I’m intrigued by organic growth in Nollywood — Ijeoma Richards
Ijeoma Richards is a writer, actress, on-air personality and the president of Nollywood Creative Minds Forum. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, she speaks on how she combines her writing skill with acting, her roles in Nollywood , how she has been able to avoid scandals, among other issues.
What has been happening to you career-wise?
Well, I have been getting more referrals from people in the industry, so I have been busy working. More people want to work with me, so I am having great time and I cannot complain.
Have you abandoned writing for acting? If no, when are you going to release your next book?
I have been doing more acting than writing. My focus has been on Nollywood. If I’ll be writing anything anytime soon, it will likely be on the Nigerian movie industry. I am intrigued by its organic growth.
What other things do you do aside writing and acting?
I run a property company with my sister in Lekki. She’s there more than I am for obvious reasons. I am also a Radio contributor. I present True Tales on Nocturnal Classics on Classic FM 97.3 alongside Lawrence Nwali a.k.a Man of the Night on Monday nights. I am also president of the Nollywood Creative Minds Forum. A body of Nollywood industry practitioners who seek to do better and grow our potentials
Some of your colleagues are now going into politics. Do you see yourself towing that path?
Well, never say never. But for now I am more interested in investing in myself and becoming worthy of such responsibilities if I choose to go in that direction.
What do you enjoy most about being an actress?
The versatility and the opportunity to be many people and still come home to my real self. One never gets bored. The possibilities are incredible.
Many actresses are said to be living fake lives just to keep up with the glamour of the job. What do you have to say about this?
For every actress you know who lives a fake life, there are 10 who are core professionals seeking to be at the top of their game. Besides, acting is a grueling job. Forget the days when we have events and get made up for the red carpet. It is often dangerous travelling from place to place, filming from morning until past midnight. Getting poked by make-up artists and sound men in preparation for a shoot and adjusting to different environments almost on a daily basis. It involves working hard work and getting paid peanuts in the beginning. Having producers whom you work for pretend they forgot to pay you. These days I’m at the level where I expect my account credited before I turn up for work. It wasn’t always like this.
What are your favourite pastimes?
My eldest sister says I’m a recluse. I enjoy my own company. I like quiet. I love books. I often feel in need of time to recover from humans.
What are you doing to ensure you stay on top of your game?
Right now I am looking for a property deal that will earn me money for a film course I plan on doing in the year. When I saw the tuition ,I almost passed out. But I am determined to get that under my belt.
What advice do you have for young girls who want to go into acting?
It is possible. You can do it. But like most things, it is not fun, it’s work. People will ridicule you and think you’re no good. But it is what you say to yourself that counts. And good luck to you as you chase your dreams.
How have you been able to avoid scandal in an industry that thrives on it?
I mind my business. I live within my means. I also do not think most things referred to as scandals are big deals. They are occurrences that just get blown out of proportion because of those involved.
You are the president of Nollywood Creative Minds Forum. What is the association all about?
The primary purpose of the NCM is to walk and work with these professionals to be the best they can be. Lend support and expose us to opportunities in the industry as well as to encourage improvement in the individual professionally by exposing us to training and interaction with the best brains not just in Nollywood but in the world of business and finance. To this end, one of our annual events The In Pursuit of Better Seminar’ will be in its third year by December of 2019.This usually holds at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel, Lagos and we have had finance and legal gurus such as the Group Chairman of Ecobank and Prof. Bella Okagbue as our keynote speakers at the last two editions. Veteran Nollywood practitioners have lent themselves to these outings Keppy Ekpenyong Bassey, Ngozi Nwosu who are our advisers and the president Guild of Directors, Fred Amata as well as Blessing Egbe, Yemi Blaq, Anne Njemanz, Kingsley Omoefe and many others. This year, the executive, comprising of my humble self, Bukola Thomas and Emeka Okoye are planning that apart from our Short Films, we should accept Shorts from outside of NCMF to our film screening. The plan is for these screenings to morph into a full blown Film Festival. The NCMF has an up and running chapter in Ilorin, Kwara State, coordinated by Kolade Owolabi. The chapter’s first short film was screened in December. The next chapter of NCMF will be in Asaba. We are already in talks to set that up.