- When you first read the script for Shanty Town, what was your initial thought about the plot?
I thought it was a well-thought-out plot. I loved the twist and the unpredictability of the story. I love how the story was unravelled and how distinctly interesting the characters were.
- How much of yourself were you willing to push to help bring the character Inem to life?
I was ready to push myself beyond my comfort zone and not accept any boundaries. I took it upon myself to practise martial arts for six straight weeks. I needed to really become Amanda as far as her physical strength and professional stamina was concerned. I think there is a Shanty town in every city, as for Inem, it took me a few visits to some Shanty-like environments within the city of Lagos. I had conversations with the girls to really understand their perspective and how it was for them to be who they were and their circumstances.
- Where do you fall on Method acting? Did you try to stay in character between scenes?
I made a conscious effort to stay within both characters… bearing in mind that the major character was an impersonator, that had to be as convincing as possible to make the story as believable as it was.
- There are a lot of nude scenes in Shanty Town, which is quite new to Nollywood audience. How did you create a safe environment on set for the actors and the entire crew?
Art is an imitation of life. Nothing is real. To tell certain stories the way they should be told or to drive home certain key points in movies, things like nudity, blood, violence in a society as ours might be inevitable. Safe place for actors is why we have body doubles and professional stunts artists.
- There is a scene in episode 4 where your character, Inem got beaten up and raped by Chief. Watching that scene was scary as hell. How did you prepare psychologically for that particular scene so it doesn’t cause trauma to you as Ini Edo after the director said cut?
Well, it does take a toll after filming deep scenes like that, especially when as an artist, you have totally immersed yourself into another character. The most traumatic angle for me was just knowing that there were real women and girls going through things like that on a regular basis. It’s a very depressing feeling.
- Your first scene back to Shanty Town was somewhat a liberation and a sign of hope for the other ladies in the community. How do you as a producer and actress see it as inspiring hope to real-life individuals trapped in the game of human-trafficking?
There is always light at the end of the tunnel. In everything we do, it’s good to hold on to faith and a positive attitude believing that one day, light will come.
- How does your awareness of the difficulty in getting global attention as an African filmmaker inform your attention to detail in every aspect of the show’s production?
I don’t think it has been a matter of it being difficult. I think as an industry we have been moving towards that recognition. It has been a slow process but I believe Nollywood is ready. Being ready means beginning to make the quality of films that grabs the attention of the global space. Of course, this includes paying attention to every detail. Especially as it concerns technical, story and the entire creative process. If you take a look at some films from Nigeria these days, especially Shanty town, you can tell that we are ready and the recognition is already pouring in.
- How much has Nollywood evolved with time with the coming in of streaming platforms such Netflix and Amazon?
All we have needed as an industry has been distributing outlets… without them, we drove our films as far as we could. I think with these global platforms, Nollywood’s evolution will be unstoppable.
- There are a lot of big names in Shanty Town. What went into the casting for the show? Was it just based on the star-power each one of them carried or they went through an audition process before getting the role?
Of course, we had auditions and readings as expected. For the big names, their ability to be as versatile and fresh with every new project was all the conviction we needed.
- What was the most memorable moment for you on the set of Shanty Town as a producer?
The car accident scene was a dream to watch. It was really scary, a whole family was inside that bus when it capsized and exploded so we all had our hearts jumping out of our mouths when they all came out unscathed and the entire scene was perfectly captured in one shoot, it was like a victory dance for everyone.
- What are the three golden rules that have guided your career in Nollywood?
1) I keep reinventing myself.
2) Staying true to my craft and who I am as a person.
3) Never compromising my belief or morals for no one or nothing sake.
4) And most importantly, God over everything.