra to the Arts Centre, from the Arts Centre to the Ghana Broadcasting house (GBC) and then to Circle.
Mawuli Semevo holds a long history in acting having his first shot at acting in a stage play in 1980 whiles in the Training college. That subsequently propelled him to join the Ghana Theatre Club at the Arts Centre in 1981. He later went to the School of Performing Arts in 1984.
Mamuli has acted in several plays and movies including; Foriwa, Firestorm, Bishop Handel Stick, Tiger of Liberation, Harvest at 17 and recently Kwaw Ansah's The Good Old Days – The Love of AA