REALITY TV A Ticket To Stardom
Kim Kardashian, one of the most popular people in the world with 260 million followers on Instagram, is bound to increase by the time you read this. How did she get celebrity status for supposedly having no talent?
Reality Television became a genre in the early 90s and achieved prominence in the early 2000s with the success of the series Survivor, Idols, and Big Brother, all of which became global franchises.
It is a type of television program that documents supposedly unscripted real-life situations with real-life people appearing in place of professional actors. With names like Timi Dakolo, Omawumi, OC Ukeje, Kcee, Yemi Alade, Niniola, Iyanya, Chidinma, and so on, the list of celebrities who have reality TV to thank for their shot to stardom is simply endless.
Although the biggest shows in the country are adaptations of pre-existing western versions, some of the biggest names that we have grown to love in the entertainment industry are a product of reality TV.
The Competition Script
Darey Art Alade is one of the earliest examples. Now arguably the most talented R&B singer in the country, Darey became a star on Project Fame when he emerged as the second runner up on the South African version of the show. His 2013 critically acclaimed ‘Love Like A Movie’ concert was hosted by reality star Kim Kardashian.
Another prominent case of reality TV influenced stardom is Tiwa Savage’s.
Before stepping onto the scene in Nigeria, Tiwa got her first taste of the limelight on the X-Factor; A British singing competition where she made it to the top 24. She won the hearts of Nigerians with her debut single, Love Me, Love Me, Love Me in 2011 going on to achieve huge success with her album. Tiwa has won many awards and accolades in recognition of her success, and she is one of the top voices in African entertainment. Controversial actress, Tonto Dikeh, emerged in the limelight when she became the first runner up on The Next Movie Star in 2005. She is one of the most recognizable faces in Nollywood today with a wide range of filmography.
Unlike Ebuka, Uti Nwachukwu got a do-over two years after he returned from his first attempt in the show emptyhanded. He won the fifth installment of the show tagged “All-Stars” as it featured familiar faces from its first four seasons.
He has since then moved on to host Africa Magic’s Jara, and now executive produces his own show, Behind The Glam. This is in addition to a brilliant career that has seen him land several modelling roles as a style icon.
His acting career also took a turn for the better and has so far featured in several movies since then, including the highly anticipated Aki and PawPaw movie due to premiere this December.
The African and subsequently Nigerian adaptation of the Dutch reality TV show, Big Brother, has churned out several celebrities who used the show as a stepping stone to actualise their dreams and have over time remained recognised for what they do. The biggest alumni of the show are Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and Uti Nwachukwu.
Ebuka was a housemate in the first season. Although he finished in eighth position, he has carved a niche for himself in the entertainment industry and is one of the most successful products of this reality show. He has also risen from being a former housemate of the Big Brother Naija show to a perpetual host of the reality show. Ebuka, who is also a trained lawyer, anchors a court reality TV show, Judging Matters, where he acts as the counsellor to real-life Lagos State judge, Justice Olusola Williams, as they settle real-life disputes in a small claims court. Similar to the western Judge Judy.
The Soap Script
Not all reality TV series are competition-based as there have been shows that were scripted to mimic the appearance and structure of soap operas. Such shows often focus on a close-knit group of people and their shifting friendships and romantic relationships. This subgenre has witnessed a boom since the 2000s when the American series, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, premiered on the E! cable network in 2007 to massive critical acclaim worldwide. Its unrivalled viewership, shot the cast members to global stardom. Say all you want about lack of talent, living everyday life with a camera crew tailing you looking to milk you for content sounds like work.
A gamble not a lot of people in Nigeria are willing to embark upon seeing that the very few soap-opera reality shows are of already big-time celebrities. In 2012, veteran Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde shared parts of her life with her teeming audience as she debuted her reality TV show, The Real Me. The show broke records with its debut episode receiving the highest viewership on M-NET’s Africa Magic at the time it aired. Omosexy as she’s fondly called is quoted to have said “You will get to see everything. What we are doing is very real. It’s basically my whole life. The parts where I’m taking care of the kids, the parts where I’m taking care of the home, the parts when I am working, the parts where I’m yelling. It’s crazy. My life is crazy.” Despite the first season being dubbed a success and a second season produced, the show lacked the consistency and longevity to make its mark in the Nigerian entertainment scene. Jim Iyke and Laide Bakare are two other movie stars who got their own reality shows to little or no success.