Ask any movie fan to tell you his or her top ten A-list Nigerian actresses, and Iniobong Edo Ekim(Ini Edo for short) will rank high on the list. This is quite understandable as the married Akwa-Ibom born actress ever since debuting in 2003 in movies such as "Thick Madam" and "Child of Destiny" as continued to captivate movie lovers with her talent and beauty.
With a string of brand endorsement to her credit including ambassador for telecommunication company, Globacom and United Nations Ambassador for Peace, coupled starring in most high budget Nollywood movies to recently producing her own blockbuster movie, "Memories of My Heart" which premiered in Cinema, Ini cannot be ignored as a Nollywood Super Star.
The actress who was at the media launch of colleague, Monalisa Chinda's Soap Opera, "Catwalq" few days ago spoke with us about her new movie project and the industry. Excerpt:
Q: Any new development from Ini Edo?
A: Yes, the new development from me is my new film. I'm working on my film. I'm still trying to put finishing touches to it. I'm premiering it next month in Lagos after which I'm going to be screening it in the Cinamas. So that's it.
Q:Please let us in a little on the film?
A: "I'll take my Chances", that's the title of the film. It's been running on "Africa Magic", I'm talking about the making of the film now. It's a film that has to do with dance and has a little bit of culture. It's a cultural film. I like to play around with culture in my films. It's a love story actually. It was shot in three locations in Nigeria; Lagos, Calabar and Akwa Ibom state, yeah. And the film was jointly produced by Emem Isong and myself. It stars former Mr Nigeria, Bryan Okwara as well as other leading acts like Canadian born dancer, Ashleigh Clark, the late Sam Efe Loco, Jide Kosoko, Biola Williams, Lilian Ini Ikpe and many others.
Q: Looking at you now, I see an actress who was very actively involved when Nollywood was producing low quality movies and now you are still very active in the high-definition, cinema films era, what's the experience like for you?
A: The experience? It's been great and amazing. It's something we dreamed of and I'm happy it's happening in my own time and I'm actually part of it. So I'm so proud of it. I mean, it's high time we changed our style of production, the way we do our films. They have to be upgraded. Life is all about change. They say the only constant thing in life is change, so it's a great thing.
Q: And do some producers still approach you with script with low quality production?
A: Yes, all the time. But for a while now, I have been turning down such jobs a lot and that's why you don't see me in many movies like before.
Q: What are the challenges of all these new type of Nigerian films you guys are giving us nowadays?
A: It's just large budget and takes more time to shoot. First of all, these films are a lot more expensive and takes longer time to finish because of detailing and everything. It's a lot of hard work. You get double of what you usually gave in the old kind of Nigerian movies. The point
is, a quality film is not cheap.
Q: The Cinema culture is back, but while many industry observers have cheered the emergence, others have reservations about it's impact on the industry, what do you have to say?
A: The truth is that the industry has grown and divided in some certain ways. With different schools of thoughts. The people who want to move with change have chosen the path of change which is the path of making cinema films, good cinema films at that. People who don't believe in them, I'd say good luck to them they can keep shooting the old ways or what ways the deem fit. It's a free world, let them keep shooting whatever they are shooting.
Q: From what we can call an I.T girl, you rose to the high echelon of Nollywood and you are still relevant even after several years, what's the secret?
A: My secret is God and Hardwork. There is nothing more to it. Remaining at the top requires hardwork. That's why I see many upcoming acts who say they want to be like Ini Edo, or Monalisa Chinda and I just nod my head, because I don't find them hardworking enough. Though there are some who are ready to work. And then, you must be discipline.
Q: As one of the busiest actresses in Nollywood, do you ever have time for relaxation?
A:You have to understand that it's my job and I have to be committed to it. Producers want not only talented artistes but also hardworking ones also. But, basically my job is my relaxation.
Q: You are also one actress who likes turning heads with your dressing?
A: Well, when it comes to dressing, I wear what I am comfortable with. The combination of my clothes is always aimed make me feel good with myself, I wear what I am comfortable with. I hate following trends. My dressing is dictated by this three rules; being original, happy and comfortable.
Q: How do you cope with myriads of negative media reports about you?
A: How do I cope? I just laugh! It's funny the sorts of things that many journalists cook up in their heads just to sell their papers. Well, that's one of the realities of our time. Bad press doesn't bother me any more. I could be bothered when I was just coming up, but with all the false write ups about me out there, I've learnt to be focused on my career and don't let all that distract me.
Q:One of the physical qualities your fans admire about you is your lovely ebony skin, and you shape, what's the secret?
A: There is no secret about it other than I was born this way and I eat right and drink a lot of water to maintain it.
Q: One of my reasons for asking you that is because at a time, some people were concerned that becuase you looked a bit plump, you might soon grow fat?
A: Like I said, if you eat right, there is no need to worry about adding unnecessary weight. I'm someone that has always been health conscious.
Q: Do you have any favorite colleague?
A: They are many. I hope you don't expect me to mention a name. All Nollywood artistes are trying their best. It's not easy to act in an environment like ours, but Nigerian artistes are still putting their best despite the fact that we don't have equal opportunities like our counterparts in Hollywood and other industries. So you must give it up for Nollywood artistes, seriously.
Q:What would you like to be remembered for?
A: I'd like to be remembered for impacting people's life through my acting talents. I want to be remembered as someone who brought joy and laughter into the homes of millions of people. I also desire to be able to leave a legacy for younger or aspiring actresses to follow.