By Ayo Onikoyi
It is not often you run into a northerner who is into the mainstream Nollywood instead of Kannywood.
Nazareth Jesse Bako started her flourishing career in 2001, but got her break in 2004, when she starred in ‘Girls’ Cot’ alongside notable Nollywood faces like Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, Uche Jombo, Ini Edo and Benita Nzeribe.
She is of the tribe of Gbayiza, one of the major natives of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. She has a BSc Degree in Economics from the University of Abuja. In this chat with Showtime Celebrity, Naz, as she is called by friends, let us into her quiet world. Excerpts:
When did you start acting and what made you chose acting as a career?
I started acting in 2004, but joined Nollywood 2001. My parents never liked it because they believed that girls who go into acting have to do a lot of amoral things, like sleeping around to get roles. It took me time to convince them that I would never end up like girls who sleep with movie makers. Later, they discovered that I have passion for acting as they allowed me to follow my dream. I am happy that I have kept my word since I joined the industry.
Which movie would you say launched your career?
Well, my very first film was ‘Girls’ Cot’, where I featured alongside senior colleagues like Genevieve Nnaji, Uche Jombo, Ini Edo, Rita Dominic and Benita Nzeribe. But the film, I will say that really launched me was ‘Bitter Generation’. It was my very first big film and it had a huge cast, including Olu Jacobs, Ini Edo, Oge Okoye, Ali Nuhu and some others. That film was produced by Stanley Ebonine and directed by Ifeanyi Ogbonna. The film was about runs girls who would do anything to get what they want. It also involved rituals.
As an actress, what role you wouldn’t take on and why?
As an actress, I should be versatile, and I am versatile to the extent that I can take up any role as long as the producer is willing to comply with my terms.
What if the role comes with a bit of nudity, sex and plenty of sensual scenes ?
That is why I am an actor, I can do all that as long as the producer and whosoever is in charge of the movie complies with my conditions.
What are your conditions?
Do you want to produce one of those movies? That should only be known to a producer of such a movie.
Have you ever rejected a role before based on the script or as a result of your conditions not being met?
Yes I have. I can refuse to take part in a movie for many reasons. I have my principles and if a script doesn’t agree with certain beliefs I have, I am sorry, I may have to turn down the role.
As a beautiful, sexy woman, what has your experience been with men?
There is so much to say when it comes to men but I will put that in one Word “interesting”. I got so many men coming after me; face to face,on social media,some, I don’t even know how they got my number, some travelled abroad just to meet me. Most of them came with marriage proposals. Believe me, different calibres of men are always after me for a relationship.
Recently, one approached me on a flight. I was so shocked, I thought if I took a Business Class, I would be able to take a nap and shake off any intrusion from men but I was wrong. Sitting close to me was a high society man and he was all over me, bugging me, all the way, throughout the flight.
Like how many marriage proposals do you get per year?
My dear, they are uncountable. But these days my friends are saying I should begin to give some of them serious consideration. I am not in a hurry to settle down. When I see the right man, I will know it is time to settle down.
You mean you don’t have marriage on your mind at all?
No, I do have it at the back of my mind but I am not desperate to get married. I know some of the proposals are not sincere, so, I am taking my time and waiting for the right man to come along.
So, why have you remained unmarried till now if you get such many proposals?
No comment on that. Like I told you before, when the right man comes along, I will know it is time.
What will make you settle down with a man and how will you know this is him?
My kind of man is a man who is God-fearing, mature and caring. Once you have a man who loves God, every other thing is secondary. I am matured enough to recognise all these virtues in a man. When I see a man who has these virtues, I may give out my heart completely.
So, even a poor man can have your hand in marriage?
There is nothing like a poor man in my diary.
But most poor men tend to be God-fearing?
They will go for their own class of women. I want to marry a ready-made man, not even one struggling to make it. If you want my hand in marriage, you must have achieved success on your own and still possess all these qualities I have mentioned. I was not born to suffer all my life. I have tried to get to where I am, so settling down would be resting and giving birth to my kids and taking good care of them
Are you in a relationship now?
I am sorry, I don’t discuss my relationships on the pages of a newspaper.
What has been your most challenging role in a movie and why?
That movie must be “Share The Blood” the one where I acted as a Reverend Sister. The film was directed by Timothy Onu. The movie was so challenging because I couldn’t recite the Catholic prayers or is it the rosary and I wasn’t given enough time to study my character. Besides, I felt it was something I would learn fast but it became very difficult, that at a point, I thought of quitting the set of the film.
How do see the injection of soft porn into Nollywood films, some said it is the next level, that it will make films more acceptable in the western world. What’s your opinion?
Well, as an African lady and also from northern Nigeria, our tradition kicks against such things. Besides, we already have too many cases of rape and nudity issues in Nigeria, so, why encourage more of these things by promoting pornography. Injecting pornography into our films will only increase cases of rape.
Moreover, I don’t think it is something Nigerians will accept. We are too sensitive as a people and such films will only infuriate people more than getting them to buy into it. I don’t agree that it is the next level. Movies are meant to impact something positive in our immediate society. Porn movies by Nigerians will not help our society because hypocrisy is everywhere. Even those that will love it will be the first to cry out against it.
But you just said you could go nude in a movie if your terms are met?
And I haven’t told you what my terms are, have I? Part of my terms could be that I would not take part in such films in my country. I know it is show business and we are actors but our people are just not equipped to deal with such innovation in our films.
How do you handle randy producers and directors?
I get friendly with everyone and get by.
Some said you cannot go through the industry without being sexually harassed,how true is this?
Maybe back in those days, but now, lots of girls and boys want to be on screen so bad they are ready to do anything. What used to be is not any longer. The clock has turned anti-clockwise. Instead of the movie makers harassing the wannabe actors, it is now the wannabe actors who go after the film makers, offering all sorts of incentives. I don’t want to talk more than that.
Besides, sexual harassment is everywhere. It not only in Nollywood. These days, you hear cases of job seekers saying the owners of companies want to sleep with them before giving them jobs.
Would you marry a married man like some of your colleagues are doing?
No comment on that. It’s their choice.
Please tell me all about your background
I was born in Jerusalem and brought up in Bida, Niger state. My parents are from Kuje Area Council, Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory. I am a graduate of Economics from the University of Abuja. My real names are Nazareth Jesse Bako.
Why were you named Nazareth?
I have never asked my parents. But my father always told me I am untouchable, and that is the meaning of the name ‘Nazareth’
Or could it be because you were born in Jerusalem?
I don’t think so. I think they lost their first child and when they gave birth to me they decided to name me ‘Nazareth’, meaning ‘untouchable’. I think they must have had some certain feeling about not wanting to lose me after they lost the first child. I am now the first child of the family.