Cordelia Emeh (@cordeliaemeh) is one beautiful actress that one easily warms up to, and her dexterity in the interview below is a testament to that. TheOlojaBlog crew had the opportunity to dig into her personal life and inner aspirations in this week’s edition of SPOTLIGHT. It turned out to be a very interesting chat.
Emeh, who is a dynamic and multi-talented actress, started her acting career as a teenager taking part in several stage plays. In 1991, she got a lead role to feature in a soap opera by the then Frontline Television Limited in Nigeria led by Dolly Esindu after an amazing audition but she could not continue with the project due to family and other pressures at the time.
With strong determination, she was able to get back into acting several years later when she relocated to the UK and had since 2012 not looked back.
Our European correspondent, DAPO OPAYINKA, sent in this conversation. Enjoy.
What influence a career in acting?
I have always been passionate about acting but was only held back due to family demands.
How has it been as UK based actress?
It has been an amazing one. I have enjoyed every bit of it because I see myself realising a life time dream even though the financial rewards have not started coming in as expected which is why I still combine it with my full time accounting job.
Would you associate the boom in UK Nollywood industry to Nigeria based actors and celebrity running an intercontinental shows?
I will not associate the boom wholly to the Nigerian based actors. Although, there is no doubt that working with them have helped in its own way considering the fact that most of them have been in the industry for some time and have directly worked with those with many years of experience but I will give credit to the UK based Nollywood actors for their selfless service and determination to build a successful industry in the UK from self-funded projects.
How is the UK Nollywood industry acceptance by the mainstream? Is there any relationship between them?
At the moment, there is no full acceptance by the local industry here in the UK and I will say it is partly due to the fact that we have not been able to carry out big projects that are properly funded which will give us the opportunity to come up with the right quality of productions and proper marketing strategies, which will help us to announce our presence here. I will still give credit to all the productions that have been done here in the UK because they are really improving in their craft so we will get there by God’s grace.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor?
My greatest accomplishment as an actor was when I co-produced a movie where I was the lead actor, I played the role of a project manager and was able to co-ordinate all cast and most of the activities regarding the production.
In your own view, how would you see the relationship between UK based and Nigeria based actors?
I will say the relationship between UK based and Nigeria based actors is a cordial one. Even though there is still a bit of scepticism on UK productions being fully accepted in the Nigerian market, we have been having a lot of collaboration between the two. Most UK producers have used both Nigerian and UK based actors in their productions and a very few UK based actors too have been getting jobs in the Nigerian market.
What’s your take on a demanding director?
I believe that a director has to be demanding to get the best in a production. I have worked with a very demanding director and what I did was to throw my weight into the character and acted professionally.
What is your most challenging role yet?
I have had a few challenging roles but the most challenging was when I had to act like a lady in her twenties (almost half my actual age) and what I did was to watch how those in that age group behaves and copy some attitudes that my teenage daughter would display.
Do you also support the notion that the greatest challenge facing the UK Nollywood industry finance?
Absolutely. The industry in the UK will blossom as soon as we start getting sponsorship for our productions which will also take care of the issue of marketing among other things.
Have you heard of any recognition of your industry by the Nigerian government?
I have not seen much of that in the UK Nollywood industry at the moment.
How would you grade your progress in the industry?
My progress in the industry has been a steady one even though not as fast as I would have expected because I am still keeping my regular full-time accounting profession until the industry grows to the level of meeting our financial needs.
Which is your favourite role ever?
It is really hard to pin point a favourite role because every role comes with its own challenges and fun.
Any favourite actor, and why?
We have a few good and respectable actors.
I have worked with various directors and producers, including Nelson Spyk, Toyin Moore, Rhoda Wilson and Dolly Unachukwu. And I have also featured in several TV series and movies, some of which are International Games, Blood Type, Captivated, “69”, Housewives & Girlfriends, Enchained, Apostle Do Good, In a Strange land, Love Zone, Tears of the Rich and Love Triangle.
What recognition have you received from the industry?
I was privileged to have received the Best Newcomer Actress (BEFFTA 2015) and Cameroon Film & Academy Movie Awards 2016 (Recognition Award). BEFFTA 2016 nominated me as Best Supporting Actress, and same for African Film Awards 2016. I was also recognised among BEFFTA Top 1000 Honours recently in 2017.
What project are you working on now?
I am working on Silent Journey, the movie I co-produced. In addition to that, I am also in some other productions, some of which are Diva Diva, Maids of Dockland and Sister Sister.
Does your emotional setback affect your work?
One thing I have learnt is to separate business from pleasure, so when I am in the make-believe world I forget all about myself and be the character.
When was your first role as an actor?
My first role as an actor in the UK was in 2012 in the Pilot of Café Afrik.
What is your biggest aspiration?
My biggest aspiration is to take my acting career to the next level by producing my own movies and working in partnership with other producers to make UK Nollywood a force to reckon with.
In which area would you want to improve as an actor?
I see improving my ability as an actor as a long and continuous process that will happen over the course of my life and career. I would love to acquire skills in theatre and perfect in handling a production from film auditions to post production and marketing.
As elections in Nigeria are drawing close, do you think the outcomes would have either positive or negative effects on Nollywood industry?
I don’t think the outcomes of the election will have any effect on the Nollywood industry because the industry has come to stay and nothing will change that.
What support do you enjoy from the UK government as immigrant movie industry?
I have heard of a few grant awarding bodies but I have not really been part of such support because it has not been made very open and available.
What would you rather have or not have in your industry?
I would like us to have great support and sponsorship from companies and organisations.
Do you think a Nollywood film can get an Oscar Nomination and go on to win it?
I believe a Nollywood film can go on to win an Oscar award because we have very committed and talented actors and producers in the industry.
If you are giving £1Million today what will you do with it?
I will use it to produce a blockbuster movie that will go ahead to win the Oscars.
Will you accept a role that requires you to be nude?
Do you think there should be more collaboration between Nollywood Nigeria and UK?
Yes, there should be more collaboration between Nigeria and UK because the African movie industry is one.