How I Combine Acting With My Day Job- Top Nollywood Actress, Lillian Amah-

Lillian Amah is a Nollywood actress and producer. In this interview with YETUNDE OLADEINDE, she opens up on life as an actress, her very first role and producing a new movie titled, “My Grandfather’s wife.

Tell us about the new things that you are working on at the moment?

The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably slowed down work in the entertainment industry but there are a few things that I am working on: The first is that I produced a new movie ‘My Grandfather’s Wife’ staring Prince Jide Kosoko, Uche Nwaefule, Chris Okagbue, Lillian Amah. It was directed by Ben Chiadika and should be released soon.

Secondly, I am starring in a new star studded TV Series titled ‘Oasis; The Enemy Within’ produced by the talented Producer Ariyike Oladipo and directed by the dynamic duo of Pat Oghre Imoibhio and Kabat Esosa Egbon. Oasis also stars Zack Orji, Tony Umez, Bimbo Akintola, Barbara Aduba, James Jibunma, Dan Chris and a host of others.

In addition, I also had a small role in a movie with working title ‘Misconceptions’ which is still in postproduction and should hopefully be released later this year. Finally, I am Consulting Producer of the annual Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Project organized by Zmirage Multimedia Ltd.

The annual event which usually runs from July 12th to 15th is in its 11th year. This year’s event WS86 will be hosted digitally due to the Pandemic. The details for this would be coming soon.

What was your first role and what was the experience like?

My very first role was as Alero in RMD’s Out of Bounds. The movie was released in 1997. It was a beautiful but challenging experience seeing as it was my first time acting in front of the camera opposite huge stars like Richard Mofe Damijo, Aunty Racheal Oniga, late Uncle Steve Rhodes and the super talented youngster Bimbo Akintola.

What were you doing before acting?

Before acting, I was working in the private sector and continued doing so till 2005 when I left banking to set up my production company.

Tell us about some of the movies that you have participated in?

In the 24 years since I featured in Out of Bounds, I have acted in more movies and TV Series than I can readily remember. This includes films like: She Devil, Sweet Revenge, Hit and Run, Jungle Ride, The Triangle, Four Fathers, Deep Ends, After the I Do’s, Wife Hunter and Runs.

In addition, I have participated in TV Series like Cyberia, The Maze, The Valley Between, The Head of State, Doctors Quarters,

Rough Edges, Inheritance, Bridges, Husbands and Wives, Hush, Tinsel and Deceptive Measures.

What inspires you as an actress?

As an actress, I am inspired by the desire to entertain while passing across serious messages. I am inspired working on messages that can impact positively on people.

If you could change something in the sector, what would it be?

If I can change anything about the entertainment sector, it would first be infrastructure. Film makers need purpose-built film studios in order to improve on the quality of their output. The industry also needs accurate records. Records will help make the industry more credible and credit worthy both of which will help attract investors and investment.

What are some of the memorable moments in your life and career?

I would say that the memorable moments in my life and career have been many but a couple of the best include winning two awards for my role in Out of Bounds as well as the Reel awards best new actress 1998 and Thema Awards best upcoming actress 1998.

Another memorable experience for me was landing the roles of The Dean in Doctors Quarters, Kaneng in Tinsel and Nori in Hush.

What were the initial challenges in the sector. Did you feel like quitting at any point?

Some of the challenges I encountered include the fact that I had a 9-5 day job. So, I didn’t have a lot of time to spare for acting. There was also the challenge of not having an agent or manager, so I had to seek acting jobs on my own or rely on producers calling me because they had seen me in something else.

What are the other things that occupy your time?

I am a writer with two published fiction books titled ‘Echoes of a Heartbeat’ and ‘Dreams of Yesterday’. I am working on my third book tentatively, titled ‘The Things We Do to Each Other’. So writing is the other thing I do. I am also working on a new business which I will soon unveil.

Tell us about the people you admire?

I admire people for different reasons. This include Edith Jayne Azuh now Mrs Edith Emma Ayalogu for her deep talent as an actress, Former Governor of Lagos State Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for his kindness and humane disposition, Late Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso for his integrity, former US President Barack Obama for his oratory and gentlemanliness and Queen Elizabeth of The United Kingdom for always being a lady. There are some others but let me stop here.

Who or what do you consider as the greatest influence in your life?

Secondly, I am starring in a new star studded TV Series titled ‘Oasis; The Enemy Within’ produced by the talented Producer Ariyike Oladipo and directed by the dynamic duo of Pat Oghre Imoibhio and Kabat Esosa Egbon. Oasis also stars Zack Orji, Tony Umez, Bimbo Akintola, Barbara Aduba, James Jibunma, Dan Chris and a host of others.

What was your first role and what was the experience like?

What were you doing before acting?

Before acting, I was working in the private sector and continued doing so till 2005 when I left banking to set up my production company.

Tell us about some of the movies that you have participated in?

In the 24 years since I featured in Out of Bounds, I have acted in more movies and TV Series than I can readily remember. This includes films like: She Devil, Sweet Revenge, Hit and Run, Jungle Ride, The Triangle, Four Fathers, Deep Ends, After the I Do’s, Wife Hunter and Runs.

In addition, I have participated in TV Series like Cyberia, The Maze, The Valley Between, The Head of State, Doctors Quarters,

Rough Edges, Inheritance, Bridges, Husbands and Wives, Hush, Tinsel and Deceptive Measures.

What inspires you as an actress?

As an actress, I am inspired by the desire to entertain while passing across serious messages. I am inspired working on messages that can impact positively on people.

If you could change something in the sector, what would it be?

If I can change anything about the entertainment sector, it would first be infrastructure. Film makers need purpose-built film studios in order to improve on the quality of their output. The industry also needs accurate records. Records will help make the industry more credible and credit worthy both of which will help attract investors and investment.

What are some of the memorable moments in your life and career?

I would say that the memorable moments in my life and career have been many but a couple of the best include winning two awards for my role in Out of Bounds as well as the Reel awards best new actress 1998 and Thema Awards best upcoming actress 1998.

Another memorable experience for me was landing the roles of The Dean in Doctors Quarters, Kaneng in Tinsel and Nori in Hush.

What were the initial challenges in the sector. Did you feel like quitting at any point?

Some of the challenges I encountered include the fact that I had a 9-5 day job. So, I didn’t have a lot of time to spare for acting. There was also the challenge of not having an agent or manager, so I had to seek acting jobs on my own or rely on producers calling me because they had seen me in something else.

What are the other things that occupy your time?

I am a writer with two published fiction books titled ‘Echoes of a Heartbeat’ and ‘Dreams of Yesterday’. I am working on my third book tentatively, titled ‘The Things We Do to Each Other’. So writing is the other thing I do. I am also working on a new business which I will soon unveil.

Tell us about the people you admire?

I admire people for different reasons. This include Edith Jayne Azuh now Mrs Edith Emma Ayalogu for her deep talent as an actress, Former Governor of Lagos State Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for his kindness and humane disposition, Late Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso for his integrity, former US President Barack Obama for his oratory and gentlemanliness and Queen Elizabeth of The United Kingdom for always being a lady. There are some others but let me stop here.

Who or what do you consider as the greatest influence in your life?

My parents, late Chief Pius Stanley Amah and late Mrs. Elizabeth Ezidi Amah. They are my greatest influence and my biggest role models.

What is your definition of style?

Style for me is looking good in comfort.

What are the things that you won’t do in the name of fashion?

I won’t look indecent, won’t wear anything that makes me uncomfortable and won’t expose private parts of my body.

What type of books do you read?

I read any and everything. The list includes biographies, romantic fiction, historical novels, motivational books, legal fiction, horror, poetry and drama.

How would you describe Nigerian women in the entertainment sector today?

Nigerian women in the entertainment sector today are like Nigerian women in any other sector, a kaleidoscope of colors. They are talented, hardworking, innovative, creative, intelligent and more often than not, willing to walk their talk.

What is the secret of looking good? Please tell us about your beauty regimen?

I believe beauty comes from within, so I try as much as possible to be happy and at peace with everyone. In addition, I start my day with a slice or two of lemon in a mug of hot water. These days, I take a 6-8km brisk walk very early every morning between 6am and 7.30am. I also eat sparingly with intermittent fasting occasionally. I only wear make-up when absolutely necessary and I dress age appropriately as much as possible.

What plans do you have for the next few years?

Man proposes but life happens so I try to live for the moment these days and not make plans that may not come to pass. I want to be the best I can be in my chosen career and as a human being. To live a long, healthy and happy life in the company of my loved ones and good friends.

Do you have people you are mentoring. How has mentoring helped you personally?

I have loads of people I am mentoring….male and female. Mentoring is a two way street. I learn as much as I teach. I love my mentees and it’s great to get into the minds of young people and try to, in some small way, help them navigate the whirlpool of life. So mentoring helps me grow as a person and teaches me patience more than anything else.

Tell us about your favorite travel destination and what you like about the place?

I have been to quite a few countries in Africa, Europe and North America. I love different things about different places, so I really don’t have a favorite travel destination yet. There are still a few places I’d like to visit but I find water very soothing. So, anywhere I travel to or intend to travel to and discover that they have good beaches, would definitely be a good destination for me.

How would you assess Nigerian designers today?

Nigerian designers are very talented; they are immensely creative and can stand tall anywhere in the world. I have seen amazing pieces designed by Nigerians, so I rate them top when it comes to creativity.

If you have to advise young people who want to go into the sector, what will you tell them?

Young people intending to go into the fashion industry should make sure they have what it takes to survive and make an impact. This includes talent, creativity, grit and staying power. The fashion Industry just like entertainment is tough. Talent abounds in that space so you must be prepared to bring on your ‘A’ game, be ready to take criticism and accept rejection without breaking down. It’s a tough field, so you must be tough to survive and be patient to excel.

Rape is very common in the society today, what advise do you have for Nigerian men?

Rape is a heinous crime which should be abhorrent to every decent human being. My advice for Nigerian men is to treat every female the way you would want to see your daughter, sister, mother or wife treated. Most Nigerian men are decent human beings and it’s sad that a few sub-humans are giving a bad name to them all. But, we need to quickly fish out the rotten eggs, so decent men can live normal lives. Final advice is for men to be sensitive and to pay attention.  It’s not okay to laugh or joke about rape. It’s nothing to joke about. It’s also not okay to cover up a buddy who you know is a rapist.

He needs to be ousted. That girl or woman who gets raped is someone’s daughter, sister, wife or mother. She could be yours, so don’t joke about it, don’t do it and don’t condone it!

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