Debutant actress, Idia Aisien, has opened up on her first major role in Nollywood, relocating to Nigeria and the loss of her father.
Speaking on the latest epsode of #WithChude, Idia describes her experience playing Nneka in ‘Nneka the pretty serpent’ – her acting debut – as an amazing experience and a turning point in her life.
“It was an amazing experience. I think it turned me inside out. It felt like I started over in my life, in my thinking and in what I could do as a person,” she shared.
On the mixed reactions she got following the release of the film, she said: “When it first came out in the cinemas, I was a little bit heartbroken by some of the comments that people were leaving. Comments about me not being light-skinned or Ibo, about me destroying what meant something to a lot of Nigerians. Nigerians loved their veteran actors; they love their Nollywood classics. So, it was something that I just wished people could see how much passion went into it at the time. But, with the international market, and the kind of feedback we are getting, I am getting messages from the Philippines, French Guiana, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, and Los Angeles. I was hurt at first, because Nneka is a fictional character and anyone could bring something different to the character but I don’t think that tribe and skin colour should matter. I mean, ‘Black Panther’ was Americans pretending like they are in Africa. A lot of people who criticized it (the film- Nneka the pretty serpent), criticized because of the choice of Nneka, which broke my heart.
“When Nneka came out, some were like, ‘we heard Idia killed it o’. This very famous female said, ‘abeg, I am sure she paid for that job’. She saw me recently and was nice to me. She said she finally watched it, and it was great, but you know when you hear stuff, it’s like, ‘do I take the one I heard you say’. or ‘do I take how you feel now that you have watched it’. This is why it is important to give people a chance.”
On relocating, she explained that she didn’t think moving to Nigeria was a good choice, “I am not doing what I came to Nigeria to do. When I came to Nigeria, I was working for a private equity firm in New York. I came here because they were investing in banks across Africa, and at that time they were working with Union Bank. It was a great job, and a great opportunity for me, everything was going well for me in New York. And I came to Nigeria and destiny takes me.”
She added that the difference in earning power, the stereotypes and labels in Nigeria, and putting her life in the public eye, are her regrets about moving to Nigeria.
On the loss of her father, she said, “the business show on AriseNews television was my dream job. But something quite terrible happened to me in life and I just wanted a fresh start. I lost my dad, and I just didn’t want to do anything I was currently doing ever again. My dad raised me. The stuff that people say about their mum, that was my dad to me. My dad was my hero. He had a car accident and he died.”