Keen followers of Nollywood movies would readily recognize pretty, fresh face and petite actress, Grace Amah. From Ebonyi State, Grace who began her acting career as a child actress opens up about her journey into the world of make believe, as well as other details, many of her fans have been yearning to know about her.
Can you still recall how your movie career started ?
That was over a decade ago after I wrote Jamb. While awaiting
result, I decided to go after my passion, acting. I went to Winnis guest
house somewhere in Surulere and met two wonderful personalities; Aunty
Ayo Adesanya whom I have always admired on screen and Frank Ubaka, a movie producer and screen writer. Seeing Ayo that day was like winning a jackpot. I
approached them and shyly told them what I wanted and as God would
have it, they listened to me. Fortunately, Frank Ubaka called me a week later to tell me about a role for a 13year old in the movie, Chains Produced by Louis Isikaku. The movie was directed by Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun. I was over 13years then but could fit in perfectly for the character so I went for the casting and got the role. Thus began my journey into acting.
Which movie gave you your major break?
Elastic Limit produced and directed by Teco Benson and the popular television series, Super Story (One Bad Apple), by Uncle Wale Adenuga
As a young lady going into the world of make believe, how did your parents take to your choice of career?
My parents were not favourably disposed to my going into the acting world. They preferred I was a medical doctor or lawyer and I made attempts to read law but the urge for the acting profession did not allow me concentrate. However, my
parents have come to embrace and support my career choice and they are happy with the outcome. It is only natural that parents would react negatively to things they do not understand but when they see the positive dividends of such work, they will appreciate and give their support.
So did you get your parents blessings to act?
Not initial but later, they gave me their blessing and support and have since been a great source of strength in the profession because I owe all I do to their prayers and counsel.
How would rate the influence of the television series, ‘Super Story’ and your participation in it on your career?
‘Super Story’ (One Bad Apple) brought out the best in me and made me
an instant icon in the industry. Every producer sought for me. It was the greatest moment I had at the beginning of my acting career which brought the creativity and potentials in me that later helped me in the industry.
How long have you been in the acting game?
Over a decade
Where do you think is your area of core competence; soaps or movies?
Both. But while soaps brought me out and exposed my talents, movies were the harvest avenue in terms of acting prowess and greater maturity in handling stardom.
What do you look out for before accepting scripts?
First my fans. Actors are role models so any script that would end up as a source of education to fans and a pointer to certain issues in the society by way of
correction and giving new direction in the way things should be done would
be wholly accepted by me. I consider the positive influence any script would have on people before I take it up.
In your over a decade in the movie industry, what would you say has been the
industry’s biggest Moments?
Nollywood has been acknowledged by government as the second highest contributor to the economy and that should be a source of pride to any member of the industry. Secondly, at a point in the past, Nollywood was the only source of entertainment to Nigerians because we produced what many people saw as a panacea to certain ills in the society as many societal issues were addressed.
Unfortunately, the story is no longer the same. I do hope that the movie industry would return to those glorious days when practitioners were known for creativity and not this mad chase for money at the expense of good work. Nollywood should earn respect from viewers and fans and not to be seen as an organization
of loose women and men, drug addicts or home destroyers. All over the world, the movie industry is an entertainment sector and it is respected based on its productivity. Nollywwod can do better.
Do you think Nollywood has arrived?
Yes, in terms of scope and a wide range of involvement in different
departments of government, I would say, Nollywood has arrived but I
insist that Nollywood needs to address issues that make people have a
negative perception about the industry. First, the government must
address the issue of piracy so that those who work hard would not
loose their hard work and Nollywood itself should develop a code of
ethics to guide members on and off screen.
You haven’t been featuring much in movies these days. Many assume you have stepped aside.
I was away from the industry for about four years to attend to family
issues and nurse my baby but since I returned back to the industry, I
have been featuring in movies. Only recently, I was in Enugu for
some movies and I have also been on other locations. When the producers
begin to bring out the movies, my fans will reconnect with me.
Would you say you faced challenges to get to where you are today?
Of Course, in every profession, there will always be ups and downs I
had my challenges but I thank God I am moving on well.
People complain that there are cabals in Nollywood how true is this?
I don’t know about cabals. But Nollywood needs to be reinvented. We need to reposition the industry and act as one. There are different groups that do not want to be under the leadership of the Actor’s Guild of Nigeria, Ibinabo Fiberesinma. They operate on their own. Some other groups also came up with funny names and operate the way they want. There is no way the industry can achieve expected result if we are divided. The question of cabal comes from the fact that some people feel they have the resources and control funds from
government subventions and so decide who gets what, where and how. Apart from that, what I think the industry needs is a strong leadership with a code of conduct and every other thing will fall in place. Every profession has its own code of conduct; lawyers, engineers, even in the civil service, they have their own code of conduct or rules guiding their operations. It is only in Nollywood that people come in without following the rules. People get into it when a producer or director feels you can give him/her what he/she wants in whatever form. The repositioning of the industry will begin when we start to define rules to guide actions of members so that those who come in will feel that they have to be checked and not behave anyhow. The fault is in ourselves. Also, dividing ourselves into groups with different interest will only further showcase the industry in the manner you have described, cabals.
How can one have a scandal free career in Nollywood ?
Everyone who goes into any profession has a reason for doing so.
Those who come into the industry to develop their talents would not
have any reason to have scandals because they are focused and dedicated
to what they have come to achieve. But those who see the industry as
a shortcut to cheap fame will naturally have scandals because their life
will be out of tune with the standards required in the profession. People may create scandals for themselves through the way they behave, while some others may have scandals, perhaps by those who attempt to discredit good works. So, for one to have scandal free life in Nollywood, one has to be focused, dedicated and determined in the pursuit of one’s objective in the industry. Nollywood should not be seen as a cheap source of fame and organization for loose women.
How has being a single mother impacted on your career?
Being a mother whether married or otherwise is a good thing. It brings
joy and satisfaction. I have not regretted it one bit. I am a happy
woman with my son and his presence posses no challenge to me. I have coped
with him and the acting profession effectively. One cannot be an actress
forever and not have a family. There is no reason why having a family
should be a challenge to working because both of them complement each
other. You need to work to feed the family and you need your family to complete you.
How do you think the private sector can partner with Nollywood to
grow it like its counterpart in the western world?
Nollywood is like any other aspect of human development such as
football and other aspects of sports. Investors all over the world
look for such organizations to invest their money in when they know that
they will have return on investments. Like I stated earlier, when Nollywood is properly organized with proper conduct of conduct for members and good leadership, investors would naturally want to identify with the industry, But when it is divided as we are presently, people may not want to invest their money. However, with government intervention recently, there is hope for the industry. The way and manner we manage what government gave will determine and give
hope to intending investors but first the industry must be organized.
Have we seen the last or best of you in Nollywood ?
Of course not. Nollywood is up and coming and Nigeria will benefit
more in due course.