What a way to start the day… with this, the trailer for an upcoming new feature film titled "30 Days in Atlanta" – a Nigerian-produced project featuring a mix of Nigerian and Black American actors. Specifically, Vivica Fox and Lynn Whitfield, who co-star alongside AY, Ramsey Nouah, Karlie Redd, Richard Mofe Damijo, Desmond Elliot, Rachael Oniga, Mercy Johnson, Adah Ameh, Kesse Jabari, Majid Michel, and Juliet Ibrahim.
That Vivica Fox is in this isn’t a surprise to me, given her resume – especially in recent years. It’s not a knock on Fox; it just is. She’s earning a living and that’s ultimately what most want out of life and career. But Lynn Whitfield is a surprise; or maybe "surprise" isn’t the word; more like unfortunate. Here’s a theatre-trained actress who first gained attention on stage in a 1982 production of Ntozake Shange’s "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," who also won an Emmy award for her starring performance in "The Josephine Baker Story" in 1991, and appeared in acclaimed TV mini-series like "The Women of Brewster Place" 2 years prior.
She’s an Actress – with a capital "A." But, sadly, one that never really got the kind of career that a performer with her talent and pedigree would be expected to have. And so she’s *reduced* to taking roles in films that, quite frankly, are not worthy of her talents. I’m sure that’ll upset some people, but seriously. Take a look at the trailer below as an example.
The roles just never did quite come after she won the Emmy in 1991, as some expected back then. Not that she isn’t working; she is, on both the big and small screens, but in what I consider simply "paycheck roles," and nothing for her to really use her talents on. Like "Madea’s Family Reunion" in 2006; also "All Things Fall Apart" (the awful 50 Cent drama), "Battlefield America" (the dance competition movie with Marques Houston) and others…
And now there’s this: "30 Days in Atlanta." And while I certainly always embrace films made in the spirit of Pan Africanism, seeing black people across the Diaspora working together on projects, and I’m fully aware of the style and structure of Nollywood movies (you either love them, or hate them), I still appreciate watching people who I consider talented, perform in work that fully (or near-fully) exploits their abilities. And even if this were an American-made film, with an all-American cast, I would still say the same. So it’s not a matter of whether Nigerian films are "inferior." The movie obviously has an audience. I’m just not a member of that club. And more broadly, this speaks to the terrible lack of work available to black actresses (especially those of a certain age) in Hollywood – global cinema’s most dominant force; and also home to these actresses.
The synopsis for "30 Days in Atlanta" reads: "’Sharp Warri boy’ aptly describes the Akpos character. He is our very own Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) and Chris Rock rolled into one. He wins a 30-day holiday for two to Atlanta, Georgia. He takes his cousin (Richard), an IT specialist on the all-expense paid trip. It’s an adventurous love story – spiced with lots of action and hilarious moments."
The film is set to hit theaters in Nigeria later this year.
Here’s the trailer: