I’ve tried out Nigerian men
they are not worth my while---Kate Henshaw
Charming Kate Henshaw was one of the earliest stars of Nigeria's home video boom era called Nollywood. She has taken all sorts of role, from a prostitute (in Domitilla) to a comic semi-literate housegirl in Candlelight. Through it all, she has retained her youthful looks, something that belies her 33 years. It's hard to find many of her generation of actresses who still command directors' and viewers' interest as she does. Not a few men lament her marriage to a foreigner, British Rod Nuttal, but Kate says Nigerian men didn't measure up to her taste. Please read on and share the fun with us.
Somebody out there is curious; he wants to know who Kate Henshaw-Nuttal is?
I'm a very simple person, down to earth. I like the company of good people not people with hearts of stone.
How do you mean, are you having a rough time with some friends in the industry?
I'm merely talking about my preference in life. Friends in the industry are few, though. Here, I'm talking about wicked, selfish and unbending people generally.
What is the current film you are working on?
O yes, a soap, entitled Domino, in Abuja. A story about a big family, a family of three children and a parent's agony of having one of the children, the girl, who is a drug addict, to share in their hard earned dynasty.
I hear about “The Stolen Bible…”
Yeah! We shot that one in September, last year, in Ikorodu. About a young girl who stole an old woman's Bible and swore to place a curse on who was responsible.
Having been married, how have you been coping, the job and motherhood?
Lovely, no problems at all. I've finally found a balance. Initially it was hard, especially after having my baby and not really subscribing to taking my baby to location.
What about your husband don't tell me he is not so possessive or too demanding of you?
Possessive, well, it depends on what you mean, but he is a loving husband, but too demanding, I'll say no. That's why I'm able to cope very well. As a matter of fact, he helps out in other areas, running the bath when I'm occupied and sometimes in the kitchen; he is a very wonderful cook.
You seem to wear this particular look of recent, tying a scarf around your head, is that what is obtainable now and for how long have you had it?
[laughs] when did you notice…?
I just observed it of recent.
I just started it not quite long, some thing recent, I just found out that it gives my face a different look, so I have different colours of head tie for different outfit, I don't know, it makes me look cool.
Does that make you spend lesser time in the salon?
Hem…[laughs excitedly] yes…and… Does it mean you are too busy to bother about your looks?
No, I like looking good, but I'd rather not waste the whole day going to do my hair. If I have time I'll do it; if I don't, I just cover my head.
You were once a beauty queen, right?
Yes, that was 1990 or 91.
What are you doing to keep your looks?
Well, everyone keeps saying that I look young every day and I've not changed. I wake up in the morning, I go to the gym, I work out for two hours, o.k., take my daughter to school, then go to the gym, two hours, go home, have my shower. I don't have break fast which is lack of milk, lunch, I have may be salad and in the evening, I have a different dinner.
So, what parts of your body are you working on?
All parts, firming up, toning, slimming.
Tell me about your baby, a girl or boy?
A lovely girl, she will be five in September; she is quite wonderful, intelligent and fun loving.
Would you want her to grow up and become an actress like you?
If she wants, I believe that I want to support her in anything that she pleases to do and she has the love for. It's not what I want her to be, but what she wants to be, so that by doing that she will be happy.
How many children are you looking up to having?
One for me, one for the dad.
Whose decision was that?
Why are you married to a white man?
Is it for the sake of making a difference, because looking around, it seems among your fellow actresses, you are the only one whose choice is a white man.
Ah..ah..ah… Eee! Is it? I didn't notice, but I'm not the only person in the country that is married to a white person.
Of course not.
Good, so when you ask the other people and they answer you, then you have my answer.
I'm just curious and tempted to ask, is it that we the Nigerian men are not good enough, at least, we need to know where we stand on some issues. I have tried you people and I found out that it was not worth my while, so that's it.
So, how would you describe your marriage?
My marriage is lovely. My husband is supportive; he is helpful. It's lovely. It has its ups and downs, no doubt, people quarrel and all that, but I couldn't have wished for someone better.
You once described him as a wonderful cook, what does he cook, African dishes, Nigerian dishes…?
He makes the best pastas in the world, pasta with sauce, mushroom sausage, very nice
You taught him all that?
No, he can cook, he can cook all by himself; so, if I am tired he will cook.
Does he eat African dishes?
The last time he tasted some African dishes was years ago at our traditional wedding. He ate some afang and pounded yam, but he would eat plantain and beans. Beyond that forget, it.
That implies that to a tone of 80 per cent, you are living on European dishes?
Yes, my eating habit has changed. Once in a while, I'll remember that I've not eaten pounded yam and soup, then I will go for it. But most of the time I will either have salad or I have sandwich or potatoes and sauce or something, all these their oyinbo food.
How did you meet him?
I met him while I was working for Virgin Organisation. Opa Williams. We were doing a sponsorship job. Opa had shot a film and we were looking for sponsors, so that we could donate to motherless babies' home. That was how I met him.
Was he just coming into Nigeria then?
No, he'd been here for about four years before I met him.
How long does he stay in the country before dashing out each time?
He's here, he lives here, he works here, we are all here.
There was a time you faded off the screen, not being regular in the movies, what happened to you then?
Oh.. I had other things to do. I was helping my husband with his business.
Then, maybe, I travelled out and I was doing something with Mnet, because I am a part time presenter with Mnet in South Africa. So, it's good to go away for a while and come back. Then people would go like, we've not seen you for a while, where have you been. They value you more.
What does your husband do?
He is an agent for two companies in Nigeria here; I won't tell you which one.
I overheard you mentioning it some time ago, about when your husband lost his job, what exactly was that?
Oh… my God, that's an old story, many years, like three or four years ago.
How was life then with you?
It was hard. It was like starting from the scratch, but God has been faithful, for us to be where we are now, it's only God that has made it possible.
So, would you say that you are rich?
I'm rich, in Jesus name. I claim it. I will not say anything negative about myself. I'm very rich.
What is the greatest thing that has ever happened to you?
Greatest thing…[thinking]having my daughter, normal birth, no complications, a healthy child, very intelligent, just watching her grow is just wonderful.
No, not at all.
Down the memory lane, in which of the films you acted in would you say that you put up your best performance?
Yet Another Day because then before I shot the film I hadn't done anything like that before, I was playing someone totally different; a loose bird, no home, no food and to think that in one of the scenes, I actually finished a bottle of alcohol; it was just too rough.
What about your comic character in this soap opera..
Ah! Candle Light. Oh I miss that character. I really really love it. It was nice. It was different and I love doing that.
So where would you say you really belong, doing this comic thing, because you did very wonderfully in it or this other polished type of roles?
I will like to believe that I am versatile: comic, funny, or polished as you call it, anything I'll be able to play it comfortably well. I've not played an old woman yet, but I have played a young girl.
So, what do you miss about this comic character?
I miss everything. You know there is no make up, there is nothing, with just a wrapper and a top and its just very down to earth. This is what I love best about the character, you are just being yourself, that's it.
Do you see yourself going into mod...
(Cuts in) L-a-s-t q-u-e-s-t-i-o-n
...Modelling... do you see yourself
I've done that I did modelling many years ago. I don't think it's.. (laughs) I don't think it's possible now.
(cuts in) b-y-e b-y-e V-i-c-t-o-r
Sorry, lastly would you say that you have arrived as an actress?
I'm okay. I'm comfortable.
What is he target you have set for yourself?
I want to be in a film that involves people in Hollywood and Nollywood in collaboration. A big job.
What is the relationship with your fans, like some others, would you say you can be snobbish sometime?
I love my fans so much and had never let my popularity take me over, and as always, I'll want to thank them for their support. I've not met any fan that thinks of me as a snub.
Could you give us your reaction to the ban on some of our star actors and actresses?
No. comment! P l e a s e…
What about the state of the industry at the moment?
The industry is not doing too badly, and no doubt with the new executives of the Lagos chapter, it is just our hope that they will work as one body with a unified front.
Any particular area where you think the shoe pinches more and need to be addressed?
Every area is important. It's more like the organs of the body, where if one is faulty, the others are affected.