Interviews

‘Sleeping around can’t take you far in Nollywood’- Bridget John, Hollywood-based Nigerian actress

US-based Nigerian actress cum producer, Bridget John, is the creative genius behind the award- winning film, Adora.  She was in Nigeria weeks back, where she held a private screening of the film at Aramis Lounge, Admiralty Way, Lekki, Lagos.  In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, delectable Bridget John talks about her plans to launch her acting career in Nigeria, and what can be done to improve the quality of Nollywood movies.

She also rapped actresses who engage in sex-for-roles act, warning that it won’t take them far in the industry

It absolutely feels good to be reunited with your friends and family members?

I feel excited to be here. It’s a step forward in anything, including my career.

bridget3So, how has it been?

I have been very well received here. A lot of people I met here have shown interest in working with me. I am excited about the film, Adora, and they are looking forward to the premiere in Nigeria. Already, we have held a private screening of the film, in Lagos, last December.

What’s the film, Adora all about?

Adora is about an immigrant residing in the United States, who is married to a misguided guy. She was used, abused and falsely accused in the process of trying to send her to prison. It’s a very emotional film.

Is it a true life story?

It is not a true life story.  People actually think it is, but it’s not.  It was written by Dianne Diaz, a very brilliant writer who is also based in the United States.  It wasn’t a true life story.

What prompted the film project?

I have always wanted to do my own production.  I have worked on various productions; from being a producer to production manager, actress and all that.  I wanted to produce my own film.  Adora is actually my first film under my company, Alliance Productions.

What’s unique about Adora?

I wanted to do something different.  I didn’t want to do the normal story.  I had to brainstorm with Dianne and that was how the story came up.  My director, a certified Hollywood director, Austeen Eboka is awesome.  He took the story to another level.

Is it an all -Hollywood cast?

We have an international cast. The film featured Nigerian stars as well as Ghanaian and Guinean stars. It also starred Jamaicans and Hollywood stars. Everyone can relate to the film, because I kept saying there is an Adora in everyone. That’s how I always put it. Everyone has gone through some difficult times.

It appears Adora has been receiving critical acclaim, so far?

Yes. The film won an award at last year’s Nollywood and African Film Critics Award. It also won me Best Actress award at the Hollywood Weekly Magazine Film festival.  Adora has been very well received in the United States.  At NAFCA, we got about five nominations.  That’s why I decided to bring the film to Nigeria. In terms of production, pre-production and production took about a month, while it took about six months to edit the film.

What were you doing before Adora?

I was an actress.  I’m still an actress. I was acting on various films. I have worked as production manager for other production companies. I have also produced film for other people.  I have done stage productions, commercials. I’m currently doing a reality show in the United States, entitled, The Nigerian Housewives of Atlanta. It’s been work…work.

Did you start your acting career while you were in Nigeria?

While I was schooling in Nigeria, I studied Drama for three years. So, I had that experience as a thespian.  But I didn’t do any work here before traveling out of the country. Though, I did one commercial, and it was an Eleganza commercial before I left for the United States. Also, I had a TV show that was recorded.  I was the fashion and style hostess for the TV show, but I wasn’t in the country when it went on air in 2000.  But seven years after I sojourned in the United States, I got into acting as well as went back to school.  This is where I am today.

What’s the perception of Americans or Hollywood practitioners concerning films from Nigeria, and indeed, Africa?

Everyone knows about Nollywood in the US. There’s a huge fan base in the United States for Nollywood films, all the way to the Caribbean countries. It’s not just in the United States, a lot of people go crazy for Nollywood stars and the films. Especially African-Americans feel they have a connection to Africa through the films. They like the stories, the message and everything about the films.

bridget4What do you think, we are not getting right in Nollywood?

I think the quality of the production needs to be improved. Secondly, everyone in this industry needs some kind of training. It’s not just an apprentice under somebody, you have to really learn the technical aspect of film making. The same thing is applicable to actors.  I have observed that a lot of our actors and actresses are monotonous in their acting. They have stereotypical style of showcasing their works, and they don’t have the technique. So, every film you see them, they look the same way. And after a while, it becomes boring. So, you have to be versatile and should be able to do anything you want to do. But it takes training to be a master of your own craft. It’s just the technique that you have but it’s a continuous process. All the big actors in Hollywood, Dennison Washington, Rose Smith, among others, are still taking classes. That’s all we really need. We have good stories, and that’s why Hollywood wants to collaborate with Nollywood because of our stories. We have the talents here, but the talents and good looks will not get us far. Your technique will get you far. Therefore, you need the talent and technique to become a complete thespian. For Instance, before I go on set, it takes me almost a month to get into that character.  And by the time I’m on set, I’m whom I’m supposed to be, and no longer Bridget.  I’m already that character, so it comes naturally. That is the way it should be. We need to invest more in our career.

Have you attempted to star in Hollywood films?

I have actually done some Hollywood productions. I have done a TV series. I just got a Hollywood job that I will be working on any moment from now.

Do you have a plan to be part of Nollywood?

That’s why I came home. It’s like you go somewhere and you come back home to bring what you have learnt. I’m not one of those that would want to keep it to myself. I want to help educate the young filmmakers in Nigeria, and I want to be part of this industry because I believe I come from this part of the world.  I really want to be part of this industry, and I am working on actualizing that dream.

Have you started talking to the producers and film directors in this light?

Already, I have been cast for two films here. We will soon go on set.

You were also into fashion before you delved into acting?

I have been a fashion designer for 21 years, and I still do it, in my spare time.  I actually started the business while I was in the country.  I had my business here before I relocated to the United States. It’s still something I love to do, but it’s just that now, I am more in love with acting than fashion designing.

What’s your advice to the aspiring actors and actresses?

They need to be focused. I remember when I started, people told me, I wouldn’t make it because of my accent. They had every reason to discourage me, but I knew what I wanted and I was ready to go for it.  So, I spent money and I invested in myself, taking classes and hiring private coach.  All of that has paid off today.  Don’t compromise and don’t sleep around.  That’s the big mistake most of them are making. He tells you to sleep with him, so that he will give you the role.  However, he will give you the role if you are good regardless of his lustful desire because he needs you to make money.  Focus on yourself, invest in yourself and believe in God and He will take you wherever your dreams want to take you.  I encourage everyone, don’t give up, stay focused and pray, and see yourself where you want to be.

-UCHE OLEHI

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