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REKIYA ATTA: I got Queen Mother role on my first audition
Rekiya Ibrahim Atta is a Nollywood actress and producer who have made an impact in the sector. In this interview with Yetunde Oladeinde, she talks about early life, first audition in Jos, Plateau State, and memorable moments.
TELL us about your passion for acting. How did it start?
I won’t really refer to my acting as a new one, in the sense that my passion for acting started very early in my life and I would trace it back to my childhood. Growing up, I had three animated siblings in terms of upbringing.
We played a lot and in those days we would sit down and watch TV from when the sound tones were on. We could tell the whole programme schedule for the day or sometimes a week. We would recount and after watching programmes, my siblings and I would have fun just repeating everything that we had seen on TV especially discussion programmes which we called sully, sully.
As far as we were concerned, sully, sully came from the fact that we couldn’t understand that level of English. People came on and they had an accent and so we could re-enact all of that and had fun laughing. I also remembered that at primary school, I would represent my school at various drama events and shows in secondary school. I was also highly activated because I was the president of the literary and debating club. I wrote a play once that the school staged when I was in secondary school. Passion for acting has always been there but if you want to refer to the fact that I probably took a break from Nollywood for some time, yes. But coming back was fun for me. I always knew I was going to come back anyway. I took a break for personal reasons but I am back. And I am having fun, so far.
What are some of the memorable moments in the sector?
The sector is full of a lot of memorable things. I remember when the industry started, then the entire crop of actors in the country would rendezvous at abe igi, which was some spot at the National Theatre. It was the hub of actors in Nigeria and every actor was there at kiosk-9. I don’t know where those people are now. But coming from that background, you can see how blown up the industry has become. Now, no one can boast or say I know everyone in the industry anymore. There are new people coming up and it’s the largest place for youths in Nigeria right now.
For me, it brings back sweet memories. Every time, I remember those times, growing up in the industry and where it is right now.
That came with some of the very good hands in the industry, who are veterans now. But I have got quite a bit of stack of memories of the industry and enjoyed every bit of it.
Let’s talk about the recognitions on the job. How did it affect your personality?
It does not affect my personality as such. I am who I am and when I go to play on the screens, the accolades, I try as much as possible to focus on being who I am. So, I won’t say that it has really changed my personality in anyway. Of course, I do appreciate all the accolades. I appreciate the films and the number of fans but I try to focus on being who I am.
Tell us about your very first audition. What was it like?
I think it was because of how rooted I was in the industry. I remember going to an audition and this was in Jos. I was invited to the audition for the movie Amina and they had hit on with the director, the late Ndubuisi Okon, and they were looking for the Queen mother. I think I arrived at the audition at about 5pm and there had been loads and loads of people, who had been around auditioning. I went in and came out with the script. And everybody was surprised; they had been there all morning and day. I have been to just a few auditioning, really. I love to attend auditions; don’t get me wrong. But oftentimes, I get cast straightaway.
What are the challenges in the industry?
Of course, there is no line of career that doesn’t have challenges. For instance, personal challenges would be matching my dreams in drama with my head, with finding the funds to do it. So, funding is key; it’s a key challenge for the industry and there are a couple of other things. I was going to say something about theatre culture, but that is improving. I think that over the years, that has improved; although there is still room for improvement.
What are some of the other things that occupy your time?
A lot! My children, my family. I love to host people, so, I do a lot of that. I also run a clothing line, so, most times, I am there chattering with my team, bringing out or birthing new designs.
Tell us about the people you admire
I admire a lot of people. Some know that I admire them, some don’t know and some would never know. I do admire people but I don’t want to mention their names.
Who or want do you consider as your greatest influence in your life?
That would be God and the knowledge about Him. So far, you can never really learn all. There is so much from nature and mixing what you learn from nature. Sometimes, a thing that may seem insignificant to some people, like a piece of art, could teach me a lot of things. I am a nature’s watcher and I just get a lot of influence in my life. Sometimes, I wake up and the colour of the sky might just inspire the next thing that I am going to do. Or I just see a beautiful flower and it just gives me inspiration to do something else.
What are you looking forward to in the next few years?
I am looking forward to a lot of things but I would share the top thing on my list and that would be looking forward to the Nigeria that I started to grow up in. It was peaceful; people could travel across this country without any fear at all. We trusted each other. Even as a child then, I understood that people could be trusted. You could walk on the streets and not be bothered if they were Christians or Muslims. I was not old enough to seek for a job and know if I would be discriminated at for where I come from but now I see those things and my daily desire in the nearest future is a change. Every day, I live and breathe that hope that things would change. The insurgents in the country make my heart bleed. I am uncomfortable with it because I see the young ones behind me. I don’t know what the future is going to be like for them. It must be harder for them than it was for me when I was growing up. I just bleed every day and I hope that in the nearest future, possibly in the next few months, peace can return to Nigeria. The big question is, can sense return to our streets, can responsibility return? Can our leaders just do the right thing?
Tell us about your favourite holiday spot
In the realities of the Nigerian woman, career woman, in our hustle and bustle, I don’t think I have the luxury of planning a proper holiday. I have travelled to a lot of places; maybe work has taken me there. Then, I would take a day or two to look at monuments or sights in those places. America, England and Morrocco and some other African countries. But, you see they were not planned holidays for enjoying atmosphere, watching birds and taking pictures of the place.
Work has taken me to a number of wonderful places that I like. I hope I can go back to those places on holiday. But the realities and challenges of my career journey and my life haven’t given me that kind of exotic exits yet. And I am looking forward to them, maybe someday soon. However, within Nigeria, I remember growing up as a child that my father would take us to places. He made efforts to take his family on holidays. There was a time he took us to Yankari Games Reserves and it was awesome memory in my childhood. And guess what, when I grew up, got married, raised my family, at some point we took my boys to Yankari and we spent two weeks up there. It was fulfilling to take my children to be part of some of my own childhood experience. Till tomorrow, I really enjoyed that time and I would say that is one time that I have taken conscious time to plan a holiday. Then, one time we were in Ghana with the children as well. That was several days of just lying in the hotel and just enjoying the sight and scenes of Ghana.
REKIYA ATTA: I got Queen Mother role on my first audition