Sheila Austin is one of the young Nigerian actresses who hopes to survive as a career actress. In this encounter with IFECHI OKOH, she speaks of how she set out into acting, parental support, how she met top producer / director, Zeb Ejiro, her stance on directors involved in sex for role saga in Nollywood and other revealing issues concerning her career. Enjoy it!
May we know who you are beyond acting?
My name is Sheila Austin, from Agbor town, in Delta State. I am the first born among the eight children of my parents, and a graduate of Delta State University (Delsu), Abraka, where I read sociology.
How did acting start for you?
It all began when I took part in my church’s production. I did it well and was applauded. People confessed that I was good. They told me to take it more seriously. The golden chance for this actually came years after when I was in two hundred level in the university. It was a yoruba production after which I had done well during its formal audition. That was how it all started.
Who are your role models in this business of acting?
For now, Mr. and Mrs. Olu Jacobs, the glamorous acting couples are my role models. Another is the high standing producer / director, Zeb Ejiro who is currently giving me all the moral support I need to grow – up as a front line actress. He is one celebrated professional in Nollywood I have very great admiration and respect for anytime, anyday and anywhere. His classique soap opera to me is the second to none production. As for those who may have served as a source of inspiration for me, Aki and Paw-paw top the list. I must confess that I love their roles and the unique and thrilling manners they go about the interpretation of those roles.
Any parential support?
I remember when I set out to acting, only my mother was supportive. She use to pray for me. Only my father was not initially supportive until much later when my mother stepped in to convince my father. The hostility of my father before then, was really disappointing. When my mother finally succeeded in convincing my father to allow me do what I love to do, he has been pretty supportive since then.
What where your initial challenges as a young actress?
My major challenge was the tasking situation of director not looking at your direction for ours. When you are lucky to be given a role, they will force you to get the role right in their definition. It is really tasking in its entirety. At a point in time, I almost chickened out. But when I thought of their stance, I had to okay it because I strongly believe that they want a perfect production. On the other hand, I knew that nothing come easy.
How many productions before you met Zeb?
I have seven to my credit. I have done a soap, some home video and comedy with Jude Orhorha, a.k.a Gbenro of Fuji House of commotion. I mean the guy who played the role of deaf and dumb. The ones I have done, include Super Mom, Getting Rich in Las Gidi, appearing in kingsley Omoefe’s movie, in a church scene extra, after which I also took part in some other productions, including “beautiful Mess” which had Racheal Oniga in the production. I really enjoyed all my appearances, especially in the “Beautiful mess” production. I mean shooting a scene severally until the director was convince that I got the picture he had in mind.
How was your first production?
It was awesome. Till now I cant forget it because the memories still hingers on in my memory
Was any of your encounter with producers, directors or marketers awful?
Oh yes! I had one with a director when he gave me a script which required me to play a semi nude role. Me act nude? Never! No amount anybody can pay me to act nude. The only part which maybe near nude is to appear in a swim suit, bikini or hot pant or bra and short. I can do any of these because it does not offend decency in any manner. It does not also lower woman hood in any sense. That is why I will embrace appearing in any of these wears on set.
How did you meet Zeb?
I have always heard about him as a big shot in Nollywood. I met him by God’s Grace. I have always dreamed to appear in any of his productions. It was a divinely arranged meeting
What really attracted you to him?
First of all was his simplicity. Despite his standing, he remains pretty humble. To me, he is a thorough breed professional. He is not like most of the celebrated directors and producers. The few times I have been with him was awesome. This lack of his position in other directors and producers, has really been putting me off from them.
Have you appeared in any of his productions?
Not quite! However I have recorded “The Merciful” now in the offing where I played the part of “Kome”. I love the role because it is Zebs production.
What roles would you like to be playing in any production?
I will love to be playing the lead roles. However, this depends on the director doing the casting. If he finds me suitable for such sensitive and prominent role, he should give it to me without any attachment like what I hear most producers and directors do which I frown seriously against. I hate those involved in taking advantage of talented and interested young ladies who want to make a career in acting. Enough of this rubbish! I mean sex for role!! It is high time Nollywood started investigating these allegations. Those involved should be sanctioned and punished as deterrent to others
Would you love to be a career actress?
Oh yes! This is because it will project me and also open new vistas for me as an actress. If I am hardworking enough, I will become a world class professional.
May we know what you are doing now to start – off as who wants to end up as a career actress?
To start with, I know that I should do all humanly possible to pave way for a successful career in acting.
I love to be me. I don’t like faking for a second as some top female actresses have been doing. I love being a professional and this I will do everything to achieve.