Delectable actress, Ini Edo, is a name to behold on screen. A diva, who has consistently remained relevant to her craft. She was caught on the set of Okirika, a new series told in a comical way which will debut on December 9 on StarTimes’ Nollywood Plus Channel. Okirika also features other great talents that are the rave of the moment. In this interview with Chinedu Ibeabuchi, Ini shares her role in the series, staying power in the industry, and her passion for Nollywood
What’s Okirika all about?
So basically, what the Okirika series does is explore the underworld of crime scenes like what people do undercover using other businesses to cover up. And particularly, my character is really interesting because she had to blend into a life that isn’t hers as an undercover agent just because she needed to get to the bottom of these particular crime scenes. So, it’s a lot of lessons to be learned. It’s a way of letting people know that most times things are not really the way that they appear; that there are people who do a lot of things and cover them up with what the public wants to see. So, it tells its audience to be careful about the kind of lifestyle that they want to emulate.
What are the lessons from the Okirika series?
Most times, things are not really what they seem when you see other people’s lives and you feel it’s all perfect and rosy and want to be like them. You don’t really know who these people really are. It’s good to be contented with what you do, work hard, and don’t try to be somebody else.
Each story comes unique with each character. You have featured in over a hundred movies. Which character would you say came unique for this Okirika role and what challenges did you face in interpreting your role?
I like to separate myself from the other works I’ve done in the past and see how I can bring something new to the table. In Okirika, my role entails a lot of characters. So for me, the challenge is trying to see how I could be different for each character and I needed to find a way to bring a different interpretation to the characters on set. This role entails someone who’s an undercover agent and has to be convincing. She’s actually a part of that life that she wasn’t in order to blend with the level of the people with which she wants to expose their crime. I had to find a way to twist my language, twist my accent and carriage.
You have acted in a lot of movies. Is there any particular role you still feel like playing?
Yes, I still want to play the role of a superhero, sort of a supervillain. I’m still looking forward to playing like a witch. I don’t think I have done that. I am looking forward to playing something like a maleficent, something abstract, something a little bit out of order. I like challenging roles that go with different characters and of course, I have pretty much done a lot.
Over the years, Nollywood has evolved a lot in different aspects. In your opinion, what are the other areas the industry still needs to cover well?
It has really evolved in such a dramatic and radical turn. I feel that technically, we need to improve on our manpower. We need to train more people, because like when I started my own production, I had to bring in a cinematographer. We do have very talented cinematographers, but we need a lot more. More investors are coming in, corporate bodies and individuals are coming in to produce high-quality films. So, we need to train more manpower like the people behind the scenes to be able to churn out these quality films to match up with our counterparts. You need to build studios where people can go in and fine-tune their work, their craft. At this point, I feel like we’re ready to even compete globally, but we need to train more hands to grow our level of professionalism.
What would you like to be remembered for us as an actress?
She’s somebody who stays true to her character; goes to any extent to bring her character to life and of course, as an actor, I want to be remembered for my good works.
It’s no doubt you’re one of the big names in the movie industry and it would also interest everybody to know that scripts fly left and right on your table. What determines the script you accept?
The uniqueness of the scripts has to be in the story itself. It has to make sense. Yes, have some positives out of it; some things for people to learn from. It also has to have entertaining quality. Of course, for me, I don’t like repeated stories like something that I’ve seen or done before. It has to be something new on the table, from the writing to the language of the script, which determines how far this particular production is ready to go. And I try to not just jump on any set because I want my face everywhere. I try to see how I could identify quality productions from the script. So, from the script to the productions to the post-production, they must be unique. I want to be involved as the story evolves. So I’m very picky about my scripts. It just has to be something detailed.
Irrespective of the fees?
Yes, irrespective of the fees because, for me, this job is a passion. If you don’t have the passion for it, you can’t really do it. If you’re just doing it just for the money, then you can’t put your soul into it and it will just fall flat and people won’t connect with who you are as an actor. So it goes beyond the fees. It is about the project itself.
Talking about the evolution of the industry, we have seen big companies and multinational companies like Netflix, and we see Nollywood movies in cinemas, in contrast to when you just began your career. How has been so far?
I am so happy that this is happening in my time; that I’m here to witness this. It’s a whole lot of evolution and it’s still evolving. When we just started, I remember us shooting with 2k and HD cameras. Today, we’re shooting with Red and shooting with high-quality cameras just like our counterparts are doing abroad now. We have a wider platform where the world can see what we do and of course, we have the talent. So the platforms coming in just show that the world is ready for us and we’re ready for the world. We can see from the quality of jobs we’ve done in recent times. And it’s just really moving up every day. It’s really such a blessing to witness this growth.
How was it like shooting this series with newbies in the industry?
As I said, there’s a lot of talent in this country. So shooting with newbies who are talented, it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s a delight seeing people who have prospects. All I have to do is encourage them and give my blessings and see where I can help.
What would you describe as your staying power because over the years you are still relevant?
First of all, it is God. Secondly, I think this job chose me. I don’t think I chose this career. I never sat down and said I want to be an actor. For the staying power, I think it is just consistency.
How do you think that the Nollywood industry has been coping since COVID-19?
COVID-19 has altered the entire world and things have never really been the same, but on the other hand, I think for creatives, it’s given us the awareness that the world can actually stop for a minute and it has aided a lot of creativity. During the COVID-19 lockdown, a lot of writers came out with really amazing stories, because there were a lot of situations and scenarios to explore. So, it obviously gives time for creative minds to be more creative. Of course, it affected production. We had to call off production, in several instances, and stay at home. And even right now, a lot of people say, I have a phobia of coming out and being in the midst of so many people in the same place.
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