Would you tell us a bit about your life growing up?
My father is Nigerian and my mother is from Cameroon. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, as the last of 12 children, so it was a full house. I like to think that my parents maintained a good balance between spoiling me and teaching me discipline. Some of my most memorable days were being able to spend holidays with all my siblings, whether traveling or over Christmas dinners.
You reprised the role of Nneka in the 1992 movie Nneka the Pretty Serpent, can you tell us how you got the role as a first-time actress?
I got a phone call at 2 am one morning from my manager telling me that I had to attend an audition at 8 am. I asked what it was for, and he said I would be auditioning for Nneka the Pretty Serpent; they saw a photo they had liked and they wanted to see me on camera. I immediately became nervous, because I had never acted before. He explained that an opportunity like that could change everything for me career-wise if I was selected. That night I watched the 1994 and 1998 versions of the movie, and I did my best to follow instructions at the audition. Two auditions later it was narrowed down to three or four girls, and after a month, I got a phone call telling me that I was chosen to play Nneka. Of course, it was all so surreal even while shooting the movie—every time I would get bruised, or challenge my body on set during the physical scenes, I would smile because it made it feel more real!
How challenging was the role?
The previous Nneka movie was loved by many Nigerians, so I had big shoes to fill. To prepare for the movie, they had me take Igbo classes, dance lessons, fight sessions, and acting coaching. I also learned how to swim because a lot of the scenes were shot in and around the water.
You are from Edo State, how did you learn how to speak Igbo?
I have always loved to challenge myself, and I have always had an appreciation for other languages. Learning Igbo was probably one of the most difficult parts of shooting the movie. I had a very good Igbo instructor, but it also took a lot of teamwork to ensure we were using a specific dialect and that it was consistent all through.
Your transition from a journalist to an actor?
I used to think that a person had to be born to do one thing, but acting has changed my view on this. I trained to be a journalist when I was 15 years old. I studied Journalism and Business at an American university in Washington DC, and I also have a lot of experience from working in media enterprises like Fox News and Discovery channel before I moved back to Nigeria. I was also so passionate about media that I acquired a masters in International PR and Corporate Communications from New York University, while I concurrently worked at the United Nations peacebuilding commission. I love anything to do with news and current affairs, however, this transition to acting has helped me see a different side of myself, and I love the fact that it has shown me another talent/passion that I didn’t realize existed. An actor can live many lives, and in all of those lives, he or she gets to become knowledgeable about various topics while playing different characters. I think acting is one of the most fulfilling and thrilling professions in the world.
What do fashion and style mean to you?
Fashion and style are art, but it’s also a global form of communication. My style is edgy, futuristic, and sexy, And I love that it’s a form of expressing who I am without speaking.
How do you balance work/fun?
I love what I do, so it never feels like I’m working. I love to spend time with my family and I love to travel and see new places when I get the chance to.
What makes you happy and sweeps you off your feet?
My family makes me happy; I have a really good support system, and I also have a very small circle of close friends. I also just recently discovered that I love surprises.
Your idea of a perfect man, perfect date?
My ideal man is somebody who listens and is considerate and kind. My idea of a perfect date will include lots of flowers, a beach, chocolates or Paris.
Who is your role model, mentor in the industry?
I absolutely admire the change-makers in the industry like Charles Okpaleke, Kemi Adetiba, Jennifer Akindele, Ay, and of course aunty Mo Abudu (who is in both media and film).
Where do you hope to see yourself in a few years from now?
I want to be a reason that more people watch Nollywood films, both locally and globally. I see myself doing more movies even outside the shores of Nigeria. And I see myself producing my own stories one day, as well and creating my own television show.