By Chukwuezie Udochukwu
Entertainment lawyer, Rockson Igelige has called on the National Assembly to put forth a legal framework for the protection of child actors in the country.
Igelige in a statement said the call was upon the recent invitation by the Senate President Bukola Saraki to popular seven-year old child female comedienne, Emmanuella Samuel, to the upper Legislative Chamber to be a catalyst to putting a proper legal framework for child actors in place.
Saying that the invitation and recognition of Emmanuella should be the basis for enactment of a Child Actors’ Law in Nigeria as in other countries, Igelige cited the California Child Actor’s Bill (also known as Coogan Act or Coogan Bill) designed since 1939 to safeguard a portion of child performers’ earnings for when they enter adulthood.
The lawyer emphasized that a bill such as the Child Actor’s Bill was long overdue in Nigeria contending that such a Bill was necessary as a response to the plight of such successful child-actors like Emmanuella and others who earn millions of naira only to discover, upon reaching adulthood, that their parents or managers had spent almost all of their earnings.
He said: “This discovery has always led to stars taking their parents or managers to court over money they earned as child actors being pilfered or mismanaged. Examples of such stars whose fruits of their early careers were squandered by their parents include Gary Coleman, Mischa Barton, Macaulay Culkin, Dominique Moceanu, LeAnn Rimes, Mimi Gibson, Shirley Temple and Jackie Coogan, among others.”