Oyinbo Princess, the Nollywood actress with a difference

CD Anderson

A young British actress is fast becoming one of Nigeria’s top film stars. Nicknamed “Oyinbo (white) Princess” by her growing legion of fans in Nigeria and the wider African diaspora, Claire Edun is using her love of African culture and proficiency in pidgin English to give Nollywood a more global appeal.

Edun became familiar with Nigerian culture while growing up in the Peckham area of London, where there is a large community of African expatriates.

She got her love of Nollywood films from her friends, and soon mastered the pidgin dialect – a mix of English, indigenous African languages and street slang – used in the popular films.

She had always had a passion for acting and drama, and had starred in local theatre productions while still at school.

As an adult working as a flight attendant, Edun fell further in love with Africa and its people during her flight stopovers on the continent. She took to Nigeria in particular, where she enthusiastically embraced the music, art and culture.

She married a Nigerian expat, Richard, who taught her more about Nigerian culture, including the complexities of pidgin English.

In 2014, Edun posted a video online of herself speaking pidgin and was spotted by one of Nollywood’s top producers, Lancelot Imasuen, who offered her the opportunity to star in one of his films.

ATM: Authentic Tentative Marriage is a romantic comedy with a subtle political edge. In the film Alexx Ekubo, one of the country’s most popular heartthrob actors, plays a man who wants to escape Nigeria by marrying a white English woman. But he soon rediscovers a love for his country and culture, thanks to his new wife’s audacious – and often hilarious – assimilation into Nigerian life. Critics praised Edun’s comedic zest in the role, her command of the often intricate and rapidly fluid language, as well as her sensitivity in portraying the clash between two different cultures.

Edun told the UK’s Daily Mail that the film had good, strong messages: “(It’s all about) having pride in where you come from rather than thinking the grass is always greener elsewhere.”

The film has been a hit with Nigerian audiences, who responded enthusiastically to Edun’s role. The producers plan on taking the film to the UK and Europe not only to gain a wider audience in the large African diaspora in the region, but also to show traditional Western filmgoers that the two worlds of cinema can meet in a good, positive way.
Meanwhile, Edun, dividing her time between the UK and Lagos, is hoping to capitalise on the success of her first role and her growing popularity with film fans, and land more roles in Nollywood productions.

Watch the trailer for ATM: Authentic Tentative Marriage:

Source: BBC Africa

SouthAfrica.info reporter

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