interviewBy Samuel Abulude
She entered into the movie industry at a tender age and due to her laudable role-interpretation skills, Benita Nzeribe shone like a million stars. Recently, the gap-toothed beauty who hails from Anambra State has been in and out of the industry, reinventing her brand in the highly competitive Nollywood. Now a Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) ambassador, she spoke to SAMUEL ABULUDE about her career, fashion secrets and love life.
You've been off the big screen for a while, what have you been up to?
I was really not away. One thing about entertainment is that no one ever really leaves it. I have been around and active. I just have a different project and responsibility on my shoulders and I'm moving on by the grace of God. I did a movie recently and it premieres in London this month. The movie premiere also falls on my birthday, so I would be celebrating it over there. Once I am back, I will head for location for a Chico Ejiro film. We would be shooting a TV commercial too.
Your red carpet style is impeccable, care to share any fashion secrets?
My comfort determines my mode of dressing. The environment that I am going to also has an effect on my dressing. You can't catch me wearing a maxi or long-sleeve dress on a hot day. I love brown dresses; if I don't wear brown clothes, at least my accessories would be in a shade of brown. I also don't put on too much make-up. Just a light one and I'm good for the day. I detest loud make-up.
What can't you leave home without?
My wristwatch; because of telling time. You have to be a mathematician and also very time conscious to survive in Lagos. The traffic is just killing! The most expensive item I have is my diamond wristwatch but I didn't buy it. It was a gift. I can't use that kind of money to buy just an item. I am a pure Igbo girl(laughs).
As a NAMA ambassador, what have you been up to?
I have been up to lots of good. We have three TV commercials on air. We also have some other projects which I am not permitted to talk about now. Chioma Chukwa Akpotha, Kanu Nwankwo and I are working on a soccer TV programme. Several oil companies support the programme and we hope more companies would join too.
Back to your career, there are a lot of young and active stars springing up, do you feel threatened by them?
No! Not at all. The Nigerian movie industry is a very big place that can accommodate all of us. I am not shaken at all.
What is next for the Benita brand?
I am full of surprises. I am still here in the industry. I don't blow my trumpet, I just let things happen. People won't stop complimenting me for always looking young and fresh, they just don't know how long I have been in the industry. I don't want to compete with anybody; I am just me, myself and I.
Do you have plans of producing your own movie?
If it was just about movie production, I would have done it since. But, I mustn't follow the trend of all actors turning to producers. I am an actress and I want to stick to that.
You still look gorgeous and fresh, what is your secret?
(Laughs). I drink a lot of water. But another thing is that people don't know that I started acting at a very young age. I hit stardom when I was just 18. Then, I used heavy make-up so people could not tell my age. I played the roles of big ladies and even mothers, but only few people knew my real age.
So any plans for marriage?
Of course! Very soon you will get the news. I have been plucked by a lucky man. But I won't tell you much about him now. Just know that very soon, you will get all the juicy news you have been craving for.
Do you have any pet projects?
I have a lot of things I do; I have my own foundation, but I don't like talking about it because I feel it does not need to be publicised. I have a class of widows I help in the society; and less-privileged children too. As you very well know, I am a UN Peace Ambassador and as such stand for world peace. Ambassadors work towards peace from the grassroots. Personally, I am more convinced than ever before that there should be peace within every human being created by God. Sadly, not every human being has been able to discover that inner mind and access the peace that is much needed for growth, development and success. World peace is still a tall order today. However, nothing is impossible with God. I shall continue to call on Him for strength and direction as I pursue this awesome assignment. World peace must be achieved to an impressive percentage. Secondly, as a Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) ambassador, though there is also work to be done, the aviation sector has recorded huge achievements under the present administration.
How was growing up like?
My childhood was full of fun, because I have disciplined parents. I went to a convent school and I think that explains how I came about my disciplined self. I can remember that all the partying prevalent among teens was never part of my experience. I don't feel like I missed out at all. In fact, it's rare to see me at a night club, because I have been fashioned that way. It's not like I'm saying it's wrong to party, everyone should just do whatever makes them happy.