Nollywood’s superwoman, Nsikan Isaac, is the rave of the moment. With her latest film nearly ready for the cinemas, the screen bombshell is already counting her 2019 blessings. In addition to her daughter turning 2 this year, Nsikan has spent a great part of her time setting up her studio in Abuja to run itself, so as to enable her focus on the other aspects of her career.
In this special spotlight feature, Nsikan lets us into her world of magic as she shares her awesome and hectic day to day life struggle of merging motherhood, entrepreneurship and Nollywood. She also spills some of her secret winning formula without leaving out the biggest challenge that she battles on a daily basis.
She also touches on her Akwa Ibom heritage, celebrity marriages and sexuality, cyberbullying, mental illness, domestic violence, her industry allies and what her life would be like in a parallel universe.
‘If you’re in the movie industry and are not doing business or something that brings you money, I don’t know wherever you get your money from.’
You currently live in Abuja. How do you handle jobs that are outside your base?
Lagos is the centre of showbiz. I have my establishment in Abuja but I still go to Lagos regularly for work. I haven’t been very frequent because I am trying to balance my business out so that it can run itself.
How did Petroleum Engineering happen and how did drama interfere with it?
My mum wanted me to be a petroleum engineer and I was okay with it because looked like a juicy career path but then I got into school and we had constant strikes, some of which were indefinite. I was doing nothing at home so I decided to try movies out to while away time and when I got a taste of it, I began to love it. Going into the movies took a lot from my grades so I had to go back to school to focus on my degree. It was a bit hard to catch up in school because I found a new passion in acting. When I was done with my education, it was tough to get back into the industry which is where the idea of producing my own film came from.
Of all the hats you wear, which would you describe as your truest passion?
I am very passionate about acting. It is my solace but acting does not sustain anyone in this industry. We have to tell ourselves the truth whether we like it or not. Some of us depend on endorsements, bonuses, promos and so many other things. I would have focused on only acting if it were a sustainable career. Looking at things from an entrepreneur’s angle, I included production and photography as side hustles to help generate extra revenue and fund the lifestyle of being a screen diva. If you’re in the movie industry and are not doing business or something that brings you money, I don’t know wherever you get your money from.
What did growing up in Akwa Ibom teach you?
Akwa Ibom people are very hospitable and homely people, no matter where we go to or the experiences we acquire. Growing up in Akwa Ibom helped me imbibe the essence of my culture so much that it is now a valid part of my identity.
Which of your works do you hold dearly?
I love Glass Slippers the most because of the recommendations that I got off it. It had a 98% recommendation rate on Iroko TV and the comments were mainly positive. I also got me a lot of traffic and it made me feel good.
As for this new movie I just finished working on (Exhumed). I think I am also attached to it because of what it identifies. The highlight of the movie means a lot to me. I love that it was different and challenging. I had a lot of makeovers to make me look like the situation that the story was depicting so I’ll stick with Exhumed.
‘…You cannot totally ignore such people (trolls and negative critics) because they somehow reshape you and help you think differently.’
Who are the people in your life that keep you going?
(laughs) I love to keep my personal life personal.
What habits did you have to work on to make you better in your career field?
At the beginning of my career, I was a little bit non-challant. I hardly paid attention. When I first went into production, I only put in the money without digging deep to find out the processes and it never favoured me. I eventually examined my loopholes and I started to work on my deficiencies like procrastination, forgetfulness and short attention span.
Right now, this is the first project I have been so fully involved in; from the casting to crew to lighting to sound, I was so involved that it felt like I took all the role. That was when I knew that I had fully grown.
The internet has made celebrities directly accessible to their fans and this has given room for cyber bullying. Have you ever been a victim?
There was a period when a troll account kept trolling me. Most of the time, I get positive comments but even when it is negative, you need to take the good with the bad no matter what. Humans are wired differently. Some people find their happiness in insulting people and causing them pain or sadness. It makes them thrive. For me, I like to first see where you’re coming from and filter it. There might be an iota of truth in what the person is saying but maybe the way it is put out can make it sound like hate, you cannot totally ignore such people because they somehow reshape you and help you think differently. What’s the point if everybody tells you that you are amazing every day? You’re likely to be stuck in one spot because you’ll only always think “you’re amazing”. You need someone to tell you’re not doing good enough. That way, you’ll be pushed to want to be better but when it comes to things like enmity, you do not need all that negativity. You can simply block the person(s) out.
How would you appraise the current state of Nollywood?
I think Nollywood has really evolved. The reach and accessibility has grown in leaps and bounds and the internet has contributed greatly to this.
As for the actors, it is much easier to break in now. Back in the day, it was more of a competition with everyone thinking of how to outshine the other person but we now have more collaborations between brands. I think that is a wonderful development. There is a lot of unity and affiliation going on the industry. You do not have to be a celebrity or an actor to break into the industry any more. If you are a great hairstylist, you are more likely to be recognized now than back in the day.
The glam in the industry has also moved up to a 100. Before now, people would show up at events without being intentional about their looks but today, you know that you’re likely to end up on a blog so people pay more attention to how they look. This has now birthed collaborations among actors, stylists and beauticians.
What’s your relationship with family like and how have they come to accept the deviation from engineering to creative arts?
Initially, my mum was not a fan of my decision to act. She loved that I was doing movies but then, she was unhappy that it was disrupting my education. My dad died 19 years ago and my mum single-handedly raised us. She kept on hammering that I needed to go back to school. I also thought to myself: What’s the point of starting and not finishing? I went back to round up my schooling and she was more relaxed. She later started to ask when I would return to the movies.
‘Two celebrities can have a lasting marriage if they have a good understanding, great friendship, staying power and a commitment to be together no matter what.’
What obstacles would you say creatives like you are faced with the most?
My biggest obstacle is executing creativity. Sometimes I have ideas in my head but how to execute is usually the problem. It is also tough to find the right people to partner with and all of these can lead to the death of a great idea.
How would you evaluate your 2018 career year so far?
I spent a great part of my 2018 in the struggle of building my photography brand as well as raising my baby. She just turned one. It has been pretty much about balancing entrepreneurship with motherhood. It is very tough and challenging. So far, I have been pushing both and I am not doing badly.
How do you plan to spend the next 5 years?
I want to make sure that I put out 2 good films every year and I’m also working on a sitcom for my studio. The idea is to put the studio space on the screen and simultaneously project our activities and services.
Do you believe in marriage?
I believe in the institution of marriage because it is endorsed by God. Marriage comes with its own challenges but it is a sacrifice.
What’s your take on the rampancy of divorce in celebrity marriages?
Before one is regarded as a celebrity, the person is human first. Being a celebrity is not a problem. It is the people in the marriage that determine the outcome of the union. 2 celebrities can have a lasting marriage if they have good understanding, great friendship, staying power and a commitment to be together no matter what. Bankers, lawyers, engineers and other people have marriage issues every day but people do not know because it is not publicized. It doesn’t matter who you are, if your marriage is not built on a solid rock, it is prone to fail so it is not just a celebrity thing.
There are lots of rumours and controversies about the sexuality and morality of Nigerian actors. What’s your opinion on this?
If you haven’t caught anybody red-handed, why accuse them of something you are speculating about? These are just speculations. Until I see it and am sure of it, I cannot speak of it. People think it is fashionable to accuse people who are in the spotlight.
Which actors and movie executives inspire you the most and push you to be better?
I love Emem Isong. She is my sister and mentor. Most of the time, I share my ideas with her and whenever I need somebody to talk to with regards to production, she is the first person I go to. As for actors, Ini Edo is more like my sister and my friend. If I need to talk to somebody, I speak to her.
What would your life be like in a parallel universe?
If we’re in a parallel universe, I would go off social networking. Trust me, sometimes, it is a lot of work but because of what I do, I have to be present there. I love a private life. It gives me happiness when I am able to do my things discreetly. I’d probably be on a private beach lounging every day. And hopefully, there’d be money stashed up somewhere for me (laughs).
See More Interviews: