Belinda Effa, an up and coming actress, speaks to ‘Nonye Ben-Nwankwo about her career
You have only stayed a couple of years in the industry and you are already getting nominations in some movie awards.
I was nominated for the Best New Actress Award for my role in Kokomma in the Golden Icon Academy Award in Houston, Texas. I was also nominated for the Best Promising Actress in the Best of Nollywood award last year (2012). I got the nominations even before the movie was released officially. I have got so many positive reviews on the movie.
Was Kokomma your first movie?
Kokomma wasn’t my first movie. I have done so many other movies. I have done Havila, The Room, Anchor.I also played in Mama Africa.
We hear you were groomed at the Royal Arts Academy
I am a proud alumna of Royal Arts Academy. It groomed me. The academy is so dear to me. When people didn’t know me, nobody wanted to touch Belinda, it was Royal Arts Academy that took me in and gave me the opportunity. The academy saw something in me, it believed in me and gave me the opportunity to rise.
How did you get into the academy?
I was chatting with a friend who I hadn’t had any contact with in a long while. She told me she was in Royal Arts Academy and she told me they were auditioning. I rushed over there and I was auditioned. I got a call that I should come and pick up my script. I enrolled in the academy and I became a student.
How did you start acting?
I participated in a reality TV show, Next Movie Star. I was one of the finalists. I didn’t win.
How did you feel that you weren’t the winner?
I have come to realise that it is not all about winning. I was so sad that I didn’t win. I really wanted the car. I was so immature then. I wanted the prize money and the car. I thought such things would boost my image and people would respect me. But the organiser of the show, Sola Fajobi, made me understand that I was getting the message wrong. He advised me to focus on the big picture and try and project myself very well. I kept all this stuff he said close to my heart. Now, I am working on a daily basis. I don’t know about the other contestants in the show. But I know that I am busy.
If you loved acting that much, why didn’t you study it in school?
I studied Genetics and Biotechnology at the University of Calabar. I know it is a complete different stuff from what I am doing currently. Your heart will always be where your passion lies. While I was in school, I used to come to Lagos from Calabar to look for acting jobs. Because of that, I carried over some courses. I would be shooting in Lagos while exams would be going on in school.
How do you cope with scandals?
There is scandal everywhere. Everyday we read about our government officials and how they steal money but we still celebrate them for stealing. So why do they ostracise those in entertainment? Is it because we are in the public domain? We have similar cases in the banking sector. That we are in the forefront doesn’t mean that whatever they say about us is true. It is not a problem for me. I love what I am doing. I don’t notice the scandals.
But your job is scandal prone…
When you are doing something great, a lot of people will notice you. Success has a lot of friends. I know the attention is going to be greater. As the fame increases, the number of people you know will also increase. I believe in God. I know He will help me to manage the fame. I don’t intend to get into drugs because of this fame. I will not be involved in any vice. Once I do that, I will be carried away. I am from a good home and I had a good upbringing. I have morals and I know what I am supposed to do. My pastor is also there. I talk to him everyday to ensure that I am spiritually and emotionally sound so that I don’t derail.
Who are your friends?
I would rather not mention my friends’ names. There are people I look up to and I feel they are so amazing. I was on set with Majid Micheal. He showed me professionalism.
Uche Jombo is a great person. She is a big sister and she encourages me all the way. They have been very significant in my career. Whenever I am on set with them, they don’t try to pressurise me. I will call them senior colleagues and friends.
Obviously, your family supports your career…
My male siblings are so sentimental about what I do. Ultimately, it is still about what gives me joy. Everybody is supportive of my career.
You must be in a relationship…
I am not talking about any boyfriend. If I am not acting, I will be depressed. But I am thinking about marriage. Even if I don’t think about it, my mum thinks about it. It would be nice to be with someone who appreciates me. I am a family person. I also want to raise my own family. I wouldn’t want work to take away my family. I would like to create a balance. I would love to have children. I would love to be married. There are some men who are scared of getting married to actresses. They are men who can’t stand the test of time. I roll with men who can stand the test of time. Some men say they don’t like female bankers. Men will always talk. Are they willing to bring billions of naira and tell me not to bother working and just come and enjoy their money? If they are willing to do that, I will just stop producing movies and lounge in my husband’s money. When you don’t have anything to offer and you tell me not to work, are you really serious?
How was growing up?
Growing up was very interesting. I am from a very large family of 14. My dad had two wives. The other wife had eight children and my mother had four. My dad also had ‘fisi’. The ‘jara’ made us 14. I am not even sure we are 14. We might even be more than that. There are some people who are yet to introduce themselves as my siblings. When they come, I will know them and add them to the number. I grew up with my mum and sisters. It was very cool. We went to good schools. My father was a military man. He was strict all the way. I wouldn’t want to be a second wife, although in this life, you should never say never.
Can you be a second wife?
I want to be married to my husband and I wouldn’t want him to pick up another wife. I just want to work things out and be happy. One wife is enough trouble let alone another one.
What is your vision?
My life is about service. I believe I am a servant. God sent me to serve. Whatever I become tomorrow is for the people. I want to be a leader that will serve the people and address their needs.