I was sent a link to a Hollywood Reporter article which looked at how Hollywood is struggling to find the next Denzel Washington (a major black movie star), now that Denzel is being faded out as a result of old age.
I couldn’t miss the connection and the fact that the Ghanaian Movie Industry is somewhat in the same pickle, although caused by a different element. While Denzel Washington, 59 is at the edge of dropping from the big roles as the only standing black actor due to old age, Will Smith, 45 and Eddie Murphy, 53 cannot be said to be perfect stand-in candidates considering their ages too, the article noted.
Jackie Appiah and Denzel Washington may not have anything in common, except that they can both call themselves actors—even with that, one acts for a third world movie industry which struggles to sell its movies to its own people, while the other is a box office champion with an undisputed international status.
The truth is; Jackie Appiah has held the Ghanaian Movie Industry together with her face and acting (even if we find her acting substandard) for many years—and calling her the true face of the contemporary Ghana Movie Industry would not be a far-fetched rank. Perhaps, she is the most bankable Ghanaian actress—even as of today.
I do not have the exact total number of awards she has to her name but I am yet to meet anyone who will disagree with me that she holds more awards than that of any two of her colleagues put together. She has done it all—-from the strict VCD days to the booming era of movie premieres that took over the capital cities, Jackie Appiah was the poster girl.
There was a time most film-makers couldn’t imagine taking the risk of shooting a movie without having her as their lead—not simply because she was exceptionally good but because, she brought in the sales and having her face on your movie guaranteed a smile to the bank.
Though she could not score any great point with her brand, she remains the strongest, well-kept and untainted Ghanaian Movie star brand we’ve seen in recent times—and she has enjoyed the spark of glamour more than even those who rejuvenated the industry she later became part of…
The Jackie Appiah “charm” at one point was at its best; she took over the headlines, discussions and was the dream of every little girl who wanted to become a movie star in Ghana. She took on strong neighbouring brands like Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, stealing a good proportion of their work and glory.
Some of us hoped Jackie Appiah could have broken the Ghanaian curse and go beyond Nigeria, to be part of the global talk and live to say; a girl from the Western part of Africa can also steal the shine—just as Lupita Nyong’o has recently done.
But her glorious days seem to be gradually fading out and the probabilities on which the above hope was founded keep getting slimmer. It has not completely disappeared but we don’t sleep hoping to wake up to that anymore.
Jackie Appiah has lived the Ghanaian movie star life, has claimed more than some people predicted. However, she is slowly fading out of the game—not as a result of old age but as a result of having stood in the queue for far too long. If there is anything reasonably possible for her to achieve, she should by now have achieved it…
She lives close to the hearts of many African movie lovers—but the hearts of these same people desire to give a chance to the next determined, focused, outstanding and charismatic actress. Denzel cannot secure certain roles anymore because of age and Jackie Appiah can’t create that electrifying movie shocks anymore, because she has made good use of all the “charm” and her name.
Whatever the reason is; there is a gap waiting to be filled. A clear indication that the Jackie Appiah charisma and pull factor is fading out can be seen in the ease with which film-makers today bypass her with their great scripts—totally confident that their stories can be perfectly told without the once upon a time screen goddess.
Interestingly, the Ghanaian top spot can only be occupied by one person at a time—and the likes of Nadia Buari, Yvonne Nelson and Martha Ankomah who were active within the Jackie Appiah’s period of influence have already lost the battle to Jackie. Therefore, they cannot in anyway take the mantle away from her at this time.
A new face can do the magic, a fresh personality can easily steal the game, the fans—and be able to place well with the critics. But do we have anyone well positioned, prepared and ready to step in the Jackie Appiah shoes?
I do not want to think the Jackie Appiah crown is too big to fit the head of any of our new crop of actresses, though it seems so when you consider those we have on the drawing board.
The fact is; we need the next Jackie Appiah and the question is; who can take over from Jackie Appiah? Some are born to rule, others are born to be ruled! Only a few can move from the latter to become the former…