She is cute, pretty, hot and beautiful. Her lips, eyes and hair work together to complement her pretty chocolate body. As an actress, Kate Henshaw Nuttal's very tight schedule ensures that getting her for this interview wasn't a tea party. After what seemed unending cancellations, she finally gave the signal that she was, indeed, ready. She is a Glo Ambassador and the current Face of ONGA. Since she starred as Omono in When the Sun Sets, she has become a household name in the industry and has since brought quality entertainment into the homes of many with her deft acting skills and performances. This mother of one, a baby girl, has been through a lot, and has come out of them gold. Married to a Britton, Roderic James Nuttal, the former student of Federal Government Girls College, Calabar and graduate of Medical Microbiology at the School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), in this interview with Obaro Itewo, takes time to dispel some of the notions surrounding her personality, her absence from the screen for a couple of months now, the secret of her successful marriage and what has really kept her busy these days.
You seem to be out of circulation for some time now. Apart from your role as Glo Ambassador, you've been very quiet. Have you turned your back on acting?
Turn my back on what made me? Acting is not only about acting: it also involves being MC, dancing, singing and all that. I have been involved in some other things since they no longer have the money to pay for movie roles.
So, what you are doing at the moment?
I am presently working on producing two films. One is Tarzan versus the V-Monologues, directed by Wole Ogunsekun. It's a first of its kind. It deals with issues that affect women from all walks of life: circumcisions, rape, drug abuse, war among several others. The second one is called Little Drop. It is produced by Olu Jacob Productions, owned by Dr. Olu Jacob and his wife, Aunty Joke Silva.
Talking about the V-Monolgues, how will you describe the experience?
Oh, it is wonderful! Actually, it was Aunty Joke that called me to participate in the first one. I agreed to do it. The play is being aired around the world and has really been good. This is how I started the journey. Since then, I have been called to participate in it every year, apart from last year that I didn't do it.
I wasn't available to participate in it last year.
Maybe you decided to have a change of mind?
Not that I didn't want to. It's just that I wasn't available to do it.
Your hands seem so full these days…?
(cuts-in) What we are doing now is rehearsal. We are going to Ghana soon. We are going to stage five plays in two days.
Is it possible to say your absence from the screen is because the scripts stopped coming or just due to your very busy schedule?
Yes, and even if I get a script now, I am not available till the end of November. And producers will not want to wait. So they have to find a replacement.
So the scripts are coming but…
(cuts-in) The scripts come, but they are not good enough. Some of them are not challenging for me. After being in the industry for close to eighteen years and having played a lot of roles, I prefer something more challenging. Something that can push me and make me nervous at least a bit.
You seem to be very selective in the scripts you accept.
Very, very selective.
What do you watch out for in a script?
First and foremost, the storyline must be good. I don't want the usual chap-chap of a thing. So, I watch out for the story line. Then the character, the director and the cast. Even if the script is not that fantastic, you should have a good director and a good cast and crew.
About the cast, who are some of these actors and actresses you always love to work with?
I wouldn't say there is any one, because I wouldn't let anything get between me and my work. Nobody comes between me and my money. That is my job. But if it’s somebody that doesn't come to set on time, I would rather not work with such a person because I don't want to have headaches. That is the truth.
There are rumours that you started rejecting small fees since you became a Glo Ambassador.
(cuts-in) First of all, it's not about the money. Money is important, but some of the storylines are not good enough for me. I am yet to see someone that would come to me with a good storyline and say, 'Kate, I don't have money'. Those who know me, know that if the story is good, and we have a good working relationship, I will do it.
In other words, you haven't rejected a script with a good storyline even if the pay is small.
I don't think so, unless there is a movie I have done as Part One and you come to me for the second part, and you still want to pay the same amount you paid for acting in Part One. I won’t take that from you.
So, you won’t accept the same fee for movies with sequels?
Of course, the money must go up! Why must the money come down? Who works for a reduced salary? Nobody does that. It is better to leave the job and stay at home.
Some movies are better with only one part. But some producers are in the habit of splitting such movies into more than one parts. What do you say about this?
That is the one that I can't even talk about. It is surprising and that means a lot of money accruing to them. That is why as an actor, you have to charge as much as you can before taking up a role, so that if they split it up into 100 parts, that is their business.
Are you saying actors and actresses are not paid well?
Of course they are not being paid their worth at all. Everybody knows that, we all know it. Even if a particular actor or actress is paid
N1million, what is the value of that these days?
A group of actors once agitated for minimum pay for artistes. But their action led to their suspension from the guild. What do you think can be done to address this issue?
Humans are selfish by nature. Man is always thinking of himslef before any other thing. We don't think about the general well-being of everybody. All of us cannot think alike all the time. So some people must hold a different view. It is difficult for everybody to agree on a common cause. That is why we are not getting anywhere.
Don't you think AGN has a role to play in ensuring proper remuneration for actors and actresses?
Yes. At the time Ejike Asiegbu was president, he tried to specify the minimum amount actors and actresses should be paid for a role, even as far as waka pass role. Let the least be N10,000, even if you are standing in one place crying. From there, you go higher. But unfortunately, some people will pass through the back door to ask for ridiculous amounts. That is very unfortunate.
What do you think about the quality of movies coming out of Nollywood lately? Are they worth celebrating?
I don't like it. I have said it several times in my interviews that Nollywood is going backwards, and that is exactly what is happening now. I find most of the storylines uninteresting, no matter how simple. I have heard a lot of people complaining that the storylines are turning into something else. The storylines no longer make sense. If you survey public opinion about the industry and the quality of movies, you will understand what I mean.
Who do you think should be blamed for the low quality of the movies?
The onus is on the producers and directors. They are the ones that provide the crew, the lighting, the cameramen, everything. The actors and actresses just come, act and go.
Don't you think respected actresses like you need to come in now to save the situation?
Most of them are into it already, demonstrating how it ought to be done.
What about you?
Me? I am not doing anything yet. I don't want to do anything yet.
But some of your colleagues like Ini Edo, Uche Jombo and Emem Isong are already into movies’ production.
Eeh. They should continue. I’m not ready to go into film production.
Is it because of the challenges associated with movies production?
No, if I want to do it, I know what to do. I know who to call and I know the right people to work with, though it will cost money. Anything you want to do and make money from, you have to spend money so that it can be worth your while. I am not in a rush at all.
Is it because of the financial challenges?
No, I’m not just ready for it. I am not somebody that rushes to do things. I take my time in everything I do. If I am going to do it, it is going to be damn perfect. No need rushing it.
So, in other words, we should be expecting a movie from Kate sooner than later?
Ahhh! I don't know. When it is time, you will know, definitely.
Are you already working towards that?
I have many things on my mind for now. Even in Nollywood, it is not all of them that are producing. You have to be behind the camera, study the whole process, know how to direct, know how to produce before venturing into it. Not because this person is producing, me too, I must do my own too. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
But most of your colleagues…
(cuts-in) Some, not most. They are only two, Desmond Elliot and Ini Edo. Who else?
What about Bukky Wrigth, Funke Akindele…
(cuts-in) But they have been producing their own movies since.
They are all part of Nollywood, aren't they?
Yes. But that is Yoruba films. We are talking about English. They are all part of Nollywood, but you can't mix the two unless you want to cross over to Yoruba movies.
Presently, you are the Face of ONGA. Is it true that it has made you a multi-millionaire?
Well, I thank God if that is what people are saying. If they say I am a multi-millionaire, oh, yes, so be it!
So, what is the deal worth?
It is worth something.
Go and find out from them. I am not at liberty to disclose such sensitive information.
Another thing about you is that whenever your name is mentioned, what comes to mind is, 'Oh, that homely, jovial, smiling and lively lady! I wonder if you ever get angry?”
I do get angry, and I know what to do if I get angry. That is why I love smiling all the time because if I get angry the outcome can not be determined.
So what are some of the things that can make you get angry?
I think you'll have to wait and find out. I can't describe it for you.
Why don't you just tell us a few.
I hate people taking undue advantage of me. Anything that will take undue advantage of me, I don't like.
You managed an almost scandal-free career. You are hardly seen in public functions, is this one of your strategies to avoid bad publicity?
That is the clue! That is the clue!
So you stay away from public function because you fear bad publicity?
If you say that is the reason, that is good. I just want my life to be about my work, nothing more. I am working with a brand. I have to represent myself and the brand very well.
What is the secret of the success of your marriage despite the several celebrity marriages crashing everyday?
Celebrities' marriages are not the only ones crashing. Marriages are crashing everywhere. But maybe because we are in the limelight, the stories of celebrities are constantly in the news. The media is at the ready to advertise everything about us. My husband is very much in support of my job. We have been married for the past 11 years, and he knows how hard and demanding my job is. He also knows that I am not always at home, and whenever I am with my family, I spend quality time with them. If the job comes, and he says go, I will go. If he says don't go I will sit down.
Can we then say your total submission is responsible for the success of your marriage?
It is more than submissiveness because my husband can say 'sit down at home, don't go anywhere', and there is nothing I can do about that because he is the head of the family.
What if he asks you to stop acting?
He will not.
What if he does?
It is not like that. This is the 11th of our marriage. And even before we got married, we talked about it and I told him I love this job and love to be into it as long as I could. I don't see myself stopping because I have a child.
Does he react to some of the role you play on set?
I am an actress. He doesn't react. He comes from a very well-developed society. He is from the U.K. so he knows what my job entails.
Has marriage slowed you down in any form?
No. I can play any role. I can do anything I want.
Including nude role?
I said anything I want, I didn't say nude role inclusive. I said anything I want
Why this craze for white hubby by actresses?
(cuts-in) how many?
Anita Hogan, Ufuoma Ejenebo and another one I can't remember now
(cuts-in) is that what you call most when it is not even up to 50%.
I think more are coming
Are you the one that is going to add to them