I Don't Chase Men Away...Benita
Benita Nzeribe is one of the few actresses in Nollywood who have worked hard to achieve the goal of becoming an A-list performer. From a humble beginning in 1996 on the set of the Beyond Our Dreams TV soap opera, the Ihiala, Anambra State-born thespian, is now a strong force to be reckoned with in Nigeria's movie industry.
According to the English graduate of Abia State University it all started when she used to travel "all the way from the East to Lagos for auditions." Continuing, the star actress, who registered her presence in Nollywood in the movies Notorious Virgin and Gold Diggers in 1999, said she has escaped the usual controversies that have always trailed some of her female colleagues in the motion picture industry.
When asked if she is into any relationship, she smiled and did not respond to the question because, according to her, she would rather keep anything about her relationship close to her chest. But not after assuring that 2008 might be her year when the bright sparks in her love life might come to the fore.
Shy and easy going, Benny, as she is fondly called by her colleagues and pals, also shared some of her most kept secrets. She divulged that she is afraid of heartbreaks, and as such has built a wall around her emotions. And any guy must have the right equipment that will enable him scale that wall if he wants to see what she keeps locked up in her heart.
Benny, who has acted with some of the best actors around, told Klieglights that she loves working with Olu Jacobs, Ejike Asiegbu, Fred Amata, Oby Edozien, Joke Jacobs, Uche Jombo, Genevieve Nnaji, Dakore Egbuson, Kate Henshaw and so many of her colleagues who have been professional in the discharge of their duties as artistes.
Benita, who is from the very popular Nzeribe family would rather play down on her family name. This is because she sees herself as someone from a humble background who knows where she is headed. That must be why her background and upbringing has not stood in the way of her life and career.
And like most actresses have said over and again, Benita said she has only heard about the issue of sexual harassment, but that she has never been harassed.
" I have heard people talk about it; I have heard some say they were harassed but I have never been a victim. My determination to succeed as an actress, coupled with the divine guidance from heaven has made it possible for me to have come this far. As a gifted and well groomed actress, any good movie producer will give me my due, and not the other way round as is the case with some up and coming actresses, who because of their urge to get to the top, throw themselves at these moviemakers, and become vulnerable to sexual harassment," Benita said.
Having made a name in Nollywood, one would expect that the good things of life that go with success would have come her way naturally. "I know that I have worked very hard, so it is only normal that I would have everything I need. I have a jeep and a Toyota car to sort my transport problems. I live in a duplex at Ire-Akari Estate in Isolo. There is also a comfortable home in Lekki, where I run to get away from the hustle and bustle of Lagos." She has indeed done well for herself.
Some men develop cold feet at the sight of a successful single woman; so, is her success standing in the way of her being married? No! is what she said, while asserting that it is not in her character to chase men away, and neither would she look for men, rather they will come looking for her.
She said that right now she would be patient and concentrate on her career, as she still believes that instead of looking for Mr. right, it was better to make herself the right person so men would come looking for her.
Still on marriage, she said her ideal, man must be one who understands her feelings, and who will always be straight with her in all matters.
"A man that loves a woman knows his limits, no matter what he does. And I think that is every woman's dream," she said.
Aside acting, Benita also revealed that she does a bit of modelling and interior decorations when she is having less work on her hands, and has found it rather interesting and enjoyable.
In the present day Nollywood where movies are churned out on a daily basis, Benita revealed that she has done close to over 100 movies in Nollywood as an actress, and still remembers how bad her parents felt when they found out that she was in the acting career.
She said they did not "kick against my choice, but they were skeptical about my career choice. But thank God I've been able to prove them wrong. They let me be after seeing the success I've made of myself."
Throwing more light on her background she said "I was born in Aba and grew up in so many places. I attended primary and secondary school in Aba and Umuahia. I also attended a convent school with the hope of becoming a reverend sister." But she left when she felt that was not for her. She recalled that growing up was normal and nice for her. It was "nothing too fantastic with little pains here and there. The fondest memories about my growing up years came when my dad bought me my first car at the age of 14."
Growing up was indeed fun for Benita who happens to be a third child out of four children, two boys and two girls, born to her parents. Her dad is an international businessman, "while mum is a retired chief nurse."
Benita believes she made it big because God has been good to her. She may be up there with the stars but she has never forgotten where she is coming from. One reason no doubt why she has kept her head in the face of her fame and fortune. She has not stopped praying "that we all join hands together to build Nollywood and make it a better place."
While looking back at the journey of Nollywood, Benita opined that government should come in and do more by giving support in all areas that concern the motion picture industry. To her things can still get better if the right attention is given to Nollywood.