On the sidelines of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards held recently in Lagos, Joke Silva, in this interview with LAWRENCE AMAKU, speaks about her passion and recent endeavours. Excerpt:
Tonight’s awards seem to have been dominated by South Africa? What do you think could be responsible for that?
Was it? I don’t think so. I think it was just the technical aspect. Let’s be sincere with ourselves, technically, whether you like it or not, they are better. Story-wise, we are better. So, that’s it just for us to up our game.
Why do you think that South Africa has fared better than Nigeria in the area of technicalities?
They’ve been very hard working and so, we have to give it to them. In that area, I will always say that outside Nigeria, our brothers have taken the industry very seriously.
A hush descended on the hall when Jackie Appiah was named the winner of the best actress award. Would you see it a sign of disapproval by the largely Nigerian audience?
Don’t you do your own AMAA? People are not always happy with awards ceremonies. That’s the audience for you.
Do you still go for productions?
Yes, I was in a stage production in December.
Mad King of Judea by Biola Segun Williams at the Muson Centre, Lagos and we were in rehearsals for about three months.
Do you agree with the opinion that when people want to learn how to act, the best place to start is on stage?
You can’t take it away from stage, that is an amazing training ground for interpretation of scripts. As an actor, who is trained on stage, if you can make that crossover to film — because film has its own techniques — you will be brilliant, but not everybody can make that crossover. So, it is not sacrosanct and I do not advise that everybody must pass through the stage. There are some people who start in film and they learn well. Once you are working with good hands, you will learn. But if you start on stage, and you cross over you are hard to beat.
How do you manage stardom and still keep your head cool, in spite of all your achievements?
You are the one telling me that because left to my children, my head is so big; they have to squeeze it to enter the house (laughs). However, one of the things I have learnt is that my talents are not from my efforts, but from God, and wherever I am today, I keep thanking God, and keep working hard because I’m only as good as my last job.
How do you combine acting with other stuffs, like Project Fame
It’s not hard. I just signed a-three-year contract with Project Fame, I have to complete my contract.
Is the offer good?
During your 50th birthday, you and your spouse renewed your marital vows. Did this have to do with the rumour doing the rounds then that the marriage was in crisis?
I have the feeling that it must have been the rumour, but I was not in the planning committee; my husband was the one in the committee. One of the members of the planning committee suggested to him and he was excited about it.
Lufodo Production House used to be reputed for nativity plays during Christmas, what has become of it now?
Oh, we’ve gone beyond that, but we haven’t jettisoned it; you know we can no longer play Mary and Joseph. And so we are looking for a new Mary and Joseph. When we find a new Mary and Joseph, we will continue.
Let’s talk about the N3 billion the Federal Government gave to Nollywood. Some have been able to access it while others have not. What your take on this?
The thing is we’ve done some work for the BOI (Bank of Industry); we took some plays to London. In our discussions, one of the things we’ve learnt is that they are also learning about our industry; they know that it is also part of our push that we got the grant that we got. They realised that our industry cannot be financed by loans alone, there has to be a mixed bag of equity of debt and of grant; that is the way our industry can be financed. And so they are all going to be working in tandem. However, those who have the collateral for any of their projects can finance them. The job of BOI is to make us look bankable to the commercial banks. So, that’s the point, we need to understand they way they work, there are some people they will give finance and there are some that they won’t give.
Do you see the fund generating crisis soon among stakeholders in the industry?
Why would there be a problem? There is no need for argument. The thing is this industry needs a lot of infrastructure and the infrastructural aspect of the industry cannot be done with debt. They need to be done with grant. If we have the infrastructure in place the industry will grow. You see once the infrastructure is in place, raising money for content will be so easy. But without it, without skills training, we are going nowhere. Those are the things that need to be done.
What about piracy?
The better our distribution, the less piracy we have. However, I will say that I’m totally upset with government, because I don’t see why Alaba Market should still be existing. We might not get rid of it, but we can reduce it to the minimum. We are in a country in which impunity seems to be the order of the day. Some people are working hard and others are reaping off the benefit of their work. I find that disgusting.
How do you create time for your spouse?
Just the same way he has time to take care of me. I don’t see the woman angle in it. If you don’t care about me, I don’t take care of you, if you take care of me, I take care of you.
Do you still do the cooking and laundry?
Excuse me, at this stage of my life, I cook when I like. The laundry? Abeg, even when we were newly married, it was underlined, I don’t do laundry.
You once said the first attraction to your husband was his macho physique, does he still have this?
Yes, he’s still got it (laughs).