Nollywood actress, Ijeoma Agu, made a name for herself when she debut her one-woman-show where she played eight different female characters. Since then, she has featured in movies and TV soap operas that successfully launched her career in the make believe world. In this interview with ORUKPE NELSON, she speaks about her career, growing up and marriage…
Tell us about your family, growing up and educational background.
I’m the eldest of five children. I grew up in Benin and Lagos. My family is quite fun. Growing up was very memorable. My siblings and I would sing, dance and act. My parents also encouraged us to unleash our God given talents. I am a graduate of Biochemistry from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, NAU. I am an alumnus of the prestigious Royal Arts Academy where I graduated summer cum laude, bagging a variety of awards as an honours student.
What motivated you into acting?
I have always loved the world of make-believe. I loved watching movies while growing up, reading novels and generally getting lost in imaginary world.
When did your acting career start?
My acting career started in 2007 with a feature in Fidelis Duker’s soap, ‘Eldorado’. Since then I have featured in the Hollywood indie movie ‘The Choice of Aina’ by Maarore Pictures where I played an abused young woman in search of love. Others are ‘Finding Diamond Jo’ (a collaboration with Swedish filmmakers), ‘Hood Rush’ (a musical thriller currently in cinemas all over Nigeria) and ‘Flower Girl’ (also in cinemas) directed by AMAA winner, Michelle Bello.
You have earned some few accolades in your acting career. Can you tell us about them?
Well, they are quite a few nominations and awards. I was nominated in the ‘Best Rising Star’ category at the Nollywood Movies Award 2013. Other nominations are from City People and BON. The Awards are just two: BON’s most promising star and the award grant from Theatre Royal Stratford East for a one – woman show I developed in 2012.
You were Nigeria Award recipient from the Theatre Royal Stratford East in the UK, how did it come about and what has it done for your career?
I heard about the submissions from Aunty Joke Silva and I put in for it and was surprised when I got the call that I made it from Nigeria. The grant helped me stage the show in Nigeria. I have also performed the show in various parts of the country. I was able to successfully stage my own one-woman show titled, ‘A Chronicle of Heroines’ funded by the Bank of Industry where I play eight different female characters.
You also performed at the 2012 cultural Olympiad. Tell us about it.
Courtesy of Aunty Joke Silva… She watched a performance I did a while back and called me up to be part of the cast for the cultural Olympiad at the 2012 Olympics in London. It was a surreal and humbling experience for me. I remain grateful to her for such an opportunity.
Can you tell us some of the movies you have featured in?
I have been in quite a number of interesting movies. They include: The Choice of Aina, HoodRush, Misfit, Kpains, Flower Girl, The Arrangement, From Within and currently filming Oko Ashewo. I have also featured in TV soaps like ‘David’s fall’ and ‘About to Wed’. I have been in numerous stage productions of works by Wole Soyinka and other playwrights such as ‘The King Must Dance Naked’, ‘Death and The King’s Horseman’ and ‘The Jero Plays’ where I played Amope.
Which of them brought you to limelight?
I’d say HoodRush and Misfit in which I had a starring role.
What are the challenges you encountered before breaking into the industry?
The challenges still remain till today. They are basically auditioning for roles and getting to work on projects that you actually like.
Mention some of the actors and actresses you admire in the industry.
I have such huge respects for Joke Silva, Genevieve Nnaji, Edith Jane Azu and Liz Benson-Ameye
Would you act nude for any reason?
I am not a porn artiste please.
You got married about a year ago. What attracted you to your husband?
I got attracted to his honesty and openness. He is cute too. *wink*
Has marriage and motherhood affected your acting career in anyway?
No, it hasn’t affected my acting in any way. Fortunately for me, my husband is a filmmaker. I actually went back on set two weeks after I put to bed. The show must go on.
Would your husband influence you accepting roles in movies, like kissing?
No way. He doesn’t at all. He is also a professional in the same industry.
Describe your style?
My style is simple and classic pieces. But on the red carpet, it’s all about glamour and vavavoom.
If you are going on a red carpet, how long will it take you to dress up?
It takes about two hours because I have a glam team that helps me with makeup.
What is your passion?
My passion is acting, simple!
If you were not acting, what other profession would you have chosen?
It will be singing. I sing too.
What is your favourite fashion item and who are your favourite designers?
I really don’t have a favourite fashion item. And I don’t know much about designers. I just wear what fits.
If you are to flaunt any part of your body, what will it be?
I’d flaunt my tummy and thighs.
What is your beauty routine?
I really don’t have a beauty routine.
What is your favourite perfume?
I don’t have a favourite perfume.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I am a very adventurous but simple lady, loves to act, sing and swim.
Describe Ijeoma in three words?
I like to say I’m quite simple, down to earth and as real as they come.
What is your philosophy?
My mantra remains that ‘A man’s talent makes a way for him.’