+Why I am among the most-sought after actresses by producers in Nollywood
Simply addressed as Gina Mensah but was born Georgina Oseiemensah about 30 years ago in Pankronu, Kumasi, Ghana. She is a graduate of Computer Science, Kuamikroma Science and Technology University, Ghana.
The pretty thespian started her acting career in 2009. Shortly after, she took a break and delved into fashion designing which she practised for a while before coming back to Nollywood. Since she started out fully, the gorgeous actress has become one of the most sought after by movie producers, and she has featured in about a hundred movies, including, Political Disaster, Political Armed Robbers, Market Babes, When God Is Involved, Pains and Gains In Marriage, My Selling Point, Ultimate Crown and many more.
In this exclusive and no hold bared interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly recently at an event in Lagos, the talented role interpreter spoke on many issues that revolve around her life and career, including how she was heart-broken by her ex-Nigerian husband and much more…
When and how did you start out as an actress?
That’s actually in 2009 but I didn’t really take it serious then. I later took a break from the industry to face what I actually trained for and that’s fashion designing. I am also a graduate of Computer Science. But I would say I am a born fashion designer. I am good at male and female, old or young attires.
But along the line, I just found out that I needed to expand my fashion world. And doing that, I have to do other things that will give me a great name which I can also use as a brand. So, as God would do it, I just met a friend and the friend linked me to someone, a producer.
Initially, I never took it serious anyway. But a veteran actor, Mr. Victor Udogu, looked at me and said, “Gina, you’re a great star. You don’t know what I am seeing, just get yourself back into the industry. I believe there’s a table and a seat for you. So, do something about it.”
He kept saying it over and over. Then, I remembered the first audition he got for me, that’s 2012. It’s even Segun Arinze’s audition which he did somewhere in Surulere, Lagos. When I got there, I met a very thick crowd, thousands of people who also came for the audition. That was January 1, 2012. I was scared with the crowd I saw that day and I had to tell Mr. Victor I couldn’t do it. But the man said no, I had to.
He actually encouraged me to wait. So, I listened to his advise and words of encouragement. That’s how I waited till the audition got to my turn. I would say, unfortunately, I was auditioned but they told me they would call me back.
They called me back though and I did a job. The title of the movie, I think, is The Foundation, where I played the lead character. That’s my first major movie. I was supposed to be an Igbo girl and looking at me, I have that look of an Igbo girl. With that, they just concluded I should interpret the character. And I did it perfectly. The producer, director and everybody at the location were amazed.
But yet, I never developed my vision and passion for acting. It’s like “Oh, fashion design will be taking too much of my time, cutting the cloth, sewing it. And before you know it, more clothes will be coming in and before you know it the whole day is gone.” So, I was like considering juggling fashion design and acting which to me might not be that easy.
I just said okay, I would keep fashion design aside first and make a big name in acting with which I can later use to rebrand my fashion line. So, that’s just the genesis of the whole thing.
And since then till date, how would you describe the experience?
The experience as an actress has been fantastic. I later found out that acting, truly, is also my field because it’s in me. At times when I am on set, I will just talk to myself, “Gina, is this really you? So, you can act?” It’s not as if I am bragging, I know God has actually brought out something marvelous in me as far as acting is concerned.
And those who know me will always tell me, “Gina, you’re damn good. Just try and keep your prowess alive so that the whole world would see you. We’re proud of you.”
So, by all standards, I think Gina is really doing well in the industry though it’s not easy. In every business, before you can break through, you have to go through a lot. But as it’s today, I give glory to God for where I am presently, and I believe the sky is even the beginning.
What are the challenges you encountered before coming this far?
The challenges were many but as an actress, first you have to be patient if you want to go far in the industry and be aware of the fact that you’re in for many challenges, including harassment by men, especially coming from the producers, directors and more.
Do you mean sexual harassment?
Oh! A lot, like seriously. But I actually have this covenant with God. I believe it’s God that gives name and fame to people. Whoever, be it a producer or marketer we are hearing their names today, it’s God that gave them the fame, nobody knew them before. Then, if God can do that, making them somebody from nobody, I believe I am nobody today but surely, I will also get to my destination. So, I mustn’t sleep with the producers or marketers or listen to the evil voice in the market and run back. No. I won’t give up, I will still push on.
Whether you give job or not, I know God has a plan for me and His mission on me will surely come to fulfillment.
There was a time you told us that prostitutes have hijacked Nollywood. Can you shed light on that?
Just exactly like what I said now, prostitution is also another thing. Why I said prostitutes have hijacked the industry nowadays is that, these days you see all manners of girls coming into the industry. You won’t even know where these girls are coming from. They just believe that coming into the industry is the main thing now. So, they’re ready to do anything to achieve that. So, that’s how the prostitution of a thing came in because they’re not even seeing the professionalism in acting again.
All they’re after is just to give away their bodies to achieve their goal. The spirit of I must get it at all cost is what’s in most of them. But to me, that’s not the proper way. For you to be in the industry and be relevant forever, the aspect of professionalism is very important.
In fact, it should be the first thing to be honest, Nollywood is not a prostitution ground. So, I believe whoever wants to come into the industry shouldn’t put that in mind that she can get in through prostitution. Maybe you see some producers and marketers taking the advantage of the way some girls present themselves and start sleeping with them. Some who are not even qualified as producers but because of the purpose of sleeping with girls, everybody wakes up and say, “Yes, I am a producer.” They know for sure that two or three girls who are desperate would surely come to sleep with them for free and all that. And they will later give them roles whether or not they merit the roles.
Most of these new entrants are so desperate. They just want to be stars at all cost. But one thing is that, you have to know your stand, what you’re in for and all that. It’s not about coming in and messing up around and become stars, no.
You’re just talking about Nollywood experience, what about your experience in Ghollyoowd?
I won’t really say I have done much in Ghana. In fact, my people in Ghana really need me badly. They keep asking, “Madam, what are you doing in Nigeria? Come home, let’s work together.” I have only done few jobs in Ghana because my career started in Nigeria and I am really enjoying being in Nollywood. But at times, I get some producers from Nigeria who want to shoot in Ghana, and they will say, “Gina, you’re a Ghanaian, we will really need you over there. At least, you will be able to help us out in your language and all that.”
They would even promise to be responsible for my transportation, feeding and all that. I won’t have a choice than to help out.
What’s your view about Nollywood and Ghollywood in terms of differences and similarities between the two?
The only thing is, Nollywood is a very big market, very big industry for all the stakeholders. In fact, it’s the biggest industry in Africa. Every actor from other African countries wants to work in Nollywood because everybody believes it’s the one industry in Africa that commands the largest attention from the global community.
There was a time in 2012 I travelled to Gambia and I saw one of Nollywood movie, the movie was circulated everywhere. I was like really! So, you can see how a movie shot in Nigeria can move far. Also, everybody sees Nollywood as a place they can learn so many things about the trade. It’s a very good and big market. But never the less, we still have fake people. To me, Nollywood is a very wonderful place.
How does it feel now being among the most sought after Ghanaian actresses in Nollywood?
It feels great and I am very happy about that, glory be to God. I just see it as a constant thing. If at all, I have not really achieved though, I have made a name to a large extent. Some have met me one-on-one, some who have not met me have heard my name even within and outside the industry. The name Gina Mensah has really gone far.
It’s not by my power but grace of God. I give Him glory for that. Yes, it’s the grace of God and being focused. Also being a nice person, playing your role well as an actress whenever you’re called for a job. So, I thank God for all these.
Can you mention few of the popular movies you have featured in?
I have featured in a lot of movies, including latest flick, Jobless Boy, The Richest Boy, Ocultic Angels, Selfish Ambition, My Selling Point and a lot more.
Let’s go a little private – are you married, single or searching?
This is a question I don’t always like to answer. But now, I need to say it all. The truth is that I was married but divorced.
How many kids did the marriage produce before it packed up?
No kid at all because my husband was far away from me. And I told him we couldn’t continue like that. We just have to be close to each other as a couple. But I discovered it didn’t work.
When did that happen actually?
That was about two years ago.
Is he a Nigerian or Ghanaian?
He’s a Nigerian, a Yoruba from Ogun State.
Was there any issue apart from distance?
Yes, lack of communication. He was not really communicating with me. And at the end of it all, I discovered he’s married abroad. So, I was left with no choice than to walk out of the marriage.
That means you were really heartbroken then?
Yes, I was really heartbroken but I have overcome that. I was almost dead. But I thank God, I have come over that. I think the industry also helped me a lot to overcome the trauma. I think it’s one of the things that also gingered me into the industry.
With that ugly experience, will you still give marriage another shot?
Yes, sure. But I won’t rush into it. I will surely marry when the right man comes.
What are the qualities you will like to see in the man you will like to spend the rest of your life with?
He must be God fearing, loving and caring. Of course, he must be good looking and financially capable, nothing more.
Can you tell us details about your former husband?
No, I don’t need that. I am happy, I have overcome the challenge. My career is what I concentrate on at the moment, not any issue of such.
On account of your experience in the hands of your former husband, what’s your impression of Nigerian men now?
No, what happened to me does not mean all Nigerian men are the same. It doesn’t matter at all.
Does that mean you can still consider it if a Nigerian man offers his hand in marriage?
Yes, why not.