By Benjamin Njoku
Rita Dominic made history last weekend when she emerged‘ from the blues to premiere a big budget movie, “The Meeting” which many industry watchers believe relaunched her into the mainstream of the movie world after months of staying off the screen. The premiere, however marked a turning point in her acting career as she shares her success with Showtime Celebrity.
I am a very shy person but people find it difficult to believe me when I say this. Actors are the mostly shy people in the world. It’s hard to find an actor who does not feel comfortable playing the character that has been created for him. But when it is time for him to be himself, he or she is usually a shy person.
I was telling one of my friends some time ago that I have different personalities when I walk down the red carpet. I’m another person and not probably the Rita Dominic you know. I tell myself, don’t be shy, just hit the red carpet with boldness.
Winning an AMAA award with a Kenyan film
I am not surprised because I always believe when you do a good film, you will be recognised for it, whether it is a Nigerian film, Kenyan film or any country in the world.
AMAA has their own criteria for selecting an award winning film. It could have been a Nigerian film. But I must say I put in my best in “Shattered”, because of the character I played and the storyline. It does not have to be a Kenyan film. I just felt at that point in time that “Shattered” was one film that I have done in my whole career that gave me an award at AMAA.
Longing to win an award before now
I have been nominated for an award at AMAA before now. But I once told myself, I want to win an award at AMAA for a film I worked for. And “Shattered” helped to realsie that dream. I was happy and I walked with my head high. I did not want to be nominated for an award for a film that wasn’t challenging as ‘’Shattered’’; a film I did not put in so much effort. I wanted to be nominated for a good film that has quality and is challenging.
Between Shattered and The Meeting
It is hard to answer this question. May be, ‘’Shattered’’ was a lead role, so also is “The Meeting’’, I have never played a cankerous role like I did in “The Meeting.’’. It is a different role.
My conncetion with Kenyans
I was in Kenya about two years ago when then Nigerian Ambassador to Kenya, and his wife invited me as a special Guest of Honor, for the 50th independence celebration of the country. I observed the celebration with them. Thereafter, I was in the country again during the AMAA nomination party.
About five months later, precisely in June, 2010, my manager got a call from Kenyan ambassador to Nigeria that there is a Kenyan film producer that would want to meet with me, and discuss moderalities in terms of featuring me in his new movie and all that.
Twenty five days after, instead of sending the script to me, the said producer decided to fly into the country to meet with me. And when I saw the script, I fell in love with it.
From then on, we established a working relationship and exchange of ideas. Everything happened so fast and before I knew what was happening, a deal aws struck.
Working in Kenya
It was very fantastic. Kenya is like a second home to me. Kenyans do not joke with me and I love them for that. Could you imagine that they went after me on twitter, wanting to know when I will be visiting their country again.
The movie called The Meeting
It has been several months of hardwork. We even had to suspend shooting for months just because we wanted permission to shoot at the airport in Abuja. Then there was the challenge of sourcing funds and the challenge of finding appropriate locations. So we had to commit funds to building sets. But we are satisfied with what we got.
I am glad at the comment that people have been making. Someone said he liked the fact that it is a truly Nigerian story that cuts across borders. That’s the idea. To sign a truly Nigerian story that addresses an array of contemporary issues. But generally, I consider this era a new one for Nollywood and it can only get better from here.
The Meeting tells the story of a corporate executive who flies to Abuja to make an important 9:30am meeting with the Honorable Minister of Land and Resources. He is scheduled to return with the afternoon flight same day to his office. But the unexpected happened, when he is faced with challenges from the Minister’s secretary( Rita Dominic) and he is forced to remain in Abuja on the insistence of his boss( Jide Kosoko) so as to ensure the Minister signs all necessary documents that would save his company.While in Abuja, he meets up with a young lady who introduces him to the city, and for the first time after his wife’s death, he begins to fall in love again.
Cost of producing The Meeting
I can’t put a figure to it because we are still spending. But it is certainly a big budget film because we are still spending on the film and I must say that it has been very challenging raising funds for this film. Most investors don’t want to fund movies because some of them have done that before and they got their fingers burnt.
We are still faced with the problem of accessing the intervention fund of the Federal Government. It is still difficult because the banks still insist that we must come with heavy collaterals. But I hear some people have been able to access it.
Whether it is the role for me
I will say this and more including Shattered and particularly “Shattered” which earned me the AMAA awards for best actress in a leading role. I played lead in “Shattered” and so I was everywhere and so it demanded that I would be in every scene. I didn’t play the lead in “The Meeting” but it is certainly different from all the roles I have played.
I have never played a cantankerous 50- year-old or any role like that. But all the roles I have played have been different and unique in their own ways, a reason I said this and many more, like Street of Calabar and 76 by Izu Ojukwu. All the characters I have played recently are very unique and challenging. And I want to keep pushing myself. I want to go way beyond the ordinary as far as role interpretation is concerned.
Were you bothered stepping down to play a sub-lead role in your movie
No, I was not and I don’t even care what role it is. The story is what is important to me. I mean my first nomination at the AMAA awards was as best supporting actress. I didn’t say to myself ‘why will they nominate me for a supporting role?’ No. So, it is more about the story and whether I fit into the role. I don’t like to force myself into a role I don’t fit into and that is what we try to do in our company;to cast right, cast properly and to maintain best international standards and practice
Why I ventured into production
It does pay to act even though it can be better. However, my decision to venture into production has a lot to do with my passion for the arts. I love the arts so much. I have always wanted to partake in the various fields of film making. I have done acting, now I am combining it with production.
Who knows I might try directing in the future. So, first and foremost, it is my own way of giving back to the industry by encouraging up and coming talents as well. We need to give them the opportunity and chance to shine and that is exactly what I have done in The Meeting.
My driving force in the industry
I will give all the glory to God, and then the support of my family, my fans and my management. Also, I never say to myself that I know everything. The day you stop learning is the day you begin to lose it. There is no end to learning. So, we need to keep learning everyday and with each new work. Even when you have played it before, you can always find ways to play it differently.
The wedding bell
Very soon and you will be duly invited when it is time. And if you have not heard anything about my private life, it is because I have been guarding that aspect jealously. As an actress, I already live my life for the public. So, the little I can guard, I guard jealously and try to keep it private.
Between Ini Edo and I
There was no fight between Ini and myself. In fact, Ini is like a younger sister and colleague to me. I have always advised her in the past and we have a long standing relationship. I don’t think, there is anything going on between us.
Why I was missed on screen after starring in White Waters
Starring in “White Waters was an eye-opener to the kind of roles I could play in movies. It was also, an indication that my career need to go to certain places. After starring in that movie, went into hibernation where I asked myself a lot of questions bothering on the direction I want to take my career to. For some time, my fans missed me on screen. I was busy then working on my project ‘’The Street of Calabar’’ ‘’ Shattered” and two other movies. These were the projects I was focusing on.