Award-winning actress, Nse Ikpe-Etim, also known as “The Silent Tsunami” is the latest cover star for Guardian Life Magazine.
As an all-round actor who has grown over the years and made her mark in the film industry, she has had to make several decisions to become the woman she is today.
She’s an actor who interprets her role and delivers them effortlessly. In this issue, the actress gives us an insight into the journey behind the Nse Ikpe-Etim we know today.
Read excerpts from the interview
On becoming the woman we all know today
To get to this point in my life, it took years of unlearning that which we are conditioned to believe, relearning new things, accepting people for who they are, and appreciating the little things. In my career, it took never thinking I know it all. Constant learning is key. To be this version of me, it’s taken all my life.
I am a bibliophile. I am one person who believes that you only stop learning once you die so I am open to learning from even babies. I soak up almost everything without judgment, but then I’ve mastered the art of filtering and differentiating between what truly aids my growth and what diminishes it.
My moment of awakening came after I was nominated for different awards even when I thought I did not deserve them. That, combined with the joy acting gave me, was all I needed to know that this was what I wanted to do.
On becoming and giving her character “life”
…I don’t know if saying “I become” makes any sense, but the first thing I do is ask myself if I am in love with the characters’ stories and if they are stories I am interested in telling. Then I research everything about the project, all the while constantly relying on the support of my family and friends.
I think every time I am done with a project is a low point. I fall in love with my characters and then I miss them when I’m done.
In “A Hotel called Memory”, the silence of my character was everything. It helped me deal with my health issues at the time, plus it was something I’d always wanted to do… a dream come true.
On mental health
It’s funny that you ask about mental health seeing that it’s a topic that is not regularly spoken about in Nigeria or maybe Africa as a whole. Taking from a tweet I saw from Jemima Osunde recently, we all need therapists. And that’s like saying if you have malaria, you treat it by seeing a doctor. Right? So, I guess that’s how to handle it. When I feel depressed, I also change my diet or look for a safe haven which is mostly meditation for me.
I gave a TEDx talk a while ago and I started with a slide of happy faces. Guess what the title of the talk was? This is what mental health looks like. And that’s the truth. Depression does not start with a morose face. We all mask it with smiles and laughter which becomes increasingly difficult when you are on my side of the divide.
Every time I witness a storyteller’s dream die simply because the project did not get the required support, it hits pretty low. But as always, I remain hopeful.
On equality and feminism
I am a feminist. I believe in equality and this is what we ask for. We ask that a nation like ours doesn’t throw us under the bus because we are deemed lesser than the man, we are all humans and deserve equal respect. Lawmakers owe us this and so much more.