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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Don’t be stereotyped in Nollywood-Halima Abubakar

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Halima Abubakar

Halima Abubakar who ventured into the movie industry and later left to obtain a degree in Sociology from Ado Bayero University, Kano, is now back and stronger than ever. The delectable actress has featured in over 60 movies among which are Before the rain, Beautiful Beauty, Area Mama, Sin No More, War In The Church, Red Card, Dangerous Angels, Sweet and Sour and so on. In this interview with CHIOMA AGALI, she speaks on her acting career, challenges and how Joke Silva has been a source of inspiration to her. Excerpt;
Tell us about your personal and educational background?
I am from Ebiraland, Kogi State. I am from a family of seven and the second born of the family. I grew up in Kano State, Katsina State and Kogi State. I attended Army Day Secondary Bubabu barracks, Kano and St. Louis secondary school Kano. I graduated from Ado Bayero University Kano where I studied Sociology. I am based in Lagos now and I am working as an actress in the Nollywood.
What was growing up like and what were the fond memories you can remember?
I grew up in Kano and my parents are still there till date. My growing up was beautiful and filled with love, my mum, God bless her, is the best mum, I adore you mama. I was extremely stubborn and my parents were like where are we going to shift this girl to. My mum didn’t know what to do with me but am grateful that they are appreciating me now and they like what am doing. My parents are my biggest fan and critics. I can confidently do any movie because I know they are behind me.
Initially when I started they were not aware because I was stubborn and rebellious. But now there is nothing I will do that I will not tell my parents. My dreams was to make a difference in any thing I do and initially I wanted to be a footballer but God had his own plans for me. The love for acting actually propelled me into it. I used to watch a lot of foreign movies and I said to myself I could as well do more than they were doing and that was how I decided to move forward and here I am today doing it in my own country and in our own way.
How did you journey into the Nigeria movie industry?
I started acting at a tender age. As a very young girl aspiring to become an actress I met a colleague of mine, Francis Duru in Kano in 1999, who eventually introduced me into the industry. He actually gave me some contacts to check anytime I want to go for auditioning in Lagos because I was based in Kano with my parents. My parents didn’t want me to go for the show then because I was very little then. The following artistes featured at the show; Jide Kosoko, Ngozi Nwosu and the then Plantashun boys and when I came to Lagos I went round searching for the address.
When I got there it was surprising because I saw so many people at the auditioning. It was really interesting, intriguing and here I am ten years later. It took me over two years to get a role in 2001 and I struggled in the industry to get a lead role in the movie titled “Gangster Paradise,” produced by Ifeanyi Benyi (Mr. Hollywood) though it wasn’t my first movie, it was my first major role.
My parents are my biggest fans now. They appreciate me and they just love me and they understand my job.
What inspired you to go into acting?
I think India movies inspired me to act. One of them is “Third Eye,” a popular soap opera in the 90s on television. I admired the cast on the programme. Another was “Maria the Slave Girl,” a Mexican Soap Opera. In fact, I watched mostly Indian movies because of my background. In Nollywood, Joke Silva actually inspired me into acting. Anytime I watch the movies she featured, I adore the way she interprets her roles. In fact, I felt encouraged to act because I admired her acting style and the way she carries herself on set. I will say lots of soap operas I watched on Television like “Behind the clouds” and mostly the India movies and their wonderful actors and actresses inspired me.
Who are your mentors?
In the Nigerian movie industry, I will say the likes of Joke silva, Olu Jacobs, Barasoki, and for the Indians I love Hemamaline, Kajoll and a whole lot of them.
If you were not an actress, what other profession would you have chosen?
I studied Sociology and International Relations, I would have been working with the Embassy now or any other job that will go in line with what I studied in school. But I started acting before I went back to school. So, I will say if am not an actress, I would be in an office working.
How would you rate the movie industry, has it fared well?
The Nigerian film industry is at its peak. Every day is a revelation and I’m proud to be in the industry. Nollywood has changed tremendously and it can still be better. The payment is way better and the calibre of actors are high class, the directors are mind blowing. I will say they are growing fast because this is not how the industry was when they started. I know some day they will get there. Things are really changing for the better and I am happy that I am involved in Nollywood.
Which of your movies will you say brought you to limelight?
I have featured in so many movies. But for me now I cannot figure out the one that brought me to limelight. But of recent that I came back I will just go for “Area Mama” and that was five years ago. And then “War in the Church”.
If you are to effect any change in the Nigerian movie industry, what would that be?
I will start with stereotyping, then go to the area of tribalism and third will be unprofessional actors and actresses, you see them around. Every day you see so many people entering the industry even when they don’t know how to act. Nollywood is for talented and serious minded people not for lay about. They are not talented they just come and flaunt all they got, dress indecently and giving Nollywood a bad name. Some people call me Halima Nollywood because they know that any work am given to do I put in my best and the love I have for it. I got the name through hard work. If I become a producer tomorrow a lot of people are going to hate me because I am really going to be a professional, I will take my time in giving out the roles to the talented people. Movie production is a serious business, so we don’t need lay about in Nollywood.
Talking about sexual harassment in the industry, is it real and have you ever been sexually harassed?
It is a normal thing in every industry. When a man sees a lady and tell her I love you. I don’t see that as harassment. A lot of people talk rubbish, if a man ask you out and you accept don’t come out and say you’re sexually harassed. I have been a victim but I don’t want to call it victim of sexual harassment. Mine was that I was really frustrated in the past and those people are not even in Nollywood now. That is why if you try to delay another person’s destiny. You will not go far too. I am still in the industry now and they are nowhere to be found now. They so much frustrated me then because of one thing they can get in their house. Then, when it was happening I always cry, every body around me then in Nollywood knows that I can cry. I don’t know if it really happens now because what am talking about happened nine years ago.
As an actress which movie was most challenging for you?
Every movie that I have featured in is challenging because they are all different characters. Sometimes I’m given the time to study the script before I start shooting, so I get into the character properly but I still try as much as I can because I don’t want to disappoint my fans. The movie that I think is most challenging is “Lost maiden” is not out. We shot it two years ago. They are still taking it round the cinemas. It is not a Nigerian movie.
I have done other good jobs but this one is still on my mind because it was a village setting. Meanwhile, having to work late into the night would have to be the hardest part of being on locations, I was really stressed and my director is a very young guy. He was drilling me until he got the character he wanted. I also love the movie “White hunters” because it was a comedy. I have done great movies that are all challenging and I thank God.
Tell us about your most embarrassing moment for playing a part in a movie?
I am used to it now, before I used to feel bad because of people’s reaction, I don’t know if they really appreciate what I am doing. At a time I just had to close my ears to all the negative comments and go on with my job because some people don’t like a particular character you play in the movie. Sometimes, people send me text messages, make all sort of comments, but to me life goes on. To me, criticism is bound to come up in any thing one is doing but people should learn not to take it to a negative extent.
How do you cope with stardom?
Stardom comes and goes. I think in life nothing is permanent, so you don’t have to allow it get into your head, because it could vanish at any time. I think it depends on how you manage it, though I have seen people who are not humble and eventually they collapsed.
As a beautiful young actress, how do you handle your male admirers?
As a lady, I think I should know where to draw the line. They come in different forms, even the young ones are not scared any more. You see them, 17 to 18years, I am like what is happening. I appreciate them but I am really not in the mood for that.
In the league of actress, how would you rate yourself?
I am a simple person, fun to be with and I don’t do things that I know I cannot do. I can’t do what my mind does not tell me to do which is quite hard among ladies they always like the band wagon thing. I just see myself and am different even though a lot of people think that am in my own skin. I have been in this business for long, so by now if I don’t know what to do that means, I will never learn. I do my own thing with no apology but in a responsible way. I cannot rate myself again I should leave the rest for my fans.
Do you intend to produce any movie soon?
There is always a change in every process to me, am at the learning process but let us see what happens. For now, I’m still an actress, I’m not thinking of anything like that now.
Which role in the movie industry will a producer give to you and you will reject?
I have done all the minor parts in the past. I can still do two or three things that I know is traditionally accepted in Nigeria and Africa. I cannot say for now, but any role that is not accepted in my country I cannot do it.
Has there ever been a day you woke up feeling like not been an actress again?
Yes, two years ago, till January last year, I felt like saying no to the industry because the job was too stressful. But thank God, here I am today, moving on with my job.
What is your hobby?
I love reading. I have so many inspirational books, sometimes I go sing karaoke, I like watching movies in the Cinema. If am not working I like to be at home.
How do you relax when you are not on location?
I sleep at home.
Are you married?
No, I’m single.
So, when do you intend to get married?
When the time comes for me to get married I will surely do, am not gonna join the wagon. If you rush in, you will rush out. I am still young in my 20s so I am not rushing. My parents have been together for the past years now. I will like to be like them. They are like brother and sister and they are always together. You see so many unfaithful men and women who do not know what marriage is all about so it is better one doesn’t rush in.
Is it true that men are scared of marrying actresses?
I don’t know. But their job is like that of a pilot that is always on the air because they are always on location.
Who is your kind of man?
I used to know but now I don’t know. I can’t start saying this is what I want or I don’t want. I believe God knows what I like and He will surely give me what I want.
What advice do you have for the upcoming ones?
People should go to school before coming into the industry because it will really help them a lot. You see a lot of them out there want to be actors, models and so on. Go to school because after your school Nollywood will still be there, the industry is not running. You will even be appreciated the more when you go to school before going into the movie industry. They should take life seriously and not allow peer pressure to affect their them negatively.

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