Nineteen-year-old Nigerian actor Samuel Abiola Robinson, who recently starred in the Malayalam film Sudani from Nigeria has alleged that he was paid less because of racism.
The actor, who plays the role of a footballer in Sudani, put up the allegations on his social media pages.
Stating that he experienced racial discrimination from producers in Kerala, Samuel wrote, "I'm saying this now because i cannot sit back and allow it happen to another helpless young black actor. I believe that i was a victim of racial discrimination while in Kerala. It was nothing violent or directly in my face but for my role in Sudani from Nigeria, the producers offered me far less money than Indian actors who are not half as popular or accomplished as i am would normally earn. I only became better enlightened after meeting with several young actors and discussing payment with them. I am of the opinion that this happened purely because of my skin color and the assumption that all africans are poor and don't know the value of money (sic)."
Samuel added that the director and writer of the film, Zakariya, had done his best but that he couldn't change things much because he wasn't financing the film himself. In Nigeria, Samuel is a popular actor who has featured in films and TV series, including Desperate Housewives Africa.
Calling Zakariya a brilliant director with a "good heart", Samuel went on to say, "Promises were made to me by the producers while shooting to pay me more if the movie eventually becomes successful but no promise has been honoured and now i am back in Nigeria. I believe the promises were simply tools of Manipulation to get me to eagerly commit the 5 months of availability for work being October, November, December 2017, January and March 2018 for the shoot and promotion of the movie (sic)."
The actor pointed out that despite the success of the film, the promises made to him had allegedly not been kept: "The movie is a huge commercial success now and i am grateful for all the love that the fans have shown me and i have been privileged to experience the warm culture of Kerala but i can no longer suffer in silence about this. As i am black, it is my responsibility to speak up because it could ease the suffering of the next generation of black actors. Say no to racial or caste discrimination (sic)."
In an earlier interview to TNM before the release of the film, Samuel was asked whether he'd experienced racism in India. At the time, the actor had said, "Well, racism is a problem all around the world. I'd say that for the most part of my stay in Kerala, I've had a very pleasant experience. I haven't experienced any sort of direct racism. I felt very comfortable here. Nobody has treated me badly… no direct discrimination anyway. There may have been some subtle things. But nothing directly, in my face, for the most part. I don't want to dwell on that. I've had a wonderful experience in Kerala."
Speaking to TNM, Samuel said that he'd decided to open up now because the producers had gone back on their word.
"I was paid less than the Rs 5-15 lakhs that Indian newcomers receive in Kerala and this is why I believe it is racial discrimination," he said.
Samuel further added that he was promised payment before he returned to Nigeria but that he still hasn't received the money.
"The producers are acting like the promise didn't exist and this is what prompted me to go to the media," he said.
Samuel has also put up a video in which he says he was offended by how he was treated and says he feels he was singled out this way only because of his colour.
Sudani from Nigeria released on March 23 in Kerala. It has been produced by Happy Hours Entertainment and distributed by E4 Entertainment. Popular actor Soubin Shahir is also part of the cast. The makers of the film are yet to offer their comments on the issue.
Read Samuel's post here: