Filmmaking Can Thwart Inter-tribal, Religious Crises –Zainab Ahmad
Abuja-based Zainab Ahmad is an indigene of Zamfara State. She attended Bayero University, Kano and is a single parent. An upcoming producer in Kannywood, she entered the industry with zeal to set a pace for new ideas and platforms. In this chat with INSIDE KANNYWOOD, the elegant and charming owner of Ziattar Multimedia, discusses her interest in filmmaking and her new movies, among other issues.
What inspired you to venture into the entertainment industry?
Being an Arien, I am naturally an artistic person. You see, Aries is the most confident of all the zodiac signs Why do ariens have these qualities? First, they are fiery people who are natural leaders. The majority of world leaders have strong fire elements in their charts; although, fire symbolises people who can also be very arrogant and self-centered. An arien is the boss who takes your ideas and motivates and leads all the employees to better sales and marketing, while taking all the credit. Therefore, I got the zeal to doing things, naturally It may also interest you to know that I've loved movies since my childhood days. I loved watching Indian films and nurtured the ambition of becoming a producer/actress. With this determination, I went into production. I sarted with the thought of producing something different from the Soyayya (love) stories our Hausa filmmakers. I produced a movie that is unique and focuses on something that has been happening in the society, even though, no one thought it is affecting the lives of young girls, in search of greener postures, who ended up destroying themselves for lack of guidance and poverty. The film is titled, Takun Mata, meaning 'Women premise.' My second inspiration is setting up a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that would affect our peoples' lives in a positive way. My dream is seeing both Kannywood and Nollywood come together as one, and see it grow. That would offer a lot of opportunities and emplyment for the youths in Nigeria.
You are an upcoming producer, tell us how you started career.
I've been in Kannywood for a long time and had nurtured the idea of acting, but my family refused, so I had to hide behind a lot of actors, actresses, and directors to contribute in the little way that i could.
What do we expect from Ziattar in the near future?
How would you rate the Nigeria motion picture industry, most especially the Hausa genre?
I believe we are catching up and in no time we will get there.
Do you think Kannywood is catching-up with trends in the motion picture world?
Yes, the northern film industry is progressing. One can tell that something fruitful is in the making. Kannywood is dynamic, films are produced in notable indigenous languages, Hausa, Fulfulde, Nupe, etc. So, this can give you clear proof that the industry has come to stay. A lot of foreign bodies are now coming in for possible collaborations in film business with our practitioners and stakeholders, I therefore believe by the grace of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, Kannywood will consume filming affairs in Nigeria.
How do you joggle your job as a film maker and your home front?
Alhamdulillah, I am blessed with a wonderful mother, sisters and brothers that are always there for me and ready to assist me whenever I need assistance.
Would you say there is any difference between filmmaking at present and what it was before?
Definately yes. The environment is now enabling, we are beginning to see the light of the day. I foresee real success in this business. I pray for God's guidance and protection.
What would you say makes you unique amongst your peers in Kannywood?
You know people differ in many aspects. In my capacity as a small-time producer, I would want people to know that my stories are unique, and inimitable, in the sense that they touch issues related to human interest that appeal to all ages. I don't limit my scope on normal, 'flat' stories.
Our people need to be well informed, the society is full of numerous vices, strange things happen in our daily lives, so why can't we find a way of addressing them? If you agree with me, filmmaking is one of the ways of disseminating information to people, in order to educate, enlighten and entertain them. We can use a medium like this to thwart all inter-tribal differences and foster religious tolerance to our communities, so as to allow peace reign.
What do you think helped your career blossom as much as it did? Do you think you have a rival?
A rival? Not at all. Rather, I have people that over the years have become more like family to me in the industry. I don't know what I would have done without their support and guidance.
Talking about my success, I think it is not yet uhuru, but you know, my mother and sisters are the secret behind my success.
My only regret is that my father is not alive today to share this moment with me.
When you are not on set, what is your day like?
I have a couple of other activities. I am a very busy person, I have a project now on ground, which requires my attention. I am setting up an NGO.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done as a filmmaker?
Believing I could mix work and pleasure.
Without doubt, the industry has been lucrative, having strived so long and made your mark over the years, how wealthy would you say you are?
Alhamdulillah, I thank the Almighty God, I love what I am doing and I'm contented with what comes out of it.
It is generally believed that film makers or movie producers are flirts especially with actresses, do you do that too?
No, why? I don't believe you. It is just a mere tittle-tattle, I don't think my colleagues do that as well.
Is it true really that some producers/directors sexually harass actresses?
I have never encountered such behaviour. You should know that in any society, there are some few bad-aces who aim at tarnishing other people's images. So even there are cases like this, I assure you they are just minorities.
Although, in the North, the industry is bound by some Shari'ah laws, have you had an experience where an actor tried you to seduce you to get roles?
(Laughter) Not even in my dreams...
It is very important because readers would want to know how you wriggled out of such situations.
That is if something like that ever happened. I 've never had that experience in all the years I've been in the Indusry.
You mean if a handsome man, gives you the green light, you won't respond?
Here you are again! What do you want from me? (Laughter again) I have said it earlier, business is always business, ok! Personally, I am hooked up with someone, we adore each other and we try to avoid hurting one another.
Actors are usually associated with a lot of scandals, as a movie producer, have you been involved in any?
Twice, but that was a long time. Believe me, it is one of the things I bury deep inside me and hate to revisit.
How did you manage and overcome them the scandals?
Is not easy, but knowing deep inside me that I never and would never do what my enemies fabricated made me feel better deep inside me. Believe me, it is one of the things that made me strong mentally, emotionally and psychologically. That is what makes me ignore what people said, and it helped me move on in life and made me follow my heart's desire, and I can now say, Zainab is truly a happy person.
You are now a single mother. Can we say you are searching for another suitor?
As a Muslim, I believe its just a matter of time. Ive been in a seriouse relationship since after the crash of my marriage, its only Allah that knows why we are not married up to now. But God knows best and we leave everything to Him.
Don't you get pressured about your single status, despite your success?
Of course there are pressures, but as I said ealier, I have someone I love and believe he loves me too, and I can't compare him with anyone.
Tell us about him.
Sorry I don't discuss my love life in public (laughter).
Can you marry an actor?
If it is the wish of Allah Ta'ala.
What has filmmaking done for you?
I have been a happy person because I love what I am doing, I meet people. One of my most mremorable moments was at the just concluded Terracota Awards 2010 in Lagos. I was given honour of presenting about seven distinguished awards. I feel highly honoured.
How do you see Kannywood now?
Kannywood is a child of neccessity; with all the hardships, it is yet blossoming.
What are your dreams and aspirations?
My dream is to see Kannywood grow as strong as Hollywood.
What is your worst fear?
My worst fear is loosing my mother.
Who is your role model in the industry?
Late director, Tijjani Ibraheem.
What was your worst moment and your most memorable day since you ventured into the industry.
My worst moment is waking up to see someone from nowhere trying to destroy this giant industry, without the thought that it is the career of some people and their source of livelihood, due to their distorted understanding of the religion. One of my happiest moments the day my people decided to call a spade a spade, by standing to fight the wickedness and injustice mated out on us for years. That made me so happy. We must say no,and also fight for our rights.
How do you unwind?
I love to relax by reading and watching movies, and hanging out with friends.
What do you have to tell your fans across the globe?
I want to thank them for their support, and want to wish them Allah's Blessings and guidance.