In a show of solidarity, actor Seun Ajayi called out men in Nollywood who make life on set unbearable for their female colleagues. In an impassioned video shared on his Instagram page this morning, the actor recounts situations where male actors have harassed female colleagues and crew members.
“I see this a lot, and whenever I get a chance, I speak about it,” Ajayi said. “It’s very important for us to let women feel safe in their work environment, but the truth is if we really really check am, we dey mess up.”
Ajayi’s rant is coming following the allegations of sexual harassment against Nollywood director and producer Victor Okpala, who, for years, has targeted young girls trying to break into the industry. In some of the screenshots, which you can see below, Okpala refers to one of his victims as “my baby,” and when his advances were rejected, he told her, “you don’t know what you just missed. This is a lifetime opportunity.”
Karma doesn't go on exile! Mr Victor has finally been exposed. I have my own experience with him and yes I still have our chats. He has a way of making you feel like without sex you can't succeed in the industry. Very pathetic human. God is indeed great📌 https://t.co/9MD3IERBYl
— Martha Ezike💫☄ (@marthaezike) June 4, 2020
Victor Okpalan Aka Super Star Director Is Sexual assaulter in Nollywood.
He lures young girls in With the promise of Giving them roles and Making them famous. He invites the into his Office only to sexually assault them.
— Emeka (@Emeneks) June 3, 2020
“I went to sleep agitated, and I woke up with my heart beating very fast because I could not wait to address this,” Ajayi continued. “Many times, I will see male colleagues harass ladies on set. There was one time I was on set; it was so bad, this guy was constantly commenting on this girl’s bum and groping her. Everybody told him to stop. I told him to stop, he didn’t until he was officially written by the girl’s lawyer.
The actor spoke on the different forms of harassment, from actors who make unwarranted touches to those who comment on their female colleagues’ bodies.
Ajayi further made a plea to producers to put an end to harassment on their set: “Also, producer, directors, if you notice a crew member or actor is harassing someone sexually, address it, nip it in the bud.”
One of the reasons sexual harassment in Nollywood has gone on for long is because the so-called “good men” have turned a blind eye to it. Male actors don’t call their colleagues out enough. Also, Producers and directors fail to address such nuisances on set, leaving ladies to defend themselves.
It is an epidemic that has gone on for far too long, and we are hoping Okpala’s case be the catalyst for the belated Nollywood #MeToo movement.
Below are reactions from different corners of the industry.
Anyone idiot producer threatening you with a blacklist is the kind you don’t want to work with anyway. So really, no loss at all.
— C.J. 'Fiery' Obasi (@FieryCJ) June 4, 2020
This man Victor Okpalan of Dope 7 media will do serious morning devotion on his set b4 shoot and at night after shoot ask u to come to his room to warm his bed, I’ve worked on his set as an actor so I know. He preys on young girls with dreams and asks them to “do what it takes” https://t.co/aGZR34IUGU
— Tegbe! (@TomiwaTegbe) June 3, 2020
When are we going to call out the Men who has asked boys to sleep with them for roles.
Asking for my colleagues
— SWANKY JKA (Jidekene Achufusi) (@iamjidekene) June 4, 2020
The entertainment industry in Nigeria is about to go full #metoo and frankly it’s about time!
Lots of whispers for years and sadly survivors not comfortable or ready to come forward.
But we knew one day… and it’s that day..
Ladies come forward speak your truth
— Nwakaego Boyo 🇳🇬 (@OfficialEgoBoyo) June 4, 2020
This right here… I auditioned and I got the part,only for me to go back and hear "you have to work for it now,give me something because I'm trying to help you"… This can slowly kill your dream. https://t.co/WJKS7Dze2d
— @Thislucyrockss (@thislucyrockss) June 4, 2020
My dear Nollywood actors, especially the young female actors- aspiring and upcoming. This post is for you.
If you have been abused, harassed, or raped by anybody promising you a role, please call this number.… https://t.co/xGUle1NBlw
— Kemi Lala Akindoju (@lalaakindoju) June 3, 2020
You can watch Ajayi’s full speech below.