Rita Daniels: Despite Age I Remain Relevant in Nollywood



For many years her face have graced many movies churned out of Nollywood. With decades of experience in the movie industry, she has continued to make a mark. Ebullient, graceful and methodical, Rita Daniel has transformed from being an actress to a politician, an entrepreneur and mentor. The mother of four has been able to nurture one of her kids into becoming a rising movie star. In this interview with Oge Ezeliora, Daniels shares her moments in moviedom, the politics and the intrigues

I Started Acting as a Kid in Anglican Church
• I Have Nurtured My Daughter to Become Nollywood’s Star

Aside acting ma what else do you do?
Iam a very busy woman. I am into so many things. First, I am the chairman of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Delta state chapter, (AGN). I am a politician; presently, the majority leader and counsellor, Aniocha South Local Government Area. I hail from Ogwashi-Ukwu town. I am also the managing director of Last Point Resort; the CEO Reginal Daniels Children Foundation; the CEO, Chris Daniel Nigeria Limited; an officer in Director Guild of Nigeria; and a producer. People feel you pushed your daughter into acting because of money and that you want her to take after you an actress? Not really; nobody makes one a star. It’s only God that has the power to lift from nobody to somebody. Yes, I am a good actress who is also talented. But my daughter started when at the age of seven. She loved watching movies and acting at home. Though I didn’t allow her to watch Nigerian movies because of her age, she followed me to locations and made friends with a lot of actresses and actors. Anytime she saw little children on locations, she would beg me to allow her be part of the cast but I would refuse. She kept on pestering me until one day, I allowed her to act in a movie. She was very happy. She started practising at home. Everything my daughter knows about acting I taught her. I encouraged her not to be nervous and she listened to me. She started as low as N5,000. She still acts for free to date if I want her to act. She is humble and very obedient.

How often does she get movie role?
She is a lucky child. She is always on set. I just thank God for everything. As soon as she is concluding a particular movie, they are calling her for another one. It got to a point that I had to plead with some of her directors and producers to allow her concentrate on her studies. If not, there is no week that she will not be on set. Has your celebrity status deprived you of anything in life? I believe it is a normal thing for you not to be everywhere as a star. But, I am not mindful of that. I have a business I run. So, I still go to the market to public places like every other person. I am not affected by celebrity status. If you don’t go out how will you meet people? Even when my fans are screaming, ‘Mama Regina! Mama Regina! Mama Regina!’, I will just smile and hail them back and continue what I am doing. I am a politician and I am used to crowd.

How have you been able to lead famous actors and actress in Asaba as
the AGN chairman?
It is not easy. I must be sincere. But God has been faithful in every way. I thank God that Delta State is the hub of Nollywood actors and actresses. After my tenure, I don’t know who the next person will be at all. It is saddening that we don’t have an office. I mean Actors Guild of Nigeria Delta State Chapter doesn’t have an office. That is the major reason any actor can come from anywhere to produce a low-standard movie or an x-rated movie. They don’t care if it will teach morals or not. You see Nollywood short films turning to porn movies and you will wonder who licensed such movies. It is so painful. Our movies needs to monitored, licensed and properly cross-checked before going public. Everyday our girls are acting in porn movies, calling it Nollywood movies. It is a very big shame to our industry. AGN needs government intervention and regulatory bodies so that we can differentiate professional actors from quacks.

What do you think about piracy?
The problem of piracy is a tough one. And it remains a major factor filmmakers find it hard to make money. Although many are embracing digital platforms to make some income from their creation, I believes online is not immune from the scourge of piracy. What the country is facing is a total annihilation of an industry that has the potential of not only being a foreign exchange earner but job provider.

What do you foresee for the Nollywood industry in 2017?
The Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN will be big in 2017. But, there is a clause. The clause is that we should stop attacking one another. If we stop attacking one another through lawsuits and police harassment every minute including washing our dirty linen in the public, we will go far. AGN is one all over the world. Our own should not be an exception. Good administration has eluded us for so long now. We do not have people that can pilot the affairs of the AGN. I am pleading with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to reconsider his position on the removal of AGN representative in the Motion Pictures Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON) bill committee. I am warning those trying to hijack the AGN in the name of peace to desist from such action.

But ex-President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly gave a loan to the AGN.
What happened to the money?

(Laughs) I did not see one naira oh! I do not know who processed and collected the money. If the money was released, I do not know. If they did not release it, I do not know. The people, who were supposed to give us information, talking about the leadership of AGN, did not tell us anything. Even the first $200 million, nothing was heard of it. What am I looking for is hectares of land for the Film Village and a standard office for the guild so actors and actresses can have a place to share ideas and plan for the future.

What is your perception of President Muhammad Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade?
He is doing his best. The corrupt people know themselves. While our president’s good work is going on, he can then start picking them one after the other. Many people are talking about hunger, no money, collapsed businesses, among others. But the government must first of all lay good foundation about their administration so that people will feel them first. The change should be seen in the peoples’ welfare and every other thing will follow. That’s my own idea.

What is your view about Nollywood?
Let’s put it this way, using the argument of old and new Nollywood, the side of the fence that I stand on is that for every industry, new players would come and while they would even be considered as new players is because they are bringing value to the new generation. Those that consider themselves as the new Nollywood give them another 20 years and they are going to become the old Nollywood and that’s the cycle of life. The new players must always add value. Nollywood is fast going into extinction and replaced with New Nollywood of unprecedented indecency and abuses.

Are you married or a single mother?
I am a proud mother of four children and my children are everything to me. I hate to discuss my family in public. Can you ask me another question?

How many of your children are into acting?
For now, only two of them are in Nollywood. But one is a musician while others are still in school.

How many movies have you done so far?
I have done so many movies I have even lost count. What I do mostly is producing most of the movies my daughter, Regina, acts in.

Did you take a break from the movie industry? I didn’t take a break from the movie industry. You know what is going on in the industry. They tend to frustrate the older ones and that is why, if you take a look at some of the movies, a lot of people have veered off into a lot of things. I will still be in the movie world till I breathe the last breath.

What is your view on sex-for-role?
When you talk about sex-for role, it has to do with an individual. There’s nowhere that it does not exist. In the entertainment industry, people do a lot of funny things to get what they want. I believe it is an individual thing. If you feel sex is what will take you up there, fine, go ahead. But know that whatever takes you up there that is not God’s will, will certainly crash. Definitely, when you are up there with God’s help, nobody will pull you down. Anything you get from an illicit affair does not end well.

Who should be blamed for this?
Nobody is to be blamed. If producers ‘toast’ you, maybe it’s okay but sometimes the girls are the ones ‘toasting’ the producers. So, who is to be blamed then? A man has the right to say ‘bring your body’; a woman has the right to say ‘no’. It is a two-way thing. If it is rape, it is a different thing.

The young acts are the ones making waves in Nollywood. How do you
intend to fit in?
Definitely, I cannot compete with the young ones. As one grows one will have a role in the society; I am Rita Daniel, I will play my role, nobody will play my role. There are still roles that are meant for people like me. There are still roles that if you give to the younger ones, they cannot fit in and if same roles are given to the older ones, they will do it well.