Interview by Chief Editor
October 2019 6 min read
Photo courtesy Kunmi Owopetu
Nse Ikpe-Etim is an award-winning international actress of Nigerian descent. As one of the prominent actresses in Nollywood’s movie industry, she has been recognized for pivotal roles in films such as Journey to Self and Fifty. As a main feature in our Supernova interview series, Nse shares her experiences and perspectives about the industry, Self-awareness, forthcoming work and gives timely advice to young women creatives.
(VC) What is the earliest acting memory you have?
(Nse) My earliest memory of attempting to reenact a role I had seen on TV was when my younger sister and I watched El Cid with Sophia Loren and Charlton Heston, Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, and My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison and we stood in front of the mirror and recited lines from what we had seen. I wasn’t to know if that translated to acting.
(VC) When it comes to acting and the selection of roles, do you lean more on your training or you go by contextual instincts?
(Nse) I am thankful for the training I have had and continue to have as this helps to instill discipline in my everyday life as an actor but I dare say I do rely a whole lot on my instincts.
Like any other profession, it isn’t always easy to walk away from what you know and love. I have walked away twice and wasn’t quite sure if this was the path I wanted for myself. I struggled with acceptance and the trade-off it comes with
(VC) Congratulations on being a recipient of many awards and numerous nominations. Can you tell us how you came into the spotlight and challenges you faced when you took a break from the Nollywood industry?
(Nse) Thank you, but I like to say I stumbled into this profession, and studying Theatre for me did not mean I would take up acting professionally. Like any other profession, it isn’t always easy to walk away from what you know and love. I have walked away twice and wasn’t quite sure if this was the path I wanted for myself. I struggled with acceptance and the trade-off it comes with. When I took a break the second time, it was health-related and I wanted to deal with it in silence. With the help of a trusted team and a lot of love from my family, I saw the challenge of returning to the profession I have loved as an opportunity to give back through the arts.
(VC) What does self-awareness mean to you and how does it mold your creative work in acting among other things you do?
(Nse) My understanding of self-awareness is simply to “know thyself”, and I think it’s very largely linked to our ability to self-reflect. I learnt very early in life that introspective questions are the most difficult to give answers to. Questions such as “Who am I?” “What do I want?” “What are my core values?” can accurately be answered by only very few. If we could all take the time to understand ourselves, our emotions, our values and constantly evaluate our actions based on this, we will find that we become more conscious of what parts of us are our innate selves, and what parts of us are products of pre-conditioning. Only then can we truly begin to free our minds. Self-awareness won’t stop at knowledge about one’s self though, it also affects the way we see the world, and it’s definitely one of the things I’m most grateful for. Personally, it has helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, build and improve on areas I want to work on, accept the fact that I am different and practice daily mindfulness and in turn use this awareness to try to do good overall and also appreciate other people. It also impacts my acting profoundly, for if I do not know how to know myself, how can I possibly embark on every actor’s journey which is fundamentally to “know thy character”?
Photo courtesy Kunmi Owopetu
(VC) A perfect world does not exist, but if one does what core values would Nse make a staple in the community?
(Nse) In my perfect world, the concept of “money” would be non-existent. Love for one’s work or craft would be the sole determining factor for the choice of a profession. In my imagination, it’s a world where everyone is not only ecstatic whilst doing their jobs, but nothing feels like work and everyone is rendering the best possible product or service to the next person in exchange for their own best services and products. I think that’s a world where everyone is performing at their optimum level, because that’s simply the result when you love what you do! Everyone is happy, and lack or poverty is alien. What a dream.
It would be great to partner with a brand like Tyler Perry and Tyler Perry Studios, to build a bridge that connects Africa to the highest echelons of one of the best film industries in the world
(VC) At this stage of your career considering your commitments, If you could collaborate with a specific brand or international personality. Who would it be and why?
(Nse) There are quite a lot of people and production houses doing fantastic work on the highest levels. It would be great to partner with a brand like Tyler Perry and Tyler Perry Studios, to build a bridge that connects Africa to the highest echelons of one of the best film industries in the world. How he has, against all odds, made something that black folk can be proud of, and how he’s creating opportunities for people of color to be the best they can be, is something I consider worthy to be part of.
(VC) Does your Akwa Ibom heritage play a significant part in your creative themes or would you say you move with societal topics of the times?
(Nse) The world has become a global village. Heritage plays a less significant role and this is not to say it isn’t of any importance but there’s so much out there we have to address and talk about so societal topics tick the box.
(VC) As a successful actress in West Africa with an international following, what can you candidly tell aspiring young women about success and risk in your industry?
(Nse) Hard work, Dedication and Talent will definitely get you on the ladder of success but the glitz and the glam could derail your journey if you are not grounded. Self-awareness is key.
Photo courtesy Kunmi Owopetu
(VC) What can the world expect from Nse Ikpe Etim within the next few years, a podcast or talk show maybe?
(Nse) The world can expect stability and progression from me from here on. I’m here to stay, and I keep getting better and better. Be expectant! A lot is in the works.