I am excited for the future of Nollywood….Femi Emiola

Femi EmiolaFemi Emiola is a beautiful actress with an intelligent look at life and acting. She is talented and brings her charm and personality into each character that she portrays on the screen.
Your role in the innovative internet whodunit commercial for Toyota was wonderful, as was the commercial. How did you get involved in it?

Toyota wanted to reach a new audience for their Camry: African American career women who wanted a car that was dependable, fun to drive and comfortable to spend time in. They wanted their lead lady, Bianca, to be a dynamic, interesting woman with a thriving career and a rich personal life. Yet they also wanted her to be approachable, friendly, and engaging, while still retaining that bit of mystery essential for the story.


It was a tall order! I first heard about the project through my agent. I went in about three times to read for the role, and I actually thought I didn’t get it, because I didn’t hear back for a while. It ended up taking about two months before I got the phone call that I was selected to be their “Bianca”.

For me, I am still truly honored that the people at Toyota and 42 Entertainment felt that I could handle the demands of the role as well as the faster-than-normal pace of shooting the job. And was it fast! We shot the six episodes in nine days, and that included learning the stunts and executing them pretty much in the same afternoon. It was an incredible amount of fun as well, and I loved the production team I worked with.

I was so happy with the interactive component of the piece. I couldn’t believe how well the whole thing came together. We had a lot of people logging into iflookscouldkill.com to watch the series and play the game online. We got some great feedback from people.

With a childhood spent in both the Philippines and Nigeria, have you found that they have been helpful in creating personas for your characters in the shows you have been involved in?

Absolutely! But not in the way you would think. I have met a lot of people all over the world. However, all that moving around actually made me retreat to books quite often as a child. I used to be rather shy – and really a bit introverted. It’s my love of books and my over-active imagination that have helped me grow and create some of the characters I play. Still, I think most actors very quickly become students of human behavior, and we – almost subconsciously – observe and absorb from everything and everyone around us. I often don’t have to reach too far to find something inside me that connects in some way to the reality of the character I’m working on.

Do you have a role that you consider a favorite and what was it that you liked the most about it?

You know, every character I’ve played in film or TV has, at some point or another, been a favorite. I think it’s because at the time that I am that character, I have to love them, so that I can play them without judgment. My job as an actress is to live truthfully in the shoes of another person. To be all the good and all the bad of a person. Honestly, most of us are flawed to some degree, right? And as human beings, we often don’t recognize the flaws in ourselves. I love finding those fatal flaws in a character because then the challenge for me becomes being truthful as that person in spite of the knowledge of it.

So, that type of work feeds the artistic side of me. On the other hand, I do have to admit that it was a lot of fun being Bianca on ‘If Looks Could Kill’ – and quite frankly, it was because I got to do some physical work in stunts and stage combat, I got to drive the car, and I got to wear some really nice dresses! It was just plain old-fashioned fun, and the fact that the director, Wrye Martin, allowed me to really enjoy myself while still bringing depth and grounded-ness to the character, made Bianca one of my favorite roles to date.

What do you think of the movie industry in Africa, and do you think that you might get involved in programs that might encourage aspiring actors/actresses there?

I am very excited about the expansion of the film industry in Africa – and Nigeria in particular. As a Nigerian-American actress, I find it intriguing that Nollywood is one of the biggest producers of entertainment in the world. I mean, wow! When I lived in Nigeria, this was simply not the case! Imagining a career in film was unthinkable. I am encouraged to see that more and more Nigerian filmmakers are pushing to tell stories in new and imaginative ways.

Nigerians as a people are resourceful and talented. I know that with all that creative power pointed in the right directions, Nigerians will make films that will make the world sit up and take notice. I’m excited for the future of Nollywood and the incredible potential of Nigerian filmmakers. I hope I am around and able to participate in what promises to be an exciting road ahead.

You bet I would love to participate in programs that move the African film industry forward – and by that, I mean projects that encourage excellence in African writers, directors, producers and actors across the board. We have great stories to tell! Let’s do it!

Are there any current projects you would like to share with our readers?
I have a few irons in the fire, but it’s too soon to talk about them right now. But I promise, it will be worth the wait!