Comedienne Emmanuella's Lawyer wants proper legal framework for child actors

A University of Westminster trained Entertainment Lawyer, Rockson Igelige, says there is need to put in place a proper legal framework for Child Actors in Nigeria.

Igelige stated this in a statement sequel to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki’s invitation of popular seven-year old child female comedienne, Emmanuella Samuel, to the upper Legislative Chamber.

Emmanuella, will feature in a Hollywood movie shot by Disney Studios.

The exact nature of the film is as yet unknown, but her role came to the attention of fans when she posted photos on Instagram of herself on set at Disney.

Her post read, “Thanks @disneystudios God bless everyone whose support has added to bringing us here. I never dreamed of being here so soon. I miss Success. I love you all.”

Saraki, had, on Sunday, invited her through his official Twitter and Facebook accounts, asking her to come to the Senate to discuss how to develop young talents in the Nigerian creative industry, describing her story as an inspiration.

He said such invitation should be a catalyst to putting a proper legal framework for Child Actors in place in Nigeria.

Igelige suggested further that the invitation should open the door for Child Actors’ Act or Law in Nigeria as it is in conformity with the Western world, citing the California Child Actor’s Bill (also known as Coogan Act or Coogan Bill) designed since 1939 to safeguard a portion of child performers’ earnings for when they enter adulthood.

Igelige advised the Nigeria Senate to be futuristic in their Law making like their counter part in the Western World.

According to him, `Child` Actors law has been in existence since 1939 or so.

The “Coogan Law,” in California was created in response to the misfortune of Jackie Coogan.

“Jackie Coogan was an extremely successful child television star who started his career in the days of Charlie Chaplin.

“Upon turning 18, Coogan discovered that his mother and stepfather had legally squandered all of his earnings.

The lawyer emphasised that a bill such as the Child Actor’s Bill is long overdue in Nigeria adding that such a Bill is necessary as a response to the plight of such successful Child-actors like Emmanuella and others who earn millions of naira only to discover, upon reaching adulthood, that their parent or managers had spent almost all of their money.

According to Igelige, “this discovery has always led to stars taking their parents or managers to court over money they earned as child actors being pilfered or mismanaged.

Example of such stars whose fruits of their early careers were squandered by their parents includes America’s Gary Coleman, Mischa Barton, Macaulay Culkin, Dominique Moceanu, LeAnn Rimes, Mimi Gibson, Shirley Temple and Jackie Coogan among others”.

The Child Actors` law or Act should be put in place urgently to safeguard the future of our young actors in Nigeria as regards their wealth and education.

“We don`t need another of Jackie Coogan`s experience to prompt us to act. Who knows? There might be cases of Jackie Coogan among us here in Nigeria at the moment,” Igelige said.

Born on July 22, 2010, Emmanuella captured viewers’ hearts on social media and rose to fame in 2016 when she starred in her cousin, Mark Angel’s comedy skit “This Is Not My Real Face Oh”.

Millions across the world saw the little girl and laughed at her true-to-life character, and the video has now propelled her to stardom.

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