Bhaire Mcwizu who shot into the limelight three years ago when she emerged winner of the talent hunt reality show, Amstel Malta Box Office popularly known as AMBO. Her triumph earned her a N2.5 million reward, a brand new car and a movie deal. After shooting the AMBO movie, Cyndi’s Notes, Mcwizu found it rather difficult breaking into the Nigerian movie industry. But today, she has found her feet and is doing remarkably well. NFC found out when it spoke with her
Your name sure sounds foreign. Are you a Nigerian?
Yes, of course. I am from Anambra state. My name has always given people that feeling, but I guess its because of how it is spelt. It's like when you want to pronounce Ebere. Bhaire is pronounced that way too.
You suddenly shot into limelight when you won AMBO a few years ago; before then, were you into acting?
Well, I’ll say I was kind of trying to get into acting. I worked with Ahmed Yerima, former Director-General of the National Troupe. Whenever I was going for rehearsals for a play, I’ll see the billboard advertising AMBO, and I kept telling myself that I had to register for the competition, but I never did. It was a friend of mine who kept pestering me to get the form but I never did until suddenly she showed up one day with the form. Till today, I am indebted to her and she knows it. Now, the rest is history.
Of all the past winners of AMBO till date, you are the most visible in Nollywood. How have you been able to achieve this level of success?
Wow. I beg to differ, because O.C. Ukeje, my predecessor, went to the New York Film Academy and worked on Jeta Amata’s Hollywood set – well, that is yet to be released. Yes, people do tell me that and they ask what my secret is. But really, the secret is doing what I love to do with all my passion and determination, leaving the rest to God at the end of the day. I know whatever comes out of it is what God had planned for me and I enjoy it.
One distinct argument winners of AMBO often engage in is that they find it rather difficult penetrating Nollywood. Did you also face this challenge?
O God, I did over and over again. Whenever I approached producers, it was either you are not popular enough, not tall enough or why can’t AMBO make more movies for you now? It was tough, but I later realised that it wasn’t about what they said, because I am part of the Nigerian Movie industry and I am better than anyone says I am. If I have to start from the scratch, no matter what anyone says, I will start from there and I have to work hard and break even. I saw my rejection not as a jinx, as people now believe, but I saw it as a challenge. It wasn’t all rosy.
So, how did you get your first script?
Well, after a while, people like Emem Isong gave me the chance. Before I won AMBO, there were so many auditions I went for. Some of them were mere hoax, they just took my money and I consoled myself by saying it's just one of the prices I’ve got to pay to get to the top. At the Isong audition, I won it but it took awhile before production came up, way after AMBO. So one day, she called me to say I should come to her office the next day to collect a script. I was very happy. That was how it started actually. Then, people like Ralph Nwadike, Wale Adenuga and so on followed. Now, I am grateful to God for using them.
Your appearance in Wale Adenuga’s current Super Story, many believe, has really boosted your profile in the industry. How did you get the role?
I had always watched Supper Story as a child. I saw that what he was doing was of high quality and I said to myself that this was the kind of producer I will like to work with. Way back, about a year after AMBO, I called him and he said ‘let’s see what happens.’ I also did a month’s course in Adenuga’s Pencil’s Films and Television Institutes. So, one day, he called wanting to know if I was in Nigeria. I said I was, then he asked me to come over to his office to collect a script.
Not many people who wanted to be actors finally get to see their dream come true. For you, if not acting, what other thing would you be doing?
I wanted to be a fashion designer badly. I love designing. Also, I have always wanted to read Law. I like speaking for those who want their voices to be heard. I like fighting for other people’s right. It has been in me since I was younger and I know that I will still do it.
Many female practitioners often allege sexual abuse in exchange for roles. Have you ever encountered such before?
Yes, I have. I am a young girl. Whether I am ugly or not, I have been asked. Sometimes, some of them just want anything that appears in skirt. They are humans. I don’t fight for roles. Acting for me is not a do-or-die affair and I am saying this with all humility. I have been called to use my gift to bless people. So I am not going to use it for personal gain. If I want a good script, what I do is that I pray about it and when they come I choose. I don’t just act for acting sake. It is not by force.
Has your decision ever cost you a role?
O yes, it has. But I was happy it did. It means that the script/role wasn’t meant for me. Sometimes, the men will say: ‘So you dey form butter? Ok, let’s see what will happen, now.’ It happens. And not only in Nollywood, but wherever a man and woman is.
You have a scar on your right cheek. How did you get it and has it ever affected your acting?
I got the scar when I was very young. I don’t think it has cost me a role. You see, when I was young, I wanted to do music and fashion. And at that age I didn’t feel pretty because of the scar on my face. But as I grew older, I felt differently about it and felt luckly that the scar didn’t get to my eyes. Even the way I am now, I am still a very beautiful girl. I am sorry to say it but it's the truth. I improved myself and made do with what I have. If I had allowed the presence of the scar to dictate my future, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I never allowed it to be a limitation.
Are you pleased with what you have achieved so far in Nollywood?
I think for now, in all honesty, I am grateful. There is not much struggle anymore. I always pray for the best to come to me and it always does. Every role I get is a manifestation of God’s blessings and I am grateful because I know that where I am now is just a glimpse of where God is taking me. So, I am not in a hurry. There are other things I can do besides acting.
Like managing your family hotel?
It's my mother’s business not mine. The reason why I am here – still running things – is because I am here in the country. My brothers and sisters are not around as their hands are full right now.
How would you describe your family?
Well, I am from a very wonderful family. We are very spiritual and liberal. They have taught me the basic principles of life and that has guided me a lot. My father passed on recently, about two months ago.
Now, during the competition, did you ever imagine that you were going to clinch the top position?
At first the challenges were tough and the crew was awesome. When I thought at a point that I was very good, my confidence was usually dashed when I saw the next contender’s acting skill. Many nights I didn’t sleep well but still I hoped for the best. It was like my only chance to break loose, and at the end of the day, I told God that whatever happened, I would still be satisfied because I had, indeed, learnt a lot.