Nollywood hierarchy and Chanel Lego bags

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There’s something  interesting I’ve always noticed about female actors in Nollywood – everyone seems knows their place.

I’ve often discussed with my colleague Victor Enengedi that every Nollywood actress recognizes a certain hierarchy in the Nigerian movie industry and consciously or otherwise respect it.

Now this hierarchy, I’d like to think of it as an I-got-more-class-than-you-so-respect-me kind of thing. There seems to be a number of groups fragmented too. From my own knowledge we have:

GROUP ONE: The nineties actresses: the likes of Liz Benson, Regina Askia, Sandra Achums, Steph-Nora Okereke, Hilda Dokubo, Eucharia Anunobi. They are basically off the grid (except Askia who is still making blog news thanks to her Facebook page).

GROUP TWO: The post nineties actresses:Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekeiende, Benita Nzeribe, Ibinabo Fiberisima, Bimbo Akintola, Stella Damasus, Oge Okoye. They probably consider themselves the classiest of all groups – emerging at a time when Nollywood started to break bank.

GROUP THREE: The last set of Nollywood hopefuls; Rita Dominic, Uche Jombo, Nse Ikpe-Etim, Ini Edo, Stephanie Linus, Mercy Johnson, Chioma Akpotha, Nkiru Sylvanus, Funke Akindele, Monalisa Chinda. Pretty OK actors they are and have done very well for themselves on the home-front but have hidden ambitions to belong to group two.

GROUP FOUR: The unfortunate future of Nollywood; Tonto Dike, Chika Ike, Rukky Sanda, Ebube Nwagbo, etc. These actresses have more controversy/scandals than movie appearances out there. They are constantly trying to prove to us that they deserve to be in a higher class without putting in work.

GROUP FIVE: Nollywood Yoruba: every Yoruba movie actress from Fathia Balogun, Foluke Daramola to Opeyemi Aiyelola to Tayo ‘Sikiratu Sindodo’ Odueke. The four other groups consider themselves in a higher class than this group (but really are they?), in fact it is of general assumption that this group lacks taste and class. But trust group five not to go down without a fight.

So when Genevieve Nnaji was pictured clutching a $10000 (N1.6m) yellow Chanel Lego bag some weeks ago, some members from other ‘groups’ felt they could live up to the life so they took a trip to the Chanel store. Next was Ini Edo who got for herself a red coloured model of the bag then followed Sikiratu Sindodo with a blue coloured model.

Amusingly, everybody thinks Sindodo’s bag is fake. Why? Because she ranks in group five? What would make you think the other ladies – Genevieve, Ini Edo and Sylvia Nduka (who also got a blue coloured model) are rocking original? Did they Instagram their store receipts too?

But it’s really not just about Chanel Lego bags, is it? Each actress always wants to out-do the other -whether with a latest photoshoot, fabulous red carpet outfit or simply smoking sisha at a high end club.

It’s all about competition and comparison amongst these ladies but like ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, ‘When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you’.

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