THE 2010 Africa Movie Award (AMAA) joint winner in the best actress in a leading role category, Lydia Forson, is in Lagos on the invitation of the prolific movie director, actor and producer, Kunle Afolayan.

THE 2010 Africa Movie Award (AMAA) joint winner in the best actress in a leading role category, Lydia Forson, is in Lagos on the invitation of the prolific movie director, actor and producer, Kunle Afolayan.

THE 2010 Africa Movie Award (AMAA) joint winner in the best actress in a leading role category, Lydia Forson, is in Lagos on the invitation of the prolific movie director, actor and producer, Kunle Afolayan.

 

The Ghanaian-born actress, who is hailed variously as an epitome of black beauty — her natural beauty, dazzling smile and deft moves laying credence to that fact — is here as a co-star in Afolayan’s new movie, Phone Swap and the A-list actress is excited about working on Nigerian soil.

“This is my first big experience and professional one at that, on a movie set in Nigeria and I am excited to be here,

she said on arrival in Lagos. Lydia, described roundly as dependable, rode on the back of Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s master piece, ‘Perfect Picture’ to emerge one of Africa’s leading actresses.

An alumnus of the University of Ghana, Lydia, who hails from Mankessim but was born in Obuasi in Ghana, started out as a professional actor a little near a decade ago. But through a dint of hard work and perseverance, she has risen to become one of those few actresses that a director would want to hang a story on and be sure that she will deftly live out her character.

What brings you to Nigeria?

I am working on the movie titled, ‘Phone Swap’ with the internationally acclaimed director, Kunle Afolayan.

This is my first major work on the Nigerian soil but it is not the first I am doing. I have been here once to work but it was very brief and it was not well planned. But this is well planned and professional. I knew months ahead of the shoot and have been working towards it. So, I will say it is my first major movie in Nigeria.

What is the experience so far on the set of Phone Swap? Did the crew meet your expectation?

I cannot begin to describe how much fun I am having here working with a good cast and a crew that is truly professional. For years, I have maintained that if I ever do shoot a movie here in Nigeria, it should be of the same quality or even better than anything I have done in Ghana. The level of professionalism on this set is one of the highest I have ever experienced. I was honestly worried coming on this set because of my previous experience in Nigeria. I thought everyone would be hostile towards me because I am not Nigerian. But from the first day I arrived, everyone has been nothing but nice to me. I feel like we are one big family and I don’t know what I will do when it is time to leave. May be I need to take on some other jobs so we will bond properly and so my leaving will just be like, ‘hey guys, I will be back soon than you expect.’

So, contrary to insinuations, you would really love to do some across border work here?

Of course, I will. I love Nigeria and I come here at least twice a year. Some of my closest friends are in the industry here but, however, I am extremely selective about what projects I chose to be part of. I wanted my entrance into Nollywood to be as big as it was in Ghana and I knew my fans here had very high expectation of me that I had to meet. This forced me to be very careful about what projects to be a part of and I think I have finally found it. I have been following Kunle Afolayan’s works and I am happy that I have the opportunity to work with him. We are even both AMAA laureates; so; it is a good feeling.

Talking about AMAA, most people still don’t know that you won the award for Africa’s leading actress in 2010?

Well, I guess I am so passionate about what I do that my only focus is my work. I do tell people about my AMAA win when I think it is necessary, but I think I am a little shy to just blurt it out to everyone I meet. Usually, I let people find out. But now that you’ve mentioned it, I will try and say it more often and even add those I won after AMAA, including the nominations (loud laughter).

How much is Lydia the actress worth in her bank account and do you consider acting a rewarding profession?

I always say that actors are underpaid in Africa. Even though I make more than the average actor, I think we don’t get our worth. Acting can be rewarding if you understand the business side of showbiz. I have a complete team of people in my management and that is how I am able to survive. It means I have a lot of people on my payroll but they build the brand that I am. So, if you have people who wake up every day thinking of how to push your brand, you know you are on the right track.

You were also in Kenya recently to work. Tell us a bit about it?

I was selected to be part of a workshop that was to train selected film makers from across Africa towards an international movie. I had such a wonderful time interacting with film makers from all over and the height of it was when the Oscars sent a delegation to work with us. That was a real honour and I know I have made friends for life.

You have kept the same good looks and have maintained this proudly Lydia shape for some time now; what is the secret behind this black beauty?

Really? Na wah ooo, like you say here. Anyway, I work out every day and I don’t drink or smoke. Water is the most you will see me drink. But this has been such a busy year and I have been traveling so much that I think I may have broken a lot of rules, which my trainer is making me pay dearly for.

What Nigerian food are you fond of now? Have you been able to mix and interact with the people? Do they affirm your perception about Nigerians?

I think I love eba with okro or draw soup and ofada rice. I even go out to buy it in Nigerian restaurants in Ghana. I have interacted with so many people since I came here, especially with my co-actor, Nse Ikpe Etim. I think Nse and I were separated at birth and it is something I intend to ask my mother about. But generally, I think Nigerians are wonderful people and I have felt so much love in the short time I have been here. I love Nigeria. I have met some of the best people in the world who are from Nigeria and I look forward to working with more Nigerian directors like Jetta Amata, Teco Benson, Amaka Igwe, Ikechukwu Onyeka, Lancelot, Daniel Ademinokan and many others. I think like Kunle, they all pay attention to details.

Now, what do you like and don’t like about being a celebrity?

I like the fact that I have the power to influence change and that when I talk people listen. And I am passionate about using this positively because I believe I have been called for a higher purpose and this is just the stepping stone. Everything else is what I consider occupational hazards.

Talking about occupational hazards, how come you are about the only Ghanaian actress that is not linked to any guy or celebrity?

Oh well, I have had my fair share of bad press but I live a very simple and private life, which leaves very little room for people to talk about. But I think we have the power to control what people say about us. Some people enjoy a certain amount of attention, and they get it. And I hardly respond to bad press or rumour because it just fuels it the more. There is even a tale that I have found love in Nigeria. I won’t respond so I don’t fuel it. But what I know is that I have found love in Nigeria as a country and I love my friends here. As for marriage, you will be the first to know the day I find the guy who has my rib.

There is so much of social commentary that you engage in on Facebook and Twitter. Are you planning to combine social work with acting in the near future?

That is my calling. Acting is my passion and the two come together to fulfill my destiny. I have already started work on my NGO and have on many occasions lent my voice and support to many campaigns. I actually combine both and that is because I want to reach out to as many people in need as possible. I want to be the best I can be. I want to completely exhaust my full potential and I want to represent Africa from Africa.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner