Beverly Naya unveils Skin today
Never mind that it was a media briefing, the minutes spent talking with Beverly Ifunaya Bassey was a bomb. It was an intercourse of lines and movement until action reached pitched tempo.
She is really loaded.
Her small act tells its own story, and it deserves great mention.
An Afrocentric actress, she believes and stands for the truth. She doesn’t compromise.
“Being British first of all and having British accent is a challenge. People feel that because you studied abroad, you are more privileged and you have all the opportunities, because of the way you speak and if you don’t speak that way you won’t even go far,” the soft-spoken actress says about the challenges of being an actress in Nigeria.
She peddles her humanity like a cross. So, don’t be thrown aback by her dialogues: Self-love and true confidence.
“I need to prove myself that I was deserving of the opportunities I’m getting and that I should be where I’m today.”
Born April 17, 1989, in 17 days, she will be 30.
The British-born Nigerian actress, however, says, “it’s hurtful. In the beginning, I was trying to prove myself to the point where I was losing myself, and as I was losing myself, I was becoming emotionally drained. I lost myself to the point where I didn’t even know who I was anymore. It was a struggle to get past the point to be the woman that I’m today.”
There’s a long pause. Beverly’s phone rings. She looks at the caller’s identity and answers: “I will call you back, I’m in a media briefing.”
She began acting at the age of 17 whilst studying at the Brunel University in Uxbridge, England. After she graduated from the university, she was convinced that acting was it for her.
She has acted in flicks such as, Guilty Pleasures, Death Waters, Tinsel, Home in ExileAlan Poza, Forgetting June, Make a move, Up Creek Without a Paddle, Stripped, Weekend Getaway, …When Love Happens, Brother’s Keeper, Before 30, Oasis, Skinny Girl in Transit, Suru L’ere, The Wedding Party and The Wedding Party 2.
But what seems to engage her mind now is her new project on skin. Set to be premiered today, the documentary on colourism titled, Skin, focuses and identifies beauty in all complexion shades, especially in blacks.
Beverly, who wore a permanent smile, which easily points out her humorous nature, says, “you don’t need to alter your skin to be somebody.”
The atmosphere in the well-furnished office — with air conditioner that seemed permanently in a freezing temperature — showed how much of a stickler to perfection Beverly is.
Very calmly, she says: “It is hurtful when statements are made about skin colour.”
According to her, while growing up in London, her White classmates bullied her in school. The White kids called her names because of her skin colour. Some even said she had big lips, thin legs, ugly face and others.
“These comments affected my self esteem,” she muses.
Her newest project, however, is aimed at helping to create self-esteem, self-love and true confidence. ‘Insecurity and colourisation’, sure have no place around her now.
In Skin, the actress takes an expository journey into what the Nigerian society views as ‘beauty’.
Beverly takes to the streets of Lagos, from motels in areas like Makoko, to feature interviews with celebrities like Eku Edewor and Bobrisky, she asks the uncomfortable questions about the Nigerian fascination with being a lighter shade of black, the unpopular ‘light skin privilege’ in the entertainment industry and the effect lightening products have on its Nigerian consumer base.
It is a feature documentary, which identifies the meaning of beauty in all shades of black. Beverly goes on a journey to learn about contrasting perceptions of beauty.
“This narrative is interwoven by poignant personal accounts of individuals who have dealt with the pressure to conform to certain standards of beauty, revealing how colourism continues to shape the face of society in Nigeria,” she says.
Beverly concludes her journey with a trip to her hometown exploring her rich cultural heritage with her mother and grandmother.
“Here we have three generations of beautiful black women who, through sheer hard work and self-love, have built useful businesses laying a solid legacy for her and many like her to build upon.”
“This documentary is not an anti-bleaching campaign,” Beverly says. “Instead the documentary aims to inspire self-acceptance and self-love. It is about empowerment, not judgment.”
Spanning 80 minutes, Beverly believes the documentary is less restrictive and also non-fictional compared with a movie as it allows genuine expressions of participants. It also allows viewers a deep understanding of what it entails.
Speaking on colourism, Beverly says, “Colourism affects both women and men in African countries, but it has negatively influenced the beauty standards associated with a woman’s ability to find success.
“Furthermore, the number of women across Africa using bleaching products has increased with 77 percent of them being Nigerian.”
Beverly’s movement on colourism started in 2014 when she launched the ‘Fifty Shades of Black’ campaign highlighting issues and insecurities surrounding skin complexion. Through the campaign, she has been able to inspire and empower a lot of people, especially young females who feel insecure about themselves for various reasons.
“The goal of the documentary is not just for people to watch it and think it’s an anti-bleaching documentary, it is to teach people about self-confidence, self-love and self-appreciation,” she says.
Speaking on the event, managing director, Beiersdorf, Godwin Harrison, says, “Nivea is proud to support this film as an extension of the budding partnership between Nivea and Beverly Naya, who continues to inspire millions of young women with her values of hard work and courage to succeed.
“As a company, we exist so people can feel good in their skin. We believe that everyone should love and care for their skin irrespective of its shade, and we invest a lot in research and innovation to offer the best products to meet the needs of our teeming consumers.”
Beyond the premiere today, a school-to-school campaign, where Beverly hopes to talk to young people. “I want to get parents to do a better job teaching their children about their skin so that they can be confident and true to self.”
Aside from the school outreach, it will be taken to film festivals. She explains: “The film aims to open up the conversation.”
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