‘Big Brother’ star takes on feature role

Plaatjies enters Nollywood scene with 'Loss'

The producers of a new Nigerian movie, “Deep Loss,” to be released this month, are hoping the presence of a popular South African contestant from “Big Brother Africa” will help them break through to a broader continental aud.

Abby Plaatjies, 25, makes her acting debut as the star of “Deep Loss,” in which she plays a 20-year-old whose father dies, leaving her and her mother to run the family business.

Plaatjies was one of the most talked-about contestants on paycaster M-Net’s pan-African “Big Brother Africa” in 2003, achieving continental notoriety for her steamy affair with Ugandan contestant Gaetano Kagwa. She was particularly popular in Nigeria, which she has since visited frequently to do promotional work.

Nigerian producer-marketer Nonso Dike, whose company is marketing the film, says she noted the potential of Plaatjies when she saw her on “Big Brother” and facilitated her entry into local film industry Nollywood.

“Plaatjies is a talented actress and a perfect star for a crossover Nigerian film aimed at the rest of Africa. If anything, she was even more popular in the rest of Africa than in South Africa,” Dike says.

Dike adds they hoped Plaatjies presence would help them secure distribution in South African cinemas, which would be a first for Nollywood.

The $130 million-a-year direct-to-video Nigerian film industry has traditionally been aimed at its 150 million-strong population, but Dike dreams to change this with “Deep Loss.”

She estimates up to 2,000 films are made annually, with most of them shooting in less than a week and being released into the market just as quickly.

But, according to Dike, the quality of these films suffers as a result, and this makes them difficult to market outside of Nigeria.

“One of the things that our industry needs to do is become more professional,” she says…. What we wanted to do with this film is make something that has high quality and shows that there is more potential for broader audiences.”

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