They command millions of fans in many parts of the world, and UN-HABITAT has tapped into the phenomenal popularity of these internationally acclaimed Nollywood and Bollywood film actors to empower young people in their communities.
Teen heart throbs Ms. Ini Edo, Mr. Ramsey Nouah both from Nollywood and Bollywood star Mr. Vikram Vinod were designated as the new UN-HABITAT Youth Envoys by the Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos on Tuesday on the sidelines of the ongoing Twenty-third Session of the agency’s Governing Council. Also named as a Youth Envoy is German artist Wolfgang Riegelsberger.
Introducing the acclaimed artists, Dr. Clos assured them of the agency’s support but reminded them that the appointment was also a challenge.
“We need to help the youth. We need to provide opportunities to enable them to participate fully in urban issues,” he said, adding that the artists had a platform that not many people were privileged to.
“What you are acquiring today is a great responsibility but I am sure you are up to the challenge because when the youth look at you they see a role model,” the Executive Director said.
All the Envoys expressed gratitude for being elected and promised to go the extra mile to ensure their appointments became successful.
“Working with the youth is one of the things I have really wanted all my life and for me this is an achievement,” said Nollywood actress Ini Edo. Recognised for her talent, the 29 year old has acted in some 50 movies since her debut in the year 2000.
She says she will concentrate her efforts on sensitizing young people to maximize their potential adding that it is her belief that everyone has some talent which they can use. It was her innate desire to help others that had propelled her to take up the assignment.
Her compatriot Ramsey said the rough life he had lived in the past makes him want to help others pull out of life of misery. “I grew up in the ghetto and I know first hand how tough that life can be. I realized this when as a movie star I went back to one of the slums to shoot a movie and it just hit me that this is one life I would never want to go back to,” he said.
Ramsey is an award winning actor and in 2010 he won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in the Best Picture award winning film The Figurine. Ramsey is considered to be one of the most sought-after actors in Nigeria.
For his part Vikram said the success of the new role he was taking would be measured by the way he influenced authorities and even private industry to spread the message about helping urban youth.
“Being named Youth Envoy was one of the most important moments of my life. In India cinema has a huge following and am sure I will be able to have some influence in the way people view youth and their empowerment,” he said.
Wolfgang said being an artist allows one to reach very many young people to make them aware about issues surrounding sustainability. “We can make sustainability a way of life both in the developed and developing world,” he said.
Nollywood and Bollywood are a play on words of Hollywood and mean Nigerian and Indian (Bombay) film industries respectively. Nollywood is reportedly the world’s largest movie producer based on video format. The industry churns out some 1500 to 1800 movie per year. On the other hand, Wikipedia says Bollywood produced some 2961 films on celluloid in 2009.