By Benjamin Njoku
Hilda Dokubo is one of the top actresses who ruled the screen in the early 90s and 2000. She disappeared from the screen for some years and now, she’s back to reclaim her rightful place in the nation’s movie industry. And to show her readiness to do so, the beautiful actress last weekend was adjudged Best Actress( in a comedy category) in Africa at this year’s AMAA, for her role in her comeback movie, Stigma. Showtime Celebrity cornered her while she was on the set of Kunle Afolayan’s new movie, The CEO, recently. In this interview, she talks about her absence in the industry, her impression about the emerging trend in Nollywood and the secret behind her ageless looks among others
Your fans have been missing your face on screen. What has been happening to you?
Before now, I made a promise to Nigerians that I would not be part of a production that has no substance. So, the first movie I did last year was Stigma and as I speak with you now, Stigma has 9 nominations at the just concluded Africa Movie Academy Award, AMAA, and other platforms. The film was awesome. I still insist on maintaining the standard. That’s why it looks as if I have not been regular on screen.
At a point you dumped acting for politics?
I never left the industry. I was doing other projects. I shot a documentary for educational purposes. A lot of things happened at a time, I needed to go back to school and pursue my masters degree. I also needed to give back to my society. But that does not mean that when I see a good script, I won’t grab it.
But there was this rumour that you delved into politics?
I wouldn’t respond to this question. Let’s talk about the movie, The CEO
What role are you playing in the movie?
Chief Superintendent of Police.
How challenging is the role?
It is good, it is different from the previous roles I have played in movies. People are used to my playing good mother or the crying sister in movies. But this is totally a new experience for me.
Did you need to understudy the role of a police officer?
Yes, this is because you are working as a team where you have other professionals. I have to understand the character and what is expected of me.
Tell us about the movie that brought you to limelight?
The first movie I shot was Jezebel, but Evil Passion was my first movie to be released into the market. It was released in 1992 during my youth service.
What’s your impression about the emerging trends in Nollywood?
Nollywood is the biggest brand in Africa at the moment. It’s the third largest in the world. So, it can only get better. The industry is big and if you have been following the trend in the industry, you would notice that there are three different kinds of movies that are currently being shot in Nigeria. We have the films that are shot for the open market. We also have the films that are shot for cinema screening and cable stations as well as the ones that are shot for travelling and export like what Kunle is doing right now. So, Nollywood is expanding and practitioners are fitting into the different categories.
But are you comfortable with the new development, where Nigerians are preferring to watch foreign programs like Telemundo in place of our local productions?
When I was young, we used to watch soaps like Telemundo. We also had our local soaps that were equally captivating. But why would our local television station buy foreign content for what ever amount like Telemundo, instead of empowering an independent producer to produce similar television series? Telemundo is a TV series. That’s why we need to hold our TV stations responsible for not encouraging our arts and culture. They should try and fund this type of production.
What has been your greatest moment as an actress?
Seriously, I have not giving that a thought. But I think my best moment is usually those moments when you are working on a production and you know that you have hit your mark as an actress. And that has happened several times in my productions.
Have you ever had a low moment too?
No, I have never had a low moment. In fact, I have never had moment of regrets. Rather, I have always had fulfilling moments. I have enjoyed people’s love and patronage. Sometimes, I say to myself, I haven’t been around for a while, yet people still recognize me more than the way they recognize those whose faces have been regular on screen. It means there is something good that I have done in my career as an actress.
When you look back from where you started, would you say the culture of storytelling has been eroded by the advent of western cultures?
Personally, what you consider to be good, may not be so to another person. If you look at the way the world is going, you would probably understand why we have the things that are making the rounds. If you watch at least 70 percent of the musical videos we have today, they sell only three things: sex, alcohol and glamour.
And that’s what people are interested in watching, and so it is not about patronage. Those who produce visuals are also towing the line. They are saying, if sex is selling in audio, it might also sell in video. That’s why you see this dovetailing of sex, glamour, drugs and alcohol thriving in our musical videos. Unfortunately, fans are not rejecting this ugly trend. In fact, if they do, then those who are selling them wouldn’t continue to be in business. Like I always say whenever I’m opportune to comment on our local music.
Nigerian music at the moment have no lyrics. Instead, it is only rhythm and noise. And then the next thing you see is the video selling sex, alcohol and drugs. I think, it is the global trend that is affecting the local market. This is because people seem to go with a particular trend and I don’t like that personally.
What has fame done to you?
I have enjoyed a lot of love, goodwill, favour, open doors and warm reception. I am one of the very few people who have actually enjoyed so much as a result of what they do for a living. And so, I do the best I can every time the opportunity presents its self. This is because I know I do not only represent myself, I represent the rest of Nigeria and Africa at large. So, I can’t let them down. I must give my best shot all the time.
Now that you have been off screen for some time, do you still get scripts often?
Even for the period I didn’t act, I have a pill up of scripts in my office. Scripts might be coming my way but the question is: are they the kind of scripts I want to be part of. When you get to a certain level, you have the audacity to reject some scripts. So it does matter whether the scripts are coming your way ir not. Rather, what matters was what you wanted to do and what meant something to you. So. I do not think it is about scripts not coming my way. I don’t know, but for me, I get scripts every week. But when I see a good script, I don’t hesitate to grab it.
What was the experience like working in the office environment?
I started working at the age of 7. At 15, I was already a continuity announcer on RSTV. So, I have always been around the office environment. I am not one of those entertainers whose offices are in their houses. I drive down to my office everyday.
Watching your films especially when you are playing the role of a widow or a depressed mother where you have to face a lot of traumatic moments, you interpret such role excellently that one is tempted to conclude that you have faced similar ordeal in real life.
Nobody prays for those experiences. God forbid, I am not a widow and I have never been a widow. I am happily married and I am enjoying my children.
You look ageless, what the secret?
I just live a healthy life. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. I don’t eat unhealthy food. I only eat what my body needs and not what is available for me. Meaning that if at any particular time I’m hungry and all I can eat is very little, I eat that little and I don’t force it. Again, I take a lot of liquid and plenty of water. I don’t know what is responsible but I think basically, I look the way I look because right inside of me, I am extremely thankful and a happy person.
Is any of your children taking after you?
My eldest son was into acting too before he went back to school to study ICT. At the moment, he’s trying to blend digital craft with film making.