By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Legendary actress, Joke Silva, last month took centre stage as guest speaker at the Filmmakers’ Forum of the Nollywood Studies Centre, School of Media and Communications, Pan-Atlantic University, Victoria Island, Lagos.
peaking on the topic, ‘Beyond the Glitz: An Acting Career Built on Sweat, Tears and Professionalism,’the guest speaker was awesome in her presentation. She arrived punctually, looking very much the part for the topic.
Exuding elegance in a black and white Remy Lagos outfit and sporting an exuberant afro, Joke Silva appeared every inch the glamorous actress. Relaxed and dishing out to everyone her usual wide and pleasant smile, she conveyed a sense of ease that belied the reality of the hard and often challenging work of the professional actor.
One of the challenges is how to create a believable fully fleshed out three-dimensional character. It was clear from the beginning of the forum that characterisation for Joke Silva is not something superficial.
When she plays a role on stage or in a film, she lives the life of the portrayed character. This came through in her explanation for the generous afro-wig she had on. She had just finished playing the role of an older woman, she said, and was about to take up the part of a much younger character in another production.
Wearing of the wig was to help her break out of the previous role and enter into another character for the new role. In not so many words, Joke Silva made it clear that the body of the actor is the canvass on which the film/stage character is drawn and made to come to life. The actor must encapsulate the personality of the character and give it being.
After taking a quick survey of the members of the audience to find out which of her films they had watched, Joke Silva spoke about her acting career by describing the challenges involved in bringing to life the characters she had played in the different films.
One of the truly memorable characters for her was Mama Tega in Amaka Igwe’s Violated. Being quite young at that time and of a rather petite stature, the challenge was to convincingly play the part of a much older person, a powerful and domineering matriarch.
But she pulled it off. Among other things, she built up a profile of Mama Tega based on the characters of the different older women that she knew. She also paid particular attention to her costume and make-up, both of which she handled herself.
The portrayal was so successful that people that met her, after watched Violated, could hardly believe that she was the same person.
But such successes do not come easy. Joke Silva shared with the audience, her experience of the gruelling years she spent studying drama at Web ber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, UK.
Among other things, the course involved intensive training in acting, movement and voice. The training was such a demanding one that she actually contemplated dropping out at some point; but she stuck with it.
But it was so tough that she lost a lot of weight to the point that when she returned to Nigeria at the end of it all, her father threatened to take action against the school. But the rigour of the training, Joke Silva says, has paid off. It has served to give depth to her acting.
The message she puts across is clear: anyone that wants to do well as an actor must be willing to put in due effort. Exuding a true passion for her profession, the award winning actress stated, “I am wired for acting.” Her love for acting goes back as far as her childhood when she would convince her friends to stage little dramas for visitors to the family home.
In spite of the more or less prevalent view in society of actors as ne’er-do-wells, her father and mother, a lawyer and doctor respectively, gave her their full support from the very beginning.
But her decision to take up acting as a profession, she states, was based on the fact that, after duly praying about it, she saw it as God’s will for her. As a result, she has always excelled, ensuring that every step in her career is in line with what God wants of her.