She had wanted to be a broadcaster, but her acting skills moved her in the opposite direction. Nuella Njubigbo’s journey into Nollywood started three years ago, but the only thing that has changed about her is her attitude to life and its challenges.
Practical, honest and humourous aptly describes this Public Adminstration graduate down memory lane about her rise to fame, how her family shaped her life to become the person she is today and how she handles persistent male admirers. Excerpts:
How did acting start for you?
I started acting in 2007. I wanted to be an actress and I called a family friend on how to go about it. I needed to get an Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) form and he told me where to get it. He directed me in the direction of auditions when it was time and by that time, I was studying Public Administration at Imo State University. I went for auditions and was writing scripts for him too. That was where my journey into Nollywood began. I wrote two scripts before I started acting fully. Writing scripts came before my desire to act.
How do acting and Public Administration relate?
I always wanted to be on screen and my desire was to study Mass Communication in the university. I didn’t know I was going to be an actress, I thought I would be a presenter or a broadcaster. I wanted to study Mass Communication because it was my first love, but the university didn’t give me the course of my choice, so I settled for Public Administration, instead of staying at home.
When you were ready to act, were you also ready for the scandals that usually trail actresses?
I wasn’t ready at the time I started acting for scandals but I knew they would eventually come. I had to sit down later and plan ahead that when scandals come, they won’t make me lose my sleep. I decided to learn how to cope with them. You are never really ready for anything until you face it. When I got the first and second blows of scandals about me, I shrunk. It wasn’t easy for me, I got worried and it almost got to me but I encouraged myself that I won’t be the first person to suffer this. I also knew that worst things would come, so I developed a thick skin to all of them.
It was alleged that you were dating Yul Edochie, son of a veteran actor, Pete Edochie, how did that make you feel?
When I heard that rumour, I was shocked. It was one of the first gists about me in the industry.
Gist or fact?
It wasn’t a fact. It couldn’t have been the truth. I am sure that by now, the writer knows that he was wrong to have spread that rumour. It wasn’t true, we didn’t date.
When you stated your intention to become an actress, did you have problems with your family?
No. My father was only concerned about my studies. He didn’t want me to be a drop-out because of my career. He didn’t oppose my decision though and my mother also supported me because she knows what I can do. I was able to do both because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents.
What has changed about you since you became an actress?
I am more matured and a stronger person now. A lot of things that used to get to me and bring me down do not affect me any longer. I have learnt how to deal with the disappointments of life better. Before, very little things got to me, now I don’t bother myself about trivial things anymore.
Has being an actress influenced choice of your friends and how do you relate with them?
No, it hasn’t. I still keep my friends. I still relate with my friends the same way I relate with them before I became an actress. I have never been someone who has a thousand and one friends. So, I relate with the few I have same way, nothing has changed about my friends and I. They also relate with me well, my career notwithstanding.
Who do you look up to in the industry today?
I look up to all my senior colleagues. I have learnt many things from them. I love them all and I learn from anyone I am on set with. But I love Genevieve Nnaji the more and wish to be like her.
So what do you love about her?
I love her carriage and charisma. I love the fact that she never gives you the opportunity to see her coming. When you think you have seen the best of her, she dazzles you more. She is unpredictable, gives you whatever you expect of her as an actress. When you watch her movies, you forget you are watching a movie. She makes it very original and realistic. I like her and I don’t want to be predictable in the industry. I want to develop with every movie.
Tell us about your family?
I am from a close-knit family of five, a Christian. I have wonderful parents and two younger brothers. I am the only girl and first child of my family. I am from Ozubulu in Anambra State and growing up was great.
How was it growing up among boys with no sister to play pranks with?
It wasn’t easy for me. As a child, I wanted a sister badly. I used to be envious of my friends when I see how they related with their sisters. I remember confronting my mum and asking her when I would get a sister. She plainly told me to tell God to give me a sister. I ended up instead with two brothers, but I am happy.
What do you love most about your family?
I love the fact that there is so much love and peace in my family. When you are at home, everyone understands you. It is a haven for me. My family takes away everything bothering me and gives me the strength to strive for more. I am so loved and my parents taught us to believe in God. They also taught us to believe in ourselves, in our abilities and to carry our problems to God in prayer. Somehow, things don’t disturb us, we are always mindful of God’s help. We were also taught to be grateful for little things and now that big things start coming our way, we appreciate it so much.
What kind of influence your family had on you that made you who you are today?
My mum is a disciplinarian, she taught me the values of life. She taught me the right things to do at the right time and how to weigh pros and cons before taking decisions. It has made me a better person. In the industry, it has helped me a great deal because I don’t get influenced easily or carried away.
Did she also talk to you about guys and sex?
Yes. She talked to be about guys and sex when I was growing. So right now, she doesn’t have to worry because she has done her job well as a mother.
So what did she tell you?
She just taught me the right thing to do, make male friends but let them remain friends. I had lots of church activities taking my time as a teenager, so I didn’t have time for amorous relationships. I learnt to do things that are pleasing to God because that was what I learnt while growing up. Till tomorrow, it still guides my actions in life.
Does it mean today you don’t have a boyfriend because you want to please God?
I don’t know if having a boyfriend is a sin. I have an intimate friend.
Is it that he doesn’t demand for sex like men do?
I don’t know about that. It is private.
When you started acting, which was the most challenging role you played till date?
All my roles are very challenging. I am not stereotyped. I have acted different roles and all of them are tough because I put in my best. I have a lot of movies to my credit that I have lost count of them, but they are all very challenging.
How do you handle persistent male admirers?
Having admirers have been part of my life even before I became an actress. I deal with them with tact. The only difference is that they have increased now compared to before when I was a teenager. I try to let them know that I cannot date everyone of them. I tell them they can be my friend and appreciate them for the fact that they like me and what I am doing. I try to be very polite but firm.
How do you deal with annoying fans?
They are all my fans and I give it to them, but I think sometimes they don’t know how to express themselves. They might approach me in an annoying way, but I always keep my cool knowing they are just showing how much they appreciate me.
What was the most annoying thing a fan ever did to you?
There was a movie we were shooting in a village in Asaba and an old woman was abusing me because of a role I played in a movie where I stabbed my sister. She was saying it loud enough for everyone to hear and she didn’t hide the fact that she disliked me too. Her daughter had to explain to her that it was just a role in a movie and we have come to shoot another one, but she didn’t listen. She even started cursing me but I just laughed at her ignorance. Later, she became my best friend and keeps oranges for me whenever I come to visit. She didn’t understand then, but it is different now.
Can you act nude?
No, not 100 per cent.
What about half nude?
I won’t do that for now, I don’t know about tomorrow. It also depends on the story. There is no reason to bare my upper part if there is no need. Our culture frowns at it and my personal values also do not agree with nudity. I won’t bare it all but can bare a little to make it more convincing if the script requires it.
Can you act a sex scene?
Why not? It is my job and I have to do it well.
What is the worst thing you ever heard about yourself in the industry?
It was when someone said I love men and sex so much. I laughed when I heard it because the person who said that didn’t even know me well. It was very funny.
Do you believe in love and what can’t you do for love?
I believe in love because it is real. I am a 50-50 person, I believe in reciprocation. If you indeed love me like you claim, I will also love you. But I can’t die for love. I am a very practical person. If I die for you, who will love me and how will I love you from the grave? I won’t love to the extent of dying, instead we will part ways and remain alive.
Have you won any awards?
Yes, I won two last year. I got a special recognition award for good achievement in Nollywood in Accra, Ghana. I also got best new actress of the year award from City People magazine.
If you are not on set, how do you relax?
I relax at home with my family. I also watch movies, read novels and hang out with my friends.
Are you a fashion freak?
No, but I always love to look good. I love fashionable pieces and love them.
When are you getting married?
It is God that will bring the man. If the man doesn’t come, there will be no marriage.
What kind of man kindles a fire in you?
A real man appeals to me. I love a man that is a man. A man that stands his ground, knows he is a man and always stand by his woman no matter what. I love to have a man that cannot be pushed around. I don’t even want to be able to push my man around. He has to be hardworking, not too handsome or rich but very committed and can take care of me. What in your view is the cause for the high rate of divorce in Nigeria today?
You can’t die just to remain married. If it is not working, then it is not working. I don’t know the causes but I believe couples can work hard to make their marriages work and avoid outside interferences. But if it gets to the extent where life is involved, they should part ways. As much as I don’t believe in divorce, I don’t also believe in remaining in an abusive relationship just to remain married. It hurts me to see couples part ways because when they were coming together, they promised to stay like that till death parts them.
Can you deal with an unfaithful husband when you get married?
I pray God doesn’t give me an unfaithful husband. I won’t allow it. Why would he be unfaithful to me? God will not give me one because He knows I will never be unfaithful to my husband.