Nollywood actress and model, Jennifer Obodo, hails from Imo State and is a graduate of Mass Communication and Media Technology from Lead City University, Ibadan. She talks to Tosin Clegg about acting, starting her career, hopes for Nollywood and a lot more
I started acting full time three years ago
First, I started modelling in 2010, after my O’levels, but I have always had a passion for acting. I didn’t know where to start from and how to go about it. I had friends who always encouraged me and asked me to go for both because I have got all it takes to be a TV star. That was when I had the courage to go for it. I started getting audition updates from people and on Facebook, my family then was against it, especially my elder brother who was like a bone in my throat. I told him that the only thing I needed was his support or else I will go behind and do my thing. My mum later gave in and supported me. However, in 2011, I was at home cooking when my friend came to me and told me that they were filming close to my house, that a guy who is an actor on that set came around to buy something and then they started talking and she told him she had a friend who really wanted to act but didn’t know how to start. So the guy requested to see me, and she called me to meet him. I quickly rounded off what I was doing and went to see him; we talked and I told him I really wanted to act so he took me to that set and was able to get something for me to do which was just three scenes. The movie is titled BlackBerry Prostitutes. That was my first movie ever but unfortunately he is late now (May his soul rest in peace. Amen). That was actually a starting point for me.
My first time on set
There was this joy in me that day. I felt I had eventually focused on my passion. So, I started attending acting auditions here and there. It wasn’t easy at all.
The stress was too much for me and I almost gave up on it. I met so many who promised and failed. I met the fake and real ones. Then, I decided to go back to school and return to acting when I am done and free to do all I wanted. But, I never stopped modelling. I was doing it while I was in school and used that to assist myself. Then in 2015, I started coming back into the industry, because I had come to understand everything about the industry. I graduated in 2015, served in Akwa Ibom State in 2016, then I started calling most of the producers and directors that I knew to inform them that I was ready to start my acting career full time. So, from 2017 till date, it has been a great journey for me, I must say.
The challenges I faced weren’t as bad as I expected
Just that some fake people who are not up to who they tell you they are will come up with disguise of wanting to have a relationship with you but, at the end, they just want to have a taste of you and go. I met so many people like that and it was because of them I almost wanted to give up on acting. But, it is something I really have passion for, so I decided to stay away for a while and get to understand the industry and make more of the real contacts before coming back full time, which was what I did.
Role models and mentors
Genevieve Nnaji, Nse Etim, Mercy Johnson, Omotola Jalade are people from whom I drew motivation. I haven’t been on set with anyone of them but I know I would someday. I would have been on the same set with Mercy Johnson, but it clashed with another so it didn’t work.
How my man reacts to seeing me play romantic roles
The regular punch line that he would always say is ‘after you will say it’s movie you are acting’. But, I select my roles based on the story and role given to me. And I can’t act nude. Even if the money is in millions of dollars I’m not interested please. I can’t expose my body to the world in the name of acting.
What makes me unique
I love being different and surprising and not fitting stereotypes. I’m rather pleased to be me and I have a great self-esteem and confidence. It makes me willing to seek out and accept challenges I may not appear to be able to deliver on initially. I’m open-minded and can’t stand injustice. I dream big and work hard. I’m not afraid of failure. In fact, I think it is an essential part of the experimental process that takes you to success. This is why I am unique.
Some of the movies I have featured in
Karma, You Found Me, Obi Obara, Melissa, One Good Turn, Sweet Yesterday, Axiom, Damaged and more. But I’m yet to see that movie that would really challenge me.
I’m planning on owning my own fashion store, and I hope to do that soon. I also want to start a pet project too.
How I relate with my male fans
I try as much as possible to be nice. I just smile, wave and snap photos with them if need be. I have never encountered sexual harassment, as an actor, and it has been the grace of God protecting me.
Lesbianism accusations in Nollywood
Well, that’s their cup of tea. I know about myself so I can’t say. But for me, I am so straight and will forever be straight. And I have once had a funny encounter, but it was online and I blocked the person immediately. Thinking about it, I feel Irritated. Honestly, do I really look like one? I can never be a lesbian.
We have to be more creative in the way we tell our stories
It’s a fact that we want to tell the same story, but the angle you are telling it from matters. It should be more about the twist and turns. Nollywood should also learn to grow young actors. We should learn how to transcend to the next level and not use older actors to play the role of a teenager. We have so many wonderful actors out there, so there should be a mix. Truth be told, most of us outgrow certain roles, so I think we should be able to use who fits into a particular role not minding if the person is a popular face or not. I get to see so many errors also in editing, where spirits are scared of crossing the road or you see the shadows of spirits which doesn’t make any sense. Another thing is that actors are not appreciated as much as artistes in the society, which is wrong. I hope to change most of these things and more.