Ama K. Abebrese: Africa's Shining Movie Star
6/1/2012 5:08:37 PM -
In recent years, the film industry in Africa has been blessed with a beautiful cast of excellent actors, who continue to shine a light on a sector that had barely taken off, yet blossomed.
One such actor making incredible inroads with her acting, and making the rest of Africa love her for how well she can act, is award-winning Ghanaian actress Ama Konadu Abebrese.
The 2011 African Movie Academy Awards winner for Best Actress is one of the reasons why modern day African cinema has a new life - one that embraces quality and flair.
After spending most of her growing years in the United Kingdom where she built successful careers in broadcasting and acting, Ama relocated to Ghana recently, to experiment with what she does best - acting ad broadcasting.
And just when she was beginning to settle into the Ghanaian environment, at a time when it was extremely hard for Ghanaians living in the diaspora to break into mainstream appreciation back home, she fought through almost unhurt, getting top movie roles and also, cementing her name as a force to reckon with on the local scene.
Sometime around 1997, Ama walked into Sabrina Guinness' Youth Culture Television in London and later landed her first role in a series of many future roles at the British broadcaster BBC2.
Life at BBC2 came with an understandable level of fame. Ama leveraged on that popularity and gradually built her way up, becoming one of the UK's top acts.
An incredible red carpet host and interviewer, Ama has manage to collect a long list of celebrities she's interviewed, some of whom includes the likes of Akon, Tony Blair, Ziggy Marley, Harrison Ford, director George Lucas, Colin Salmon, Thandie Newton, and Rihanna.
One Touch and On the Sofa, two shows she hosted at the private broadcaster OBE TV, also brought her some fame, making her a constant face on television across 'Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Middle East via satellite'. The story is told of how 'back then, ten out of fifteen of Ama's ardent viewers, which included some hard-lined chauvinists in the United Kingdom, attested to her status as one of the Kingdom's fastest breed of female presenters'.
Thus the expectation was high when she returned to Ghana to have a taste of what it is to be loved and appreciated.
In Ama's recent career came a major leading role in Sinking Sands, a multiple award-winning movie produced by Ghanaian director Leila Djansi. Leila handed Ama a subsequent role in Ties That Bind, which also went on to become a worldwide hit - literally.
Months before Sinking Sands was released, I asked her what she thought of the prospects of the movie, and she said, 'It is going to be one of the films that would eventually cement Africa's status as a movie powerhouse'.
Eventually, Sinking Sands turned out to be that movie that would rock her career. Her prediction of how good the movie would fare on the market came to pass, as it went on to receive record nominations across many movie award schemes.
Sinking Sands - a 'neatly-tucked human-centred story of a couple, Jimah (Jimmy Jean-Louis) and Pabi (Abebrese), in an adoring and blissful marriage that was later plagued with violence and abuse when Jimah became disfigured in an injury-prone familial accident' - featured Hollywood actor Jimmy Jean Louis.
Perhaps that was supposed to mark the beginning of a blossomingcareer - and, rightly so, Ama took advantage of that, and has since been respected and honoured as one of the continent's leading names in acting.
Currently Head of Productions at local television network in Ghana Viasat 1, Ama's fan base has built up to a level where it's almost a cult, but that isn't surprising to most followers, knowing the considerable amount of talent she wields in both acting and television presenting.
If you ask two out of five Ghanaian artistes (these may include musicians and actors) living in the diaspora, how easy or difficult it is to break through the system back home, they will surely have a myriad of accounts and interpretations to give you. And these interpretations may include but are not limited to identity crises, appreciation of different cultures, and that yawning gap between home and abroad.
But for individuals like Ama, it appears a combination of hard work, dedication, and a resolve to have her fair share of fame in a land she comes from, worked the magic