Foreign Minister must apologize and retract “distasteful” remark about actors – SAGG

Lydia Seyram Alhassan, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway and John Setor Dumelo Lydia Seyram Alhassan, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway and John Setor Dumelo

Screen Actors Guild Ghana (SAGG) has described as "unfortunate", "distasteful" and "disappointing" the recent comment by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration against John Setor Dumelo, the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) Parliamentary Candidate for Ayawaso West Wuogon, to the effect that Parliament is serious business and not for actors like him.

Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, who is an outgoing Member of Parliament (MP) for Anyaa Sowutuom in the Greater Accra Region, last week was in Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency to campaign for the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) parliamentary candidate, Lydia Seyram Alhassan.

She declared "Parliament is for serious minded people and not people who have done some movies and think they are popular."

"Parliament is a very serious business, it's a serious place. The place is not for those who think they can heal the sick. No! No! No! No! No! Do not let that happen. It is a serious place."

She added that if the constituents fail to give the incumbent Member of Parliament Lydia Alhassan the nod and rather vote for actor John Dumelo, they would always be at the movie theatre to watch movies.

She added that if the constituents fail to give the incumbent Member of Parliament Lydia Alhassan the nod and rather vote for actor John Dumelo, they would always be at the movie theatre to watch movies.

Her comment, has irked the Screen Actors Guild Ghana and they are demanding a retraction and an apology from the Foreign Minister, who made the remark, while in the company of the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, during his recent tour of the Greater Accra Region as part of the campaign for the 7th December election.

They warned "we would be forced to respond in equal measure, if she refuses to do as advised by 3pm on a Tuesday, December 1, 2020".

Joseph van Vicker, better known as Van Vicker, is a Ghanaian actor , has also taken on the Foreign Minister, saying "…all my creative arts colleagues should be resentful at her utterance and demand an apology, for what she said is indeed racist, discriminatory and such bigotry SHOULD NO LONGER be perpetuated in dividing us as a people".

"To put it mildly, who is the 'UNSERIOUS PERSON'? is it... The 'SERIOUS PERSON' who watches movies & listens to music MADE BY the 'UNSERIOUS PERSON'? or is it... The 'UNSERIOUS PERSON' who COMPELS the 'SERIOUS PERSON' to do dance moves and recall movie scenes during conversations? His statement has been circulating on social media.

The SAGG press statement coped The Herald, said "It is rather unfortunate that in a period where people are critically thinking of strategic moves to make to better their lot as citizens of Ghana, we have had to respond to a very shameful and repugnant comment from Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchway".

According to them, "this distasteful comment goes against, not only John Dumelo, but an entire industry that has contributed enormously to almost every sphere of nation building".

They insisted that their "statement does not, in any form, suggest that we support a particular party or candidate. This is in the interest of our dearly distinguished members and an industry that cannot be toyed with any longer. We anticipate that common sense will prevail and to a large extent change the narrative regarding actors".

The group drew her attention to the fact that, "acting is as equally a respectable profession as any other. Ironically, it is the perfect profession to matriculate from into parliament. You learn how to suspend people's belief, pull them in through their emotions, then marvel at your performance once the cameras are off and the curtains are drawn".

"We, as Actors, are very valuable citizens of this nation with equal rights, therefore, the comment made by Madam Shirley Ayorkor against John Dumelo, one of us, is quite disappointing. This statement makes us ponder on her high level appointment", the group said.

"In nations where the great potential of the sector has been properly attended to, these nations have benefited to a gargantuan level. In spite of the lack of institutional support framework, distributional barriers and a defunct intellectual property right regime we have continuously contributed significantly to the country's GDP and GNP which is overly enjoyed by "serious people in serious professions".

"If actors are not meant to be taken seriously, why do politicians come to us for endorsement, and not to the people in other professions they consider "serious"? We represent the people and the country at large. The people listen to our spoken and unspoken languages and above all, we set the trend and pace".

"The industry, which is called showbiz (show business) is not just about entertainment. One needs to be well equipped with a high level of intelligence to be able to make it in the industry", the group said.

it challenged "any individual who doubts this averment should accept our challenge and dare to pick up a script and attempt to act and would realise that acting is not for weak minds who think loosely".

"Many people have tried acting and failed miserably at it before looking to other avenues for sustainability. Grabbing lines- written by another person, impersonation, researching a character and acting it out to the admiration of many, does not just happen. Most people immediately go into a state of panic the moment a camera is put on them".

"Many of our sterling acting performances have greatly contributed to placing Ghana on the international map of entertainment. For all the achievements many performers have chalked, we deserve to be commended and not trolled. Not everyone has the know-how to build something for themselves in the country we find ourselves in".

"With these said, we would like to advise the minister and the general public to desist from such shameful and derogatory remarks on our members. We insist that, if she is to be considered as worthy of her tag of Hon., she should render an unqualified apology to the filmmaking and the creative fraternity in its entirety for the verbal disdainful comment she made. We would be forced to respond in equal measure, if she refuses to do as advised by 3pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2020".

Source: The Herald