There’s serious ethnic bias in Nollywood

Rose Amrayebure found her way into Nollywood, because acting is all she has ever wanted to do but  the passion to pursue her dream was soon met with disenchantment and disappointment when she learned she would need more than talent to see her dream through.

According to her, not being an Igbo has been the biggest challenge of her career and she bares it all in this interview with Weekend Groove. Excerpts:

Rose Amrayebure

Rose Amrayebure

By Ayo Onikoyi and Juliet Ebirim

When did you start acting?
I started acting in 2005. My first job was in 2007. Then I left and came back in 2011.

Between then and now, how many movies have you done?
Between 2011 and now, I’ve done six movies and five soap operas.

Is there any soap opera you have done that is currently running?
They’ve shown the epilogue of ‘Married’ currently on TVC.

Have you taken a lead role before?
A sub-lead. The one in which I took a lead role is coming out in January. The one I played a sub-lead is already out and that was ‘Tears for Revival’. The one coming out in  January is called ‘Atmospheric Madness’ and it is directed and produced by Mr. Femi Okpeoluwa.

Why did you choose acting?
I have a flair for acting. Growing up, when I come back from school, my aunty would say, “Come and dance for me and all that”. So, I’ll say right from childhood, showbiz has been in me.

Your journey into acting, how has the experience been?
It is by God’s grace and with God, I am still pushing up.

I know it’s not a piece of cake to make it to the top in the acting industry, have you ever encountered anything like sèxual harassment?
Sèxual harassment is everywhere not just in showbiz or the movie world.

Rose Amrayebure

What has your own experience been as regards that?
My own experience has more to do with the language barrier, it’s not easy. They prefer giving their own people the jobs. Like the ones I have done so far are mostly from friends. I’ve gone for auditions but I have only gotten two movies from auditions. There is this ethnic bias, you are not Igbo and all that. Though I speak Igbo.

When you say language issues, is it that you are expected to speak Igbo?
Not really, but they tend to see you as their own person.

Has any director ever asked that you do otherwise before you could be given a role in a movie?
Not a director, but some producers. I’m not going to mention names, but they tell you if you don’t do it, no job for you!

Have you ever been tempted?
No. One thing I have at the back of my mind is any job that comes, let God take the glory. No, I have never been and will never be tempted.

What’s the highest fee you’ve been paid so far?
(Laughs).Highest fee, wow! A hundred thousand naira, and it was for a sub-lead role with ‘I beg’. Some people will tell you, it is when the movie comes out, they’ll pay. But you are doing it because you know the person will pay, you guys have a relationship. It isn’t everybody that will just say, come, after the job, I’ll pay. You guys must have an understanding.

Which role do you really like to take, that you believe you have natural affinity for?
I don’t think there is any like that. I am an actress and if I am given any role, I put myself into the character.

Most upcoming actresses are desperate, how desperate are you?
Desperate in what sense, I don’t understand.

If a big budget script falls into your laps now where you are required to do certain things like showing parts of your body, will you pick up the script considering the fact that it’s going to give you the big break you need ?
I won’t do it, I can’t expose vital parts of my womanhood if that’s what you mean. I can’t!

What about sexual scenes where you and a guy have to do a lot of smooching?
In this job, there are people you have good chemistry with. It depends on who you’re dealing with. If I have good chemistry with you, I might say okay, let’s do this thing for real. When I say for real, I mean when you guys are under the sheets, you make it look so real, meanwhile nothing is actually happening.
When I mean chemistry, I mean people you like working with, that you flow with.

You’ve been in the movie industry for six or seven years, which actor do you have good chemistry with?
Don’t get me wrong when I say chemistry, what I mean is for instance, you could be in an office, and there are five people in that office, but there is one person that you like working with.

The way you are putting it across, your chemistry thing is sounding like a crush ?
No, it’s not a crush. It is just work chemistry.

So, in your time as an actress, you’ve actually developed a chemistry with certain people?
(Laughs) Fine. I have friends I like to work with……

Even under the blankets?
No, I have never done any under the blanket job. It isn’t under the blanket chemistry I’m talking about, just work chemistry.

But these friends you are talking about, even though you’ve not had any under the blanket job with them, you wouldn’t mind having it with them because you have a good chemistry with them?
No, they are females not males.

That brings me to another question, there’s so much about lesbianism in the industry, have you heard?
I have not seen. Nobody has come to me.

So no female has come to woo you or proposition you?
No

What actually is your mission in Nollywood?
To make it to the peak of my career. I have people I want to carry along in the sense that whatever God gives to me, I want to be able to give it back to the society.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
None.

So you don’t have mentors in the industry?
No, God is my mentor.

No role model?
No.

Is there any particular Nollywood movie that you think is a good film?
The movie that really motivated me is an old film, ‘My Love’. Then I hadn’t dreamt of even coming to Lagos. I was watching that movie and shedding tears. One uncle who was watching the movie with me said, “Are you crying? One day, you too will be doing this thing” and I said “No, I can’t act o, I can’t cry now”. The movie featured Chiege Alisigwe, Ramsey Noah and Hank Anuku.

Vanguard NGR

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