CONTROVERSY DESTABILISES ME â€“ STEPH-NORA OKERE
She declines to comment on her failed marriage, just as she admitted that being an actress has caused her more pain than it has brought joy and happiness to her life. Excerpts;
Do you see any difference between when you joined the industry, and where you are today?
There are lots of differences. When I joined the industry, it was more of a trial and error thing. Then, most of us were just fresh from the Universities armed with our degrees and limited knowledge of what we were doing.
What was your first time on set like?
It was different from what I was used to. I was trained as a stage actor. So, I had to learn to get used to the camera. It was different, unlike the stage where you'll do a lot of gesticulation and lots of body movement.
From the stage, I went straight to the television, then to home video. On camera, you are more natural, you do things the normal way, unlike the stage, where you really have to be a little more expressive, so that people out there would understand what you are doing.
Did the stage style affect your acting?
At the beginning, it did, but I had to train myself into acting for the camera. Soonest I blended, it did not take me too long to adapt to the new trend.
How much did your acting career affect your love life before you finally got married?
It didn't, because I came into the industry as a professional. I had my degree in Theatre Arts, before joining the industry. So producers and directors saw me from the professional point of view.
Are you saying, you have never been harassed sexually?
Sexual harassment is relative. I did not come into the industry to find my feet; I already had my feet on the ground. I've been on stage and T.V, before joining the movie industry. So, I did not need to impress anybody.
It is when you want to show what you have that somebody can take advantage of you. But when you already have what everybody knows you had, they will be full of respect for you If there was anything like sexual harassment when I was coming into the industry, I don't remember anybody harassing me.
Acting actually brought you to limelight, do you have godfather or mother that made you?
I do not believe in godfatherism but a whole lot of people made me who I am today. Life is a process and I'm the type of person who believes in merit, I hate the back- door approach. I love to toll the lines; take my turn and pay my dues and I believe I have done that.
There were a lot of people whom I have encountered that helped my career. People whom God has positioned for me in all my productions. So I can't say this or that person made me who I am but everyone that has come my way, have participated one way or the other in making me who I am today and I am grateful for that.
Being a beautiful woman, how do you handle advances from your male admirers even now that you are married?
I always try to draw a line between my work and my personal life. If there is much reason I had a crush on any one, it's never been on set. I have not had any relationship with any man after we finished acting together.
But I cannot deny the fact that I have dated somebody in the industry before but it wasn't an attraction that came from working together. I see every job as a professional duty and I don't go beyond that. I also draw the line between my work and pleasure and I try to be as polite as I could, to every of my male fans. I am firm, yet polite.
You said you've once dated an actor. How did you get involved in a relationship you knew wouldn't lead to the altar?
I did not know that it won't lead to the altar. He was somebody that everybody knew I was going out with then.
We had a healthy relationship, and you don't start a relationship believing that it would crash or lead to the http://vanguardngr.com/entertainment/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/steph-nora-1.jpg altar. But I thank God today that I cannot be classified as one of the actresses who are taking for a ride in the industry.
How can you define a good actor/ actress?
An actor is one who can interprete a character to that point which when you watch him, you will feel like you are watching the character in real life. He is someone who is professional, who submits his body, voice and soul to the character he is portraying, that is a good actor.
I don't think acting is all about what you wear, how good your make_up is, your hair style, kind of cars, appearances….Have you been able to capture your audience? Have you been able to tell a story to the viewers?
There are some times that you finished a job and someone sees you on the street and begins to relate to you as if you are the character which you played in the movie. If you have not gotten to that point then, there is a lot of work to be done.
If we have to take you for your words. How would you relate that to playing sexual role in movies?
For instance, if you come to me with a script which indicates that I am going to make love to Emeka Ike or anybody on set, if I look at the script and I agreed to do it then, I better do it. But if I know I cannot then, I have no business taking the job. So, if you contracted yourself to act nude or seduce someone then, you better do it to convince the audience.
Have you ever done that in your movies?
I think I must have acted such either once or twice.
Was that not one of the reasons you were perceived as a controversial actress?
I don't know, because I just do my work. There was a time people tagged me as an 'armed robber'. The next time, they saw me as a 'husband_snatcher'. I have done a lot of things in the movies.
But have you really snatched somebody's husband in real life?
I have never snatched anybody's husband in real life but there have been some embarrassing moments. There was a movie I did with RMD, titled ''The Price' where I seduced him and at the same time indicted him.
Unknown to me that the movie had been released into the market, I went to a restaurant with a friend to have launch.
Then we met a man occupying a particular table and we made to share the table with him, but the man reacted negatively, saying 'you cannot sit here.' We inquired to know why but he said 'No', you cannot sit on the same table with me' pointing at me. I asked why? And he said, because I indicted a man of God in the movie, RMD was a pastor in that movie.
The man was really frantic.
I was so embarrassed, and then I left the restaurant. A week or thereabout, the producer of the movie, Teco Benson called to ask me if I had seen the movie and I was like oh! That was why the man asked me to leave the table. Aside other situation like that, I have never snatched anybody's husband in real life.
Any regret as an actress?
Not for a second, because it's what I really wanted to do. But my regret is that art for me, did not start from acting, rather it started from music.
Do you sing?
Yes! But my father would not hear of it, though he's late now. I don't know what would have become of me now if he was alive.
Art for me, actually started from dance to music and then acting. So, I'd never for one day given it a thought that I should have been a banker, because I had chances of doing other courses in the Universities after I graduated. Two weeks ago, somebody still offered me a job in an office and I declined.
Any single track or album to show for it?
Not yet, If I am going to
drop a single, I'm not in a hurry to do so. I intend to do my music alone, just as I did with acting. I am not following any trend, I don't want to do music just because it's what is in vogue. Music is something I love to do; something that's in me.
Do you engage yourself in another thing aside acting?
I write movie scripts, package events and do other things
Does that fetch you more money when compared to acting?
Anything I do fetches me money, but I have not really sat to equate which has been paying my bills.
Let's talk about your marriage.
It's not for you.
But there is rumour, making rounds that you've broken_up with your husband?
I've told you that it's not for you, and you better leave it that way if you want us to continue with the interview.
Would you agree that most marriages of actresses don't last for long?
It's not true! If you go to the registry, a lot of divorce cases are going on. Let's put it straight. So many marriages are not just working out; reasons, I cannot say that I have an overall conclusion; I can only draw my own little observation.
So what is your own advice?
I can't offer any because each person's case and situation varies. What advice that works for Mr.' A' might not work for Mr. 'B'.
What are your own opinions about men generally?
They are God's creation.
Have you ever been treated badly by men?
No! Because I always tell people that we all have a common enemy, which is the devil. When the devil wants to do something to you, he uses someone either a man or woman to achieve that purpose. So, when someone, regardless of the sex does anything that is not nice to me, I don't take offence with the person rather, I see that person as being used by the devil against me.
We normally have one or two dreams while growing up as a child. Are you still living up to your dreams?
As a child, I saw myself as a singer than as an actress. It was during my secondary school days that acting came up.
It used to be dance and music for me, and I actually started writing songs when I was in primary four. But my father quickly quenched that fire because he was a conservative person. So, I had to switch to acting and here I am. I am happy but my dream is to go beyond where I am today but how I am going to get there is in the hands of God.
What about the true picture of your dream man?
Above every other thing, any man that I want to belong to, must be a clean and a God_fearing person.
Did your man fit into those qualities?
What man? If you want us to continue with this conversation, don't be tricky with me.
Several controversial stories have been written about you, are you controversial?
I am not a controversial person. It was really painful when the press tagged 'controversy' on my name. But I try as much as possible to stay away from controversy.
It's not because I want to be seen as a holy or a good person; no! I stayed out of controversy because it doesn't allow my mind to operate the way I wanted it to; it causes too much distraction and makes me feel jittery.
What are some of the pains you have had to go through for being a celebrity?
Sometimes people out there really get judgmental. They already assume and sum you up, even without talking to you. It's really painful, I went to a bank last week and innocently because I rushed down there for an urgent transaction, I didn't make-up, I just put on my eye-glasses. And normally if I don't make-up I always wear my Eye-glasses so, that my face won't look somehow.
And somebody in the banking hall said 'why are you disguising' we know you! (Laugh). So many situations like that make me feel as if I have lost my privacy and human right.
I am one person who loves to be herself anywhere I go to, do things the way I feel, not trying to put up a character for people to believe. But I am not allowed to do that because I've sold that in the market of popularity.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done as a celebrity?
There was a day I jump a motor_bike(Okada). I had a meeting at Ocean View and there was a terrible traffic which I was in for almost three hours. I just told my driver to pack, and took a bike, people were wondering why but I just didn't care because that meeting was so important to me.