Likes the Good Things of Life
Stunning actress, Bella Salami, is a face everyone would instantly fall in love with on screen. Young, chic, and with a perfect rendition of her roles, you can’t but admire her prowess. In this interview with Chinedu Ibeabuchi, the fast-rising actress and filmmaker talks about her career, personal life, and filmmakers’ pain
Was acting your childhood dream?
Acting was something I have always wanted to do, although I dabbled into other things like pageantry and video vixen, which was a stepping-stone for me to becoming the actress I have always wanted to be. So, yes acting has always been one of my childhood dreams.
As an actress what makes you unique?
As an actor, what makes me unique is me, who I am, and how I interpret any role given to me. I am unique in my own way and that is my power.
So, what’s your dream role?
My dream role would be playing a heroic role like a superhuman. I like challenging roles that go with different characters. I am sure I can always fit into any role because that is why I am an actor.
What is your opinion generally about the Nigerian movie industry?
The Nigerian movie industry, which is the second largest film industry in the world, is growing but crippled by bad economic policies, and lack of infrastructure. This is alarming for a country ranking 27th in GDP. That factor alone contributes to the biggest problem the industry is facing today. Yes! The future for Nollywood is certainly bright, as it has great potential to produce high-quality, brilliant films in an array of genres. With opportunities to be making professionally produced movies with skilled actors, Nollywood can surely find its way towards the top of the ladder, especially with streaming services like Netflix which opens up opportunities to young filmmakers.
What would you say is your greatest sacrifice to become an actress?
Sacrifices are made every day. There’s nothing like a specific greatest sacrifice because the moment you decided to be an actress, a screen goddess, a celebrity, or a model to people, you have just given your privacy away and that is enough sacrifice.
Don’t you think pretty also comes with its own baggage?
Being ‘anything’ whether pretty, not so pretty, slim, thick, or fat comes with its own baggage. It’s how you manage this baggage that really matters. This ‘being pretty’ baggage may sometimes be a good thing in the sense that some things come relatively easy to you. On a lighter note, your social media is popping with great and pretty pictures (who don fine, don fine abeg) and can also be a bad thing because people can easily discredit your hard work and tag it with ‘fine girl privilege’… that ‘it’s because she is fine that’s why she got the role’, thereby putting to the back pedal your nights of putting in the work. So, the bottom line is managing everything that comes your way.
How did your background contribute to what you do today?
For someone whom the community really liked (churches and school), they saw the great potential in me and would always applaud or get thrilled by my display of talent and would always encourage me to not let it go to waste. I was someone they are always proud of; to always represent in certain competitions in the areas I was good at. Knowing that I was loved, gave me much joy to push further and embrace the future and become the actor I have always wanted to be. I am glad to say I am making them proud.
What memories of your childhood days do you love the most?
Every moment of my childhood was memorable and cherished, especially those days when I get to put my school or church on a map by representing them in competitions and always bringing the best results (winning), getting scholarship from representing my school well in debates, quiz, etc. Those are moments one can never forget.
There have been a lot of stories about sexual harassment in the film industry, what is your experience?
Sexual harassment happens every now and then; it’s no news that some people experience this in the movie industry. I personally haven’t experienced such. I believe in my talent and it will make a way for me, which it did. Sex for roles is a no-no for me, except you as a person don’t know your worth and don’t believe in your craft or talent.
Is acting paying your bills?
Yes! acting is paying some of my bills as an up comer and of course, you don’t have to rely on just one payroll because there are days where scripts don’t come your way or days you get to shoot like back-to-back, so on those days, you aren’t shooting what do you do. So, I will always encourage people to dabble in other things in case of rainy days.
When a man succeeds, they say its hard work, but when a woman attains success, she uses bottom power. What is your view on this notion? And how do you think women can change the narrative?
Sadly, in this industry and generally, in most work environments, women get discredited a lot, people tend to trivialize women and their hard work. If she is successful, oh she must have slept her way up the ladder, or she has a sugar daddy backing her. What exactly is she doing to be this successful? How many films she don act wey she take buy car and build a house? And so on. What people don’t know or talk about is the number of sleepless nights these women put into their craft. I for one, know how many nights I won’t sleep trying to go through my lines just to see it’s perfect, spending hours unending on set, leaving set late and entering another in the same day, as well as running a business on the side. All this background work will not be acknowledged by most people but as soon as they see you blossoming that’s when they talk, the backbiting and the looking down starts. I can say boldly that women work hard, sometimes even harder than their male counterparts, just to get the work done or get the same accolade, especially knowing that there are people out there who are quick to laugh and mock you if you do not succeed. To all my fellow hard-working women out there, I say keep being you, keep putting in the work, and soon society will come around. Let’s not give them reasons to keep spreading the narrative, let’s support one another, and together we will get there.
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone who lights up every space she’s in positively in all ramifications of her life. If sunlight, rain, and moonlight were a person, that should be me.
When you are not on set, how do you spend your time?
When I am not filming, I am in my house or my space rejuvenating, trying to get my glow back from the previous set stress, which is very much needed, and then sometimes hang out with my friends either on date level, spa, karaoke, etc so long we are outside.
Who is your crush in the movie industry?
Do I have a crush in the Nigerian movie industry? Hmmm, I don’t actually or I wouldn’t call it crush let’s just say I admire their talents, women inclusive (Ramsey Noah, Nseikpe Etim, Genevieve Nnaji, Sola Sobowale, RMD, etc).
How would you describe your style?
My style is simple and classy.
How would you describe your love life? Who’s your ideal kind of man?
My love Life is private and would like to keep it that way. My ideal man is the full package. Everyone likes the good things of life.
What’s your philosophy of life? How would you describe your social life?
My philosophy of life is ‘never let the fear of sticking out keep you away from playing the game.’ My social life is good although I like to mind my business but, I am also a social butterfly
What’s your favourite food?
I love healthy foods and I also do love swallow and okra soup
Do you see a future in entertainment or do you plan to delve into/combine another area of business soon?
Entertainment is where I am and want to be. But I have other businesses. Entertainment will always remain my first love.
As an executive producer, what’s the biggest challenge you face in the movie business?
The biggest challenge is putting money into the business and having an immediate return.
We all know how difficult things have been. So you raise funds for productions, and then immediate returns are not guaranteed. One would have to patiently wait partly because your film would have to go through processes of screening and vetting which take a lot of time. One can’t just go into production without knowing the standards each platform would want. So you have to trade carefully and do your findings in other that your long wait for positive returns is not in vain.