(Images: Rose Bimpe, Upcoming Child Actress from Namibia)
Opportunities for child actors are not readily available in Namibia. When writers write, especially for stage and screen, child characters are left out. For various reasons:
Playwrights and screenplay writers avoid having children roles mainly because of the extra safety and time precautions it would take once the production is up and running.
Secondly, it has to do with the market of child acting. In Namibia, there is no market for child actors/actresses. Also it’s a legal thing. There might be legal requirements when it comes to working with children, because it is paramount to check the restrictions on working hours as well.
Already, Namibia doesn’t have that type of acting industry to accommodate full-time acting careers, therefore adult actors have 8-5 jobs, which stretches the production timeline. For directors/producers, the pressure of having a child, who has a curfew is far too great of a risk to take.
Questions that many directors/producers ask are; Who will be responsible for them? Will their fragile bodies be able to take the harsh location of the shoot? Will they be able to take the pressure of having to remember and dramatize their roles, effectively?
However, child actors have one thing that productions need: Childhood charm which can bring huge success to a production. Starting a career in acting from a tender age has it’s downside, but we have fallen in love with many actors/actresses based on those childhood roles. There are many examples of successful and widely known actors/actresses who started off from a young age, including Regina Daniels, Lindsay Lohan and Macauley Culkin.
So, should we embrace child acting? Why, yes.
I met the four-year-old, Rose Bimpe, who is an upcoming child actress from Namibia. She is upcoming because there are little to no opportunities available in The Land for child acting. However, her mother, Ndama Nakashole has reached out to filmmakers in Nigeria and Ghana and has been asked for monologues. Nakashole says the response has been good and in the near future, Rose will have to travel to those countries for filming.
“The fact that the short videos (monologues) have been well received by directors in those cities means her talent is appreciated,” Nakashole says.
At the tender age of 3, Rose felt the passion for acting starting to creep in, something she had repeatedly reminded her mother of.
Her mother describes her as a fun, independent child who, if given an equal opportunity, will be able to act and model.
Namibia is also not filled with training schools for child actors, however, the Helen O’ Grady Drama Academy’s Windhoek franchise was just opened and at the beginning of this year, where Rose has registered.
“She is also expected to attend the ‘Acting for the Camera’ training in West Africa and I am busy with arrangements of logistics regarding that trip,” Nakashole shares.
In preparation for a career in the industry, Nakashole has developed a social media platform for Rose: Instagram: @rose.bimpe. Email: email@example.com or/and via WhatsApp: +264813706788
Tips On Working With Child Actors (For Directors/Producers)
1. Get the parent’s written consent for a child to work on your production. (IMPORTANT!)
2. Consider the educational need of the child (School attendance)
3. Leave babies out of your things, tog. Get creative with dolls.
4. Have parents/nanny present during productions. (If they are overbearing, replace their kid)
5. Patience. (They are kids. Treat them like you would your own.)
6. Integrate child friendly language and behaviour around kids. (I know, it’s hard, but C’mon)
7. Check legal requirements with the law.
8. Let them rest enough and create a comforting space.
9. Pedophilia is a no.
10. Lastly, let them mimic lines back to you. It helps with remembering dialogue.