Says: ‘I never wanted to be an actress’
By J.K. OBATALA
Nse Ikpe Etim, hostess of the 2017 African Movie Academy Awards,AMAA, is a screen diva who has featured in over 30 N se Ikpe Etim, hostess of the 2017 African Movie Academy Awards,AMAA, is a screen diva who has featured in over 30 movies, including Akin Omotosho’s soon-to-be-released feature film, “A Hotel Called Memory.”In this interview with Showtime Celebrity, the Akwa Ibom State-born actress discusses her personal values and what it’s like to be in the spotlight, orchestrating Africa’s most prestigious awards ceremony.
Tell us a little bit about hosting this year’s AMAA?
The only thing I can tell you, is that I’m an actress. I enjoy cooking. And I like reading a lot. I’m not a big fan of television—which is rather strange, since I’m an actress. Then, I just live!
What inspired you into acting?
I think it actually began, after I studied “Theatre Arts,” at the University of Calabar and I was exposed to the stage. Many years ago, I featured in a film called “The Scars Of Womanhood.” But I never really wanted to be an actress. Consequently, my career didn’t take off immediately.
So, officially, I’d say my career began with “Reloaded”—which was produced by Enem Isong, with Lancelot Imasuen as director.
How were you selected to host this year’s AMAA?
I must say, AMAA came as a surprise. I was approached and told that I’d been chosen—and asked if I’d like to do it. I thought it would be a challenge. I need to tell you though, that I’m different from some people, who say they “like” challenges. No! I like an easy life! [Laughing].But in life, whether its “easy” or “hard,” you just get on with it…
How does one prepare, to be Mistress of Ceremony at a programme like AMAA?
You don’t prepare! You just go with it. Even when it’s scripted. You don’t prepare. Life has its own script…
Was your role scripted?
Yes. To a certain extent, it was. But like I’ve said, life has its own script. Sometimes things happen. But you just need to get on with it.
What were some of the things you thought you could have done better—and developments you delighted in?
I think I was so afraid, when I started! It’s always good to have a constant flow of communication. And when it’s not there…When there’s a break in communication, you can be phased.
Did this happen when you were on stage?
Yes. It’s bound to happen. I think a case in point, is when I didn’t know who the representative of the Lagos State Government was. I was already moving out onto the stage, when the representative arrived. “Oh, my God!” I thought. “This is the point where I introduce the person. And I don’t know who it is!” I had no name. And I’m like, “This is my first blooper!…”
But I had fun. If it were perfect, I could never learn anything. That was a learning experience for me.
What is the thing that you enjoyed most?
I think it was the fact that I was able to just be me—and not be another character. When you’re acting, you constantly have to be other people. But on stage, I’m me. I’m goofy. I held onto it a bit—held onto being goofy. And I’m like, “You know what, Nse? You need to let go! Just be goofy. Just be you!” Then, there is the fact that it was a lovely audience. They were really kind to me—which is good. I enjoyed that.
You’re an actress. What is your most successful film?
I think a lot of people remember me from “Mister and Misses”. There’s also “Fifty,” directed by B. Bandele”. And people loved “Fun Swap” as well, which Kunle Afolayan directed. Robert Peters directed another popular film, called “A Trip To Jamaica “
I have been very lucky. If you mention five films in which I’ve appeared, people will say, “Yes. That’s my favourite!”…
You are married right?
I am married.
Is your husband British?
He’s a British Nigerian—a black British. His name is “Clifford”; and he was my first boyfriend. We met about 21 years ago and got married later. Clifford and I live together, in the U.K., where he lectures in “Computer Networking,” at Middlesex University—a far cry from what I do.
Do you plan to resettle in Nigeria?
I’m not quite sure. I can’t say. In terms of where we live and what we do, I’ll leave that to my husband.
Are you going to continue as an actress? Or do you have your sights set on directing?
I’m not sure. I enjoy being an actress. I’ve always thought directing was a good idea. But can I be patient enough? Am I a good manager of people? I don’t know.
What do you have in the offing?
I’ve got “A Hotel Called Memory”—an experimental film I did with Akin Omotosho, director of “Vaya”. I can’t wait for that to come out! It premiering next month, at a Black Film Festival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Do you have any other ties to Nigeria, other than the fact that you’re from here? How often to you come?
I come here to work—i.e., when I’m filming. But my mother lives here. So I do have ties in Nigeria. But I don’t have a regular visiting schedule. After all, home is where the heart is! And my husband is not here. So I can’t come, when he’s not here! [Laughing]
What are your views, on the state of the cinema in Nigeria?
We are building a cinema culture. It used to be there, a long time ago. Once again, I think we are re-directing our audiences to go out and enjoy cinema. The more we do that, the more we’ll aspire to make better film—because we are going to be competing with other film makers, around the world.
What is your advice to young aspirants, who want to get into acting?
If you’ve got a choice, don’t become an actor. Do something else. Do not choose the life of an actor—unless you are absolutely convinced, that you cannot do anything else, except be an actor.
It’s not just about the glitz and glamour that you see. It’s gritty and dirty. It takes so much out of a person, that sometimes you wonder, “Why am I doing this?” Without passion, you can’t do it.
During the opening sequences of AMAA awards night, somebody came out and delivered a monologue that included support for gay rights. Being a married woman, do you share those sentiments?
I don’t have a problem with homosexuality. I think there’re bigger issues than who I love….