Kate Henshaw-Nuttal many stakeholders and of- course, lovers of the Nigerian home video industry would agree, is one of the very few actresses that are largely scandal-free.
In fact, her reputation, when compared with any other built over 16 years in the industry, appears to always go ahead of her. Little wonder she tops the charts as the most patronised Nigerian actress on both consumer and other products.
Apart from being the face of ONGA seasonings, she is also an ambassador for telecommunications giant, Globacom. She also doubless as an ambassador for the National Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme of Nigeria (NCCPPN). In addition, only recently, Henshaw-Nuttal was chosen, alongside a few notable Nigerians, by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), as an Ankara -ambassador– the new African fabric-based dress code promoted by the agency.
Nuttal said she owes a lot to the late Nollywood actor/producer/director, J.T Tom West who took her to her first audition in 1993. After, the hit movie. When the Sun Sets was shot, she went ahead to feature in other top-rate movies such as Domitilla, Closed Chapter,
Compromise, Games Men Play, Stronger than Pain, Show Me Heaven, A Million Tears, Rivals and a whole lot of others.
Henshaw-Nuttal studied Biochemistry at the University of Calabar and then furthered at the School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba.
Her mother, she says, who is “extremely hardworking and prayerful,” is her role model; and her philosophy of life is “stand for what you believe in, even if the crowd is on the other side.”
And her take on why she has remained scandal-free: “I feel my work as an artiste should be my driving force and not my personal life, so I try to steer clear from problems or controversies, so to speak. I try not to leave room for insinuations, although being out there in the public eye comes with its pains as people tend to judge you by what they read in the papers.”
Henshaw Nuttal is married to a Briton and they are blessed with a lovely daughter.
Lately, you’ve been quite busy with projects other than what many Nigerians know you by, acting. Judging by the frequency at which you appear at such projects, are we to conclude that you are gradually easing out of acting?
Not at all. My doing other projects doesn’t mean I am leaving acting. I have always been an active person right from my youth and I do try to manage my time very well so as to attend to all that I have to do. Yes, I have been involved in a number of projects but I still make out time to go on sets to do some jobs.
You are married with a kid. How do you manage marriage with work?
The home front is as important as a basic obligation. Now, with my kind of demanding job, I am lucky to have a supportive husband and daughter who know and understands my schedule of work. Once that is sorted out, for an actress it is easy for her to go all-out and do the job after her heart. I happen to fall in that category and that is the secret of my success.
Only a few weeks ago, you were announced an ambassador for the cervical cancer prevention programme. Why do you think you were picked for this job?
Let me just say I had the priviledge of being made a golden link member of the National Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme of Nigeria (NCCPPN) on the 23rd of September, this year. This honour has put me in the fore-front of activities geared towards sensitising the public on the deadly virus. The activities run under the mass medical mission of the NCCPP. Prior to this time, I have had meetings with the Mission, where I was told about what they are doing to create awareness on cervical cancer prevention which is the second largest cancerous ailment in women.
The aim is to establish cervical cancer screening centres in each Local Government Area in Nigeria, such that by the end of the year 2010, we would have achieved universal awareness, train health workers from every LGA in Nigeria on the principles and practice of cervical screening and screen and treat 100,000 rural or under-priviledged women, free of charge. As a woman, I feel obliged to use my status for good and help fellow women to know their status and also help prevent the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body, as most women will be exposed to it during their lifetime and the virus has been known to have a developmental stage of five-30 years! So you could be carrying the virus as you walk around and may not know, let alone do anything about it until it becomes too late. I wish to use this medium to tell every women that the mode of detection is simple and painless and it takes just five minutes.
You still haven’t told me why you were chosen?
I think the Mission is in the best position to answer this question. But going by their letter to me, it says and I quote: “You have been chosen in order to boost the cervical cancer prevention programme as an individual with deep civil compassion, impeccable personal character and widespread social influence…”
Have you experienced this disease and if no, have you undergone test yet?
As a way of leading by example, I have done screening and I came out negative and no, I do not have a personal experience of the virus. However, it s pertinent for every woman of active sex age to get screened at an interval of every four to six months. I don’t intend to relent on this.
Now do you believe your involvement in this cause would help eradicate the disease in the country?
As someone in the public eye, who is also looked upon as a role model by many, I can help spread the word through this interaction I am having with you now. I can also assist in fund raising, advising the Mission on how to achieve its target goals, participate in the mission’s activities and help increase awareness on the need to get checked (screened) and also use my goodwill to get corporate oranisations and individuals to help sensitise the public on the screening and treatment process.
Let’s now talk about your journey into the Nigerian movie industry. Would you say it had been a wonderful experience, so far?
My experience in the industry has been worthwhile and one which I would not exchange or regret. It has its high and low moments, but more on the positive side. It is a good thing that the industry has helped to put Nigeria in positive light before the rest of the world in terms of entertainment to Nigerians in the Diaspora and non-Nigerians too.
How did you manage to make a break into the industry?
It was 16 years ago and my entry into the film industry was through the encouragement of the late J.T Tom West who took me along to my first audition in 1993. The movie, When the Sun Sets, turned out to he a hit. My character in the movie was Onome.
You seem to have developed a flair for soap operas these days, as you now feature in many. Also, you do quite a number of stage productions. Are you giving yourself a breather from home videos?
No, I still do it. Maybe the movies I have shot have not been released into the market yet. But on television, more people get to see soaps. Given a choice, I would not pick just one as being the most challenging or one that I would rather stick with because they all have different levels of challenges.
You have been married for years now. But looking at the trend, some actresses appear not to be so lucky; what then would you say is keeping you in your matrimonial home?
I have been married for 10 years now and my husband understands the kind of work I do and the attendant lack of privacy that goes with it. We discuss things together and he is happy to play a supportive role when it comes to letting me be myself, when it comes to my work and all that it entails.
Tell me about your family?
I come from a family of four children (two boys and two girls) and my parents are still alive and they have instilled in us good values of hardwork, discipline, respect and honesty. We were comfortable growing up.
How did you get your Glo deal and the rest?
As a notable face in the film industry, Glo chose me along with some of my colleagues to project the Nigerian brand. Also, the NTDC chose to identify with me and a few others to project the Nigerian national dress brand (Ankara). Tourism is very essential to any country’s image and it is a sustatainable and veritable tool. Onga also is a great seasoning and the company saw a need for a young, motherly figure to encourage our young ones to eat and cook well- balanced meals using the best seasoning in the market. I have also presented a couple of programmes in the past and still do because I like to be versatile.
You once released an album years ago, are you done with music?
No. I love singing and will always love music.