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Acting was my altar call – Akofa Edjeani

BY: Gifty Owusu-Amoah
   Akofa Edjeani loves to promote her African identity
Akofa Edjeani loves to promote her African identity

Not many of us have an idea of what we want to be when we are young; from doctor, lawyer, architect, engineer to journalist, we change careers so many times.

But that was definitely not the case for celebrated actress, Akofa Edjeani.

At an early age, the call of the arts was so strong that she knew she would pursue a career in that field. So sure was she that she even ‘prophesied’ to her school mates that they would see her on TV and that came to pass.

Knowing her mission, even at primary school, she was a member of various drama groups and perhaps it was fate when Akofa could not resist the melody from a choir when she first stepped foot at Mawuli Secondary School in the Volta Region because her dreams blossomed from there.

Recounting how it all began in a chat with Showbiz at her eatery, Fali’s Hot Pot in Kanda, Accra, recently, the mother of two said, “it is very funny but I remember that on my first day at Mawuli Secondary School, I joined the choir. How did it happen? I was a day student and had gone on a tour of the school when I heard a choir singing.

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“I just couldn’t wait to join them so I rushed there, introduced myself and the rest was history.

Later, I joined the drama club and the platform was good since it shaped my acting skills.

I got my first Best Actress Award from Mawuli School in 1985 at a speech and prize giving day.

“Acting has never been a hobby for me, it’s been my life since day one and what I always wanted to do.

I remember telling my friends back in secondary school that they will see me on TV and like a prophecy, it came to pass.”

Akofa has been acting professionally (stage, TV, film) since 1987 and became a household name playing the role of Amete in the popular Jagger Pee series in the late ‘80s and also with Ultimate Paradise in the 90s.

Having been at this for so long, she told Showbiz that even though she has been impressed with some of the talents in recent times, it appeared most of them saw acting as a hobby and not a passion as it was for her.

“When you are passionate about something, your approach and input is always different.

In my case, acting was my altar call, it was what I was born to do so I gave it my all.

Unfortunately, it is not the same for some of the young ones who think it is a hobby and a quick medium to promote themselves.

“So with just one or two minor roles, they are on social media calling themselves celebrities without taking the pains to hone their skills.

It is always the fame, glamour and not the passion and the work involved.

I act because it’s my gift and it must be used for the good of humanity,” she said.

It’s been over three decades since her first professional role as an actress but according to Akofa, she is not impressed with how women are still stereotyped as gossips and husband snatchers in movies.

She argued that scripts had not favoured women for so long because the industry is dominated by male scriptwriters and producers who project male dominance over the competence of women.

“Film is a very powerful tool in shaping the opinions of people.

It changes the way one thinks, views things and its influence is seen in how people cry, love, hate or kill by watching movies.

“And that is why scripts that project women in a bad light must not be encouraged.

And we can flip the script in favour of women if we get more women in script writing and production,” she stated.

While admitting the power of film, the acting president of Women in Film and Television (WTFTgh) said it had not been fully exploited positively in our part of the world.

“Our colonial masters used film to colonise us so it behooves on us to use the same medium to decolonise ourselves.

I think the biggest mistake we have made as a people is to believe our own lie that with the declaration of independence in 1957, we are truly independent and free.

“This is an illusion because we are still enslaved economically and mentally.

The USA has used film to create an image as the best country in the world, the West has created their definition and standard of beauty through television yet we can’t utilise the same medium to promote ourselves in a positive light,” she said.

A graduate of the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon, where she studied Theatre Arts (Drama), Akofa is an award winning actress and also holds a certificate in Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

She represented the youth of Volta Region as part of the cultural squad that represented Ghana at the 12th World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow in 1985.

Not My Daughter, a film about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which she produced, won the Best Short Film award at the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in 2008 and was selected for International Public Television Screening Conference (INPUT) in South Africa in the same year.

She also produced and co-starred in I Sing of A Well and it also won three awards at the AMAAs in 2010 as well as awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.

A recipient of the GPA Awards (Global Professional Achievers), Akofa is also an alumnus of the International Visitor Leadership Program (USA) and a founding member of the Ghana Culture Forum.

“It is my will to take film production and acting to another level by projecting African culture and excellence to the world and also bridge the gap between culture and development,” she said.

Akofa grew up in a large family and is the last of 10 children, eight girls and two boys.

She hails from Vame Avatime in the Volta Region.

Even though she admitted to being fulfilled as an actress, Akofa, who has starred in number of movies including For Better For Worse, Divine Love, Azali, My Mother's Heart, Life in Slow Motion and Pieces of Me disclosed she has a regret.

“I’m so thankful to God for how far He has brought me but sometimes, I think my dad, W.O 1 Edjeani worked hard and yet could not live to enjoy the fruits of his labour.

He died before I could make money to take care of him and truthfully, I wished things were different,” she stated.