Legal Services and Talent Management in African Entertainment

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African creative art; a multi-billion-dollar industry, is currently experiencing monumental growth and this is evident in the demand for African content around the world. The vibrant and cultural aesthetics that complement the African creative art resonate with millions of fans around the world and have triggered the hunger and insatiable demand for African creative content around the world.


Through their hard work and dedication, African actors have become not just performers but also cultural ambassadors, embodying narratives that span centuries and capturing the essence of diverse societies. These actors promote cultural diversity and serve as sources of recreation and inspiration, helping fans connect more deeply with African artists as much as their foreign counterparts.


The role of legal services and talent management is a crucial yet often overlooked pillar of the industry. Many artists are just raw talents, ignorant of their rights within the framework of the industry. This ignorance allows scheming entities to exploit desperate and uninformed artists.


Emeka Rollas, the National President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), explained in an interview with African Leadership Magazine that actors in Africa, particularly in Nigeria’s film industry (Nollywood), often fall prey to scheming producers and distributors. Driven by desperation to succeed, they unknowingly sell their rights to these predators, who exploit them to the max, leaving little or nothing for the actors to benefit from their hard work.


Mr. Rollas noted that until the release of “Living in Bondage” in 1992, the distribution of films and handling of artists was overseen by the Alaba marketers and distributors. However, after this pioneering movie’s release, industry stakeholders recognized the need for talent management to assist artists with contractual disputes, intellectual property rights, and fair compensation. Talent management is essential in addressing issues that hinder career progression and financial stability for artists.


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The current surge in demand for African movies has urged actors to emphasize the need for legal services tailored to the needs of African actors to protect their rights and ensure fair treatment within the industry. Artists are subject to contracts that stipulate their roles, career trajectory, and earnings, including image rights and royalties. Entertainment lawyers are crucial in guiding artists and their management on the limits of their actions and their roles as prescribed by law.


The National President of the AGN stated that the highest form of theft in the film industry is when films registered in a particular country are signed to marketers and distributors who showcase these films in over 70 countries, yet actors are not paid for their image rights and royalties. Entertainment lawyers proficient in local and international law play crucial roles in empowering actors to negotiate equitable terms, safeguard their intellectual property, and navigate the complexities of international collaborations.


Artist management is important in shaping the careers of African actors, cultivating long-term success by nurturing individual growth, managing public image, and fostering strategic partnerships. Managers provide the guidance and advocacy needed to navigate the competitive industry, setting benchmarks for professionalism and accountability.

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