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•KC Ejelonu
'What some young girls wear to auditions shock me. They dress like they are going clubbing, having night make up on during the day. What kind of signals are they sending to the opposite sex around?' This is upcoming actress KC Ejelonu's misgivings about sex for roles in Nollywood. Being told she was too fat for a role in the UK further fueled her resolve to brace the odds and pursue her acting career in Nigeria.

This UK returnee told Daily Sun she didn't regret quitting her job at Barclays Bank to find fulfilment in acting as well as why she is not desperate to settle down. Excerpts:

What plans do you have for the year?
2012 will be another great year for me. I just landed my first lead role and will be shooting soon. I am told production will be over a month. I am excited and looking forward to that. Also, this year, I will be doing more writing and producing and waiting for those quality productions. I will be helping out kids a lot more this year, I love kids and will do my very best to put a smile on their faces.

How would you describe last year in your career?
2011 was an amazing year for me. I met and worked with a lot of people in the industry. I just finished a movie with Nollywood top shots, which will be released this year. Also, in 2011, I was engaged in charitable works. I hope to do more this year.

What motivated you into acting?
I knew I wanted to be an actress at the age of 7. I believe we are all stars but we need to find what we are good at and what talent God has given to us. Working for Barclays Bank was a great experience and opportunity but I wasn't 100 per cent happy. However, when I am acting, there is this joy within me that I can't explain. I am just happy and want to achieve more. I have been acting for almost two years. I decided it was time to pursue my acting career at home. So, I quit my job in the UK and returned to follow my passion.

What was your family's reaction about your decision to come back home?

My family knew I always wanted to be in Nigeria, not to study here, but to live and work here. They had no choice but to give me their blessings when I decided to move back home, my passion for acting was just too strong.

You quit your job over there just to come back home to act, don't you think that was a bit hasty?

No, some of my friends thought I was mad and joking. Most of the comment was 'you left Barclays for Nollywood? You left a good paying job for peanuts?' All I could do was laugh but it hurt like hell for some friends to disregard my passion. But then, I have good and dedicated friends who supported me and are still supporting me. I never go without telling them I love them. 11 years in the UK and I got bored. The UK has nothing to offer me right now.

Do you think you have what it takes to penetrate and make it big in Nollywood?

Without a doubt, I am not in competition with anyone in the industry, I am just in competition with myself. I strive to be better and achieve greater things than yesterday. I am not the prettiest in the industry but I know God didn't give me this talent, passion and drive for nothing. I wouldn't let God down, not my parents and definitely not myself.

Have you been getting scripts since you came home?
I have gone through auditions. I attend every audition I have been informed about but now, I do my research before attending some auditions because some people just waste your time here in Lagos with auditions. I have worked with Emem Isong, Desmond Elliot, Lancelot Imaseun, Mike Ezuronye, Chika Ike and Joseph Benjamin. I worked with Clarence Peters on a music video for Beazy. The song is called over and over.

Are we going to see more of that from you?
Yes, I intend to build myself as a brand and not just as an actress alone. I have to be versatile as a professional.

How do you intend to build KC as a brand?
If I tell you, that leaves me with no excitement. But I'll say KC is not just about acting. I have a lot of things I want to achieve. KC the brand is at the bottom of the list. Now KC's empire is at the top of my list and if bad belle people try me, na God you dey follow fight.

How would you rate the Nigerian movie industry?
l will rank us to be at the middle stage. Few years ago, we didn't have movies showing in the cinemas. I couldn't go out in London to watch a Nigerian movie, but now that has been made possible by the likes of Uche Jombo, Emen Isong, Ini Edo, Lancelot Imaseun and a host of others. Nollywood is here to stay. There is a new generation, of actors and actresses, fresh directors and producers who actually studied directing and are shooting with the best equipments. I really get into an argument when I hear people condemn Nollywood. I dislike it with a passion and I am ready to stand up for Nollywood.

How challenging has it been for you?
Will I say I am truly blessed? Yes! But it's been crazy in terms of people in Nigeria don't work with timing or schedules for the day when shooting. I get so frustrated. My aunty taught me how to let go of things like this. Expect the worse out of people but pray for the best, and God has given me nothing but the best.

Switching accents was easy for me, though I am learning how to sound Nigerian when I speak pigin English. I mean I sound Nigerian but the polished English doesn't make my pigin sound perfect. My friends laugh at me. But I also want to learn how to speak warri's pidgin english (wafi). When I hear it, it sounds so good.

What role will you not play in a bid to make a name for yourself?

I will never go nude. God won't forgive me, my parents will kill me and I will be killing my future. How will I explain it to my husband or kids in future? That's a no no for me. No amount of money can make me do that.

What does being an actress mean to you?
It means being able to transform into any given role anytime. An actress should be versatile, be strong, acting might look good from the audience point of view, but it is a lot of work in front of the camera. Also, improving on your skills, there is always something new to learn. It's not just for the pretty face, because that face won't last forever but your skill, knowledge and experience will. I took drama classes at Eton Church of England in Slough but I intend to advance my knowledge taking more acting courses along the way. An actress should know how to speak her first language fluently.

Are you happy with your decision to be an actress?
More than 100 per cent happy with no regrets. It is something I enjoy doing and it brings me joy.

How would you describe life in the UK?
Fun, fun and more fun. When you are around family members and close friends, who make you happy, you can't trade that or compare it with anything else.

Aside from the fun aspect, what experience will you not forget in a hurry living in UK?

How to be independent. At a certain age, you are in college or the university, out of your parents house and paying your bills. I got my first job when I was 16 years old, ever since then I couldn't stop working. Moving out of my parents' house in the UK taught me a lot and has made me the woman I am today.

Did you try to pursue your acting career over there?

Oh yes but being extra skinny is not my thing. I went for an audition and they told me I was too fat. They told me that they wanted me to cut down to size six. I knew it wasn't going to be possible. I would just have looked like somebody who had kwashiorkor. I could agree to come down to size 10 but certainly not size six. I had to miss that role because I couldn't lose the weight. There aren't many roles for black people in the UK.

Now that you are in Nigeria, don't you miss your family?

A whole lot. What would we have done without Skype and Blackberry? And I never go a day without chatting with them. I miss my dad like crazy, my mum's cooking, my siblings are my best friends. I miss playing dress up, movie nights. I also miss my best friend, L-Boogie. I miss Starbucks. I am praying someone gets a franchise and brings it to Nigeria.

What will you say about sex for roles in Nollywood?

I don't get in with anyone's decision but producers and directors are not the only ones to blame. What some young girls wear to auditions, I am shocked.They dress like they are going clubbing, having night make up on during the day. What kind of signals are they sending to the opposite sex around? Now, if any of the production crew should start chatting you up, as a young lady, you should turn him down and focus on what you went in for. But if you accept to take things further, don't be surprised with the end result, you are not going to be the next Genevieve Nnaji. Strive to be better, to create your own niche. Men know how to say the sweetest things to you. Let your talent, confidence, passion for acting speak for itself and not your body.

What did you study in school?
I have an Msc in International Marketing. I know it has no relationship with acting but acting has been my passion.

Are you back for good?
Yes ma'am. No going back for me.
Who are your role models in the industry?
My role models in general are, my Dad and Mum, Oprah, Beyonce, Uncle Olu and Aunty Joke Silva, Genevieve Nnaji, Kimora Lee, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali.

You talked about husband and kids earlier, is marriage on your mind now?

Yes, God's time is the best. My husband will be the luckiest man. But then again, marriage is not a do or die affair. Most people live a fake lifestyle in marriage. I don't settle for less.

If your man says quit acting, what will you do?
I will tell him to open accounts for my kids and have investments in their names, that's if we are already married. And if he is yet to put a ring on it, he still has to open some bond accounts in my name obviously. Really, it's all about understanding. Personally, when I get married, I just want to do a movie each year but I will write and produce. Besides, I might be too busy with my other ventures. Most importantly, nothing can take me away from spending quality time with my future family.

I am not kidding with the accounts and investments for my kids and my own bond accounts. My kids will not lack in education and having a business mind. My father gave me the very best and he says his best gift till date is my education. Some of my friends say I set my standards so high and I laugh because that isn't even high at all. My future husband has to motivate me and I'll do the same. You have to set goals and targets for yourself and your family. If you think that is high, please, save yourself the time and don't come to me because it's not written on my forehead that I am desperate to get married. Lastly, I don't, infact, I can't be a housewife, not in this world nor in another life time.

Most actresses in Nigeria are always involved in one scandal or the other, how do you hope to avert this?

I have God, my family and close friends to keep me grounded.

How do you relax?
Stay at home. Gisting with my aunty over tea in the morning starts my day. We keep each other company, watch movies and read. Also I love going to the spa or spending the weekend with my friends.

How will you describe your dress sense?
Classy, conservative but sexy.