interviewBy Ayo Onikoyi
As much as Queeneth Hilbert, half-Nigerian, half-Lebanese, would like to reassure you she is an average girl next door everything about her depicts something extra-ordinary. From her looks to her mannerisms, there is a touch of uniqueness that stands her out. As vulnerable as she looks, she is everything but a 'damsel in distress' as our readers will soon find out in this revealing chat. Often touted as one of the most beautiful girls in Nollywood, Queeneth talks about her journey into showbiz, pornography in Nollywood and a whole lot of other issues..
How did you come about the name 'Queeneth Hilbert'?
Queeneth Hilbert is my name. Mine is Queeneth while my surname is Hilbert. I am half Nigerian, half Lebanese.
Is that why you display the Lebanese flag on your Blackberry status?
Well, I have many Lebanese friends and many of them have the Lebanese flag displayed on their Blackberry phones. I just thought it's cool so I use it too
Why not the Nigerian flag?
I can use any one I want to use. It has no special meaning to me. (laughing) should I change it?
But there is a story that you are not as close to your dad as you are to your mum. Why is that?
I am closer to my mum because I grew up with while it took a while to know my dad but that does not mean I have anything against my dad. Our relationship is father-daughter relationship.
You started with modelling, what informed your decision to go into modelling?
When I was small, many of my friends and cousins were going into modelling and that to some extent affected me. Besides, many of them thought I should go into it too because by age 15 I was already very tall and had a good slim figure for it. So I decided to give it a try.
Why did you go into acting instead of modelling?
Back then I had a lot of modelling proposals. It started when I had a photo shoot. From the photo shoot a lot of agents saw what I could do and the offers started pouring in. Even when I was just 15 at the time.
Why so early, didn't it affect your education?
Not really. I started early because I had to make ends meet. I am a kind of person who doesn't like to be idle. Besides, I love being independent and being able to take care of myself.
Weren't your parents doing that?
Yes, they had what it takes to take care of me but I just don't like bothering anyone for anything, even my parents.
As a beautiful woman, what has your beauty cost you?
I'm a funny person and I don't see myself like that. When I wake up in the morning, I pray, take my birth, dress up and off to work. The way people talk about Queeneth being beautiful doesn't even occur to me. I don't see myself as such.
So, when did you realise you are a very beautiful woman?
I think that should be all my life because people never stopped telling me I am beautiful.
Has anyone ever gone beyond just appreciating your beauty or making passes at you?
Can you share an experience?
There was this guy I met while boarding a flight from Abuja to Lagos. I was coming to shoot a film. The guy was sitting next to me in the plane and he got funny with me. He was so arrogant, rude and uncouth. And if there is anything I really hate it is arrogant guys. Even when I like a guy, I am not the type who goes about showing it because I like to hide my feelings.
Even when we landed in Lagos, and the company's car came to pick me, the guy was still disturbing me. Funny enough, when I got to the company for the shoot I found out" that the guy owns the company. He was like: this girl again? What are you doing in my company? But I told him my mind. He later gave me the contract though but I just can't stand arrogant people.
That sounds like some sort of romance in the air, it couldn't have ended there?
Well, it did for me. After the shoot he became all caring, nice and even propose to me but his arrogant ways put me off completely.
When did you actually start acting?
That should be from 2012.
How many films have you done since then?
I can't remember, I think I lost count. Maybe 20-30 films.
How did you manage 20-30 films between 2012 to 2013?
Yeah, I did all that by managing my time and it is not like all the movies are out yet some take time.
Do you still do modeling on the side?
Not really. Acting has taken the bulk of my time and now just getting to the peak of my career in acting more modeling offers are coming in but for now I am only focused on my acting career. Later I will return to modeling.
Between modeling and acting which would you say is more rewarding and more fulfilling?
I will pick my modeling. Just thinking about the good times I had meeting people, going around the world makes it modeling for me. It goes down to the fact that I love pictures and modeling pays you more, with many more benefits. Acting isn't all fun. Some of your colleagues give you hard times, for good or bad reasons. I prefer modeling any day.
So, what are you doing, acting?
Modeling is more rewarding. I am just in acting now because I have always had passion for it.
You said you have done about 30 films. In how may did you take the lead roles and which are the most memorable to you?
I will say about 10. The most memorable of those are 'The Illiterate' and 'My Daughter, My Jewel' directed by Lancelot Imaseun.
Pornography is gradually eating into Nollywood and some have said it makes the movies more real. What's your idea of pornography in Nollywood films?
Benson Okonkwo, my actor friend once said that and I think he is right. Pornography makes our films more real. When you shoot in South Africa or Ghollywood, there's no movie you are going to do without emotion, love and sex. I don't call it pornography, I call it doing your job. If your script says you should do something, it is doing your job, Nollywood has no business doing movies if it cannot absorb pornography.
What of lesbianism in the industry?
I think why that is taking place now is because there are more girls than guys. Most of the girls who engage in this act are not in Nollywood to act, they are just there to cause trouble. They are all over the place but I don't think they are there to work.
Is it true that the Ghanaian actors are taking over from the Nigerian actors?
I think it is all about packaging. Not in terms of money or quality. The Nigerian actors don't have one mind and goal while the Ghanaians seem to have one mind with brotherly outlook. In Nigeria there is a lot of hate, jealousy and power tussles. In Ghollywood, you see Yvonne, Jackie, Nadia, all coming together to work together to do a film while in Nigeria you can hardly see the top acts doing something together because everyone feels they are too big for others. There is a lot of forming.
There is also an idea that Ghollywood are churning out more beautiful people than Nollywood these days?
That's not true. When people say they are finer, they are only talking about beauty not talent, right? In Nollywood, you cannot make it to the top simply because you are beautiful. Nollywood places higher value on talent than beauty. But in Ghollywood the competition is not as stiff as in Nollywood. There are so many beautiful girls in Nollywood that will not see stardom because they don't have talent. When you compare the two there are more beautiful girls in Nollywood and far more talents.
Can you actually do a sex scene?
There's nobody that will actually do a sex scene in a movie. But if it is my husband that is producing the film and acting in the film, then it is okay with me, like the case of Jeta Amata and his wife. I can play any role in a movie, that is what is called acting.
Has your heart ever been broken by a guy?
No, I won't even give them that opportunity. I have long made up my mind that no man would break my heart. I have male friends but not the sort you would refer to as boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I don't have such because I don't believe there is true love in this country. I am only focused on my career for now.
What's this story about Tonto Dikeh being the person that inspired you into acting?
No, no, no, not true. I think someone posted the story online. Tonto never inspired me. I just love her movies like I love movies of other big actresses like Omotola. I am myself.
I have seen some pictures about you and Benson Okonkwo. What's up with you and Benson?
Benson, I will say, is one of the few people in Nollywood that likes me for who I am. He's real and because he is a guy, it works for me. The girls, girls thing doesn't cut it with me. Most of the girls are fake. It is not like I have issues with anyone I just found out very few of them like me.
What's your idea about sex?
Well, you see someone and you feel this guy will be good in bed, fine, go ahead and have it. Sex is something you can have if you feel good about it. I don't believe all those Bible stuffs about sex.
There are so many revealing pictures of you on the internet. Does it mean you can act nude?
I can act nude under some certain conditions. If those conditions are met, why not?
Queeneth, you don't seem to like men very much. Why?
Well, maybe because when I was trying to establish myself as a model, every man I met wanted something from me. In this country, most men you meet don't want to do anything for you unless you are ready to offer sex. Only very few men are nice. I don't know if it happens like that to other women but for me, it has and that doesn't mean I have anything against men. I don't.