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By Perpetua Egesimba
hen it comes to interpreting roles, actress, model and ex-beauty queen, Neema Godwin is bold and daring. For the former Miss Fotogenix, acting nude is no big deal. It’s just a way of expressing herself.
Through her NGO, The Pink Woman, which was launched in 2015, Godwin empowers women, making them significant. She has touched the lives of several widows who were struggling to survive because of neglect. In this interview, she gives insight into her modeling and acting worlds. Excerpts:
You emerged as Miss Fotogenix Nigeria in 2014. How has that experience shaped you?
I was excited about it and it has shaped me in a way that it has been a platform for me. I have been able to push forward from there. Also, it has brought out the interesting part of me. It has shaped me to see life from different perspectives, to understand life and mingle with people. It has given me popularity, endorsements and jobs.
How did you come into acting?
Growing up, I used to hear people say that I have the face for television, and then, I used to have producers and directors follow me to my house, just to talk to my dad to allow me venture into Nollywood, but the thing is my dad has always been a strict person. He feels that those in the industry are prostitutes; they don’t have good home training and all that. But then, I went to school and started doing modeling and presenting. At a point, he was like, ‘you like acting, why don’t you just go for it?’ I was like ‘okay’. I now went to Royal Arts Academy where I did a three-month acting course and got a certificate. That was after I won the Miss Fotogenix. In fact, I actually started acting this year, and it has been wonderful because I have done a few works. Most of the movies I featured in are from Royal Arts Academy.
How many movies have you featured in?
I have featured in Body Language, a film directed by Emem Isong. It is not out yet but it will be released this October. Another one is Lovers and Sinners, a TV series produced and directed by Emem Isong, as well as Not a Perfect Man.
Who is your role model in the industry?
I have role models both locally and internationally. I admire everybody in Nollywood but there are few people that I actually look up to. They are Rita Dominic, Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. These actresses tend to put me in shape. I just want to watch them and model my acting after them.
You said you are daring and bold, would you pose or act nude?
Hmmm, this is a tough one. Well, I can’t go nude but if it is a role that I need to express being nude, I will go for it.
I want to get you correctly. Are you saying that you can act nude?
You see, I look at a lot of foreign actors and I have noticed that as an actor or a model, you are free; your body is your tool. So, if I need to interpret a character being nude, I will say yes, I will go for it. It is just that in this part of our world, tradition and religion are attached to everything.
Most up and coming actors think that by being controversial, they can be famous. Do you believe in being controversial to be famous?
Right now, I need the fame, I need to be popular but I need to be sure of my brand. So, I don’t want scandalous brand for myself. Yes, integrity matters because it takes you very far where money may not be able to take you.
You seem to like money a lot. What exactly do you look out for in a script or do you go for any script?
Who doesn’t like money? I told you about me being daring, I like challenging scripts; scripts that will make me think and think out of the box. I would like to work with producers that have been there and have integrity because they can push my brand to where I want to be. I like scripts that will not stereotype me, scripts that I will have to structure my life getting into that character. That is why when some people are watching movies; they will say they know the end already, because they feel we don’t think out of the box. Thank God that we have a lot of good scriptwriters like Kehinde Joseph. So, I don’t just take any script, it has to be interesting and challenging.
How much were you paid for your first movie role?
Let me be very straightforward and blunt. If you want to be in the industry and you are looking at the monetary part, you will just pack your things and run away, because first and foremost, what drives you is the passion. As an up and coming or fast rising actor, you should be more concerned about building your career. You should check the integrity of the production company that you are working with. Putting yourself in the limelight and the category of people you can best describe as mentors, because that way, you are pushing your brand. That way, people will recognise you and want you more. To answer your question, I got just a transport fare for my first movie role; it’s not up to N10,000.
From your experience, what are the challenges up and coming actors face in the industry?
There are lots of challenges in the industry for up and coming actors. For instance, they don’t give the young ones opportunities. Most times, they tend to give more attention to the already made names. They use up and coming ones more like extras because they feel that you haven’t paid your dues. They feel that you have to first climb the ladder of success. Yes, we know we have to climb that ladder but they should make it easier for us to climb. They should give us more opportunities to really showcase ourselves. Sometimes when I listen to Mary Remy Njoku’s story, that is the owner of ROK TV, she wasn’t really a big celebrity. She was an up and coming artiste, but now everybody is running to her. I have met two different directors that showed me different aspects of life. The first did not give me time to express myself because he felt I am not the lead character, and on another set, the director was so encouraging and made me feel like an Omotola. You will only bring out your best when you have people pushing you; it makes you to look up to them because they have that drive to bring out the best in you. We need people that believe in others.
You launched your Pink Woman project in 2015, how has the journey been?
It has been interesting and challenging. This year, I am putting finishing touches to the project; my team and I haven’t decided where to go first. I am passionate about empowering women, making them significant. I try to use my platform to encourage women out there. I am not a feminist but I believe a woman holds a family, holds the nation and if you support a woman, there is a tendency that her family would be on the right part.
What do you consider your biggest professional breakthrough?
Ever since I won the Miss Fotogenix, things have been falling in places for me. That was my biggest breakthrough. Now, I get calls from international companies asking me to do this or that.
Is Neema in a relationship?
No, I am extremely single and not even searching. I am married to my career for now. I have so many things I want to pay attention to right now. So, I don’t have a boyfriend.
Can you describe your ideal man?
My man has to be outstanding. He has to be different. He should be higher than me intellectually, and support my career. Most importantly, he must be handsome, good looking and devoted. He should be a man of his word.