There are many common misconceptions about Nigeria’s Nollywood actresses. And one of them is that apart from their art of performing on set, they are prostitutes – an opinion that many have spoken in support of over the years. However, actress, producer and entrepreneur Darlene Odogbilli has debunked the claim saying that not every Nollywood actress is a prostitute, and that fans and industry practitioners must get their perceptions right about the profession.
In an interview with Africa Movies Hub, Darlene rose in defence of actresses plying their craft in the industry which is in dissention with controversial actor Uche Maduagwu’s recent claim that 99% of Nollywood thespians are prostitutes.
In the discussion with AMH, the producer of The Tramped and Dera talks about her Nollywood journey, gives tips for upcoming acts and her professional goals.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Please introduce yourself, brand, and tell us about your work
My name is Darlene Oluchi Odogbili. I am an actress, a movie producer and an entrepreneur.
How did you become an actress, and now a producer?
I became an actress because of the love I have for the craft. I am also a creative person who has the yearning to tell stories the way I want people to see them. That was why I went into movie productions.
At what age did you start acting and what age do you hope to retire?
I started acting at the age of 16 but had to stop to focus on getting a proper education. I then got back to the industry full time in 2015. There is no retirement time frame for me.
How do you mostly get selected for movie roles? Have you ever yearned to be in a movie or lobbied for one and got it?
Initially I went for auditions and when I started becoming known, calls for work starting coming in from producers. I have never had to lobby for a role.
What do you think Nollywood movie industry players can do to grow the sector faster than it is already going?
A lot is already being done. No great change happens overnight. Let’s continue to make quality movies, that’s all.
With regards to film distribution, is Nollywood where it should be? What measures can be taken to have a more structured and vibrant movie industry?
“So much still needs to be done when it comes to distribution. In my opinion, we need more platforms that are willing to acquire the contents being produced.”
Tell us about the most common misconception about actresses in Nollywood
There’s this misconception that we are all prostitutes. Not every Nollywood actress is a prostitute, and people need to get their mindset right about us.
Since you started your career, what has been the most challenging job you took on, and why?
Every job I have taken on has its own challenges. Being able to portray different characters in a short time has always been challenging and that’s part of my role as an actress.
If you had the opportunity to go back right from when you started, what will you do differently?
Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently.
What makes you different from others who have tried to do what you‘ve done and failed?
First of all, I would say the Grace of God has seen me thus far. Also, being able to persevere in the face of extreme challenges, being consistent, committed to never giving up – these are some of the reasons I have come this far.
Who are your greatest inspirations in the movie industry and why?
There are a lot of them really. However, in Nollywood, I would say Uche Jombo and Rita Dominic. Their career journeys inspired me to always keep working hard and not just stick to being an actress but getting involved in the business of filmmaking proper. Drew Barrymore and Taraji P Henson are a few of my Hollywood role models.
With regards to your personal goals and dreams, what are your greatest achievements so far?
Building an empire has been my goal and gradually we are building and would continue until the goal is achieved. I and my team have successfully produced 6 made-for-TV films (Kambili, A Mother’s Promise, A Date With My Husband, When Love Dies, The Tramped and Dera).
Please share 4 tips for new-comers who are hoping to become successful like you in the industry
Have a clear vision and goal.
Be prepared to put in the work.
In this industry, you need patience as a watchword
Get a side-job too.
Anything else you might want to add; like a new projects, plans, etc.?
I want to say a big thank you to everyone that supports my brand. God bless you all. Our new projects; The Tramped and Dera will be available on your screens soonest.
Writer – Film Critique – Entrepreneur – Gospel Musician