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My man must adore me- Magdalene Otanwa

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Magdalene Otanwa is not a one-off actress. With a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management, she dumped a lucrative career and embraced acting. She talks about her love for the stage

What fascinated you about acting?

Everything. I must say, I strongly believe that the professional is for very talented and intelligent minds. Acting is not for mediocre or people who do not have the ability to learn other things as generally perceived. If you look around the movie industry today, you will find qualified engineers, accountants, lawyers, medical doctors, architects and many more. They start off in a given field and eventually make their way into acting. My point is: to be able to embody different characters and personalities, one has to have a wide spectrum of knowledge and experiences to pull from. To me, that is very fascinating and no task for a blonde.

But you did not study Theatre Arts? Did you?

I got my first degree from Ahmadu Bello Univeristy Zaria. Thereafter I went on to obtain a masters degree in Human Resource Management from Technologie de l’ínformation et Management des Entreprise (TIME UNIVERSITE) in Tunis Tunisa. Then I proceeded to Univeriste Jean Moulin in Lyon, France for Business school. Prior to joining the industry I worked actively in corporate business as a business developer and a human resource consultant. My last place of work before moving back to Nigeria was the African Development Bank headquarters, where I worked in the Human Resource department.

Why did you dump a lucrative job in banking in Tunisia and relocated to Nigeria?

I won’t exactly use the word dump in this context. I believe there is time for everything. Growing up, I always had interest in the art, and I actively participated in a lot of plays in the church during festive periods and won several debates in the debaters club in secondary school. It’s always been something I enjoyed doing. But I wanted to explore the world around me, I wanted to study different fields, gain diverse experiences, travel, learn new cultures and languages and I did. When I felt I was ready, I moved back to Nigeria to pursue my dream of being an actress.

What gingered this dream of becoming an actress?

Growing up watching TV and movies definitely endeared me to the profession. However, as a child, I was not sure I would do it as a career, I’m sure I didn’t even know what that meant but I knew I loved it. My Eureka moment however came in my third year in the university when I was chosen to play Ihuoma in the adaptation of Elechi Amadi’s ‘The Concubine’ for stage. I realised then that I absolutely and totally loved to act and would like to continue doing it.

How long have you been in the industry?

I’ve been acting professionally for about three years now.

So far, how many films have you featured in?

Quite a number of productions among which are: I’ll Take My Chances; Doll House; Iddo; All That Glitters; Tarzan Monologue; October 1 by Kunle Afolayan which premieres today and some popular television series such as Atlanta; Coffee Shop; Behind the Smile; Aduke Hotel; How I Made My First Million; and most recently, Before 30.

Tell us about your role in October 1 and the experience working with Kunle Afolayan

Kunle Afolayan is one of the brilliant directors the industry has produced. He continues to push the envelope and take the industry to greater heights and it was an awesome experience working with him. I worked with veterans such as Sadiq Daba who I used to watch growing up and Kanayo.O. Kanayo. It was an awesome experience.

In the movie, October 1, I played the role of Yejide, wife-to-be to Omolodun played by Fabian Lojede (from Jacob’s Cross). She was a student nurse and they were a very close and happy couple until tragedy struck. You will have to see the movie to know the rest of the story.

With the stiff competition, how do you intend carving a niche for yourself?

I am Meg Otanwa and there is just one of me. I am unique and true to myself and, that is already a niche.

What are the challenges faced thus far?

Just like there are challenges in other professions, there are also challenges in the movie industry. The lack of structure is the bed rock of these challenges. I must also add that things are turning around. The industry is going through a phase now and in no time; things will evolve for the better.

What do you regret in this career?

Absolutely nothing.

Some actresses are always in the media and have scandals, have you ever been a victim?

The business is called showbusiness for a reason.

Have you had nasty experiences with any fan? Thus far, the fans have been very loyal, supportive and cordial.

Has your career, in any way, affected your relationship? How do you switch from Meg Otanwa, the actress, to Meg at home?

Life is healthier when one can separate work/career life from personal life. One should have a good balance of both to avoid conflict. At home with family and friends, I am very grounded and easy-going; this translates to my attitude as an actress as I always remain grounded.

How do you relax? When?

I love to go to the spa after days or weeks of work on set.

What is the next phase for Meg?

I’m constantly working to grow myself as an individual and make a positive impact in the world around me. A few other actors and I teamed up with one of Nollywood’s brilliant directors, Didi Cheeka to do a short film in honour of the health workers who contracted the Ebola Virus in Nigeria and all over the World. It is a Popos Media production entitled, ‘The Sacrifice’ and will be out very soon.

How would you describe yourself?

Meg Otanwa is your proverbial girl next door with a keen interest in the world around her.

What dictates your dress sense? How do you like to dress?

I like it classy, chic and sometimes preppy

Who is your ideal man?

That would be a man who fears God above all things and absolutely loves and adores me.

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