Nigerian actor, Jim Iyke, has disclosed that movie producers in the West African country decided to stop casting him for two years after he stood up for his fellow poorly remunerated actors.
Speaking at the ongoing International Youth Empowerment Summit in Accra, Jim indicated that this happened after he stood in front of the “elite producers and stars” in the movie industry in Nigeria and demanded better pay for his colleagues.
When his request was not heeded, he “called” a group of actors and asked them to ask for “more money.”
The producers, therefore, stood their ground and banned them because, according to Jim, they didn’t think the actors deserved the pay rise. As such, they recruited new actors- this happened in 2004.
The actors who were banned were popularly called the G8. They included Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Richard Mofe Damijo, Genevieve Nnaji, Emeka Ike, Ramsey Nouah, Nkem Owoh, Stella Damasus , and Jim Iyke.
“Apparently, our producers were becoming multi-millionaires and the actors, not me, I mean guys that were slightly lower, were struggling. And so, I called the group and said, we need to change the structure, without us they don’t exist. We are the ones the fans know. We have the gift and the talent why should they be earning more than us?”
Jim Ike who has described the ban as a “blessing,” added that the movie industry in Nigeria began to dwindle as the new actors were “totally rejected” by Nigerians. As a result of that, the producers had to recall them as they couldn’t “make the 1 million and 2 million sales” movies were raking in before they banned the ‘G8’ actors.
The actor, who has starred in more than 150 movies, said that this occurred because the producers thought they “made” the actors and as such, they must take whatever they were given.
Regardless of those sentiments by the producers and marketers, Jim Ike strongly believed that even though “every star of consequence came under somebody,” he was not made by those elite producers.
“On the negotiating table everybody had something to say. I made you, without me you wouldn’t have been that. I gave you, your first chance. My colleagues kept quiet because everybody had a leaning, had somebody to point at to say without you I wouldn’t have been whatever it is that I became.
“So, I said one thing, can somebody stand up and truthfully claim that without them I wouldn’t have come up. Not one person. Because I knew how I started. I knew the belief that I had… I refused to do small roles. For the first 2 to 3 years of my career, they kept giving me small roles and I refused them. I said if it is not a major lead then I’m not doing it,” he said.