‘Piracy affects dancers too’ ----Vera Ephraim
Vera Ephraim is a committed and resourceful international artiste who within her 10 years sojourn in the art of dancing and acting has earn herself...
a space in the hearts of those who appreciates arts in both raw and refined form. She has been through the thick and thin of life, and has steadily rose to international stardom HAZEEZ BALOGUN caught up with her while she was in Lagos recently.
You are known as an actress. What other things do you do?
I'm am international actress and award-wining dancer and a choreographer.
How did you start acting?
Yeah! I started acting as a teenager, featuring in many movies, such as Glamour Girls, Ejiro's Fatal on the Design, and I was really fatal in the movie. I also took part in a host of others. Later, I joined a dance company and had my dance break, touring Europe for three months. Thereafter I came back to Nigeria and I did the movie, The Switch, Fugitive, and so on. Shortly after that, I just decided 'I cannot just remain in the same circle of Nollywood in Nigeria, but need to move forward in search of excellence'. Later, I had to stop to pursue my education in England. Over there, while studying, I featured in some films. How Life Happens was one them. Now, I am featuring in some drama soaps which include the South African popular soap, Generations. Back in Nigeria, I also featured in a soap opera titled Life Style featuring on African Magic channel and LTV. So, I'm sort of working home and abroad and all these gave me an International status.
What about dancing?
Yeah, dancing is like a habit to me which I started as a teenager 10 years ago with a dance company called African Heritage Ambassadors. It was like a young girl having fun, but I later realized that I was a good dancer. I had my first break in 2000 when I had a tour with the dance company to Europe for three months. Now, I have found my own way as a contemporary dancer. I have my own dance company, Vera Danse Hauz an artistic open house to foster original choreography and fresh talents. I've got my own style which is being appreciated by my teeming fans. In 2003, I had my first award from AMEN as Best Featured Dancer. This was informed by my uniqueness and versatility in dancing, because I equally teach and do hip-hop, salsa, modern and African contemporary dance.
Do you have any movie to your credit yet?
No (Laughs) Actually, I studied Performing Arts with script writing and directing in England. But, I'm still working on my own movie. I don't want to give my fans a wishy-washy stuff. However, when I was in the UK, I directed a few stage productions in which I got very encouraging feed backs. So yeah, I will soon come out with my own movie.
What is the experience like; as an actress and dancer?
Well, the journey has been as hard, thrilling, crazy, wild, interesting, emotional and exciting. Yeah, it is crazy because sometimes, you don't get paid, what you get is stories all the time. But, I have to move on because acting and dancing are my life-long passions, and that has been keeping me on. Sometimes, you have to go some extra miles to prove yourself to the 'powers that be', because this is a competitive world, and you have to make your mark on the scene. It is very interesting in terms of the type of people you meet in the process and challenges you face, and you know this is what you like to do best. When you have a great deal of zeal and passion for what you do, you could endure all the hazzles that you encounter in the process. Generally, it is very exciting, and at the same time emotional. By and large, I'm doing just that for the enjoyment of the appreciative audience out there, and definitely now, I'm getting paid for it.
What should your fans look out for very soon?
I've got a lot of programmes and projects coming up, but I don't want to let the cat out of the bag now. Anyway, since you asked for it, I must let my fans know what I'm preparing for them. In dancing, I'm working on a new creation, which includes touring West Africa, a dance workshop, in collaboration with contemporary dancers in West Africa. In acting, like I said, I'm presently featuring on DSTV soap titled, Life Style, and it is being directed by a Nigerian film director, Paul Adams. I've got a lot of programmes I'm working on that I don't want to mention now, but I assured you of my best all the time.
What are your views on the Nigerian Entertainment scene?
Well, it is an interesting industry. Players in the industry such as actors, dancers, directors, etc., love what they are doing, whether they make money or not. Dancers are really trying their best because they are independent, and they prove themselves that they are good. Without art funding in Nigeria, we would continue to lag behind in the scene. But, thanks be to God, some of us who are very passionate about the profession will leave no stone unturned to take the art to greater heights. I understand Nollywood is under construction now, which I think it is a good thing. It is about time we step up a bit and not remain in the circle of shooting film within two weeks and come out with wishy-washy materials. I watch African Magic channel and everyday; it is like the same old song. I hope that with the re-organisation, Nigerian movie industry could come out with good quality movies. In the music industry, the scene has witnessed a tremendous change with the entrant of Naijia hip-hop artistes who have successfully changed Nigerians taste from foreign music to Naijia stuff. It is a great achievement to those guys in the forefront of the revolution. They deserve government appreciation, in terms of moral and financial support, to encourage them to storm the international scene with their beautiful works. Government should also save, both music and movie industry from the diabolic activities of piracy in Nigeria. Some conscienceless Nigerians in collaboration with some foreigners are killing creativity of talents in the country and not helping the economic growth of our industry.
Does Piracy also affect you dancers?
Yes, it does. You see, it is very sad that you spend months working in the studios and you come out with an idea, and somebody out there has to make a copy of it, and storm the market, scene/stage before you, the owner does. Honestly, it is very annoying and aching that this charade persists in our society without anything concrete being done to stop it. Though government and players in the industry are trying their best to stop the menace, but this cartel seems to grow by the day. I think, more stringent measures should be introduced to stop these pirates from killing Nigeria's entertainment scene. You see, it pains one most that someone should copy your signature, I mean your idea that took you years of pains and financial commitment before you got it right. It is really demoralising. But, one thing that I know is that, we shall get there one day.
What are your desires in life?
To remain truthful to myself, keeping it real no matter the level I find myself. To fulfill my professional dream. Not to forget my creator in whatever level I may be. To work with international directors like Spike Lee, David Lynch. Working on set with Charliz Theron, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, and Halle Berry. To count myself among the top-rated international artistes that my people in Nigeria can beat their chests and say, “that's our own Vera doing us proud out there”. I would love to leave a tremendous legacy behind just like Michael Jackson did or even much more outstanding.
How do you use your leisure hours?
Yeah, as you can see (pointing at the swimming pool), I like to swim, and also go out to dance with good friends. I like to watch TV, movies, creative and inspiring programmes. Everything that I do, even at leisure time, is a plus to my work. If I'm swimming and jogging which I also love to do is also to keep myself fit for my physical, mind, work and well being.
Things that put you off.
(Laughs) I don't like to be bullied or see people been bullied either way. It's not really my style when people who have money or they think they do, are trying to show-off with it. Also people with complex, who try to put up negative attitude, that's totally lame puts me off
Who is Vera Ephraim?
Vera Ephraim is another successful hardworking Nigerian, a positive person all the time, no matter the situation. I'm friendly and very jovial. I like to party, surprisingly to people, I don't drink. I love to do what I do best, and I have passion for what I do. I love to love. I just love to be myself. That's who I am.