Williemena Appleton’s dream of becoming a movie star was her reason for recently coming to Nigeria, from her country, Liberia, for the very first time. Appleton, better known as Pinky, was actually in Nigeria to participate in the last edition of the Next Movie Star, a TV reality show, for wannabe Nollywood stars. Although, she did not win the ultimate prize, Pinky was and is still happy and even counted herself very lucky for participating in the riveting show.
According to her, the outing exposed and further repositioned her burgeoning acting career, thus making her a better thespian, in terms of role interpretation and delivery. Pinky, who had since gone back to her country, after over two-month-stay in Nigeria, where she was opportune to lense a soon to debut soap, with youthful director, Chima Okoroji, thanked the organizers of the show, for making her dream come true. In this encounter with www.nigeriafilms.com the 24-year-old starlet, spoke heartily on her budding career and prospects, the Next Movie Star, challenges, love life, the Liberian war and a host of other germane issues.
We only know you are from Liberia, we would like to know more about you and your background?
My name is Williemena Pinky Appleton, I’m a 24-year-old Liberian girl and a graduate of the African Methodist Episcopal University, Liberia. I read Management and Economics. I’m the fifth in a family of six children and currently live with my parents. Actually, I was about going for my Masters Programme at the University of Liberia, before I was invited to Nigeria for the Next Movie Star reality TV show.
How did you and your family cope during the Liberian war, did it affect your family and were you raped?
I must confess that it was tough and turbulent then, but my family and I were saved by the special grace of God. None of my family members were killed or raped we were so lucky. Again, I ‘m so happy that I still went to school to get a degree after the war. I refused to give up with my studies then, because I know that if you want to be somebody in life, you have to keep moving, no matter the obstacles and challenges. Mind you, winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win. The Liberian war was terrible and horrible, but I was determined to succeed with my career.
Is this your first visit to Nigeria?
Yes, its my first visit to Nigeria and I have spent over two months. I came to partake in the fourth season of the Next Movie Star TV reality show that just ended.
For the fact that you did not win, did it make you feel bad?
Of course, I felt bad and even cried, but above all, I don’t think its about winning only. I have not given up. I’m very sure that I will still fulfill my dream as an actress that will be known globally. For the fact that somebody won does not mean that the person is better than me, its just a game. I believe in destiny and what will be would definitely be.
How did you get to know about the Next Movie Star?
I knew about them first in 2008 in Liberia, I eventually went for the audition, but could not make it to the finals; I tried again this year and made it to the finals here in Nigeria.
What was the experience like in the house, for you?
It was challenging, exciting, fun and tedious, it also afforded me the opportunity to meet and interact with people from different backgrounds. Initially, it was hard for me to get along with these people, but I later blended well with them. One unique thing about me is that I always try to cope in whatever situation I find myself and that really helped me a lot. The housemates all missed me when I was evicted in the third week. Till date, I still do not know their reason (s) for evicting me. I was equally shocked because I never saw it coming.
If given another opportunity, would you love to go back to the Next Movie Star house again?
Why not, I would love to, I still miss everybody and it was fun out there despite the tough moments. How I just wish there is another chance for me to go back. And for me, the greatest lesson learnt in that house was learning how to adjust to change in any given environment. Learning how to cope with different people, from different backgrounds and culture.
The morning you woke up and informed your parents you were heading to Nigeria for the Next Movie Star, what was their reaction?
My parents felt bad and sad, especially my dad, who likes having me around him, however, they also wished me good luck and prayed for me, because they are aware that acting is my passion. Although, I have a job in Liberia, acting is what I have always wanted to do.
What kind of job do you do in Liberia?
I work in one of the government ministries, in fact, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, as secretary to the deputy Minister. I still have my job, because I took excuse before leaving.
When did you start acting professionally?
I started acting in 2004, but have always had the passion for acting. Surprisingly, I’m a very shy person, and that usually makes me think I can’t make it as an actress. I started by going to auditions in Liberia, but funnily, I failed my first audition, I also felt bad that day. I’m still shy, but that won’t stop me from getting to the top of my career.
Who are the popular Nollywood stars that you’ve always looked forward to meeting and probably acting alongside?
A whole lot of them, and mind you, in Liberia, Nigerian movies are very popular and loved by many. Names like: Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, Kate Henshaw, Omotola Jalade, Stella Damasus, RMD, Jim Iyke and a host of others. I’ve seen Jim Iyke, Genevieve and Rita Dominic at a show in Liberia.
Since the Next Movie Star ended, what have you been doing in Nigeria?
I’ve been busy working with movie/soap director Chima Okoroji on the set of his latest soap, Lost Soul. I’m playing the role of Janet, an undergraduate that was kidnapped on the instructions of a campus cult leader, who was in lust with her.
How was it like working with Chima Okoroji and the rest of the cast and crewmembers on the set of Lost Soul?
It was sweet and fun; we were working and at the same time enjoying ourselves. Chima, our director had also taught us a lot about what it takes to be a great actor. I’m happy and fortunate to work with him.
Back to Next Movie Star again, did the producer, Sola Fasobi, fulfill all the promises he made to all the housemates, including you?
Yes, he did and for that we are very grateful. No regrets whatsoever working with Sola Fasobi. His hard work and integrity has kept the show going since inception.
Are you married or…?
I’m not married, neither am I engaged. I only have a boyfriend in Liberia.
Is he not scared of losing you to stardom or probably jealous too?
He loves me, but is a bit scared of my career as a rising actress. But I have sincerely told him that this is what I want to do. And since, I’m not married; I don’t want anyone standing on my way to acting stardom.
What if it becomes dicey and you are told to choose between him and acting, which would you go for?
Sincerely, I will choose my career as an actress. No sentiments, but my career first.
You’ve been in Nigeria for two months, has any Nigerian guy caught your attention, for an intimate friendship?
Not really, but I have been toasted severally, but I’m not dating anyone yet. I’m here for a mission, which is building a career for myself in Nollywood. I’m also here for a purpose, so I don’t want to mix things up. For now, I don’t have a Nigerian boy friend and the reasons. I just told you. But that does not mean that I cannot marry a Nigerian guy, if we like ourselves.
The Nigerian guys that you have seen so far, what would you say you like most about them?
I can’t really say, but the bulk of them are nice and friendly. May be, because I don’t have interest in having a relationship with them that is why I will say that I can’t think of any striking thing about them now.
Since you arrived on our soil, have you kissed any Nigerian guy?
No, because if I kiss someone, it means we are dating, but since I ‘m not dating anyone yet, it means I don’t have anybody to kiss. That does not mean I’m not romantic. Again, may be, when the natural love is there, I can then decide to have a Nigerian lover, but for now, I’m happily single and not searching in Nigeria. Mind you, I’m not saying that Nigerian men are not romantic enough.
What do you think fascinates most Nigerian guys about you, especially when they come across you?
Well, I think its just my personality and may be, my boobs, some also like my face and coloured hair.
Prior to coming to Nigeria, like how many movies did you feature in Liberia?
I did three movies in my country before coming to Nigeria, all these movies really helped in shaping my career. These three are already out, but I had taken part in other jobs that are not yet out.
In all fairness, how popular do you think you are in Liberia?
Well, I know I’m popular to an extent in my country, our movie industry is just growing, and we are gradually making the sacrifices of putting things in the right place. Another truth is that most Liberians are not interested in our movie industry, may be, because of the effects of the war. At least, most times, when I walk on the streets, people recognize me and call my name, which makes me feel real happy.
Why are you called Pinky?
My mum actually gave me that name, she said I had a unique complexion when I was born. In fact, she said my colour was kind of pink at birth and she decided to give me the name.
As one of the fastest rising actresses from Liberia, what would you say makes you unique?
My personality makes me unique; I am I and not somebody else. Besides, nobody can be me because they are not I. I have my personal style and that helps to stand me out always.
Now that you are done with the Next Movie Star, what is the next level for you?
The next level for me is to consolidate on my budding career and probably storm Hollywood in the next couple of years. I sincerely believe in myself and also know that I have what it takes to get to Hollywood. I work hard and pray towards it everyday. So, I’m pretty sure, its going to work out fine, soon.
You have been here for over two months, what do you have to say about our country-Nigeria?
I think Nigeria is a very nice country, since I came here, I have been meeting nice, friendly and warmly people, sincerely speaking, I ‘ve never met any bad person. All the bad things I always hear about Nigeria, I’ve not seen those bad things happening. For sure, every country has its good, bad and ugly sides and Nigeria is not an exception. Nigeria is a very great country and I love this country and would love to come back again.
Do you have the intentions of relocating permanently to Nigeria, in the nearest future?
I won’t mind that idea, it also depends and I think I will love the idea. Marrying a Nigerian husband or staying here to continue my career, are the factors that can make my living here possible.