Afro Inspiration : Nse Ikpe Etim, Award-winning Nollywood Actress

Not so long ago, I did an article on the Top 10 lead Nollywood actresses, where I mentionned in position 5, actress Nse Ikpe Etim. Who is she? She is a nigerian actress and, as per industry standard, she is quite new (she officially re-started in 2008). She was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009 and she has since won several awards. This is what Nollywood Reinvented had to say about her:

 “Nse has no limit. No stop point. No definition. There is no scale that can measure what she can or cannot do. There’s no section that can analyze all her abilities in completion. Nse doesn’t ever act, Nse never gives dialogues, Nse is never on the screen. Whoever Nse is playing is always on the screen”

And…Everyone knows that Nollywood Reinvented is an expert on the subject . Afrokanlife got the incredible chance to interview Nse!

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Diasportrait of Nse Ikpe Etim, Award-winning Nollywood Actress

1.When did you discover you had a flair for acting? Can you tell us a little bit about your journey into acting?

Well I have a degree in theatre arts, so when I graduated I was certain I was going to pursue a career in acting. However after a couple of movie projects I realized I was only doing this because I wanted to rebel against the status quo. At that point I quit my fledging acting career and settled for “regular” jobs; and so i worked as a banker, broadcaster and retailer. In 2008 I was coerced back into acting. That movie in question; Reloaded earned me a nomination at the African Movie Academy Awards. From that point on, the floodgates opened. A few years later I’ve gotten several awards and nominations and I have a sizeable list of movies under my belt.

2. Congratulations on your staggering professional achievement. As per industry standard, you are quite new, for those who may have recently started following your career; did you undergo any type of professional training ?

Studying Theatre Arts in the University helped with the basics. The rest I’ve learned on my own by reading and researching literature on acting or by working with very good directors. I subscribe to method acting and that takes a lot of work, but I like the range it gives my performances.

3. Can you tell us about your most successful movies ?

So far asides Reloaded which was my “comeback” movie, I think Phone Swap and MR&MRS have done really well. In Phone Swap I played a somewhat naïve tailor, whose has a little mishap with her phone, but thankfully this “accident” leads to fulfillment in her private and professional life. MR&MRS on the other hand tells the story of a wife who stoops to conquer in her marriage.

4. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to be the star you are today and how did it help you grow as a person?

I’ve been very fortunate as my journey through the Nigerian film industry has not been fraught with the usual challenges. There are no dramatic stories of hours spent under torrid weather conditions auditioning for a movie. When I returned to the industry in 2008 with “Reloaded” my career took on a life of its own. The only difficulty I face now would stem from my popularity and the loss of my privacy. However it is a small price to pay for the career I’ve chosen.

5. How do you to choose your roles, given the fact that Nollywood is known for the enormous quantity of films it produce per year?

I’ll always opt for story over style. If the script is good and the character I’m being considered for has depth to her you can count me in. I like to leave viewers with a distinct impression of my character. Long after the credits have rolled I want people to remember my character and have a real emotional reaction to her.

6. Speaking of Nollywood, How do you see the industry in 20 years?

The industry has grown tremendously since its humble beginnings. And the best bit is that it is still growing. The personnel, technology and technique continue to get better with each passing day. I believe that if we continue on this path, this industry will do truly great things.

7. How would you describe your personal style? I have seen quite a lot of references on you being an IT girl. Would you define yourself as a fashionista?

IT girl, that’s lovely. Well I do not consider myself a fashionista or trend setter. I barely keep up with the latest in the world of fashion. I think this stems from my recluse tendencies. When I do however attend an event I do make sure I am appropriately dressed for that occasion. If for instance it was the premiere of a movie i’m featured in, I will pull out all the stops and go full on glamour.

8. Who are your favorite African designers?

I like Wanger Ayu, House of Nwocha and Ejiro Amos Tafiri.

Diasportrait of Nse Ikpe Etim, Award-winning Nollywood Actress

9. You were nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009. It is a very huge achievement considering the fact that at that moment you were just coming back from a break. How did you feel when you heard the news?

I am still overwhelmed by that particular achievement. It was very instrumental in keeping me in this industry. When I did Reloaded it was because the movie’s producer; Emen Isong coerced and cajoled me into it. Getting nominated for Best Actress at the AMAAs made me realize that I did have a future in acting and if I had any doubts before then, that certainly cleared them up.

10. Growing up, what influenced you as a person? What motivated you to make a success of yourself and career?

My mother influenced me greatly. She is such a strong woman and I told myself if I could be half as amazing as this woman, I’d be okay. The books I read growing up also helped shape me. I read about phenomenal people doing outstanding things and I wanted to be as successful, fearless and brave as the heroes in my books. I have siblings and so I have a responsibility to them to be successful; if only to set a decent example.

11. What would you love to be remembered for?

My acting; I’d like to be remembered for that. But I’d also liked to be remembered on a more personal level. I’d like for people to say I’ll miss Nse with the utmost sincerity.

12. I can’t help but wonder how exactly you cope as a professional actress and a wife considering Africa and specifically Nigeria’s social set up?

People ask this question a lot. The truth is every woman with a job, be it acting or a conventional 9-5 career has to find a delicate balance between her job and her family. The challenges posed by my professional obligations might make my choices a little different from everyone else. It is not the easiest thing to do so having a supportive partner is very important. You have to know where everything ranks on your scale of importance and treat them adequately.

13. As an African star, how do you envision/plan using your celebrity status to have a positive impact on African people’s lives? I know lot actresses are involved in charity work.

Hmmmmm, firstly, I hope that a smile plays across their lips when my work is viewed that way I would have made someone happy… As for charity, if it is charity, I like to think that you would hardly hear of what I do. But somewhere, I do hope I would have reached out in my little way.

14. Any advice for young people considering acting as a career?

First off they need to realize Rome wasn’t built in a day. It might take a while to break even or get the dream roles. You must put in work. You do not necessary need to have majored in drama but some acting training will help give you the needed discipline. Always be professional and do not get carried away as sadly the world does not and will not revolve around you. Remember to always appreciate your fans as they will be responsible for making you a star.

15. To know you better, can you tell us about?

a. Your favorite African actor(actress)
I never have a best because everyone brings something different to the fore. My best today might not be my best tomorrow. I am guilty of not picking a best. (Laughs) typical of a Libran I guess….7

b. The African country you will love to visit one day
I really would love to go to Morocco. It’s on my top 5 list right now

c. Your three essential objects
My Rosary, Bible and lip balm

16. Finally, If Finally, If I say Afro Inspiration, what do you say?
Stay true to you!

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