Sunday, September 7, 2014 5:00 pm
Nkiru Sylvanus is one Nollywood actress that commands attention. She stepped aside a couple of years ago to take up a political appointment and returned recently with a movie production of her own. FUNSHO AROGUNDADE met the actress and she spoke on her new movie project, The Voice.
Tell us about your new movie, The Voice?The Voice is a movie that will help people to self-realisation. With the movie, it will help you discover who you are, think about the purpose why you are here on earth, and understand why some certain things happened around you. The Voice is a movie that is going to reawaken the inner you and make you begin to think about your existence.
Why is it that apart from Kenneth Okolie and yourself, there are very few known faces in the movie?
Well, this film wasn’t about the popular faces or good actors and actresses. It was about persons that would fit into the specific characters in the movie. This is because some of the characters in the movie are not regular characters. We were looking for people that would fit into those particular characters and we actually searched deeply and were able to get those that featured in the movie. The Voice is a thriller. I wanted to give it the best by using the fresh artistes. I am not saying the established stars would not give it their best, but the story is basically weaved around two persons. The other characters just come and go.
How was the experience shooting this movie?
It was a wonderful experience. I had my ups and downs while working on this movie project. But I was so excited about the script and the whole job. The excitement was what actually inspired me and kept me going all through.
How much did the production cost you?
Talking about the budget of the movie, I will say I spent quite a lot of money producing it. I shot with Red camera. I also used some of the best guys as crew in the movie. All these cost a lot of money but I wouldn’t want to disclose the figure.
You went through the terrible experience of being kidnapped during the shooting of your movie. Can you share your experience with us?
The kidnapping happened in 2012. It was hell, I mean, a terrible experience. One thing the devil wanted to do then was to take away my freedom. And I will never wish anybody, even my enemies, to have his or her freedom taken away. But that is life. Bad things happen and good things also happen. In some instances, such nasty experiences make you stronger. But one thing I am so excited about today is that I am alive to talk about the movie, The Voice.
What went through your mind immediately you were kidnapped given that you were shooting a movie that has a kidnapping theme?
Honestly, it was a big coincidence. We talked a lot about it on set after our release. I was shooting a movie where in the story I was kidnapped and here was I then experiencing it in real life. What a huge coincidence. While in those kidnappers’ den, I was thinking about my life and whether I would come out alive. I was thinking about my family. So when I came out, the passion I had for the job made me go back almost immediately on set to complete the movie.
Some people insinuated that you actually faked the kidnapping just to create a buzz around the movie you were producing then.
Well, I will not wish my enemy to be kidnapped. But if anyone wishes to be kidnapped and kept in the bush for more than five days, good luck to such person. For me, it was a terrible experience and I do not wish it for my terrible enemy. For five days, I lived purely on water.
Were you on hunger strike?
At that point, you will not think about food.
Because you are among strangers. These were armed strangers. My heart always skipped each time I saw those guys inside that deep bush. I was always so scared that hunger went away. You can’t even remember that you are hungry. For those five days, I lost appetite but only survived on water.
Would you like to reveal to us how much was paid as ransom before you were set free?
Except you want me to be kidnapped again, I won’t and will not discuss the ransom with you.
What is your take on those who say people like you are going into production for fear of competing with the young practitioners?
For me, I don’t think I have to be scared because I am who I am and can never be anybody else. The sky is amply open and wide for everybody to fly. You can always find a space for yourself if you are good. So, for me, it is all about my passion and encouraging and creating opportunity for other talented people to excel. That is just it.
What is your take on the growing number of your colleagues going into politics and don’t you think it will rob the industry of its best hands?
I don’t think this new phenomenon is going to affect the industry negatively. That celebrities in the entertainment industry romancing politics is a very good development. But the truth is that some celebrities after some time choose to take a break and do something different. Once an actor, always an actor. If you loved the camera, you will always want to come back. If you take a break to do other things, you are only giving other people the opportunity to grow. And that is what a lot of my colleagues have been doing lately.
So that informed your decision to romance politics?
I didn’t dabble into politics. I got a political appointment. It is a temporary job. I am just a political appointee. I have my job and while serving, I also create time for my passion because acting is my passion.
You are from Abia State but got an appointment in Imo State.
But you know I wasn’t the first person to get an appointment outside my state. There are commissioners in Lagos State that are Ibo people. There are members of exco in Niger State that are Ibo people. And in Imo State, I wasn’t the only non-indigene member of the state exco. There are Hausa and others.
What kind of relationship do you have with Governor Rochas Okoracha that qualifies to be appointed as one of his aides?
Look, the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is not a tribalist. This is a man who wants to give opportunity to everyone irrespective of where they come from. He is a man that will look at you and ask you to come and work for him because you are good and dedicated. The truth is that it is very difficult to find people who are very dedicated to their jobs and if you find any, irrespective of where he or she comes from, I don’t think we should create any barrier to stop that person from serving. Since we preach one Nigeria, peace and unity, we should not discriminate. Because you are not from a particular state, then you should not be allowed to serve, we should campaign against such practice.
What is it about you being a second wife?
Well, I had an interview with Channels TV where I was asked if I could be a second wife for any reason. And I said yes.
Why would you be one?
Because you can never say never. Life is full of surprises. You cannot say you cannot do this. Being a second wife is not a crime. It is not something you do and then be condemned for life. Relationship is all about finding the right person. If you find the right person and unfortunately he is married, and he is willing to take you in and you are also willing to accept whatever he is offering, which might likely make you happy, why not give it all yours? So if I find myself in such situation with a man that I love and appreciate, a man that I feel I am happy with and worthy of spending the rest of my life with, whether married or not, I will go for him.
So, you support ladies who date married men?
I am not an advocate for such thing but I am saying we should not discriminate against women who were taken in as second wives. This is because you can never tell another person’s story better than she can.
How true is it that you are already married?
As you can see, I have no wedding band. That means I am still single and not married.
What is your take on the forthcoming Actors Guild of Nigeria election?
Election will definitely come and go, but all I pray for is to have a better, strong person to direct the affairs of the Actors Guild of Nigeria; someone who can help take the industry to the next level.
How would you assess the tenure of Ibinabo Fiberesima as the AGN president?
Ibinabo is a woman like me. And because of that, I wouldn’t want to say much about her administration. Even though I have not had personal interaction with her to fully understand her vision for the industry, the impression I have of her is that of someone working so hard to give the industry a lift. I can see the passion in her and, as someone who wants to give the best I can only wish her the best.
How true is it that you are planning to give the AGN presidency a shot?
I never thought about it but in life, never you say never, because you can never tell. But for now, I am not thinking of becoming AGN president.