Cross Rivers State born actress, Kate Henshaw Nutall, is no doubt one of the most sought after screen divers in the movie industry. The mother of one in this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO, speaks on her seventeen years of experience in the industry, deal with Globacom and marriage life. Excerpts:
SEVENTEEN years in the movie industry and you are still giving no sign of getting tired, what has been the secret?
My brother, the secret is God. I try as much as possible to put my best in my profession and I am very committed to my job. Our job is very demanding so you have to be up and doing to meet up, I always try to relax when I can, do a little exercise to calm my body. Basically, the stage is hard work and one needs God in every stage to bring out the best from what one does. I thank God for everything I have attained and what I am aspiring to become. I don't rush things and I treat issues as they come. For seventeen years I have gone through the whole thing as an actress, God has been so wonderful and I can say I have enjoyed tremendous time in the industry.
What was your growing up like?
Growing up for me was quite a lot of fun with my siblings and my parents. We were very comfortable. We travelled a lot as a family and were taught good values as children; to be respectful to elders, to do house work and homework. My parents did not spare the rod and spoil their children. Our growing up was very disciplined.
How did the seventeen years journey start?
I have always grown with the passion for acting and music but all I needed was a perfect opportunity. The late J.T. TomWest took me to my ver-y first audition for a film titled “WHEN THE SUN SETS” and from there began my journey into the industry now known as Nollywood. From that very point, roles started coming in, from soap operas to top Nigerian movies and to the level we are today. It has been a superb transformation for me and I thank God for my career.
But we learnt that you were said to be turning your back against Nollywood, what prompted this?
I never said anything like that, as a matter of fact I have a film which I featured and was released last week, a movie produced by Saidi Balogun, ‘Eti Keta’. There is nothing like being out of movies for me. In fact, I do not remember saying such a sweeping statement. I have had quite a number of scripts and have turned down some because they didn’t go well with me but I have no intention of quitting, at least not yet. The industry is large and I don't have to be jumping up and down because I want to get scripts. I am comfortable with the level I have attained so far as far as the movie industry is concerned. I am planning quite a number of things; when I am done you will see them.
You can barely speak Yoruba, how did you manage to cope with the script and the faces on set?
The experience was very interesting and fascinating. Being a part of the cast of the movie was very exciting for me andI took it on as a challenge. I do not speak Yoruba fluently at all. A few times in the past I have tried to string sentences together but I always got laughed at so I never summoned up the courage to speak again. So, to be asked to be part of a Yoruba film was a bit nerving for me but I never back down from a challenge. At the end of the day I got compliments for my role and everybody was happy together because of the love that exist.
Why did you take the role?
I love challenges a lot and I always want to do new things that would task my ability. Apart from that, I took the role because many years ago, Saidi was a part of the cast of a film I also starred in a Charles Novia film “YOU BROKE MY HEART” and he had said to me then that he would want me on one of his film projects and I had said yes to him. My word is important to me. I kept my word. The pre-production stage was very lovely, I was treated very nicely. The producer of the movie, Saidi Balogun was fantastic and quite good. We all worked together like one family and the experience was lovely.
What is your take on Nollywood?
Nollywood has come some distance. It has thrived and has survived on its own steam and effort. It is getting better and the quality has improved tremendously. We are developing very fast and people are becoming to see the beauty that is enmeshed in the industry, we are growing bigger everyday because of opportunities abound in the industry. Nevertheless, we are not resting on our oars. We keep trying to find new ways to improve. A few years ago Nollywood films were not in the cinemas, now they are, alongside western movies. We have so far recorded a landmark achievement and this is as a result of hard work and dedication to our job. From the point we are now; It is clear that we are moving on.
But some of your colleagues have pulled out because of poor remuneration?
Well, compared to seventeen years ago that I joined, I believe the remuneration for actors are a lot better but in this economic clime that we are in, I guess the naira does not go very far. The fees could be a lot better. Things can only get better and I also believe that what we do is no joke and doesn’t come easy; I think we should be paid well so that we can continue to give our best and everybody can laugh in the long run. The industry is growing extensively; with new beautiful faces coming up, I believe things will continue to improve for the better.
With the new charming faces springing up, are you not jittery that they may take your place?
Why would I? My driving force over the years has been my belief that what I have is a gift from God since I am not a theater arts graduate. My desire to be professional and to be associated with good work. Giving my best to every project that I am a part of to the best of my ability. I am a professional actress to the core with thriving and fulfilling years. We are all one family and nobody is competing; we are happily united. Our people are still out there, but still need to do good work. They still fight to do the things that are important.
You are married to a white man, what attracted you to him?
What is the issue with being married to a white man? I just wish the press would stop asking me that question one day. I am happily married and I thank God for every blessed day. My husband has been quite supportive of my career as an actress, even before we got married.
You are one of the many nollywood screen divers that scooped the Globacom deal, how did you achieve this?
I think you will have to ask the company how I got the deal, because it is not in my place to tell you that, but what I can tell you is that the deal came to me and it put all of us who are the brand ambassadors on a different level. Globacom showed its support and love for nollywood in this way. We appreciate the company for recorgnising our work and the industry. It is a big advancement.
But some people alleged that some of you came in through the back door?
The truth is that I didn’t know anybody at Globacom before they called me. They just called me up.
You are also the face of ONGA seasoning…
I have been a brand ambassador for ONGA SEASONING going to four years now. I also have a few charities that I support, like Project Alert on violence against women and children National Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme and I am also an ambassador of The NigerianWomen Trust Fund.
How have you been able to juggle the two roles together without conflict of interest?
There has been no conflict of interest because one is a seasoning and the other is telecommunications.
As an Ambassador, do you feel different and what has it cost you?
It has kept me busy and made me recognise the fact that apart from being an actress, I also represent big brands that should benefit from my status in the society. I must not adversely affect the brand. It has not cost me anything other than the fact that I am an ambassador and I have to always live like one. A big price has been paid in terms of the loss of my privacy. That is the sacrifice I made for the job I love. Another thing is trying to be an inspiration for others.
You studied Medical Laboratory Sciences, why the change of focus?
I studied Medical laboratory sciences and majored in Medical Microbiology. The change of focus was by chance and I actually found my real passion in acting. So, basically it was not planned at all. But I thank God for the way things have turned out.
So what are your turn-off and turn-off?
Definitely, my turn-ons are good people with a kind heart. People that are generous to others around them. I also admire people with a good sense of humour. Selflesness is the final but not the least. My turns off are greed, wickedness and selfishness.
With all these commitments, how do you relax?
I have a very wonderful family that I can always go back to, then once in a while I go out with my daughter.