So I just saw a post on Linda Ikeji, about an Instagram post by a Nigerian TV personality, saying that she ‘cringed and sank’ into her seat at the cinema when she was watching the film Concussion (starring Will Smith as Nigerian Doctor, Bennet Omalu). She also said Will Smith showed “disregard for (not) incorporating Nigerian mannerisms into his acting”. What a load of tosh! (And I mean that in my best British accent).
And she’s not the only one ‘complaining’ about Will Smith’s accent in this film, I have heard some rumblings among Nigerians since the film came out. Are we missing the point here? This is a $35m film made in Hollywood, with arguably one of the Top 5 bankable actors in the world (black or white) playing a positive role about a well educated Nigerian doctor, who researched and discovered the link between banging heads in American Football and a fatal disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and whose work has saved lives of retired NFL players, AND all we see to complain about is the lead actor’s ACCENT?!
This Instagram rant was made by a TV Personailty in Nigeria, where her industry, Radio and Television, is full of fake American and British accents, and even some far out tongue twister accents that God knows where they got it from. Am I the only one laughing at the irony here? This is our problem really.
We complain that American TV and Film often depict us as fraudsters and jokers like “Prince from Nigeria” who wants to marry 10 wives, then when you have a big film like this portraying one of us (Concussion is a true story by the way), not only in a positive way, but a good hard working man that has achieved a lot academically and fought for his research and findings, against the almighty America’s game and the NFL, we somehow find some shit to say about it. Will Smith’s accent?! Are you for real?!
So I got into some Twitter back and forth with some people about this issue, and some of the things I heard were “Will Smith is an actor, he should have perfected the accent”. So what should we do now since he didn’t perfect the accent, should they have scrapped the film? And someone else said “there are many actors out there, they should have given the role to another actor”.
As you know, there’s this hoopla about the Oscars, and some black actors boycotting the Awards this year, maybe Will Smith was not nominated for Concussion because his Igbo accent did not come out well well in the film. Lol. And this same girl on her Instagram had to join the whole thing with Jada Pinkett (Will Smith’s wife) not going to the Oscars.
Another Nigerian had some “advice” for Will Smith and his wife Jada on Twitter, that they should have consulted proper Nigerians before Will did the part. Like they were now exploiting Nigeria and Nigerians. But know this. On a global stage, Will Smith (and his wife Jada) have done a lot in the portraying of positive Nigerians to the world.
This couple, along with Jay Z, put their money into the production of Fela on Broadway, when no Nigerian that was approached was willing to put money into the stage play. But you know what? Yes you guessed it, when Fela on Broadway became a worldwide hit, some Nigerians rose up to say the guy that played Fela did not master the accent.
Now, please, I’m not calling out this TV Personality, personally or professionally (in this season of beef, I don’t need or intend to create one. Lol), but I have to say this, I don’t care about Will Smith’s accent in this film, unlike her I am very proud of this film, as far the subject matter, the production, and the Hollywood weight of the lead actor.
Will Smith did a damned good job of playing Dr Omalu, who, as it happens I have never heard the real man speak, who knows whether the good doctor sef speaks like Will Smith’s portrayal in real life! The man left Nigeria in 1993, studied in London and in America, maybe some of us still want him to sound like Mr Ibu, meanwhile our young Radio and TV Personalities travel to London and Dubai for 2 weeks and we can’t understand what they’re saying anymore.
Anyway sha, me I don’t like to shout. From time to time I just like to test my microphone.
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