Body & Soul

Nolly wood ready to compete globally –Ini Edo

‘Nollywood ready to compete globally’

The Akwa Ibom-born Nollywood beauty needs no introduction in the Nigeria movie industry. She is Ini Edo! She was recently met on the set of Okirika drama series, putting in her best as usual. She told EDWIN USOBOH about what still needs to be done to improve the quality of movies in Nollywood and why she’s very picky about scripts and sundry issues

 

 

How is the Nollywood industry coping since COVID-19?

COVID-19 has altered the entire world and things have never really been the same but on the other hand, I think for creative sector, it’s giving us awareness that the world can actually stop for a minute, hence has aided a lot of creativity.

 

During the COVID-19 lockdown, many writers came out with really amazing stories because there were a lot of situations and scenarios to explore. So, it obviously gives time for creative minds to be more creative.

Of course, it affected production. We had to call off production in several instances and stayed at home. And even right now, many people say, ‘I have a phobia for coming out and being in the midst of so many people in the same place.’

You have acted in many movies. Is there any particular role you still feel like playing?

Yes, I still want to play the role of a superhero, sort of a super villain. I’m still looking forward to playing like a witch. I don’t think I have done that. I am looking forward to playing something like a maleficent, something abstract, a little bit out of order. I like challenging roles that go with different characters and of course, I have done pretty much.

Over the years, Nollywood has evolved a lot in different aspects. In your opinion, what are the other areas we still need to cover……?

It has really evolved in such a dramatic and radical turn. I feel that technically, we need to improve on our manpower.

 

We need to train more people. I remember when I started my own production, I had to bring in a cinematographer. We do have very talented cinematographers but we still need many more.

More investors are coming in. Corporate bodies and individuals are coming in to produce high-quality films.

So, we need to train more manpower like the people behind the scenes to be able to churn out these quality films to match up with our counterparts.

You need to build studios where people can go in and fine-tune their work, their craft. At this point, I feel like we’re ready to even compete globally but we need to train more hands to grow our level of professionalism.

 

It’s no doubt you’re one of the big names in the movie industry. It would also interest everybody to know that scripts fly highly on your table and what determines the script you accept?

The uniqueness of the scripts has to be in the story itself. It has to make sense. Yes, it must have some positives out of it; some things for people to learn from. It also has to have entertaining quality.

Of course, for me, I don’t like repeated stories like something that I’ve seen or done before. It has to be something new on the table, from the writing to the language of the script, which determines how far this particular production is ready to go.

And I try to not just jump on any set because I want my face everywhere. I try to see how I could identify quality productions from the script. So, from the script to the productions to the post-production, I want to be involved as the story evolves. Therefore, I’m very picky about my scripts. It just has to be something detailed.

Irrespective of the fees….

Irrespective of the fees because this job is more of passion. If you don’t have the passion for it, you can’t really do it because if you’re doing it just for the money, then you can’t put your soul into it and it will just fall flat and people won’t connect with you, as an actor. So, it goes beyond the fees. It is about the project itself.

Talking about the evolution of the industry, we have seen big companies and multinational companies like Netflix, and we see Nollywood movies in cinemas, in contrast to when you just began your career. What has been the difference so far?

I am so happy that this is happening in my time; that I’m here to witness this. It’s a whole lot of evolution and it’s still evolving. When we started, I remember us shooting with 2k and HD cameras.

Today, we’re shooting with Red and shooting with high-quality cameras just like our counterparts are doing abroad now. We have a wider platform where the world can see what we do and of course, we have the talent.

So, the platform coming in just shows that the world is ready for us and we’re ready for the world. We can see from the quality of jobs we’ve done in recent times. And it’s just really moving up every day. It’s really such a blessing to wit-ness this growth.

 

Okirika drama series! What’s it about?

 

Basically, what the Okirika series does is explore the underworld of crime scenes like what people do in the undercover using other businesses to cover up.

And particularly, my character is really interesting because she had to blend into a life that isn’t hers as an undercover agent just because she needed to get to the bottom of these particular crime scenes.

 

So, it’s a lot of lessons to be learned. It’s a way of letting people know that most times, things are not really the way that they appear; that there are people who do a lot of things and cover them up with what the public wants to see.

 

So, it tells its audience to be careful about the kind of lifestyle that they want to emulate.

 

What are the lessons from the Okirika series coming on this festive period?

 

We will learn some basic lessons of life! Most times, things are not really what they seem when you see other people’s lives and you feel it’s all perfect and rosy and want to be like them.

You don’t really know who these people really are. It’s good to be content with what you do/have, work hard, and don’t try to be somebody else. Each story comes unique with each character.

 

You have featured in over a hundred movies. Which character would you say came unique for this Okirika role and what challenges did you face in interpreting your role?

 

I like to separate myself from the other works I’ve done in the past and see how I can bring something new to the table. In Okirika, my role entails a lot of characters.

So, for me, the challenge is trying to see how I could be different for each character and I needed to find a way to bring a different interpretation to the characters on set.

 

This role entails someone who’s an undercover agent and has to be convincing. She’s actually a part of that life that she wasn’t in order to blend with the level of the people with which she wants to expose their crime. I had to find a way to twist my language, twist my accent and carriage.

 

Shooting this series with newbies in the industry… what was it like?

As I said, there are many talents in this country. So, shooting with newbies who are talented is a breath of fresh air. It’s a delight seeing people who have prospects. All I have to do is encourage them and give my blessings and see where I can help.

 

Obviously, you have remained evergreen in the movie industry. What would you describe as your staying power?

 

First of all, it is God. Secondly, I think this job chose m e . I don’t think I chose this career. I never sat down and said I want to be an actress. For the staying power, I think it is just consistency.

 

What would you like to be remembered for as an actress?

She’s somebody who stays true to her character; goes to any extent to bring her character to life and of course, as an actor, I want to be remembered for my good works.

 

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