Helen Odigie: I’m Daddy’s Girl, a Little Shy, a Little Reserved, Very Playful

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Nollywood star, Helen Enado Odigie, is a graduate of University of Benin, who began her career in the corporate world with stints in Nigerian telecommunications behemoth Globacom and Pan African e-commerce giant, Jumia. The free-spirited and naturally-curious actress has been acting since she was a child and also works as an event planner. The last born of a big family, Enado is quickly building a fan base in Nollywood due to her effortless style and effervescent personality. She has appeared in numerous films including the critically acclaimed Joba, The Men’s Club and From Lagos with Love. Enado shares her passion for the creative industry with Azuka Ogujiuba

At 9, I had a huge crush on Michael Jackson

I’m the fifth of five kids and I’m from Edo State. I love African folklore. I’m daddy’s girl. A little shy, a little reserved. Very playful, an entrepreneur at heart who started first business at the Age of eight. At nine, I had a huge Crush on Michael Jackson, was in an imaginary relationship with Macaulay Culkin and was convinced all boys named Michael or Kevin were cute. In secondary school, I thought I could die for British band, Westlife. Not anymore. My dad wanted me to read Law because he thought being opinionated and strong willed meant Law was meant for me. Hahaha! Well I didn’t agree. I worked in the corporate world for a few years. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to figure out that wasn’t for me. I love acting. I think I’m a great dancer. I once danced for seven hours straight. I’m no Mariah Carey, but I think I would have a decent career as a musician. Just don’t make me write any of the music. I Love the outdoors and I love beaches. As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats a good laugh, particularly the ‘I can’t breathe, tears in my eyes, I’m about to pass out’ kind of laugh. I enjoy creating new connections with people who I can learn things from.

I love good books, good food, some good company and a new adventure

I enjoy down to earth, meaningful conversations with both old and new friends. I think I’m a good sport and made for good company. I don’t like serious people or bullies. I will not stand for injustice. I seem a little aloof and off-standish, but in reality, I’m playful and down to earth. I love good books, good food, some good company and a new adventure is always a good idea. I didn’t say I would go, I said it’s a good idea. In many ways, I’m romantic but not beyond; I don’t believe in unrealistic expectations. If you love me, you have to feed me. Food and love go hand in hand for me. There’s no having one without the other. No, can’t do. An iconic trio for me would be Red wine, Jazz music and great company. Throw in some candles and not even Thanos with all the infinity stones could ruin my day. Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet and Michael Buble are some of the names on my playlist. These are the voices that I listen to unwind after a long day or a stressful period or to just put me high spirits. Chain Smokers are a staple for me but currently, I’m vibing to Sabrina Claudio’s music. For our home grown international artistes, I’m a Davido fan. I think Burnaboyis a musical genius and more people should listen to Brymo’s music – authentic, sensual and stimulating.

Feminism creates one more form of differentiation the world doesn’t need

I am not an advocate of feminism. Our first and most important identity should be ‘human’. All humans, male and female, young and old, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, have rights that have both been abused and also need to be protected and represented. Feminism creates one more form of differentiation the world doesn’t need. It separates us by creating a ‘them versus us’ syndrome, and the world doesn’t need more of it. The division already caused as a result of religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality and other forms of identity have failed the world. We don’t need any more of it.

If we continue along these tracks, history will continue repeating itself. The minute we begin to see ourselves as one and the same, maybe the conversation will change and everyone will hopefully be happy.

This means everyone should have a say, have a seat at the table, have a voice, that everyone’s rights are protected, that everyone has a right to have dreams and the opportunity to have those dreams achieved. It means more laws should be made that make these things possible and abolishing laws that stand in the way of this. It means representation that reflects this in all tiers of power, government and its parastatals and general society. Its means enforcement of these laws and punishment for anyone that breaches them. It means opportunities and reflective pay. It means security.

 

When I’m not on set,          I catch up on much needed sleep

Most days, I’m on set. When I am, it’s wake up, shower, have breakfast if I have the opportunity, get to set, get make up, hair and wardrobe done. Run lines (rehearse lines with co actor/actors), get blocking (the directors breakdown and explanation of how he wants the scene delivered), Dry run (Actual rehearsal of the directors blocking) and Action till we hear Cut! We do this over and over again for the number of scenes scheduled for the day till we’re done. When I’m not on set, I catch up on much needed sleep if I have the opportunity. Return as many calls as possible from the calls I was unable to take while I was filming. Attend meetings, catch up with my family, my friends – probably go out to lunch, dinner or drinks or a movie, catch up on what’s been going on around, hurry to place orders on things I wanted but I didn’t have the time or presence of mind to order while I was on set. With any luck, I won’t be told those God awful two words – ‘sold out’. Shop for groceries. Catch up on my healthy habits that I may have been unable to keep up while on set.

My wardrobe favourites

Jeans, shorts, V necks and off shoulder – Tshirts, tops and dresses, short casual dresses, a large mirror, trainers, mules, dressy pumps, sunglasses, fashion rings, bold earrings, a good belt. A black bag and lashes.

Over the Years i’ve improved my craft and honed my skills

I’ve grown in terms of understanding how my industry works. I’ve had the opportunity of working with many producers, directors, production crews and Actors. Over the years I’ve improved my craft and honed my skills. I am my biggest and truest critic so I am constantly working on being better both as an actor and as an individual. I have also dropped some things and picked up new ones, built relationships and made friends. All in all, growth is a never ending process.

Plans for the future

For the immediate future, I’m starting a fashion line. Work is already underway. I also plan on going into the business of health and wellness but all things in due season.

Social Media and my career trajectory

In this day and age, no one can deny the power of social media as a powerful tool in creating awareness, doing business and creating connections.

 

Advice for young actress just starting out

They should Know exactly what they want and don’t let anyone tell you who you should be. Keep your ears to the ground. Make real friends. Be patient. Don’t give up. Be the best. No one can have too many streams of income. Don’t take any of it personally.

Information, structure have been biggest challenges

Information and Structure have been my biggest challenges in the industry. When I got into this industry years ago, the lack of structure meant there was no real road map on exactly what to do or how to go about finding a niche, creating an identity, honing your craft or how to grow. Till today, if you speak to 10 different people they’d probably have 10 different ideas on how to go about it. That’s likely because most people in this space probably just wing it until they stumble upon a formula that works for them and in the end it probably creates more confusion and conflict for a newbie who’s looking to a more experienced actor for guidance.

 

I leverage on my existing partnerships with stylists and designers

I’m big on fashion. Not necessarily on trends but definitely on fashion. With events, how I decide on what to wear. With some events, it’s easy to style yourself. In some cases, I leverage on my existing partnerships with stylists and designers. So sometimes we can pull from a designer’s already existing collection and other times, a fresh outfit is custom designed for me and tailored to the event, depending on the amount of time available to prepare. For castings, more likely than not, my choice of style is influenced by the character that I am going to read for. It helps in getting my head in the right space and influences my body language during my delivery.

Name for my fashion line

Still deciding between names but at the topmost of that list is a name that carries the names of both my parents, Rose and Michael, in honour of both their memories. However, my line will feature contemporary styles for the African man and woman even though we’re starting first with a female line. Our style will be fresh, colourful, bold, happy and chic. Our pieces will be designed accentuate the body of the everyday African woman, to mask her flaws and highlight her curves. We want her to tell us who she is simply by walking into a room with all the glory of her African beauty. Comfortable in her own skin. loud, bold and proud.

Passions besides acting

Fashion, Beauty, Counselling. Helping others find themselves.