By Ogova Ondego
Published December 20, 2013
“Love life and love people. Give people a chance to be who they want to be and can be. Respect for people embodies everything,” says Ghanaian screen actress Lydia Forson who was on December 19, 2013 named Ambassador of the 10th AMAA by organizers Africa Film Academy (AFA).
Forson, who lists Discipline, Professionalism and Respect as her core values shall, during her stint as brand ambassador, be expected to travel across Africa and around the world, engaging with key players in a year-long of speaking engagements.
Though she says she started acting in 2005, it was not till 2008 that she finally made up her mind to become a ‘professional actress’. Then, she had just participated in a reality show about acting in Nigeria in and had taken fourth position.
“Though my journey into acting started in my childhood, I had never considered it a career option,” Forson tells me.
But that was before her performance in THE PERFECT PICTURE, a Shirley Frimpong-Manso film, earned her a joint nomination with compatriots Jackie Appiah and Naa Ashoku Mensa-Doku for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the 6th Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in 2010. Though having been a ‘professional actress’ for just 24 months, Forson, Appiah and Mensa-Doku were jointly declared the Best Actress in a Leading Role on April 10, 2010 in the Bayelsan state capital, Yenagoa. Their creator, director Frimpong-Manso walked away with the Best Director prize.
“This award gave me recognition and validation; that I was on the right path,” Miss Forson says. “However, the flip side of such an award is that it placed a heavy burden on you. You must work harder. You just can’t fail.”
But such an award also opens career doors for the winner.
“I met award-winning actor and director Kunle Afoloyan at AMAA. I went on to star in his crowd-pleasing film, PHONE SWAP,” she says. “I also wrote MASQUERADES, a film shot in Ghana that was nominated for AMAA two years later, in 2012. What is more, I became the first West African professional actress in the South African TV soap called SCANDAL.”
Forson has also taken part in two films—REFLECTIONS and KAMARA’S TREE—shot in Sierra Leone by Nigerian actor, director and producer, Desmond Elliot. She says the opportunity came through her winning the Best Actress Award at AMAA 2010. She says the films are to be released in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia in February 2014.
“Collaboration among actors and actresses across countries and regions will not only give us a larger market but a greater audience appeal. I’d like to see such collaborations all across Africa. We must embrace this,” says Forson who is pursuing creative writing at University of Ghana as she gets ready to “produce films at a later time.”
“African countries must borrow a leaf from Nigeria and Malawi in the way film and film people are treated. Lack of respect for entertainment industry will not take us far. Most of what we know about USA comes through Hollywood and entertainment. While I was impressed to see the Government of Malawi support AMAA 2013 Nomination activities and President Joyce Banda hugging AMAA nominees from her country, I also admire the way the Government of Nigeria addresses artists respectfully,” Forson says.
But how did Forson who says “Every day is an opportunity to learn” come to be identified with AMAA?
She told media practitioners gathered at African Sun’s Amber Residence Hotel in Ikeja on December 19 for the unveiling of 10th AMAA Anniversary that her relationship with AMAA started about seven years ago when she first attended the event in Nigeria out of curiosity when she was first nominated for the awards.
‘’I bought my own ticket to Nigeria after I missed my AMAA-arranged flight. That year I didn’t win but I was amazed by the quality of filmmakers and professionals in the industry I met. I was like ‘Wow this is how huge this platform is!’. I have formed life-long relationships from AMAA because I have been coming every year after the first time. I have also met colleagues from other parts of the world through AMAA that I have built rewarding relationship with.”