Nsikan Isaac: Blurring the lines between drama and business in Nollywood

Nsikan Isaac

Talent has become a dime a dozen since the popularity of smartphones and social media and while this global showcase is fantastic to watch, it comes with its own baggage of saturation. In the creative industry, this saturation means that it now takes more than a great singing voice or superb acting or comedy skills to nurture and retain a truly successful career.

Following her return from a study hiatus, the difficulty to get back into the industry instructed Nsikan Isaac to produce her own films; a venture which has now established her as a 21st century multi-skilled brand.

Born and raised in Akwaibom, Nsikan left for Port Harcourt at age 16 to study Petroleum Engineering but the boredom from the incessant strikes led her to the world of film where she identified her true passion as acting. Upon this new discovery, Nsikan’s academic grades began to decline; causing her to leave the acting scene briefly to focus on her education in the Rivers State University of Technology.

Explaining how her family received her entrance into Nollywood, Nsikan said:

‘Initially, my mum was not a fan of my decision to act. She loved that I was doing movies but she was unhappy that it was disrupting my education. 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?” so 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.’

Returning to the movies was not an easy feat for Nsikan but she spun this challenge into an opportunity for herself.  Certain that she did not want to end up as an actor who would collect any random script including the ones that didn’t align with their brand, Nsikan decided to diversify into production.

In 2015 and under Emem Isong’s highly respected creative platform -The Royal Arts Academy, Nsikan Isaac produced her first movie called The Banker. This production debut was followed up with ‘The Glass Slipper’, after which she collaborated with Ike Nnabue on a project titled “The Scorned Help”.

Nsikan named The Glass Slipper as one of her favourite works because of the positive reception it got. It landed a 98% recommendation on one of Africa’s largest movie networks-Iroko TV and it increased her clout and followership in the digital space.

She is currently super stoked about her latest work called “Exhumed” which is expected to hit the big screens any moment now. ‘Exhumed’ is special to Nsikan because of its piercing theme that borders around mental illness and domestic violence.

She said, ‘I think I am attached to Exhumed because of what it stands for. 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.

I have a friend who went through something similar and I know many other women who do not want to talk about it because they fear stigmatization. This suppressed feeling can sometimes manifest as mental illness such as Dissociative Identity Disorder but because of our lack of enlightenment on these issues, we’re quick to rule it out as jazz or juju. I hope that when the movie eventually comes out, it will be a bang like I expect.’

Exhumed is the first movie Nsikan Isaac has produced in Abuja where she’s currently based. Although her job always requires her presence in Lagos, she is currently working on a masterplan that will help her business run itself.

In the heart of Gwarimpa, the entrepreneur in Nsikan Isaac shines through her photography and style imprint. Branded Leia Cole Studios, Nsikan says the business is a one-stop shop for everything that concerns photography, style and set design. In her words, all you need to do is share your vision and the magic will be created for you.

Left to her, Nsikan would stick to acting only but the economic challenge in the film industry leaves no room for that. She stated that many actors survive on endorsements, bonuses, promos and so many other things.

‘I am very passionate about acting. It is my solace but acting does not sustain anyone in this industry. 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.’

The current evolution in Nollywood has availed the union and collaboration of various brands and this is something Nsikan and her colleagues are very thankful for.  This evolution has also made the creative industry an even more coveted professional path than the stereotypical lawyer-doctor-engineer choices that once shrouded the vision of African parents.

In the next 5 years to come, Nsikan Isaac’s future blueprint will see to it that at least 2 global-standard movies are released annually from her stables. Not only will this bold step make her a force to reckon with in the industry, but it will also etch her name in Nollywood’s hall of fame and game changers.


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