Rise and rise of Nollywood’s Eva Banks
Ask Nigerians who are holding the forte for Nollywood and doing well career-wise in the United States of America and the name Eva Banks will be amongst the top ten.
Having secured some heights in acting and producing in Nollywood, the screen diva relocated to the USA to further sharpen her skills educationally and to extend the frontiers of the Nigerian motion picture industry in the US.
A product of the American International University where she obtained a Master’s in Healthcare Administration, Eva who is best known for producing the critically acclaimed movie Caught in The Web, starring Ghanaian actor Van Vicker, disclosed in this interview that she is fulfilled in her careers both as a Nollywood actress, producer and director and an administrator at her own Healthcare Company.
The Journey Here
I STARTED my acting career decades ago in Nigeria, acting with most of the legendary renowned actors like John Dumelo and the veteran actress Patience Uzokwo (Mama G). Later, I decided to produce my own movies. The very first movie I wrote and produced was titled Caught In The Web, which got us five outstanding nominations at the Nollywood and African Film Critics’ Awards (NAFCA) in 2011 in North Carolina, USA.
Upon relocating to the US, I became part of the Nollywood movie industry that was already in existence. I have played major roles in its development and am still doing that till date. I have produced many television series, television commercials and films such as Family Secrets, Love Betrayal (a soap opera/TV series) and Blind Folded, which premiered in Houston and featured actors like Kalu Ikeagwu and Moses Efret.
Blind Folded got multiple nominations at the Los Angeles Film Awards and the movie Directors, Stanley Acholonu and Ikechukwu Onyeka won the best Director Awards category.
Challenges Encountered In Nigeria and The US
As an actress, my talent was hidden for a long time at the beginning of my career in Nollywood, just like most upcoming acts. But when the time came, it exploded and like they say the rest is history. However, as a producer, I was faced with multiple problems in raising funds for a movie project in an environment that was yet to consider making an African movie a viable venture.
Raising funds for movie production and finding real professionals that could act without the conflict of their primary job interfering with the shooting schedule was another problem I encountered as a film producer in the US.
Unlike Nollywood in Nigeria, Nollywood in the US has been facing critical formative challenges, especially in the areas of funding and professionalism in acting and actors not being able to create time between their bill-paying job and honouring movie rehearsals and shooting schedules. But in Nigeria, Nollywood has got its production command structure right. The bottom line is that Nollywood somehow has managed to survive all these challenges and is still hanging in there.
Other things that need to improve or change in Nollywood US and by extension probably apply to Nollywood Nigeria include; putting its house in order, especially in making effort to have a credible umbrella association, which will look into quality control and discipline erring practitioners.
The problem of piracy is still there. Addressing or minimising it is one of the greatest problems of the industry. I also think that Nollywood needs co-production or collaborative treaties with Hollywood and other countries that are advanced in their film industries to move to the next level.
State of Film Distribution in Nollywood
Well, in terms of distribution, especially online distribution, I am happy with what is happening with the collaboration between Nollywood and Netflix. Nollywood is currently experiencing significant transformation in its mode of production and distribution. The missing quality and content problems have been moved up to speed by the supervision of Netflix as evidenced by the films that are being streamed to worldwide audiences. I consider the union between Netflix and Nollywood a highly commendable union.
Also, the collaboration with Netflix has made many Nollywood filmmakers whose movies are not yet Netflix compliant start embarking on far-reaching transformation driven by the adoption of tech-savvy applications and models for making good films. The bottom line here is that Netflix has raised the bar very high in the Nollywood film industry. Everybody is now trying to catch up. This is a good development in our movie industry.
No regrets at all; l am fulfilled first and foremost as a mother and in my various careers both as a Nollywood actress, producer and director and an administrator at my own Healthcare Company. I am grateful to God that my children Daniel and Sandra are married. Sandra got married recently in a celebrated wedding at the prestigious Lagos Oriental Hotel in Lekki and my son Daniel got married last year during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.
So, I am happy and fulfilled. I can only ask God for more grace to continue to excel in my career as an actress, producer and director and in my role as a mother and as CEO of my healthcare company.
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