“My mother supported my choice of career. She saw nothing wrong in being an actress but always advised me to play responsible roles.”
Queen Ifeyinwa Igwebueze shot into the spotlight when she produced a movie, Gilbert Nwa Nsukka, which later became popular. Since then, she has continued to enjoy a blossoming career in Nollywood.
In this interview, the actress cum producer recalls a hurtful moment when she was denied a movie role simply because she didn’t succumb to the producer’s sexual advances. She equally narrates the scariest moment of her life. Enjoy it.
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What actually motivated you to join the movie industry?
During my childhood days in my village, we normally had moonlight plays and dramas. It was an opportunity for relaxation and entertainment. Every child looks up to the sunset and early appearance of the moon. These are great values that are coming into extinction. I can say that’s where the passion to write movie (scripts) was kindled in me.
I grew up to love movies. Sometimes, some people missed vital lines of narratives and actions while acting a movie. As I watched them, I quickly identified those missing links and suggested the fillers. I found out that I had a natural flair for acting.
How did your journey to Nollywood start?
I came into the movie industry for the first time in 2000 at Winnis Hotel, Surulere, Lagos. I later joined the industry in 2010 and registered as a member of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Onitsha chapter led by Leo Ewuzie.
What was the reaction of your parents when you chose the acting career?
My father never supported it. He believed that by joining the movie industry, I was a lost child and may eventually find it difficult to get married. But my mother supported my choice of career. She saw nothing wrong in being an actress but always advised me to play responsible roles.
How many movies have you featured in since you joined the industry?
I have featured in movies like The Credo, The Trouble Maker, The Angel in Me, The King and the Maidens, Royal Armageddon, When Jesus Says Yes, Gilbert Nwa Nsukka, Chidinma the Stubborn Girl, and The Great Servants to mention a few.
Aside acting, what other things do you do in the industry?
I am a scriptwriter and producer. I started writing movies and the desire to produce overwhelmed me. Writing is actually my first love but since I wanted to have the exact creative and replica of what I have written, I decided to go into production to ensure that it came out the way I wanted. Very soon, I would also go into directing. I love the arts and I have a firm belief that directing movies is God’s divine calling for me.
What inspires your scriptwriting?
Honestly, I really don’t know but I believe inspiration comes from God. For me, I like to create the kind of movie I would like to watch. My watchword is excellence, I can’t settle for mediocrity. Though, I may encounter some flops in the technical production, I work assiduously to ensure that it is corrected to a minimum level. I love good stories; my stories are creative, articulate and sequential. Sometimes, I receive storylines in my dreams. Immediately I wake up, I jot them down and develop a full story from them. Some other times too, the happenings and events around me could strike me, and before you know it, I have carved a good story out of them. Also, I could be reading a book and a phrase will strike my consciousness and inner mind and I will build a story around it. Indeed, so many things could just trigger an idea inside me.
How many movies have you produced so far?
I have effectively produced three different movies. The first movie I produced was The Trouble Maker. That was in 2008. The second was Chidinma the Stubborn Girl, which was produced in 2014, and the most recent was Gilbert Nwa Nsukka, which I produced in 2015. This particular movie was shot in my hometown, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area in Enugu State.
Why did you choose Uzo-Uwani as location for Gilbert Nwa Nsukka?
I felt I should be proud of where I come from, and for that fact, I should promote our culture and values as a people. In Gilbert Nwa Nsukka, we used my local dialect of Uzo-Uwani.
How were you able to achieve that? Did you use only local artistes from Uzo-Uwani?
When you use core professionals, you always get the best results. The artistes in the movie got adapted to the environment. Before we could go half of the production, most of them have started speaking my local dialect. That is one thing peculiar with good artistes. They are very versatile and adaptive. The movie featured popular actors like Amaechi Mounagor, Chiwetalu Agu, Stephen Alagemba ‘Uwaezuoke’ Browny Igboegwu, and my humble self to mention but a few.
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Which movie project are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a new movie that would explore our culture. The movie focuses on the consequence of infidelity. The long arm of tradition catches up with a woman who sleeps around with other men.
There are concerns that Nollywood is flooded with desperate ladies begging for attention. How would you respond to this?
The movie industry is a global village and it is only few people that have been recognized. Someone who thinks he or she has all it takes to be recognized will do anything to gain recognition. So, I don’t really see them as being desperate.
Would you act nude for N10 million?
No. No. Never!
Sex for role allegations have become rampant in Nollywood. Have you been sexually harassed before getting a movie role?
Yes. I was given a role to play by a production manager. Food was served and as I was about to eat, the producer walked up to me and demanded that I should meet him in his hotel room if actually I wanted to be part of the production. I could not eat the food again. I quietly picked my handbag and left. That was how I lost my role in the production.
What’s your advice to ladies that seduce producers and directors to get roles?
To be honest with you, some ladies do such things but definitely not all of them. To me, for someone to make it in the industry, it requires prayers and perseverance. Believe in yourself and what you can deliver. I don’t think sleeping with directors and producers can bring out the best in someone who cannot deliver. Talents and potentials are the first playing factors. I know many female artistes that have left the industry even after they have slept with directors and producers simply because they couldn’t deliver. A good director or producer will like to get the best from his artiste, no sentiment in movie making.
What are the challenges you are facing as a young producer and scriptwriter?
Production of a quality movie requires money, because you will have to pay the artistes, director, crew members, and rent a good camera and so on. Therefore, I need sponsorship.
What is your definition of love?
Love means different things to different people. I will define love as gentle and meek. Love bears all things; love should be natural.
Tell us about your love life
My love life has been good and smooth. I am a bit reserved. I don’t put my private life on the pages of newspapers.
Baby mama has become a growing trend among female celebrities. What is your take on this?
It is a choice. If a lady has what it takes to be a single parent, fine and good. I see nothing bad in it.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
I jumped on my grandfather’s lifeless body, not knowing that he was dead.
Who are the actresses you look up to in the industry?
I admire many actresses including Patience Ozokwor, Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde, and Mercy Johnson. I love them so much.
Who is your crush among Nigerian actors?
Sam Dede, Kenneth Okonkwo, and Nonso Diobi. I can go on and on.
Tell us about your dream man, what turns you on in a man?
My dream man must be God fearing, educated, loving and caring, and above all romantic. As for what turns me on in a man; faithfulness and sincerity are the key words.
Will you date a poor man?
Sure, I will, if I love him.
What was your most embarrassing moment on set?
I was denied a role I was already cast for and it was given to another artiste, right in front of the camera. Gosh! I was embarrassed.
What was the most embarrassing thing a female or male fan did to you?
I went to Benue State to sell one of my movies. While I was in the market, a lady hit me at the back and shouted, ‘Chidinma the stubborn girl’. Before I could turn, she has disappeared.
What makes you cry?
When the man I truly love hurt my feelings. I am emotional to the core (smiles).
What is your advice to young people who want to make a career in the movie industry?
My advice to them is that they should be prayerful, focused and persistent.