She is a former beauty queen who found her way into the make believe worlds of movies. Armed with no formal professional experience apart from being an active member of the drama society in high school, she had only her beauty and charm to boost her profile. Several times she failed auditions but one day she got lucky. Someone noticed her beauty, charms and bingo, she was launched into stardom.
Although she may not be one of the most sought after actresses in Nollywood, Sapphire Obi can hold her own against some of the best in the industry. A self acclaimed seductress, Sapphire really knows her beat and this is how she shared her story with Bridget Amaraegbu.
Tell us about your sojourn into the world of make believe ….
Really, I would say I’ve been acting since I was a kid because I still remember those good old days at St Bridget’s Primary School, Aba in Abia State , where I was the Drama Lord of my school (drama president). And in high school, I continued doing drama because I’m this kind of person who loves attention.
My school mates used to call me “Tuza Queen”, you know I like showing off myself, even when you don’t want to see me.
I won’t really say that I made up my mind to start acting, nor did I ever have plans for the industry. I just found myself in it. So, whenever there was an audition, I’‘d just go and with my ‘Tuza queen’ nature, I’d surely be noticed, even if I wasn’t chosen.
I’ve always admired somebody like Genevieve Nnaji. Permit me to say that she was always inspiring me. Each time I watch her movies, I tell myself that I want to be like her, and I love her.
Do you have any personal relationship with her?
No, but I met her once and told her, ‘I love you’ and she said she loves me too.
Apart from soap operas, how many movies have you done?
I’ve done a lot of movies but have not really played any major role. In Church Prostitute, I played the role of Oge Okoye’s younger sister. And in Unrefined Gold, I played the role of an adviser to the daughter of a senator. In My Final Will, I played the role of a lesbian and a lot of people said it was awesome.
There’s another one titled Singles and Married. I was a boyfriend snatcher. I snatched Rita Dominic’s boyfriend. I was also in Abuja Connection and so many others.
So, what was it like playing the role of a lesbian?
(Laughing). I won’t say I interpreted very well because I’m a lesbian. I had to do exactly what I had on the script. As an actor, you should be able to interpret any role very well. You should be able to wear any role you’ve accepted to do like a burden and also follow your director’s instructions strictly. An actor has to be flexible at all times with every script he/she has accepted.
How do you feel when you watch that movie?
(Laughing). I laugh each time I watch that movie and just wish I could get another role that will be worse. I’m one person that wants to explore different characters and roles, whether they are good or bad. You know it’s only when you play bad roles that you can really know how good you are. Playing a good girl role is never challenging from my own point of view.
When you watch that movie with your boyfriend, what does he tell you?
He keeps asking if I’m truly not a lesbian to have interpreted that role the way I did because I had to kiss and smooch a fellow girl. But I’m sure he’s convinced that I’m not one of them.
How often do you get movie roles?
As long as I go for auditions. Most times, it’s my Tuzaqueen nature that gets me the role, and I’m happy.
I’ll say I’m very lucky with movie roles and auditions. At this point, I want to say a big thank you to Fidelis Duker. I respect him so much and I’m really very grateful for the role in Girls Next Door. I’ll continue praying for him and his family.
When you don’t get any role for say six months, how do you feel?
I don’t feel bad. Before I got to this stage, I would naturally feel bad. I would feel like I’m not doing enough. But right now, it’s not all about the quantity of movie roles I get. What bothers me today is the quality of the movies I do. It’s possible for you to do just one quality movie in a year that will make all the difference. Right now, I am working on my own project which I am very sure will make so much difference because it won’t be all about acting but making sure that people are impacted in a lot of ways.
I am not trying to say that all the movies that’s been produced is junk but there are some movies I wouldn’t want to be associated with. I really want to be associated with quality movies, even if it means doing only one movie in a year.
Which producers’ movies do you give kudos to?
I give kudos to Simony Productions. He does quality movies though I’ve not acted in any of his movies. I was supposed to be in Boys Court produced by him but I travelled to Ghana for another job at that time. Each time I go to pick movies, I look out for his productions. I’m not saying other producers have not done well but he’s an exception.
I want to also use this opportunity to tell our indigenous producers to groom the up and coming acts so that viewers can have varieties to choose from. When you go to buy a movie today, all you see is Mercy Johnson, Ini Edo, Genevieve, Tonto Dike and a few others.
I am not saying that these people are not good. I love them but viewers want to see new faces in the industry. So the producers and marketers should make effort to groom the up and coming acts. I equally think it’s very good for the industry.
Another issue is that the up and coming actors should improve themselves. Sometimes, up and coming acts appear so boring that the producers find it very difficult to use them. I want to advise the up and coming actors to groom themselves and be able to fit into Genevieve’s shoes, believe in yourself.
Of all your movies, which one made you famous?
Hahaha, I no fit think before I say it. I give it to Girls Next Door. And I’ll remain grateful to Fidelis and his wife because even some of his crew in the production of Girls Next Door didn’t believe I could deliver. But he did.
In Girls Next Door, you played a seductive role. Was that the real Sapphire in action or just the script?
(Laughing). I don’t know how to tell lies because I believe you can’t give what you don’t have. I’m a very ‘honey person’. When you call somebody a honey person, it means body too dey sweet the person. That is me and I don’t owe anybody apologies for that.
If I’m not a real seductive person, there’s no way I would have played that role perfectly. Yes, you could say it was written out on the script but you have to put in yourself to do it well. That doesn’t make me wayward in anyway. I have a Christian background but that doesn’t take away the real me. I’m not trying to sell sex but I’m a very honey and sweet person.
What would you consider negative and positive effect of acting?
One of the positive effects of acting is it opens doors. When you’re known, you get endorsements here and there, which is the most fascinating part of it. You could travel around and nobody questions you. But the negative side is that you lose your privacy completely.
People poke their noses into your affairs so much and some even go as far as searching out your past and background, especially when you have a horrible past. And when these things go on the pages of newspapers, it devastates you emotionally. Some pressmen even cook up stories about you and the stigma is just too much to bear.
Have you had any embarrassing moment as an actress?
I don’t think so. For now, all I get are commendations and compliments.
What were some of the challenges on your way to the top?
It’s been terrible, especially when you have a dad who suddenly goes broke immediately you got your letter of admission to the University and you just couldn’t go. You just sit there and watch your mates passing out of school and there’s nothing you can do about it. I just got admission into the University for the session. I don’t want to believe that was what led me into acting.
But in life, certain things happen that make you discover who you are, and make find out those things you have that can work for you and make you stand out. So, it’s really been challenging. I had to stay with my grandmother.
How was it when your dad’s account turned red?
I know that some other young people would have gone into drugs or prostitution when they’re faced with issues like this. But I just couldn’t do any of those things. Not because I loved God so much. But because I love my body so much.
Even though I wasn’t in the University, I did all I could do to measure up with my friends who were in school. And I didn’t allow it to bother me because I knew my dad would have seen me through any level if he didn’t go bankrupt.
I want to also say that money or good roles don’t come by sleeping with men. Sleeping with producers and directors can only give you a role after which he moves on to the next catch and you’re old fashioned. My word of advice for all young people is that we should always try to allow our ability to speak for us.
Which actors are you comfortable with on set?
I’ll mention Rita Dominic because she’s cool. The day we went on set, she walked up to me and said, ‘ good day’ and I was like shey dem be say this girl is arrogant but she wasn’t. She’s humble and lively. Then for the guys, I’ll give it to Tony Umez.
How does Sapphire handle male advances?
I see men’s advances from the angle that they appreciate what they see. So, I don’t act stupid when they do that. Basically, all I do is appreciate them too.
Is this beauty walking down the aisle soon?
(Laughing) I have a sweet relationship right now and what we share is worth keeping forever. As soon as he is ready, I won’t say no.