Mon | Dec 16, 2019

Young J’can actor sets sights on Nollywood

Published:Monday | November 18, 2019 | 12:13 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Young Jamaican actor Kevoy Burton (left) on the set of ‘Joseph’ with co-star Ghanian actor Mawuli Gavor.
Young Jamaican actor Kevoy Burton (left) on the set of ‘Joseph’ with co-star Ghanian actor Mawuli Gavor.

Fans will recognise Kevoy Burton as the lead actor in Right Girl, Wrong Address for the play’s final few weeks at Centerstage, or as the intense financial ‘coach’ on Victoria Mutual Group’s iSave campaign. Now, with pending feature film premieres in Ghana and Nigeria, Burton’s fan base is set to grow exponentially. Written and directed by Marcia Weekes, Joseph casts Burton as the titular character alongside local actors Chris McFarlane and Shantol Jackson, media personality Khadine ‘Miss Kitty’ Hylton, Barbadian soca queen Alison Hinds, and Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Shontelle Layne. The film is slated to premiere in January 2020, and Burton hopes he and his Jamaican colleagues can find the airfare.

Burton shared that it ‘buss him brain ah night-time’, realising the cadre of performers he shares this experience with, like Shontelle – best known for her international hit, T-shirt. The Barbadian platinum-selling artiste has enjoyed a successful songwriting career as the pen behind hits like Man Down by Rihanna. Shontelle continues to make waves on the international scene. This month, she is the cover star for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam.

Excited as he is, the journey doesn’t end when a film wraps. Now, the actor is contemplating how he will be able to afford attending his own film’s premiere.

“In preparing for the premiere, they informed us that they do not have the money to pay for our fare to go there,” he told The Gleaner. So far, Burton said he has reached out to the Ministry of Entertainment, Culture, Gender and Sport, but has got no response.

Initially released in 2011, Burton is a cast member of Chris Browne’s Ghett’A Life. According to Burton, Weekes watched the film and loved it.

She was so impressed with Burton’s performance that she wrote Joseph with him in mind for the lead role. “There was no one else she was looking at for the lead.”

Weekes is originally from Central Village, St Catherine, but grew up in Barbados. She is the founder and artistic director of Praise Academy Barbados. She was instrumental in progressing the academy from a dance-focussed school into a school of the arts that also offers acting for film and theatre.

Burton noticed that sometime last year, Weekes reached out to his Facebook fan page, asking if he would be available to shoot a film. She eventually got through to his manager earlier this year.

Life-changing experience

Joseph’s cast and crew filmed in Jamaica for two weeks, then for approximately three weeks in Ghana. Burton reports that his first journey to the continent was life-changing, so much so that the young actor is considering planting roots there.

“It was very spiritual. I feel like I’m going to move to Ghana now. I felt like I belonged there. People didn’t know I was Jamaican until I spoke. They were friendly and warm – and the country is filled with opportunities for young people like myself. I’m going to use this film as a springboard to launch my career in Nollywood. There are more opportunities for Jamaicans in Nollywood. I want to open that door,” Burton told The Gleaner.

Joseph is an inspirational film about a young doctor who was raised to follow in his physician father’s footsteps, but is, instead, compelled by the natural, herbal approach to healing – as learned from his Maroon grandfather. After tragedy strikes, the young doctor Joseph decides to fulfil a promise and find his truth in Ghana.

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com