Effortlessly, she combines beauty with brain. A teenage sensation by all standards, she commands the respect of all – young and old. With eager, calm eyes, 14-year-old Regina Daniels smacks of ingenuity, passion and philanthropy. Perhaps, the most prolific among Nollywood’s youngest set of actresses, Regina produces spontaneous and powerful performances on screens. Bold and brilliant, the Hollywood International School pupil delights in her academic studies as well as in rehearsing roles and going to film locations. Soulful in thoughts as a teenager, Regina exudes the maturity of someone in her twenties. With a sense of delicateness, she describes her style as being sophisticated in a simple way. Though her eyes are set on stardom, she demonstrates large-heartedness towards less privileged children as she has decided – with the first held this year –to hold a yearly Children’s Day programme on the platform of her non-governmental organisation, Regina Daniels Charity Foundation. Regina speaks with Oge Ezelioramore about her life, her mother, the envy she faces in the movie industry, and she’s planned to build on her successes
• My Mother Usually Handles My Male Fans
• At 14, I Have Acted in More Than One Hundred Movies
• I Want the World to Know Me
• I Want to Become a Mega Superstar
• What Celebrity Status Has Deprived Me as a Child
Why did you choose acting as a career?
I was passionate about acting. When I started, people were amazed at my talent because I was a good actress despite the fact that I was just a kid. I obeyed all instructions from my director. If they asked me to cry, I would cry and my tears would be as natural as if I was thoroughly beaten by my mother. All my roles were real. I was a disciplined child and well adored by my mother. I hate intimidation and as a child I earned respect. So I didn’t force myself into what I am doing today; I have always been an actress as a little child.
Was it because your mother, Rita Daniels, Chairman of Delta State Actors Guild of Nigeria, is an actress?
Not really; being a very good actress is something that comes from within. I will basically call it God’s gift and if it is not there, no matter how hard you try, you will find it difficult to do it well. Yes, my mother is a good actress but I am also talented. I started when I was seven years old and I loved watching movies. Though my mother doesn’t allow me to watch Nigerian movies but she took me to locations and I saw a lot of actresses and actors. Anytime I saw little children on location acting, I would ask her if I could also act but she would decline. One day I told her ‘Mummy, I want to act’ and she said ‘Wait until you are 10.’ But I kept pestering her until one day, she told me, ‘Daughter, your dream has come to pass; you will be acting in a movie soonest.’ I was happy. I started practising at home. I watched actors and actresses on set whenever I followed her to location. My mother also taught me few things. She encouraged me not to be nervous. You know one thing about mothers, when they found out that their daughter is talented they try to motivate her more. They also give the child the needed confidence. My mother inspired me a lot and I am what I am today because of her.
How do you combine acting with schooling?
Most times, I study ahead of other students in my school. My proprietress knows I am an actress so I was given a different arrangement. When it is time for school I go to school and when it is time for acting I go to locations, though most of the locations we use for acting are within Asaba. At times we travel out to shoot. Anytime I am free, I will bring out my books and study.
Where is your school located?
My school is in Delta State; Asaba precisely and it’s called Hollywood International School.
How did you feel the first day you faced the camera?
I was still young then – seven. I was just a child. So, I didn’t know what it means to be shy. I was just playing in front of the camera. With the presence of my mother and other famous actors and actresses I just obeyed the director and followed his instructions like an innocent little child would. I was never nervous at all.
What is the name of your first movie and who produced it?
The title is ‘Marriage of Sorrow’ and it was produced by Pressing Forward; a marketer based in the East.
Can you remember how many movies you have acted in?
I have featured in more than 100 movies and still working on more. I have actually lost count.
Do you regret being an actress?
I am very happy being a Nollywood actress and a producer.
What is the name of the movies you have produced?
‘The Jericho and Twins Apart.’ I have just produced two movies but I am working on the third movie which I will soon be out.
How old are you now?
I will be 15 in October.
How do you handle your male fans? Don’t they take advantage of you as a young girl?
Well, I am always with my mother but I know it all goes with the profession. So, I allow her to handle that aspect for me. Anytime I see any funny message on my phone I will call her attention to it. Then she will reply the person in a mature way.
Don’t you find it embarrassing when your male fans tend to mob you?
Never; I don’t give them the chance. I don’t even associate with my male fans for reasons like that. I prefer to associate with my female fans. I don’t keep friends. I am a very free person.
Are you in any way different from the character you play in movies?
(Laughs) I am not a different person. I can portray a character given to me in a movie but that does not mean I am acting me. I am a simple and easygoing girl; simplicity in sophistication, that is me.
Have you ever been embarrassed by any of your fans, especially those seeing you in person for the first time?
Yes, so many times. You know our people with the way they relate with Nollywood actresses when they set their eyes on them. One day, I was walking on the street and children started shouting ‘Ekwensu’ which means the Devil. I was amazed and embarrassed but I later remembered that I acted one particular movie in which I was called ‘Ekwensu’. I just smiled at home and said to myself ‘that is not you; you only acted that role in a movie’.
How did you come about your pet project, Regina Daniels Charity Foundation?
It is a non-governmental organisation that I founded and it’s focused on children; not just ordinary children but the disabled ones, orphans and other children who need care and help. We cater for them. In Nigeria the disabled children are seen as beggars because nobody cares for them. They don’t feel sense of belonging in the society due to their condition. They are always neglected. Anytime I set my eyes on children who can’t walk or attend school because of illness, I always feel bad. I pity children who are begging on the streets. The worst aspect is when we are celebrating Children’s Day in Nigeria; many people don’t even remember the less privileged children. You will notice people placing gate fee at event centres on Children’s Day. It ought not to be that way. Are we paying for our happiness? Children are a gift to the world. We deserve to be celebrated, not to be abandoned. We deserve to be happy and that is why I established a foundation. And we will always celebrate children. My goal is to make children happy; provide scholarships for them. I will sponsor their education and provide for them in my own little way. If I can make it then other children especially the less privileged and the disabled ones can also make it – that is my motive. I want the best for disabled children. When I wanted to set up the NGO, I called the attention of Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, because I know she loves and cares for children. She encouraged me and gave advice on how to put things right. Some of my colleagues also provided moral support just for me to be successful.
Are you doing this on your own or you have an organisation sponsoring you?
It was a self-sponsored event. It was my personal money we used to organise this year’s event. Nobody, to date, has agreed to sponsor us. I and my mother worked so hard to establish the NGO and we went around looking for sponsors but nobody actually showed concern. But we went ahead to organise the first edition tagged ‘Regina Daniels and the Kids’ on Children’s Day. I used the money I made from my acting jobs with support from my mother and friends to establish the foundation. But I appreciate the Delta State Governor and his wife, Chief Ken Maduako, CEO Ken Oil and Gas, the Management of Madonna College and my colleagues in the industry who assisted me. We must continue to educate people especially the rich ones in the country to assist disabled children because they are the future of tomorrow.
But it was said Delta State government sponsored your event on Children’s Day?
No; it is not true. When we started organising this year’s event, we solicited for assistance from the government, we even approached the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Event Management, Mr. Sabastine Okon, and he promised to assist us but couldn’t help in the end. We approached the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Omatsola Williams, to let us use the Cenotaph Event Centre for our programme on Children’s Day but we couldn’t get her assistance to support the children. I was not discouraged by what happened but I wept so much and asked God to take control of everything. In the end, the programme was successful. In fact, the turnout was massive and I gave out scholarship to children to Madonna College and a lot of gifts and writing materials were distributed to all the children they graced the event. We started the programme this year and by the grace of God, it is going to be a yearly programme for children as long as I live.
How much is your acting fee?
Presently, my acting fee is N500, 000 but I have been paid between N10, 000 and N4, 000 on the job when I started out.
How do you achieve to shed so many tears in some roles you played? Did you apply some ointment or use onions to get the tears to flow so easily?
I’m very emotional. It’s part of the reason why I decided to act. I don’t believe in applying anything to induce tears from my eyes. The tears come emotionally. Besides, some movies also get me depressed because of the storyline, so I cry as if it was real.
Are members of your family in support of your career even though you’re still a teenager?
Yes, they are. Every member of my family appreciates what I am doing and they always encourage me to put in my best in every movie I am involved in.
What are some of the challenges you have passed through ever since you found yourself in Nollywood?
It’s not easy sailing in any industry as long as you are a beginner. Nollywood is an industry that is full of envy. Every day, we see producers produce one film or another. And you see upcoming actors and actresses coming in and out of the industry. People tend to discourage you, maybe because you are still a greenhorn. They try to stop you from becoming what you want to be unless you are determined. But I bless God for life. I am always focused. Nobody can discourage me on this job. I know what I want in life. So, no matter the challenges I pass through I can never be discouraged.
Has your celebrity status deprived you of anything as a child?
Oh yes! My private life; I can’t go out somewhere and be happy without people taking pictures especially children. I cannot even go to the market with my mum to buy things. I will be distracted by my fans. For instance, I can’t go out with my family to public outings without people taking pictures with me. I feel deprived of having private moments with my family. So I only have private moments with my family in private places where we will not face crowd.
So what is your ambition?
It is to become great in future. I want to become a mega superstar.
What do you cherish most in life?
That’ll be honesty and my mother.
What are your dislikes?
That’ll be craftiness and proud look.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years, I want the world to know me. I know since I started I have been doing fine and I promise to put in my best so that I can be lifted to higher level.