I don’t kiss or play sex on set------Stella Damasus Nzeribe
Continued from last week
I don't play sex on set
You don't see me kissing mouth to mouth like that. Let me tell you why. I'm trained. Don't let people trick you and say because it's make believe you have to do the real thing, that's a joke. It's the way of the world to just promote decadence in the society. Why would I open my mouth and my tongue and have that kind of thing because I'm acting a movie? There's something called a TV kiss.
If you go to school to learn it, they will teach you how to do a TV kiss where the director must make sure that the camera is taken from the back of the woman's head and her lips are just two centimeters away from that person's mouth so that it is the movement of the head that gives us that kind of impression that you are really kissing.
Let me remind you of something, regardless of the kind of education or exposure you have, first and foremost we live in a society that is entirely different from the society that Hollywood belongs to. Whitney Houston will get out of a car and her privates will show, not wearing underwear and it is celebrated all over America. If she releases a single, it sells like mad. Some public face that I've spoken to abroad said they actually create negative stories because people like negativity.
That is the only thing that sells them. Now, the moment we try it here it is you people that will be the first to blast our ears off. Don't forget that our society is such that we are building role models, we are Africans, I don't want a situation where I will go somewhere and parents probably in a home watching a movie and then you see mothers hiding their daughter's eyes and saying don't look. And when the children see me in their school or I want to come and do a campaign or something, they look at me and say that is the aunty that mummy say we should not watch on TV.
The thing in the society now is that you must be accepted by both the older generation and the younger generation. That is why we are creating role models. We are not teaching them to follow American or European culture because we have our own culture. In fact they are jealous of the fact that we still retain our cultural value, our tradition which is what they don't understand. They like to see African things (beauty). The moment we begin to lose it because we want to look like them then we have lost our self identity. I don't see any reason why I should wear something that should show my underwear. My underwear is called underwear because it's supposed to be under. I'm not supposed to bring it out to you. It is about time that we began to make our own movies because it is our own movies that people abroad love.
It is not the one that we want to open our boobs and show the whole world that we too we have arrived. We can come to Hollywood if what it takes to get to Hollywood is showing all my boobs, I will not go. I will be here and I will create my own Hollywood here because this is where the action is and this is where the money is but most importantly I believe that if you are properly trained, if you have a director that can play with pictures, you can make people believe anything. Richard and I have done so many romantic films for so many years that people believe that there was something more to us but watch those films closely and tell me if you will see one single case of us real kiss. We are careful with it because we are both theater art graduates. We learnt it but over time we made people believe that it was more than the romance on screen. Before we do anything we will make you believe everything with the fact that we are in love. It's the concept of make believe, that's why they say make believe, not believe.
When you can play your role in such a way that people can't tell the difference between you and the character, you are a good actress. When I go out and people tell me I touch them, I consider myself a good actress. I want you to remember how I put myself into the role.
I'm setting up a Performing Art Academy
A lot of people don't use the TV Kiss method because they do not know it exists. I'm studying and I'm trying to improve my craft and I'm setting up an academy, performing art academy. I'm starting with a drama school that I've registered. It's not enough for me to just know how to act but to also know the rudiments, the basic foundation and everything. I'm buying books, I've been buying things from different parts of the world I go, just to try and equip myself and learn more.
A movie director is the middleman while the producer is the employer of all
A Director brings the dormant script to life. He brings the technical, creative and post production part of the movie together. The director is the middle man between the creator of the script and the audience out there. A producer is the employer of different department of the project. He actually gets the director, the director would audition the artistes and the producer makes sure that everything that is needed for the production is made available including the funding which he'll obtain from the executive producer.
The people that sell the films are the ones that fund, market, produce and direct and that is not right.
The way it is supposed to be is that the role of the marketer is strictly marketing. Marketing is different from distribution. As a distributor you don't have business with what goes into the film. You don't have business with how it is advertised. Your business is to collect the end product and distribute it. We are supposed to have a board of marketers who will be paid for every film that comes out. I should not have to worry about running to TV stations to put my promo on air or go get funds in the banks. There should be people paid to do that. The responsibility of the marketer should be to distribute the work. The reality is that the people that sell the films are the ones that fund it, market it, produce and direct it. That is not right. You cannot be everything in one. There is supposed to be a structure for everyone. Those who have the money are the ones dictating what should happen in the industry and even the kind of script they want. That is what is happening in the industry now. That is why they are fighting the distribution frame work and we don't even know who it is meant for. A lot of us are doing things in the department we have no business in.
There will be no Nollywood without the Igbo businessman
Without the Igbo business man, there will not be an industry as it is today. They actually put the money down. The industry grew on it own to the point where we are being recognised as the third largest in the world. Like you rightly said they are businessmen who want to recoup their investment. So, if they see that you are coming in to say 'don't do it like this, do it like this' they will revolt. We need to make them understand it, otherwise they will fight the framework. If they've been making money on their own, you have to give them alternative route to money making. Again, I'll say they should also allow those who know about structure to come in. We cannot remain on the same spot for long. Yes we have grown to be third largest in the world in terms of quantity but we need to grow in terms of quality. Banks like United Bank of Africa (UBA) are getting interested but their fear is that we are not structured enough to give them the confidence that the money they are putting down will come back. We don't have figures and statistics.
My most challenging role
My most challenging role was 'Widow' because of the different emotions that had to go into it; from being a happy woman to a sad one. I had to contain the character to be sure that I didn't lose it. I had to make it believable to the end. And there was Queen of Rain Forest, the costume took about two hours to put on and I had to put it on every morning.
Branding is buying a piece of someone's mind, giving something a unique identity, positioning it in a place where it is different from others
I've learnt to realize that is what makes you who you are. That's what gives you the voice. Sometimes the media don't understand that when you kill the positive icons that we have left in the country you give all of us a negative image and the world is watching. You know everybody now is on the internet. I can read yesterday's SUN now on the internet. So anything that they write about us that tarnishes our images, it affects our corporate image as a nation. Before now, it was ''oh you are from Nigeria, you have oil; after that it was oh 419, you have a green passport'' and they have a way of treating you because everything reeks of corruption. When you tune in to CNN on the first of January they show Nigeria's corruption index, EFCC, the people they have caught, nothing good. But nowadays people travel abroad and when you say I'm a Nigerian the first thing you hear is you know Jay Jay Okocha, you know Omotola, you know Genevieve, you know Nollywood, you know 2face, Aki and Pawpaw, Dbanj. That is how they now identify Nigeria. So, it will be a good thing if we do not do things that will destroy those icons because they are all we have left. Where are we starting from? Aren't we supposed to start from the mind of the people? What exactly is branding? Giving something a unique identity, positioning it in a place where it is different from others. How do you do that? You buy a piece of somebody's mind, that's what branding is about.
When you go outside Nigeria and mention the name of one of our governors, people look askance but when you mention Jay Jay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, 2Face, D'banj, they ask if you are from Nigeria.
Before you start to rebrand something you must understand that there must be a brand for rebranding to take place. Have we identified what the brand is? Is the brand 419 or is it the brand before 419? Why is there a need to change the image of the country? Where are we starting from? I was in the house the other day and some lady from South Africa came in and she said she was paid by the government to come and profile us, to come and show Nigeria to the rest of the world and that after talking to me she felt that I was very intelligent and that when she goes back to her country she's going to going to write a mail to the government of Nigeria and she will add my name to the list and I'm wondering if they need a South African to come and identify those people that could be used or they need a South African to come and tell us how to rebrand our country. For instance the banks that merged with First Inland Bank had to rebrand to get it to become Finbank. Re-branding meant that it's not just that we are tired we want to change the name. It means that they have several services that they are adding to you. It's the same thing with NEPA, we still call PHCN by NEPA's name but the moment we get constant light and there is a change, you will begin to see that we will call it by the new name because it would have repositioned itself. That is what we need to do. We need to work with the minds of the people.
Why does everybody want to live in America when they've not been there before? It is because Americans sell what they want to sell. They make you think that before you have an accident, the police and ambulances are there. That is not the way it is when you get there but that is what they are selling. The question is what are we selling? What are those things that make America great? Police, ambulance, clean environment and so on. They have identified those things they will sell and they are selling us the glamour sides of America. Why can't we identify those things that are good and celebrate those things because that is the only way people will listen to us. Go to Kenya, Bahamas, Ghana and other countries and mention the name of a particular governor, everybody will just be looking at you. But once you mention Kanu Nwankwo, Wilson Oruma, Dbanj, 2face, they will get excited and ask whether you are a Nigerian. That's what they know. We need to find those that have been identified as positive figures and push them. People are more interested in listening to me than any local government chairman.
We need to shape young people's mind
No. I'm just a concern Nigerian who wants to do something about our situation. I'm tired of sitting in my home and criticizing without doing anything about it. That is why I now go around to speak with young people. We need to shape young people's mind. I told some people about a 10 year- old that the driver was taking home and police stopped them. She told the driver to give the man N20 and he would let them go ''because that is the way mum used to give him''. That is the way to live. She grows up with the belief that for you to get anything done you must bribe your way through.
The problem with Nollywood and Re-branding Nigeria
I asked a colleague recently if he heard about the meeting of actors with the minister and she said no. They are fond of doing that. Everybody just go their own way. We have this mindset that this is 'my opportunity to make money'. We need to put our house together before we rebrand Nigeria. What this rebranding needs are psychological publicists. That is all. Those are the brains that will sit together, plan it and make it work. They are the one to tell Nollywood what they expect from it. It is not about meeting people here and there. What happened to the N600 million put together for the same project during the last dispensation? I am in Nollywood and I don't know what is going on.
Brand Stella Damasus speaks the truth and is not afraid to be honest about how things should be done. Stella Damasus is a brand that is very universal but first of all one that is passionate about her country and loves, the youths, women and children. Brand Stella speaks the truth and is not afraid to be honest about how things should be done. She is empowering people to make meaning out of their lives. Brand Stella is trying to give back to the society. I do not go to the orphanage and take a press crew with me just to distribute biscuits. It's about going there without the press knowing and doing what I want to do. By my standard, brand Stella Damasus is an extremely successful brand. I've grown up doing all the things I said I would do. Success is not about physical cash, it's about discovering purpose and living it. The question to ask yourself is, what are you brought to earth to do? Success is how you want people to describe you 10 years from now.
An indecisive man will remain poor
The key to success is faith. You must have faith in God and in yourself. You must have confidence in yourself. Nobody can do that for you. You must also work hard. It is not about just talking. It is about hard work, faith, determination and God.
I learn from my choices. I don't ever regret anything I do. If my choice doesn't work it means I've learnt another way things do not work. But what I know is that an indecisive man will remain poor. If you cannot make decisions you will remain poor.
What I do with my money
I invest wisely and they will begin to manifest soon. I don't reel out my worth on papers or where I invest. My wealth is not about cash so I'm investing in people. There is a reason why I am here. I am in this position to do things for other people. Investment is in people and I am happy about that.
Failure is falling and not getting up
It is when you cannot get up. You can fall a million and one times but get up and try again. The moment you can't get up you are a failure.
If you are not in love with a man, don't marry him.
If you are not in love with the person, even if you are clocking 50 and you are not yet married, stay on your own. The key to a successful marriage is submission on the part of the woman. Love, trust and friendship are very important. If you have those four ingredients in your marriage, it will be a success.
God convinced me about my new husband. If you are a child of God he will give you the go ahead.