Are light-skinned actors climbing the Nollywood ladder faster than dark-skinned ones?

In a society obsessed with fair skin, should filmmakers be blamed for choosing light skinned actors over more talented dark skinned actors?

Angela Okorie

Recently, a renowned filmmaker undefined

She further stated that light skinned actors climb the Nollywood ladder faster than talented dark skinned actors.

Her Tweets had me looking back at some of our movies, and I realized that indeed most of the lead characters in movies are light skinned.

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It’s definitely no coincidence that most of our lead characters are light skinned, because just as sex sells, light skin sells too, and who doesn’t want  to make money from their movies?

In a society where most of us are obsessed with being light skinned, should filmmakers be blamed for choosing fair actors over more talented dark skinned actors?

How is any actress going to succeed if she’s not perceived as attractive? And in our society, most people’s definition of attractive is light-skin.

Every actress wants to grow and climb that ladder real fast, so who would blame them for choosing to become light enough for the camera?

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Being light skinned is no crime, even struggling to be light skinned is no crime, but denying talented dark skinned actors the opportunity to prove their worth because of their colour, is something that should be worked on.

We have talented light skinned actors. My favorite Nollywood actor, Adesua Etomi, is light-skinned, so this article isn’t about being fair or dark(you can be mixed if you want). It's not about thinking a particular colour is more talented.


It’s about filmmakers choosing a particular color over another, denying viewers the opportunity to watch a good story interpreted by a talented actor, simply because he or she is dark.

There’s almost no leading Nollywood actress with dark skin. I can think of lots of popular fair skin actors in Nollywood, but I would have a tough time coming up with the same number for the dark-skinned counterpart.  Maybe only fair people are born with all the acting talent in Nigeria..

Obsession with fair skin colour is a trending phenomenon in our society that didn’t just emerge overnight.

We live in a society where there is an urge to look lighter. Even in pictures we post on social media, we find ourselves using filters to appear ‘lighter,’ and then 'prettier.'

In many cases, dark skin signifies excessive exposure to sun, which means, lack of wealth, and sufferhead. Ever had a friend tell you “you look darker, are you ok?” Why should I not be ok because I look ‘darker’?

The moment you become lighter, someone says to you, “what cream are you using? It’s bringing out your colour?” Please, how do you know ‘light’ is ‘my color.’

This isn’t something peculiar to just the movie industry. In the music industry, it’s almost as if the dark skinned woman is non-existent.

We rarely see her as the love interest, dancing around in videos. She has been replaced by light-skinned women.

Opportunities for dark-skinned actors seem scarce. It is clear that the effects of colourism run deep in our society, and Nollywood is a part of that society.

I once heard an AMVCA award winning actress recount her experience with a filmmaker, who asked her to tone her skin color for the camera.

Unfortunately, the pressures of the industry have influenced some actors (Male and Female) to bleach or tone.

In an interview with Pulse Nigeria, Kundefined

Allow me to take sides, but I have met more talented dark skinned actors than light skinned actors.

The 'light skin behaviour' is something affecting the country as a whole, and until most Nigerians learn to be comfortable in their own skin color, most filmmakers will continue to cast based on what viewers want.


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