A New Generation For Nollywood” – Excerpts from This Day Style’s Interviews with Nancy Isime, Sharon Ooja, Erica Nlewedim
Racing the remake of today Style, tagged ‘A New Generation for Nollywood’, are Nollywood superstars Sharon Ooja, Lilian Onyinye Afegbai, Nancy Isime, Lisa Omorodion, Erica Nlededim, Maryam Ado Muhammad-Booth, Ini Dima-Okojie, Bimbo Ademoye, Beverly Osu and Linda Osifo.
The astounding, talented actresses and television personalities tell today Style about their chosen careers, plans for the filmmaking and television industry, how more women should participate in politics, their challenges and achievements as artists, and lots of other insightful subjects.
According to the interviewer Azuka Ogujiuba, these “elegant women have used fashion as a tool to precise themselves, their brands, personalities and the way limitless their dreams and goals truly are.”
Every role comes with its unique challenges, but one role that comes to mind when this question is asked is my role in “Disguise”. I had to act as a man and boy! It was an exciting few weeks. This role also earned me quite some nominations and award wins. I got nominated at a Festival in Amsterdam for this role.
What do you think Nollywood is lacking and how best can the issue be tackled?
One thing that is important in every industry is Structure. While there is some form of a structure at the moment, I think it can be built upon and strengthened, especially financially.
Nollywood actors deserve the world for not only are they constantly entertaining millions of people around the world, but they are also putting Nigeria on the world map.
Being the producer of your Talkshow, do you see yourself becoming a Film Producer or Director sometime in the future?
As a creative, I’m always happy to contribute to the entertainment industry in ways I’m capable of.
Do I see myself being a film producer and Director? Sure! I’m just not sure what the time is right now. So, at the right time? Under the right circumstances? Yes!
Would you marry a man you are richer than?
Of course! Keyword “Richer” meaning we’re both rich. I probably just have more money and assets, which isn’t a gender thing. Anybody can have more. If the Love is genuine, this doesn’t even matter. If I end up with my dream man as stated above, this shouldn’t be a problem. I believe our patriarchal society is responsible for this idea of a man being compulsorily richer than his wife.
Unnecessary pressure if you ask me. As long as ‘money dey ground’, who cares whether it’s from a man or woman. Please! However, we both must have our own and are capable of taking care of ourselves and basic needs so we don’t end up being burdens to each other. That just puts too much stress on the relationship, and in the long run, breaks it.
While female actors in Nollywood work so hard to write their names in the sands of time, unfortunately, most of their achievements are often, wrongly or rightly, linked to “sugar daddies”. As one actress who never stops working, what do you feel about this tainted perception?
My work speaks for itself, so does my work ethics and I say this with all humility. I’m always on people’s screen 5-6 times a week, which in itself, indicates, I’m ALWAYS working. So if people decide to attribute my success to sugar daddies, that’s their issue to deal with, not mine to worry about.
If you had the opportunity to head the Actors Guild of Nigeria, what are the first two laws you would like to implement for the betterment of the industry?
The first would be to always pay upcoming actors or extras as the industry would call it. Most times, they get cheated or get paid next to nothing simply because the so-called producers think they’re doing them a favour. The second would be to set donations aside for actor’s well being in case of any future hazard. The rate at which those who we watched growing up and worshipped on our TV screen are dying simply because they couldn’t afford a certain type of hospital bill is alarming.
Not many know about the Erica Nlewedim’s Foundation. Tell us about its vision.
The foundation was set up when I was up and coming with very little means to help but I had the vision to help lots of people like me with big dreams and very little opportunity to achieve them. Fortunately, I have been able to help quite a number of people and the goal is to help as many people as possible with skill acquisition, support for small businesses, health care for the needy, education for the less privileged children and help for single mothers.
We learnt you are about to launch a skincare line. How do you intend to break into an already congested market?
Yes, I’m about to launch my skincare line called Star Girl Skin. I’m so excited as it’s a real passion of mine. I believe people should look good in their natural state and that will further enhance beauty when fully glammed up. Star Girl Skin is here to give you flawless skin, by making sure your skin is beautiful, polished and blemish-free! The product will solve all the skin problems with the advantage of a luxurious and enjoyable feeling without breaking the bank!
Again, you recently announced your upcoming reality show, “Inside Life With Erica” which is going to be the first of its kind on MTV Base. How did it come about and what should we expect?
My reality show came about from my fans asking for more than just social media posts and movies because they had grown so used to seeing my daily life in the BBN house and I agree that they should get a glimpse to understand me better and keep up with my journey as a star. Expect premium entertainment, expect more of me in every area of my life.
What fond and sad memories do you have from BBN and if another opportunity arose, will you go again?
I remember I used to imagine and try to guess what was happening on the outside, l also remember the times we used to cook and eat together, our games and I really loved winning tasks. I wouldn’t go back because I would miss everything happening on the outside too much!
You won Viewers Choice Awards at the 2018 AMVCA. How did that milestone shape your career as an actor and filmmaker?
Winning an award with the AMVCA’s was a milestone in my career. It was an honour to be recognized for my work by an industry that I am proud of. It made me realize that hard work, consistency and dedication can help you realize your dreams and that there are no limits to what anyone can achieve.
ou also launched a lingerie line called “Lilly’s Secret” in 2019. What has the reception been like and do you have plans to expand the brand to including clothing?
Lilly’s Secret has been amazing since its inception. It’s amazing to see a dream become a reality. We are doing so well as a brand and we are more than elated to satisfy the needs of our customers. In terms of expanding into clothing, though our niche is swimsuits, lingerie and activewear, we are open to exploring the opportunity to expand our brand.
If you had the opportunity to become Nigeria’s first female President, what are the two laws you will implement immediately?
If I was president for just a day, I’ll push for a higher minimum wage for the average Nigerian. The second policy I would implement is to put in stronger punishments to those guilty of Domestic and Sexual Violence. The lack of severe punishments on the perpetrators of rape and gender-based violence is the reason why rape is still prevailing in our society, silencing women and children to a lifetime of torment.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Binging on Korean movies all day. Their movies are as relatable as ours. I sometimes try to learn some words in the language.
In what ways can young filmmakers leverage the existence of Netflix in Nigeria?
Platforms such as Netflix that stream all over the world are extremely beneficial to young filmmakers. And it being in Nigeria creates a huge platform to help showcase young filmmakers to a wider audience and range. More people get to see their work and it helps them earn forex from the popularity of their work. It creates international relationships that help put Nollywood on the map, so it’s something young filmmakers should latch on to especially now that the world is almost digital-based.
In general, what do you think is lacking in Nollywood and how should it be addressed?
Firstly, in my opinion, Nollywood requires more support generally from the government, especially in the area of distribution. I strongly believe NTA should be the number one commissioner of Nollywood projects. And with everything going on in the country such as tribalism and lack of employment, such projects can be used to create jobs and also used as social tools for sensitization of our national orientation to promote one Nigeria. Specific television programming will go a long way to unite the country through Nollywood. This is just me pointing out one of many.
What has been the lowest point in your life?
This is very emotional for me. The lowest point in my life was when my big brother died in 2018. This shattered my world and left me with so many unanswered questions to date. My family is a close-knit one and It is so heartbreaking to lose a loved one. It is a nightmare I wish I could undo. I take each day as it comes, and he is always in my heart.
Oil and gas is one line of business that needs so much time and attention. How do you juggle being an actor, model, as well as being an executive in your family oil company, Hemsor Oil?
I have also added the Chief Executive Officer of Platinum Studios. It can sometimes be a tough juggling act, but I am grateful for grace. I love wearing the different hats I have been given it keeps me on my toes, and get me a little bit closer to realizing all my dreams.
Learning the nitty-gritty of the family business was very important to my parents. They made me understand the value of serving, and understanding the business from the ground up, before leading. My father always says” Leadership is about service”, and stresses the importance of a good name.
In my role as an Executive Director at my family’s oil and gas industry, I oversee daily Operations (Depot logistics, Staff performance, Revenue), and Develop and Direct organizational culture and strategy.