The story of Prudence Monica Davies is yet another confirmation that Gambia’s film industry has enough talents and beauty to blossom. From a humble start on the dusty streets of Banjul, Ms Davies is making waves in the film industry in Africa, bagging prestigious awards. In this Interview, she talks about her career and the lacklustre nature of the country’s film industry.
What’s On-Gambia: When did you start your acting career?
Prodence: I started my acting career in 2003 with Vinasha Production on one of their TV Series titled Banjul Cops alongside Modou Musa Ceesay, and directed by Segun Oguntola and Nana Ofori Oguntola. I played the role of an Estate Agent.
In how many films did you appear on so far?
From 2003 to date, I have featured in more than 20 films, most of which are yet to be in the market. Some of the trailers can be watched on YouTube, Sarata, Saviour of Humanity, Tragedy of Awa, Child of Destiny, Inspector Wagan, God’s Purpose, Troubled Soul to name but a few.
In 2012, I was awarded as Best Gambian Actress by a collection of productions; Affrinity Production, God Gift Production and Better Future Production. And recently in November 2015, I was awarded as the Pan African Humanitarian Most Promising Actress of The Year at the Alisa Hotel in Ghana. It was very humbling receiving such a prestigious award amongst so many extra ordinary artists and being the first Gambian-based actress to receive such an award.
As a celebrity how are you giving back to the society?
I have been involved in community work by visiting the less privileged and Tanka Tanka. It is one thing to have all the connections and powers that you want but it means nothing if you don’t help make a difference by helping someone else, change their lives and put a smile on their faces. The Award would add to my ever commitment and hard work for the wellbeing or happiness of my community and humanity at large.
What’s you take on the current state of the Gambian film industry?
The Gambian film industry is still crawling in the sense that we are yet to reach our peak. The problem is that we don’t have a movie market where our movies will be marketed. The piracy act [Copy Right Act?] is in place but not yet implemented. So, if producers put their films in the market they will run into a loss because the films will not be protected.
Film making is a lucrative business and can create job opportunities for talented young people but the fact that most film makers don’t do their homework, in terms of working out fees for actors and appreciating the job makes most people to be discouraged because actors most times costume themselves, transport and feed themselves which is very sad.
One might ask why there is no screen actors’ guild in The Gambia. In 2012 one of The Gambia’s top actors, John Charles Njie drafted a constitution but most of the actors never turned up for the meeting. Presently, my colleague, Sheikh Omar Sawaneh is picking up from where John stopped to make it happen. I believe that when it is done actors will come on board and be part of it because it’s the benefit of all of us. In this small industry of ours there is no need or use of competition like others are doing. Actors, producers and directors should work as a team in their own guilds in order to make the industry better.
Another challenge the industry faces is lack of support, most times during our premieres people don’t come out to support, its only few family members and friends that come and support which is very discouraging. Most Gambians prefer supporting foreign artist or actors than their own which is really very sad.
Advice to upcoming actors?
My advice to upcoming actors is that they should be ready to learn and accept to be corrected because no one is perfect. They should be humble and work on their skills daily if they want to make it in the act because we don’t have a Film Academy or Acting School.