After two successful movie productions, rising actress Sylvia Edem, whose recent project deals with issues on the physically-challenged, in this interview with Dupe Ayinla-Olasunkanmi, speaks on her work, social responsibilities, among other issues. Excerpts
How would you describe this year?
This year, I would say, was great, though was a little bit of pot holes. But, I mean, that’s life. But in all, I am grateful because I have been able to conquer those obstacles.
What attracted you to begin a career in acting?
I actually started acting because it is something I had passion for and studied, producing my own movie which is IMA and Sand Castle which went to the cinemas across nation,
Describe your acting style
I would say I am versatile, charismatic when it comes to role interpretations.
Tell me about what you are working on now
I am working on a project (the Nigerian peace project) to be flagging off in the eastern part of Nigeria before the 2019 general election. This is coming after Sand Castle, the movie which premiered last year for the physically-challenged. All my movies or projects always have a message; just like Sand Castle telling the physically-challenged that they are not different from any other person, they are accepted and that they can be who they want to be. As a matter of fact, we’ll be giving out free tickets of the movie to the physically-challenged in every state we go to screen it.
What is the Nigerian Peace Project all about?
It is a door-to-door peace movement initiated by Sylvia Edem Foundation in advocacy of a peaceful Nigeria. The Nigerian peace project which is proposed to hold nationwide with the handles, #greenerpeacerally, #greenerpeacewaka is aimed at building national peace and unity, using the youths as the drivers of the peace crusade. The mandate of the project is dedicated to celebrate young people’s contribution to conflict prevention, social justice and sustainable peace, towards the transformation of the Nigerian nation from a chaotic hub to an umbrella of reconciliation and unity. The Nigerian Peace Project presents a perfect opportunity for young people to take a front seat in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development of the United Nations.
The Nigerian peace project team will like to reach out to his Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel, the sitting governor of Akwa Ibom State and other leaders in Nigeria to support this great initiative from the young minds of Nigeria. It’s a message to protect our unborn children; it’s a message to secure the atmosphere of our next generation The Nigerian peace project has come to stay.
Have you progressed in your career as you expected?
I will say I am not yet where I want to be in the industry. But I am thankful for where I am today, because it is not where I used to be. And I am still pushing and I know by God’s grace I am getting there.
How do you interact with difficult directors?
When I am working with difficult directors, I try to put myself in their shoes and just be loyal, because it’s only loyalty that can take you far in this industry. You have to learn how to be tolerant too. You will also be in that position someday, so you need to learn how to deal with such people. That is the only way you can get your work done without any hindrance.
In which area would you like to improve as an actor?
I would want to improve in all aspects of my career. I would love to be able to interpret roles and make it believable to my audiences. I also want to be more sassy and sexy when interpreting some characters. I want to take my acting career to a level that is different in the future. I will be seeking for more challenging roles because it makes you strong and more dedicated as an actor.
Of all the roles you have acted, which is your favourite?
My role in Ima acting as a timid Calabar girl.
Do you belong to any union?
Yes I belong to Actors Guild of Nigeria; where we interact with great minds.
What motivates you?
What motivates me as an actor? There are a lot because I like to know things about other professions. It is not just about acting; there are some other areas that one need to know about, which can also help build your career and personality.
I get motivated when am applauded for something I do because that makes me know I am actually doing the right thing.
Tell me about a time where you had difficulty with a character and why was it challenging?
I had difficulty with a character I played in Sand Castle movie. I played the role of a blind pregnant wife of a senior colleague. It was challenging because I was producing at the same time.
Which was your first role as an actor?
My first role was in Cross River State, directed Jetta Amata. The movie also featured Rita Dominic and other top actors then. It was a waka pass, which wasn’t a speaking role.
Have you changed your mind on marrying a Nigerian guy?
Nope, I haven’t changed my mind about marrying a white man. Yea, I do believe in the saying that ‘Love conquers all’.
I don’t have a problem with Nigerian men but I just feel they are not right for me. I’ve been in one or two relationships with Nigerian men, and I tried to make it work but it didn’t work, it didn’t favour me. I’ve actually said I wanted to marry a white man right from when I was growing up. It’s not like Nigerian men are that bad but this is my own choice; it’s what I want. After trying two relationships with Nigerian men and it didn’t work for me, I gave up.
Producing Sand Castle, which was the best part as a producer?
Working with Wale Ojo has been nothing short of a humbling experience. It was quite exciting because he is so big in Nollywood. I was so happy working with him because he was very encouraging and his advice on set was wow!
I really appreciate him for that. And you know, whenever I was intimidated by his presence he would just say ‘Sylvia, feel free and just be yourself.’ There were moments I was trying to hold back but he was like ‘don’t do that, be yourself. I know you are a very good actress. I know you can pull this off.’
He really liked the fact that as a young girl I was taking on the challenge of producing a movie and also acting in the same movie.
As a social responsibility, do you have any group you contribute to?
I do have an NGO which is the Nigerian Peace Project, an initiative of Sylvia Edem Foundation.
What do you think has brought you this far?
It is just God. The little I do cannot be compared to what God does for me; it is the grace of God that has brought me this far.