Born to Sierra Leonean parents, with her grand-mother from Nigeria, Mariah Kenturah was taken to London at the age of eleven.
There, she had her early education, and eventually ended up, bagging a degree in Nursing and Dramatic Arts, at Christ The King College, London.
She has lived in London all her life, and only recently she relocated to Nigeria where she’ hopes to make career in acting.
In this interview, Mariah narrates the story of her journey to Nollywood and how she hopes to cope with the challenges that comes with what she has chosen to do in life.
Was it fun growing up in London?
Growing up was quite fun. I was troublesome and stubborn. I was also very disobedient. But I’m calmer now as a result of maturity.
How did your parents, especially your mother cope with your stubbornness?
My mum had no choice. I’m a big girl now and she’s enjoying what I have turned out to become in life. We are seven in our family.
After graduation, what did you do to earn a living?
I started acting and modeling since I was nineteen I took part in Miss Sierra Leone in 2006. From there, I started doing commercials in London just to show off in magazines. So, after graduation, I continued in that line because I have flair for it.
How did you make the cover of Nigeria’s Hair’volution magazine?
The publisher, Seyi Allen and his wife Azeezat contacted me and told me they wanted me to provide them with a picture of me wearing a green extension. I thought it was cool so I gave them what they asked for.
Did you make enough money doing all that?
Yes I did. I didn’t adorn the magazine cover because of the money but money later came along. So far, I enjoyed it.
You said you love acting too, who were the stars you’ve acted with?
I think one of the first movie I did was with Rita Uzolu, the big woman that acted in Ukwa alongside Nkem Owo. She was the director. She also taught us how to act in different movies. So I worked with her in London.
While in London, did you face any kind of harassment from your directors and producers before you were given any role to play?
Well, the funniest thing was that it was when I got to Nigeria that I started hearing about these stories. I didn’t know that such things exist here. But in London, they are unheard unless the lady involved really wants to do it on her own. So, I didn’t face such.
Why did you relocate to Nigeria?
I came to Nigeria to develop my acting career because Nigerians are goal-getters. They strive to achieve whatever they wanted in life. So, I’m here to develop my talent. Someone once asked me why I decided to come to Nigeria, and I told the person, I’m an African and I love to get involved in the African movie for now. And Nollywood is leading in Africa, so I believe I’m in the right place.
Was it because you couldn’t stand the competition in London, or you thought relocating to Nigeria would give you the break you needed in your acting career?
That’s not true. Everything in life is a matter of choice. If I want to go for Hollywood, I could. I am pretty you know. But it’s because I chose to do something in Africa.
So, what’s the unique thing do you have to offer in Nollywood?
Everyone has unique gift in him or herself. I believe that I’m a goal getter. I’m determined and nothing is going to put me down. Even if I’m faced with criticism and competition, I’ll not give up, because I’m not here to compete.
I want to be myself. If anybody wants to compete with me; that’s her problem. But I’m just here to do what I love to do. Right now, acting is my life and I’m prepared to die for it.
Supposing some producers want to take advantage of you before giving you roles in movies?
It’s possible to be a goal-getter, but not to mess around with men. If I’m faced with such situation, it will be up to me to accept it or walk away.
Because I believe that if someone is meant to be somewhere in life; no matter what happens, that person will definitely get there with God’s help and determination. So, definitely, I’m not going to go through that madness by God’s grace.
You’ve been in Nigeria for a while now, how far have you been able to actualise your dream of coming to Nigeria?
Okay, I’ve met with some producers and directors. I’m just waiting patiently because I’ll be on location in two weeks time. I’ve also been going to different places to observe and learn how things are done in this country .
It’s been stressful here but it’s worth it.
How do you hope to cope in Nigeria in terms of the poor remuneration that discourages creativity in this country?
My coming to Nigeria didn’t happen suddenly. I’ve been planning it for over a year now, before I finally relocated to Nigeria. So, I know what I’m going to face in terms of how to live within my means. But I have to start from somewhere.
The money isn’t the problem for now because I’m aware of what I’m going to face, while in the country. .
What are some of the ugly experiences you’ve had since you arrived the country?
The traffic here is terrible coupled with the erratic power supple. Again, the attitude of some of the people here are very poor.
There’s something I noticed-everybody seems to be in a hurry. I ’ve said to myself that all these won’t put me down. I’m going to achieve my dream of coming to Nigeria.
Do you have a boyfriend?
At the moment no, I’m working and don’t have the time for distraction. My career is my friend.
Why? Did you dump your Sierra leone boyfriend before coming here?
Actually, I’m single. For now its my career first but when the time comes for marriage I will get married.
As a pretty lady, how do you handle advances from the opposite sex?
I try to be calm in whatever I do. So I can handle such situation.
How do you describe your kind of man?
He must be God-fearing, handsome and one that possesses a sense of humour. Above all, he must be tall and loving.
Will you like to marry a Nigerian man?
Laughs. I don’t have preference. If God want me to marry a Nigerian man, so be it. But as long as he is responsible, I have no problem with that.