Dayo stepped out of the black SUV and gave a nod to another actor who was just arriving too. Adjusting his suede suit jacket, he looked up and took in the magnificence of the beautiful edifice in front of him – Rextar Grand Auditorium, Accra; the host venue of The CRI8 Africa Movie Awards (CAMAs) 2019. This was really happening yet seemed so surreal to him.
Dayo professionally joined the movie industry at the age of 17, making it 12 years since; the earlier 7 of which he played insignificant or minor roles. He had his breakthrough 5 years ago playing a major supporting role to Nigeria’s globally acclaimed movie star, Ebere Sylvester’s character in the movie, “Dependent”. His starring in the movie marked a new phase of his movie career. Soon, he was one of Nollywood’s most sought after actor eventually playing numerous lead roles that won him countless Nigerian-based entertainment awards & other national recognitions. And then came 2018. His manager succeeded in getting him the lead role in the almighty producer, Rufus Eka’s movie, “Carton Color” alongside other notable Nigerian superstars. The movie went on to become a 2019 international sensation and Box Office success, peaking at No. 1 for five weeks on the weekly Nollywood Movie Chart. In May that year, the makers of the movie submitted his name for a CAMA nomination; two months later, the final nomination list was out and he had made the cut for the Best Lead Actor in an English Speaking Movie and Best Lead Actor (Overall) nominations, making him the first Nigerian ever to be nominated for the latter since the awards show’s inception 13 years ago.
This was Dayo’s first time being nominated for a continental award, and not just any at that; the CAMAs – the OSCARS of the African movie industries. As an aspiring actor, he had never missed an edition of the awards on TV since its inception. He dreamt frequently of one day, being invited to the CAMAs but despite his successes in the past 4 years, he never got that invitation. This year though, not only did he get invited, he also got two big nominations, one of them being the biggest of the entire awards.
He looked around and saw other African movie stars entering and coming out of the auditorium, some in groups standing at a corner and chatting. He went to the other side of the SUV and opened the door so that his girlfriend, Mira could step out. Dayo’s elbow out, Mira wrapped her arm round it and they both walk towards the auditorium. After chatting with other Nigerian stars present and some other African counterparts, and granting some red carpet interviews, Dayo & Mira entered into the Auditorium.
Dayo was marveled on seeing the incredibility that met him. It was just like he’d dreamt. The beauty was extraordinary. Modern technology played a greater role in the stage design and it was impressive. He hoped he wouldn’t embarrass himself when he would go up there to present an award.
He looked around. Thousands of successful movie stars from all around Africa would be under one roof. Dayo smiled; the thought that he was now among the league of Africa’s best was just so satisfying.
Not long after he lead Mira to their booked seat did the lights dim so that the big stage was the main focus. Then the voiceover began.
“LADIES & GENTLEMEN, THIS IS CRI8 AFRICA MOVIE AWARDS 2019, POWERED BY CRI8 AFRICA, LIVE AT REXTAR GRAND AUDITORIUM, ACCRA, GHANA. PLEASE BE SEATED AND ENSURE THAT YOUR MOBILE PHONES ARE ON SILENT MODE AS THE SHOW IS ABOUT TO BEGIN…”
Dayo tried his best to contain his excitement, he could barely believe it; he was live at the CAMAs and this was hugely different from the Best of Nollywood Awards and other Nigerian awards he’d been to. The auditorium was now full as people located their seats.
“…AND NOW, YOUR HOST FOR TONIGHT; SHE IS ONE OF GHANA’S LEADING TV PERSONALITY AND HE IS ONE OF TANZANIA’S AWARD WINNING MOVIE STARS, PLEASE WELCOME EFFIA COBIAH & MICHAEL AKIDA”
There was a huge ovation from the audience as the two stars came on stage. Michael Akida was one of Dayo’s favorite Non-Nigerian movie personality. Dayo took a fancy to him after he won the Best Lead Actor (Overall) at the awards’ 2nd edition. Midway into a lively opening dialogue between the two hosts, Dayo wasn’t expecting what came next.
“Also present at the CAMAs tonight” Effia started after the two hosts had laughed at a funny statement from Michael. “is another first time CAMA nominee who broke record as the first Nigerian star to be nominated for the Best Lead Actor (Overall), Dayo Moses”
The applause was resounding as the spotlight shone on Dayo and his face was on the screens by the stage. He tried his best not to act shocked or surprised, so he ended up just smiling and giving a quick wave to the camera on him.
“That’s right, Effia” Michael added. “But that is not his only nomination tonight as he’s also been nominated for the Best Lead Actor in an English Speaking Movie. Both nominations are for his exceptional work in the internationally acclaimed movie, Carton Color that has 7 nominations altogether tonight…” There was another round of applause.
“Still on first time nominees present tonight, I can see Egypt’s Bennu Shalaby who is nominated for…”
Dayo could care less as Effia continued. He kept smiling and replaying what just happened in his head. He turned to Mira who was beaming with smiles at him. She mouthed ‘I love you’ to him and Dayo squeezed her hand slightly to acknowledge her.
The show was amazing. Different acts, different stars, different emotions; your typical award show. An hour and few minutes into the show, Dayo alongside his co-star in Carton Color presented the award for the best supporting actress in an indigenous language movie which went to a Zambian lady.
When it was time to present the award for the Best Lead Actor in an English Speaking Movie, he could hear his heart beat. Dayo, as soon as received the news of his nomination, had googled the other four nominees for the same award. The actor he found as his greatest competition was South Africa’s Bandile Siyabonga who starred in the tragic movie about homophobia in South Africa. This was actually the first time a star was being nominated for playing a role favoring Africa’s Queer community. Rumors even had it that he was being considered for a GLAAD Media Award. Apparently, the coast wasn’t too clear. This was one of the biggest awards of the night and it came with a huge cash price. To Dayo, it meant everything.
“…Bandile Siyabonga for The Fading Rainbow, South Africa; Dayo Moses for Carton Color, Nigeria; and Joel Jean-Dominique for Fifth Plea, Togo” The Caucasian presenter announced. She then took out the card from the CAMA branded envelope. Dayo closed his eyes so tight. “And the winner for this year’s Best Lead Actor in an English Speaking Movie goes to…” A definite silence enveloped the auditorium. Dayo’s eyes were still closed. He kept muttering within him every prayer he knew. The presenter looked at the card she’d pulled from the envelope for the last time and turned back to the audience. “…Bandile Siyabonga for The Fading Rainbow!”
While the loud applause went on, Dayo could feel despair circling around him. The higher the applause became, the greater the sadness he felt. Even if he lost hope before the event of claiming the award, few moments that night had increased his certainty; moments like the loud applause he got after he was spotted by the hosts during their opening dialogue, the loud applause he also got when he was introduced along with his co-star to present an award and the numerous hearty greetings from fellow movie stars, including those he’d never met before, all through the event. He felt so sure the award was his. Remembering one of the cameras might probably be on him, he forced a faked smile and joined the standing ovation.
As the 34 years old South African movie legend kissed his wife and made for the stage while the loud applause went on, Dayo began seeing reasons as to why Bandile was the better choice for the award. This was a man who had been in the movie industry since his teenage years and has amassed international recognition. Dayo had also seen The Fading Rainbow and acknowledged Bondile’s spot on role in the movie.
After Bondile’s acceptance speech where he also acknowledged his fellow nominees for the same award, Dayo couldn’t explain it but he felt better. He might not have won that particular award and he probably wasn’t going to win the Best Lead Actor (Overall) award but the realization that he was now being regarded as one of Africa’s leading actors was gratifying to him. There’s always next year.
A Togolese actor who won the award for the Best Lead Actor in an Indigenous Language Movie eventually won the award for the Best Lead Actor (Overall).
That night started a new phase of Dayo’s career as he became one of Africa’s most sought after movie star; starring in various international movies, bagging numerous brand ambassadorship contracts and eventually becoming a permanent judge of an annual African talent reality show.
It’s now 2021 and Dayo is currently in a Hollywood-Nollywood project as a major star. He still hasn’t gotten a CAMA but who knows, this might land him an Oscar; very unlikely but no harm in dreaming, right?