Jovial and unassuming, Nollywood darling, Nse Ikpe-Etim comes dazzlingly as ‘Queen of the Silver Screen’. Having just about 30 major movie appearances in Nollywood, Nse has successfully etched her name in the minds of movie lovers. Gifted with the skills to interpret roles and make the character’s essence believable, the multiple award-winning actress, a couple of weeks ago, filmed alongside American superstar and Senegalese singer, Akon.
One of her recent films, ‘A Hotel Called Memory’, will premiere next month in America during the Black Star Film Festival. Nse was recently nominated by IARA Awards coming up in September in the UK in the category for Best International Actress 2017, for her role in ‘Tess’, a movie directed by Meg Rickards. She speaks with Ferdinand Ekechukwu about her style, marriage, and career.
Who is Nse?
I think it is safe to say that I am very goofy and playful too. However, I am
extremely serious when I need to be.
Tell us about your background?
I am an actor with five siblings, an old student of FGC Ilorin, a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Calabar. I have worked in several industries and finally found career fulfillment in being an actor.
Growing up, you moved with your parents. What impact did that have on you?
It opened me up to different cultures, appreciating other people and what they stand for. It afforded me the opportunity to travel around Nigeria and see its beauty.
For how long have you carried your natural hair?
I stopped using all forms of chemicals in my hair in 2012. I decided to appreciate what I have been given. Kinky hair.
You have graced a couple of events and you appeared commendable, what’s your idea of fashion and style?
That is awfully kind of you. I have a brilliant team who take all the credit. My style is simple, sometimes bohemian depending on how I feel. I am most comfortable in a pair of sneakers, or brogues regardless of what I wear.
It was refreshing to have you host the AMAAs, however not without a few hiccups.
I was pleased with the opportunity and I look forward to doing many more. Hiccups make the show, create a talking point. When people have things to talk about, the show creates an interest.
Watching you rehearse during the 13th AMAAs, you are well versed with Nigerian languages?
Should we say that is the advantage of parents who traveled from place to place? I have an interest in people and their culture, and I am open to assimilating languages. It just sums up humanity.
Are you a romantic?
The world is so pressured and this pressure finds its way into our homes. The impact of this could affect the nurturing of romance, because romance has to be nurtured. However, it is necessary to pull yourself out sometimes and look at the bigger picture. Keep the romance going; don’t let the candle blow out.
What is the experience like combining marriage with acting?
To be honest, in any relationship, understanding, and communication are two vital components that keep a relationship blooming. As an actor, it can take its toll because of the constant traveling to work. However, work is work, home is home.
Having said sometimes that you are not born to get married how do you feel now?
I stand by the statement. I wasn’t born to be married, neither was anyone.
When we came into the world, it is for a greater good, to affect people and impact on our different societies. If you find someone to share that life with, all well and good ,if you don’t you just get on with it and keep doing good.
Your ‘passion and hobby’ has always been your kitchen. Tell us more about that.
I love cooking so much that even when I fly thousands of miles across continents, I run straight to the kitchen for sanity. I cook for pleasure, for entertainment, for survival. I just cook. My favorite part of the house is the kitchen; it’s the “warmest” place for me.
Fortunately, I have access to a variety of ingredients that I normally wouldn’t find locally so I am able to concoct and create an array of international dishes. If you walk into my kitchen, you might end up with a Spanish breakfast, a Mexican lunch and an Italian dinner.
Apart from acting, do you have any other interests or business?
Eden’s Theory. Scented Candles, Artisan perfumes, Organic skincare products, Organic hair products made with fair trade and wild-crafted African oils suitable for vegans. This is what my partner, Victoria and I get up to when I am not filming.
At what point did you start acting?
I started when I refused to begin. So many friends, classmates, spoke to me about getting involved. I was too afraid to do this. I still am, not sure if it has started yet, but officially, I would say 2008. Reloaded was more like the comeback, thanks to Emem who taunted me. So many people share in this success. They all know themselves. I should say, thank you for pushing.
Is there a role you played in the past that you would not have played now or probably would have played differently?
Naturally, every artisan would reflect on their last performances and reevaluate and look to improve their work.
What do you look out for in a script before accepting the role?
I look for the most unusual thing in a script. The unscripted things. I like my script to remind me of an onion so as I peel, I get layers and layers of uncertainties. This is my basis as an actor.
Does it come challenging to you getting out of character to another after playing a particular role?
I don’t know… really but like Cliff (hubby) says, ‘I am married to many women in one.’
What’s your philosophy of life?
IF…. a poem by Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936. It sums it all up.
Having relocated to the UK, what opportunities have been available to you as an actor?
I have had the opportunity to work with some reputable actors in the UK and in the US. I have been exposed to the British Heritage of Black Actors and also been involved in supporting the drive of the British Film Institute (BFI) where the spotlight was on me as a Nollywood actor. I am partnering with a director who has made inroads into the film industry in Scotland and we look forward to the projects.
How many movies have you starred in?
I would say between 25 to 30 credited films. I hope I am right and I have not made an erroneous claim.
Considering the number of movies you have starred in, do you think you have earned that popularity befitting of your status?
I believe the primary goal of an actor should not be popularity, rather attaining high standards while entertaining audiences. If those attributes bring forth fame then that would be welcoming.