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A month has passed since the award season. The buzz has settled back into trickling reels of activities in the only filmmaking industry where everyone makes magic. Reckoning the quirks, hits and misses of the season that was, a group of industry players gather to gloss over achievements and spill some bad blood.
[A grim chuckle of impending chaos]
Let’s join them!
Nse suqeezes a frown, she’s missing a luncheon with a Namibian tourist couple to be here. Deyemi looks into his phone, studying a pitch for a prospective investor in his newfound POS business. Osas disturbs the room with loud chuckles on a call with her honeymooner bestie Ini. Nancy softlypalms her short blonde-tinted hair, jetlagged from a recent tour of Atlantis, Neverland and San Marcos. Bimbo hasn’t had breakfast…yet. She stares blankly, uninterested at Timini tapping her for a chitchat with his signature smirk.
Timini (to Bimbo): Who are you forming for?
Bimbo shoots him a stinker of an eyeball roll.
At the head of the table, a seat is empty. Nse notices.
Nse: Who are we waiting for?
Nancy: The moderator, I guess.
Nse: Nancy, Nancy. I see you’ve worked your way to this side of the table. Interesting what a Netflix original can do to one’s career.
Nancy: Do you have a problem with me?
Nse: Nope. Just checking.
Just then, Genovevah walks in. The diamond of the season, shimmering in gold bracelets, a flowy satin ball gown and a feathery headgear. She’s clearly overdressed for the occasion.
Genovevah: Hi everyone.
Nancy/Osas: Welcome darling.
Timini (beaming with a naughty smile): Hey, Sugar.
Bimbo eyeballs Timini.
Genovevah: Hi Bimbo.
Bimbo (reluctantly): Welcome.
Deyemi shifts in his chair.
Deyemi: Jennifer, you’re late.
Genovevah: It’s Genovevah.
She spots Nse and flashes a smile.
Genovevah (to Nse): Good morning ma. I’m a huge fan.
Nse nods and sips from her coffee flask.
Deyemi (to Genovevah): Anyday now! Some of us have actual work to go to.
Nancy (to Deyemi): Easy. She just got here. (to Genovevah) Take your time dear.
Genovevah settles down and reveals flash cards. She clears her throat.
Genovevah: Good morning, everyone. Apologies for my lateness. My Uber driver–
Deyemi: Nobody cares about your boyfriend.
Deyemi: Keep my name out of your mouth, Nancy.
Genovevah flips the flash cards.
Genovevah: It says here that actors should share opinions on the award season–
Nse (cuts in): You don’t have to read it out.
Nse: Those are guidelines. You should interpret it intelligently, make it fun and engaging.
Osas: Please allow the girl breathe.
Nse (to Osas): The girl has to learn. (to Genovevah) Look here darling, the industry is not kind to rising stars. You have to earn your right to shine. I mean, look at Bimbo…
Nse (cont’d): She was once like you. A fantastic typecasted actress now reduced to selling slimming tea on Instagram.
Timini bursts out laughing. Deyemi cannot help it too. Osas chuckles loosely.
Osas: That was a good one.
Bimbo (to Nse): It’s waist trainer ma.
Timini (to Bimbo): Ogbeni, chop your L, and drink water.
Bimbo coldly snaps her fingers at Timini.
Nancy (to Nse): That was so unnecessary. And I disagree with you. Bimbo is doing well for herself, and I have friends who have gone on to do big things as well. Like Sharon.
Nse: Who’s that?
Deyemi (to Nse): Sharon. You don’t know Sharon? Light-skinned, bright eyes, about your height.
Nse: Never heard of her. Is she an actress?
Nancy: And a fine one at that.
Nse: I see. Where’s she now? There’s a lot to keep up with these days.
Genovevah: Ladies and gentlemen, please let’s return to the business of why we’re here.
Nse (to Genovevah): That’s more like it. Take charge.
Genovevah (to Deyemi): Deyemi, what do you think about the awards?
Deyemi scoffs with a slight head shake.
Deyemi (to Genovevah): See how you called my name like you’re my mother. I don’t have an answer for you.
Osas: Oh please.
Genovevah (to Nse): Ma’am?
Nse: Me? Oh no. I don’t attend award shows. I get panic attacks in a crowded room of people reeking of cheap perfume and halitosis.
Nancy (to Nse): And you are?
Nse retorts with all the nerve of an apex predator.
Nse (to Nancy): Your career in 20 years.
Genovevah clears her throat.
Genovevah (to Timini): Timini?
Timini: See ehn, I don’t care about all this your boring drama. All I know is, I’m the best actor in this country. I don’t care what anybody says. Take it or leave it.
Heads turn to him. A pause…hold…hold…The room erupts in loud bursts of laughter. Bimbo leads the charge. Timini shrinks in his seat. Nancy stays numb, nursing the bullet wound from Nse. Genovevah stares blankly.
Osas: Really, Timini. You acted in a movie titled Breaded life and we never saw you eat bread. Not even in the BTS shots. So much for best actor.
Deyemi: He had zero connection with the bread. He hated the bread.
Timini: The movie was not about bread!
Osas: It’s like seeing Jack die in a car accident in the movie titled Titanic.
Timini: I wasn’t even nominated for Breaded life.
Nse (cuts in): Which is sad, because that’s the best thing I’ve seen you in.
Bimbo (to Timini): Ahh! Timini!! They have turn you like semo.
Timini: I’m out of here.
Timini shoots up and skips out mumbling words only he understands.
Nancy recovers. She rebounds with…
Nancy (to Nse): Why are you at this table? What significant thing have you done in the past year?
Silence. Everyone turns to Nse in a swoosh! Eyes batting in expectation. Nse smiles softly.
Nse (to Nancy): I’m at this table because people like you need people like me for guidance. Here’s what you don’t know. Nollywood is like a spirited Millenial who starts out with a promise, then for some bizarre reasons, he thinks imitating the success of his counterparts is the only way to get ahead in life. If he chooses to continue to live a lie, at 40, he recounts his regrets. And at 50, when the chips are down, at worst, he becomes a philosopher. At best, he finds God… You see, that is not a pretty picture, my darling. You need me.
Mic drop! The silence lingers. You can hear a pin drop.
Deyemi: Thank you all for ruining my morning.
He leans to Genovevah in a whisper.
Deyemi: I don’t know what you did to become the star of the show and have me killed off before I even said a word. My eyes are on you. I’m watching you, Jacinta.
He walks out.
Genovevah (under her breath): It’s Genovevah.
Nse turns pitifully to a trembling Genovevah. She squeezes her hand slightly.
Nse: For starters, learn to dress appropriately to occasions.
She gathers her things and exits the room.
Genovevah turns her gaze to Bimbo and Osas. Bimbo eyeballs Genovevah. She shuffles out, dragging a hiss.
Bimbo: Sugar ko, sugar ni. Lemme catch you on the mainland.
Silence. Osas pulls out her award plaque and drops it on the table. She stares at it with a beaming smile.
Osas: Her name’s Kendall. I named her after my favorite actress Kendall Jenner. I planned to take a groupie with everyone with her. I guess I have to wait… You did good, okay?
Osas walks out.
Genovevah is alone. She exhales.
Genovevah: Kendall is not even an actress.
Zubby prances in.
Zubby: How far?
Genovevah: Did you get an invite too?
Zubby: I just dey area see my industry people dey gather. I say make I hala.
Zubby sits. Genovevah avoids his gaze. An awkward silence.
Zubby: You go drink beer?
N.B. This is pure fiction. The scenarios and exchanges presented here never occurred.