You’d be forgiven if you don’t know Beverly Naya. It’s probably because you haven’t seen Lancelot Odua Imasuen’s yet-to-be-released movie, Home in exile and Make me a heart, where she starred alongside Desmond Elliot, Rita Dominic, Jackie Appiah, Francis Duru and the likes. She recently relocated back to Nigeria from her London base where she lived for the past 14 years.
The 22-year- old is ready for the challenge of Nollywood , but she is not ready to do just one thing: sell her body for stardom. SBN recently had a quite revealing chat with her during which she bared her mind on several issues. Excerpts:
How do you deal with men who want a piece of you?
I am fortunate enough to come from London where things are done differently. First, I have my mom with me. She’s my mentor and monitor and everything that happens in the industry gets to my mom first before it eventually gets to me and I wouldn’t even consider such, because it can never happen to me. I am not desperate to be part of Nollywood.
I am desperate to act for myself, but if it requires me leaving the industry because of such an issue, I’ll leave. I can always get back to acting in England and in America . So, these things do not challenge me in anyway neither do I fear them.
What’s the big deal about a man having a piece of you and you end up being a star?
I wouldn’t want to do that. I do not believe in it and I know that by God’s grace, it will not happen to me. With my personality, it can never happen to me; so, I am not worried about it.
Why did you leave a working environment like London ?
London isn’t really working. I mean, we forget easily that London is owned by whites and definitely, whites will get jobs faster and easier than blacks. But here it is different. So, why should I not come back to my own country where I know that I will always be accepted and I know that I will always be appreciated and loved? I think those are the major reasons why I came back. I love where I grew up, I appreciate all the things I’ve learnt and I’m willing to apply them here.
It seems the only person you work with is Lancelot Imasuen?
I met him through my mum; she introduced him to me. I worked with him and he liked my performance in Home in Exile. That’s how we ended up working together.
I learnt Desmond Elliot is a flirt. Did he ever make passes at you while you were on location?
No. We have been doing our job in a professional way. Even in the movie where he played Dave and I was Julie, and we had a thing going, we were professional with our roles.
We were three doctors that came back to Nigeria to build hospitals for the people but in the process, we encountered various problems. Dave and Julie were in love and already engaged. It was all pure acting. If we didn’t deliver the lovers role the way we should to the audience, then there is no point in watching the film. So, in doing justice to that Julie had to act as if we were actually in a relationship. Flirting could be sexual harassment and Desmond never harassed me in anyway.
What has been your experience so far?
I think it has been wonderful . I have enjoyed every bit of it. I have met so many interesting people. I have met very ambitious people. So, it’s been a great experience all the way and I am really happy to be here.
Initially, you said you would quit if there is harassment; does that not portray that you don’t love the job that much?
No, not all. It’s just that I’m not willing to sell my body for anything. God gave it to me for a reason. He didn’t give it to me to sell . He gave me the gift to inspire others, and to work hard. I won’t be an inspiration, if I do such things. I respect everyone in the industry, but for me as an individual, I wouldn’t want to get involved in such thing in anyway and I don’t think there is anything wrong in that.
What if you actually find love in the industry, perhaps with a producer?
We have to be Professional.
But professionalism shouldn’t mean you shouldn’t love?
If I find love in the industry good, love can come but my priority is my career.
So, how long did you live in London ?
I lived in London till I was 6 and I later moved to Atlanta then Chicago but I came back to London when I was 8. London was great though. I made a lot of great friends and it’s definitely a place that I would never let go. I would always go back to London to visit my friends and family.
Why didn’t you study something other than film making?
I didn’t , because I’m already an actor, so why can’t I groom myself within the same industry? I mean, why should I go into banking if am not passionate about banking? I wanted to study what I’m passionate about so that I can be successful. Successful people are what they are , because they are passionate about what they do.
Do you think you have good prospects in Nollywood?
Definitely. Like I said, I am passionate. I don’t leave things half done. I get hold on everything I do so well. I see myself working hard and I don’t have anything to fear, my parents are there for me. My aunt and my mum are behind me , so that shows the kind of support I have. I am not worried about anything that comes my way.
Is acting the only thing you do?
I act and I’m a model and as I said I’m studying directing. I am not putting all my eggs in one basket. I am doing other things as well that will bring me extra money , because I know I can not put all my efforts and all my time in acting .It is not only acting that can pay me.
What other skills are you developing?
Acting is my main passion and I direct as well but I want to concentrate on my acting first.
Who did you live with in London ?
I lived with my mom and she just came back about three years ago.
So you are back home in Nigeria. How has it been living in Nigeria ?
It has been great
for some months now. I come to Nigeria every holiday from London. I am used to the society and the people. I love it here except for the poverty in the land and it is something I would love to do something about when I have my financial freedom.
Is marriage on your mind at all?
Yes, one day I would get married. I don’t want to get married at this young age to be honest. All I want to do now is to build my career. Marriage is something that I would love and I know that the time will come. Marriage is something every woman wants but it’s not something we should rush into.
Don’t you entertain fears that you could become a star and lose the joy of being married?
I am not worried about that, because I know the reason why God put me in the industry. I am not in control of my future ; that is why I said I will let everything happen as it will happen. If God wants me to get married, I will get married, because I can’t marry the wrong person. Everything happens for a reason. I am not worried about anything .I just believe in holding onto God, being humble and living everyday as it comes.
But do you have a boyfriend?
I am married to my career, I don’t have a boy friend now.
And what will a 22-year-old be doing without a boyfriend?
I am trying to have a career that is the main thing.
But you can have the two. Can’t you?
Are you talking about my career or my love life? I don’t have a boy-friend, I am not looking for a boy friend. Unfortunately I am not in the market. I am not looking for a boyfriend
Who were the other guys you worked with on the other set ?
The other one was Make me a heart. It was directed by Lancelot Imasuen. I worked with Desmond Elliot, Rita Dominic, Ifeoma, Jackie Appiah etc. I am looking forward to its release.
So how do you feel rubbing shoulders with these stars?
Initially I felt like wow I am going to be working with these superstars and they are really nice people. Rita Dominic was really something else.
Do you have a role model in Nollywood?
No. I don’t have role models in Nollywood. There are people I respect in Nollywood because of their acting abilities. Genevieve is a brilliant actress and I respect her a lot
How many of you are in the family?
I’m the only child , so my mum says I’m spoilt.
Why does she say you are spoilt?
Maybe, because I am her only daughter. If I ask for anything, she will get it for me; but that does not mean I have always had my way. My mom trained me to be independent and she will never do anything to spoil me, because she wants me to work hard and understand the value of money and that is what has made me what I am today. I understand the value of money, so I can’t compromise myself in the process of making money, because I believe I have to struggle and work hard to make money . That’s who I am.
Tell me two things that your mom denied you… that pained you so much?
If I wanted something, she will make me work for it. These are things that I used to get free when I was younger. If I wanted to buy something and she knows the price, she will tell me to always be proud of what I had and not compromise myself because of it and just work hard so that I will get it myself .
It is that mentality that I have imbibed and it powers my life. Really if you work hard you can always get what you want. Like now, I am working on buying another car .I have a car in London but now that I am back, I have to rely on the driver. I am working on buying my own car as my mum refused to buy me one. She could, if she wanted to, but I don’t want her to because I can get it.
What about the issue of boyfriend… especially because you are an only child?
Yeah, everybody has an issue when it comes to boyfriends and things like that. My mom is like my best friend. I always tell her everything. When I am tired and when I am happy and if I have a boyfriend, I will introduce him to my mom and she will let me know if she likes him or not.
What happens , if your mom doesn’t like your boyfriend ?
Yes, definitely there will be a reason why she doesn’t like him. There is something she thinks I should beware of about him. But I am a very good judge of character so if I start noticing the characteristics that my mom noticed in him, for that reason alone I think it marks the end of the relationship.
But you don’t belong to the same generation, so she won’t feel what you feel?
Like I said, she is like my best friend and she has been in my life since the beginning. A boyfriend began to feature now…in my life mid-way. No mother will go out of her way to make her daughter’s life miserable. So there will be a reason for what she is saying. I will consider what she is saying but in the end I will make my own evaluation regarding whether the relationship is working or not.
Did you ever quit a relationship because your mom didn’t like the guy?
I haven’t been in a relationship for a long time now. For like two years now, I haven’t had a boyfriend because of my career.
What did your mom teach you about sex?
You should just respect yourself in the sense that it means a lot. Once you respect it and understand the full value of it then you are safe. These are the main things that one needs to put into consideration.
You said you’ve been acting since 17, how come?
Before I studied philosophy, psychology and sociology, I never really used to show interest in it and I just didn’t want to do it. So, I studied it for one year and afterwards, I decided to see, if acting is something I’d be interested in and I studied it in college and when I got home, I found out that this is where my heart wants to be and this is what I wanted to do. I think it’s a gift; it’s not easy to be an actress.
You said your mom taught you that you should understand the value of sex, so what’s the value?
It’s something that’s very important to life. It’s something that should be cherished. It’s not something that should be taken as an advantage over the opposite sex or used anyhow. It’s very important to life. I feel it’s something that shouldn’t be done anyhow, anywhere.