Blizz Kids: Teaching young talents artistic skills
Worried by the sight of children and young people loaf around the streets and wasting away their lives, Magdalene Elembe came up with Blizz Kids Entertainment, designed to mentor young folks and harness their latent talents, as well as earn some money in the process.
The University of Calabar-trained theatre artists, who has acted in different stage plays and movies alongside big names in the movie industry, believes parents should help their children grow their talents and create platforms for them to express themselves. According to her, the days parents dictated to their children what to study were gone. All they need do, according to her, is to monitor, mentor and create avenues for them to bring out their best and follow their minds.
Elembe said it is not easy mentoring young people, given her time on stage, noting, “It’s not really easy, but since I am driven by passion, I make out time to do both. It’s when you don’t have the passion for a thing that it becomes difficult to do; because I have the passion, I suffer no stress doing what I am doing. I love to see gifted young people make positive impact in the entertainment industry. We have to catch them young, make them begin even at their tender ages because talent and ideas rule the world.”
With over 30 young people undergoing different lessons in music, dancing, drumming, acting, public speaking and even in arts and crafts, Elembe said she allows them to choose areas they are interested in and then she begins to mentor them. As much as parents encourage early, quality education, she advised, they should allow their children to develop their inherent skills early in life, as this could earn them a living, when their school certificates cannot get them jobs.
She said the interest in mentorship “started in my university days in Calabar, when I took a course in theatre education, which includes acting for and with children. After the course, I began to practise and ever since I have been the darling of young people wherever I go.
“Through making children stage plays, parents have willingly handed over their headstrong children to me and, by God’s grace, they have never been disappointed. I only study want they like, identify their areas of interest and use that to bring out the best in them. These are things most parents do not have the patience to do.”
For Aunty Mag, as children fondly call her, the stage holds huge potentials for reforming and steering minds of young people in the right direction, as they soak its noble virtues into their malleable consciousness at an early age, virtues that remain with them all their lives.
“Yes, it can,” she points out. “It is one of the avenues serious or sensitive issues could be treated. There are plays that could do this. The stage has the ability to build one’s courage, give you expression and exposure. It is only the stage that can do this. This is why Blizz kids members are bold, have the confidence to make their presentations in any genre of the arts.”
AUNTY Mag recently took some of the children to the studio for their first musical recording. As they await the release of the CD, she has shot its musical video.
“The children composed the songs,” Elembe explained. “I only supervised the production, putting one or two things here and there to perfect the work. It has different types of songs, including instrumental. We hope to be in the market soon because we are almost through with musical videos. I want to use the music to show the world that Nigeria has kids with talents, kids that can be global artistes in future.”
Aunty Mag’s next direction is the publication of a children’s magazine. According to her, the publication would enable children, who could not sing to apply their writing talent to produce good stories.
According to her, “It’s another form of telling the African story. We might underrate some of these young people, thinking they have nothing to offer, but that is not true. Some of them are already bottled up with emotions, distrust and pain against their parents and the society. It is only through storytelling platform like this they would ease off emotions and, also for their readers to identify where their pain lies and know how to render any help.
“From that we shall go into variety shows called, Our Nigerian Culture, where we shall talk about our diverse and varied traditions,” she informed. “Don’t be surprise to hear that some young people, since they were born, do not know or have not visited their villages. This will serve as an opportunity to talk about those traditions they do not know, but are interested in. So, it is like going back to the basis. We shall showcase our traditional attires, music, languages and values because our culture is our identity. We have to let them know this.
“Aside talking culture, I also hope to teach them how to model for fashion houses and how to make good money out of it. They should be able to make some money from their works. I want them to know that time has passed, when people entertain others for entertaining sake. These days, they are for a fee. So, I want to build very strong foundation that would enable them go out for shows, see what is happening around the country and build confidence outside their homes.”
What is more, she is going it all alone, without partnership or sponsorship. However, she taps into the goodwill of some of her professional colleagues, who sometimes offer help.
“No, not partnering in the real sense of it, but I have some professionals that have already keyed into the vision,’” she admitted. “They come to teach the mentee because I cannot do all the things alone. I have musical artistes, professional dancers and a friend who handles bead making. I have Joe Praise, a music director, who comes to teach them how to read music scripts. These are professionals in their own fields helping Blizz Kids to achieve its objectives. We meet on Saturdays and on a daily basis when schools are on vacation.”
But she could really do with some help to further advance her noble cause of impacting the lives of children. “We should all come together and encourage budding talents, as this would help keep many young people busy, keep them away from the streets and trouble, apart from enabling them create jobs. So, do not snub or discourage any talent because that might be the goldmine for that child!”
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