The issue of skin colour discrimination is a serious problem in the make-believe industry not just Ghana or Africa but the world over, mostly against Africa actors.
The sensitive topic came up for discussion during the African Women in Film Forum held at Alliance Francaise in Accra on Monday April 4, 2016. Dark skinned Ghanaian actress Yvonne Okoro and light-skinned actress Nadia Buari have revealed that they were both denied movie roles because of the colour of their skin.
“I’m light-skinned and it is obvious. I get asked a lot of times if I feel being light-skinned contributed to the success of me being an established actress. No! It is wrong and I will tell you why; because I feel like you get to a certain place obviously because God permitted it. He put you there and because you are determined and because you have the talent. I am not trying to blow my horn but I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am…I have had a lot of roles where I wasn’t good enough because I was too light-skinned. For instance a certain movie producer called me and said she wanted me to be part of her movie …and I felt I really wanted to be part of her movie. But the one thing she asked me was, ‘I think you are too light-skinned; is there a way you can tan?’ And I was like, ‘Wait a minute. What do you mean [by] tan?’ And she was like, ‘Go in the sun and get brown.’ And I said to her, ‘I don’t know if you have seen me before but I’m almost like an Obroni (white).’ And she said, ‘Well like I wanted you to play a sister to other dark characters…’ And I wasn’t favoured. I don’t think light-skinned actresses are favoured because they are light-skinned. I feel like you have to possess talent. You need to have the drive and you need to have God on your side. You need to earn that and not really about you being light-skinned or any complexion. And please, it is wrong,” Nadia said.
Actress/Producer Yvonne Okoro also shared her experience:
“…I remember I was told that I am not too fair, which is weird to me because a lot of people don’t talk about that. In our industry there are times that you are not a certain type of way or you are not a certain type of colour so you don’t appeal to the masses.
But now that people have come to understand and believe that black is good, we are all different types of humans, we can’t be the same. We all can’t be light or black…so now as much as there is negativity in terms of how they want people to look, I think that we have changed to a certain point.
We have come to accept certain things- which are our colour, how we look- and in a way we don’t let people dictate who we are and what one should be. It is now not about how you look but the kind of story you are telling. The content we sell to people is changing,” Yvonne said.
Popular actresses and female producers Juliet Ibrahim, Martha Ankomah, the legendary Rama Brew and producer Helen Omaboe among others also shared diverse opinions on the topics discussed.
The African Women in Film Forum was organised by Golden Movie Awards in association with the African Women’s Development Fund on Monday to among other activities empower women in the movie industry to use their movies to change certain negative beliefs about the African woman.