For Eku Edewor it's no easy choice between TV presenting and acting. In this interview, she shares her hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Just as Africa anxiously awaited the commencement of the second half of the final match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and The Stallions of Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup of Nations, Eku Georgina Edewor gracefully opened the doors of her home to the intrusion of a tape recorder.
With a dainty hand hiking up her maxi-dress she led the way into the hushed confines of her family's dimly-lit study, which became noticeably brighter the minute she opened her mouth to reveal a rare glimpse into her world.
Edewor's disposition is one that can be perfectly described as sunny, and her witty responses made it hard to carry on a conversation with her without bursting into gales of laughter.
Edewor is a familiar face in the Nigerian entertainment scene – on the red carpet, on your TV screens and on the glossy pages of most fashion magazines – which makes it forgivable to assume that she is the typical pampered socialite who parties a lot and is always looking to have a good time. But she is far from this; this beautiful young woman who is extremely focused and determined is actually very laid back and in just a few sentences she summed up her personality.
"Do people know that I'm very hard-working?" she wonders out loud with an indulgent smile. "Well, I am a very determined person," she continues in a more serious tone, "I'm very focused and everything I've done ever since I was a kid has been very focused to a goal. I'm a very laidback person, I like to stay at home – whenever you see me out it's usually for work. But most people just assume that I love to go out. Anyone closest to me knows that I'm very introverted and if I'm not working, I'm usually indoors." She prefers to spend quiet moments at home but her career choice demands that she be a social butterfly.
Edewor started her journey into the world of film not in front of the camera but behind it. After graduating from the University of Warwick with a degree in English and theatre she worked as a productions assistant for a well-known indie film producer in the UK. This was before she bagged a diploma in film at the New York film Academy.
She recalls this part of her life with a bit of nostalgia. "I worked in the film when I left university but I wasn't in front of the camera. I was working production-wise behind the camera. I was a production assistant to Damien Jones, who has produced good movies like the Iron Lady, Fast Girls amongst others… and I must say I learnt a lot in my short time with him."
She acknowledges that this work experience was a rite of passage for what her career has now evolved into. One might be tempted to wonder why she chose to hide behind the cameras in the beginning but this astute woman was only laying the foundation for the dazzling moment when the lights of the camera she once shone on others would shine upon her.
Her debut into the world of entertainment came when she took on the role of co-host on a show called Studio 53 Extra. She admits that TV presenting wasn’t what she originally thought she would do but before she knew it she began to enjoy it and soon became quite accomplished at it. But Edewor soon became restless to conquer the world of film like she had always wanted.
In a bold move she auditioned for Michelle Bello’s movie titled Flower Girl, she recalls that it was a blind audition and jokingly reveals that she had no idea what the movie would be about at the time.
Flower Girl is a tale of love lost and won in the city of Lagos from the producer and director of the award-winning film Small Boy, Michelle Bello. This movie is centred on the life of a shy florist, Kemi (played by Damilola Adegbite), desperate to tie the knot with her long-time boyfriend Umar (played by Chris Attoh).
Edewor thinks that for a Nollywood movie, the making of Flower Girl was very organised with very few surprises. She applauds the professionalism of the producer and looks forward to doing another movie with her.
The excitement, as she recounts her experience on the movie set, makes it obvious that when she takes on an acting role she is indeed in her element. One would even be tempted to think that now that she has made her way into the world of film like she has always wanted, it would be goodbye to TV presenting.
But she has no such plans. In a statement that shows that she is a practical young woman she explains that while she loves acting, film doesn't pay her bills, TV does. And she isn't ready to let go of her source of livelihood just because she wants to completely switch to acting.
Obviously it's not all about the glitz and glamour of being a celebrity that drives her. She sees this as her bread and butter and if working for a living comes with some fun and excitement then so be it. She is positive that she will have no problems juggling between both; she describes herself as a jack-of-all-trades and master of all because she has trained herself to be this way.
Moving on to the ever talked about issue of sexual harassment in Nollywood, this confident young woman's opinion is far from the norm. The look on her face is one of confusion as she reveals that even though she has heard stories about actresses being harassed by producers or directors she is yet to experience it. She wonders if it is the no-nonsense aura she exudes that has made this possible but also jokingly says that any attempt to be harassed would be met with a swift rebuttal.
Edewor is the perfect picture of a privileged woman who has managed to remain grounded and humble. One who has her eyes on success and is not afraid to break a nail to get there.
Even though her countenance suggests she is totally at home with being famous, she says she still gets surprised when strangers recognise her and walk up to her.
"That's one of the defining things in my character, my success hasn't changed me, and I have just become more determined to work harder and achieve more, do more. I think it has a lot to do with upbringing; my mum is very grounded, I think people assume that when you become famous you become a diva. I'm still fascinated by the whole fame thing, when young people stop me and go 'oh I really like you', I'm like 'oh wow! really?' I just get stumped; I'm almost like someone take a photo of someone taking a photo of me! It still shocks me because I still feel young, I still feel like my career is just kicking off, I still feel like there's so much more to achieve, I feel like there's still a long way to go."
It's all too surreal to her and she admits that she still gets nervous despite having spent three years as a TV host. "I talk to myself a lot," she says. "I literally have to give myself a pep talk because I get nervous... so I have to look in the mirror and I'm like 'come on! You can do this'. I'm like 'free yourself, Eku! Loose all inhibitions! Blow them away! You can do this!' because I'm still shy you know, I don't think its modesty, I don't think I'm one of those actors who have a natural flair for the dramatic."
On the new trend of actresses turning to music, she jokingly says she would give music a go if only she could sing. She says that the fact that she always aspires for perfection in everything she does is the reason why she wouldn’t delve into this genre. So have no fear, Miss Edewor does not intend to go pull a Tonto Dikeh by going anywhere near the booth of a recording studio.
There is no stopping Eku Edewor as she makes her way to the top, she intends to blaze a trail in the world of Nollywood that will leave others with no choice but to follow.