Fast-rising Nollywood star, Vivica Ijeoma Anuforo, may not be as famous as Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, but she
has attracted thousands of fans for her outstanding roles in over 15 Nollywood movies, including Turning Point, Broken Silence and The Bride is Mine, among others. In this interview with TheNation, the Political Science graduate of the University of Lagos, Akoka, who also trained as an actor at the Royal Art Academy, Lagos,opened up on her journey into the make-believe world, among other interesting issues.
HOW long have you been acting and how many movies do you have to your credit?
I’ve been acting for the past three years. Acting is something I decided to ‘chase’ because of how much I realised I wanted it and how much fulfillment I could derive from it. Initially, my dad wasn’t really excited about it. But he now supports me and knows I have a good head on my shoulders. I’ve always been fascinated by the movies I grew up watching. The truth is that, all I’m concerned about is being an actor. I have featured in Turning Point directed by Niyi Towolawi, Broken Silence directed by Desmond Elliot, The Bride is Mine directed by Ugezu J. Ugezu and 11am directed by Alex Mouth, among others.
The industry is highly competitive, so how do you intend to hit the A-list category?
Well, healthy competition is good for the growth of any industry. But where I am and what I am aiming at is making good movies that people can enjoy. Right now, I’m really focused on my craft and how to get better at it. This is because I believe that being in the A-list category is an incentive that one earns for being the best at what one does.
Are there actors you admire?
I love Liz Benson and wish she would come back fully to Nollywood. I think our screens miss her. It will be a dream come true to work with her-she is so eloquent and classy. I also have a lot of respect for Genevieve Nnaji because when she broke out, actresses who aren’t light-skinned were not really favoured in terms of getting roles. Mama Purity (Mercy Johnson) is great-her depth as an actor is undeniable. I also like RMD, not only because he is a fine man with dimples to die for, but because he is such a fantastic actor. I learn a lot from these actors.
So, you actually have a crush on RMD?
I think I like his person.
Where does your inspiration come?
I draw inspiration from different things, especially success stories of famous people, movies, books, God and family etc. But I would say my greatest inspiration has been my friend and stylist, Precious Adewale. Sometimes, I feel like she believes in the success of my career more than I do. Even when I feel I’m meeting road blocks, she tells me: “Failure is not on the table talk less of it being an option.” I love her.
So, what has been your unique selling point over the years?
I’d say my unique selling point is my entire body. In acting school, we were taught that the only tool the actor has is his or her entire body.
Do you have a limit when it comes to accepting roles?
I can go very far in interpreting any role and can do all that without going nude. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to play a role that doesn’t project my interest and principles as an actor.
So, what are these principles?
My philosophy of life would be “never look down on anyone.” I think I learnt that from my father. He hates to see anyone being maltreated because of what they have or do not have-he can relate to anyone, no matter his or her status. He made me understand that all men are born equal.
Do you really see a future in Nollywood?
Of course, I do! I do see a big future in Nollywood; otherwise, what am I doing there? We’ve seen lots of Hollywood actors reaching out just to have some sort of affiliation with us. That goes to show, without a doubt, that we are doing something right.
So, what do you think is the way forward?
I think the way forward is for us to continue to make great movies that can meet international standards. So far, we aren’t doing badly. It would also be nice to give the budding actors a real chance because there are talents amongst us- all we are looking for is a real chance to show what we can do. That’s why I’ll always be thankful to Aunty Emem Isong and her sister, aunty Uduak, for the opportunities they’ve given me as an up and coming actress.
Aside acting, what else do you do?
Besides acting, I sell accessories, including shoes, bags, shirts and palm oil.
What is it that lots of people don’t know about you?
People probably don’t know that I’m ‘clusterphobic’. I hate to stay in an enclosed space. And I love Amala a lot (laughs). Again, when I’m stuck in traffic, I like to eat Gala and ice cream.
What has life taught you over the years?
Life has taught me that the only one worth putting your trust in is God. Besides, it has taught me that not everyone who helps you should be called a friend.
Any regret so far?
I think everything in my past has set me up to be the woman that I am today. So, I really don’t think I would want to change anything that has happened to me in the past.
Tell us about the man in your life?
At the moment, there is no man in my life. I’m single and searching for a break out role (laughs).
Why still single, considering how beautiful you are?
Maybe I have not seen the right man.
So, who is your ideal man?
What attracts me to a man are his confidence and eloquence. I think a man who speaks well can turn me on. Then, he should have respect for himself and respect for women.
If you weren’t an actress, what else would you have been doing?
I’m very athletic; if I weren’t an actor, I would have been an athlete, running for Nigeria. I try every now and then (when I’m not on set) to go to the gym to work out. I also play volleyball and love watching football.
Apart from RMD, who again do you have a crush on?
If I were a lesbian, I would have loved to marry Scarlet Johansson. I also used to have a huge crush on Milan Bros. But now, it’s Mikel( Obi). But talking about my favourite actors, I think I love Ed Norton, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock and Natalie Portman.
It’s believed that most up and coming actresses trade their bodies for movie roles; what has been your response to ‘s*x-for-role-directors’?
Firstly, one has to know what one wants in the industry. Then, how you present yourself also matters a lot and determines how you will be addressed. If you present yourself as a desperate young lady, who is ready to do anything and go to any length to get what she wants, then, you will fall into the trap and category of s*x-for-roles actresses. Being a star is a gradual process, but that’s what most people don’t know. To be in the limelight is not a matter of days, but years of hard work. I’m not desperate; my good job will speak for me. I will wait for my time, so I say no to s*x-for-roles!
Are you saying no producer has ever harassed you s*xually?
No! Not at all! I’ve never been harassed. I guess it’s because of the way I carry myself. I know there are some men in the industry that can’t get their eyes off me, but I don’t give them the chance to go that far. Most of them don’t even have the confidence to tell me they want to sleep with me. So, it’s all about how you carry yourself! Once you do it once, it will circulate. Whoever you did it with will tell others and before you know it, everybody will want to sleep with you. And you will be giving in so as to get more roles; and if you don’t, that is where your problem may start from. That is how these things work. It’s better not to start it at all. I believe in letting my work speak for me. On the other hand, there are lots of responsible producers and directors who believe in merit.
As an actress, are you not scared that most famous actresses either don’t get married in time or their marriages don’t last?
I’m not scared because I’m a family-oriented person. On the other hand, it’s not just in Nollywood that we have broken marriages; it is everywhere. I believe in growing old with whoever I’m going to get married to and he has to be my best friend, so that whenever anything goes wrong, we’ll fix it rather than throwing away what we share.