MULTI award winning actress, Sandra Okunzuwa believes that acting is her special calling. She recalls mimicking the likes of Nollywood stars Genevieve Nnaji and Stephanie Okereke Linus at a younger age till she eventually became one of the most sought after actresses in Nollywood today. She speaks with ADENIYI ADEWOYIN in this interview.
You seem to have relocated abroad or is it just for vacation?
I haven’t relocated abroad, I only traveled for holiday but I am back in Nigeria. I love Nigeria and I am based in Nigeria.
Would you leave acting for a more paying or suitable job?
I will never leave acting for a paying or suitable job. I love acting and it will always be a passion and producing as well. So, for now, I am still in the business of acting and filmmaking. I am currently working on a project titled ‘Ruthless’.
How does it make you feel to be among a few actresses getting major roles?
First of all I feel grateful, I am actually happy and excited, the fact that I have people watching my movies, supporting me, I am inspiring people through my craft which is like the first and most important thing. This industry chose me in the sense that I’ve always loved it from my childhood seeing myself mimicking Genevieve Nnanji, Stephanie Okereke and a lot of wonderful talented actresses so I am happy. It makes me feel like I am doing something right, like I’m on the track and this is just the beginning for me because I’m going to go higher and bigger in the industry.
How do you keep up with movie locations and other personal stuff?
Honestly, sometimes it’s really stressful because there’s this thing a lot of people don’t know about actors, we work round the clock, we go to set at like 8am and we can be on set till 8am the next day, it is really really stressful. I think the thing that keeps us going is that we are passionate and we are really interested in this. I think that the first and the most important thing that makes us stay and tolerate all of these. So, juggling between set life and personal stuff is not easy. I run a business called Sally Signature Skincare and Hair and I have to manage both my business, career and personal relationships. It’s not easy but now I’m just trying to take one step at a time, so what I can do and just keep going. I set out my daily plans and achieve the ones I am able to achieve that day. I think that if you sleep well, write out your daily plans and pray, you can be able to achieve something.
How would someone get your special attention?
I would say it’s the manner of approach be it social media or personally you have to approach someone properly. When the person has a good manner of approach and you get to listen to the person and have something meaningful to say, the person gets my attention. Sometimes with a good compliment and proper presentation of the things you want to say to add to that, if it’s someone that I’m meeting physically, the person has to have a good smell. I frown when someone is approaching me and the person has a very horrible body odor, in my mind I’m not paying attention to whatever the person is saying, especially when the person has a bad breath. I am not just paying attention, I just want to leave because I’m already uncomfortable. I feel as a human being when you want to approach somebody just make sure you look good but most importantly smell good.
Which actor do you love pairing with most in movies?
I have paired with a lot of actors like Alex Ekubo, Timini, Eddy Watson, Stan Nze and many others but I don’t really have one to say I want to keep pairing with this particular actor. The thing is there are some kind of actors that when you are being paired with they make your work easier because acting is reacting, if you give me the same energy it makes my work easy, it makes me to be able to deliver the role perfectly so I don’t get to choose but I like a really good actor with energy that knows his craft. When paired with such an actor the movie becomes a hit.
What personal projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on this project called Ruthless, this project is so dear to my heart and is different from other characters that I have played and it is quite challenging because I’m playing the character of a boxer and it is positive because I’m starting the year with a challenging role because it’s something that I prayed to God for that I want to be more flexible, I want to play a character that is out of the box from the one that I have been used to. I also want to talk about my previous project ‘Something like Gold’, that’s my personal project because I also produce movies as well. I’ve produced a couple of films like ‘Vida’ and ‘Enitan’ that got screened at Afriff and a lot of other projects. Currently we are still filming Ruthless, it is directed by Dimeji Ajibola, the director of ‘Shanty Town’ and it is produced by VSL Media.
If you go out with your non famous friends do you all split the bill or do you pay?
To be honest it depends because I have some rich friends that are not famous, they might even have money more than me but then, there are time that I will be like don’t worry I will take care of it and there are times that we all bring money so we can pay because I am a single girl oh and money is not easy to come by these days so I try to manage my funds. When we go out sometimes we split the bills, sometimes I take care of it but it doesn’t have anything to do with whether I’m more famous or I am an actress. It’s just normal because we are friends and we are responsible for each other.
Have you ever used your fame to get something for free and what was it?
There’s something that comes with fame, people want to be associated with you, people want to buy you gifts, appreciate you, people want to be nice to you especially when they are good friends who have watched your projects, so, yes I have. I have received gifts from fans from cash gifts, clothes, wristwatches, shoes and even normal gifts. Sometimes when I’m at the airport traveling the workers there do help make my service easier and all of that. It comes sometimes while sometimes you are just a normal person and nobody really cares. I appreciate their love and the fact that my birthday is coming. I want them to appreciate me more.
Have you ever been told to change something about yourself, maybe your weight, diet or gesture just to fit in for your status?
This one is true, a capital yes. Let me just start with this movie I’m currently on, because as a boxer I have this physique like an Algae shape and I’m kind of thicker so the producer said I have to lose weight so I can be able to move and throw kicks and punches. So, because you are always on the screen you have to keep a certain kind of weight and physique and for my kind of person that I play characters from 17 to 30 above, I literally have to look a certain kind of way, I cannot be on screen and be looking too fat or somehow. Other than someone telling you, you should know that it is healthy to keep fit.
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