‘I Have No Regret Going Into Acting’
Matilda Obaseki-Mozia, a Nigerian actress and scriptwriter, is living her dream. The Edo State native was a lead actress for 10 years in the award winning TV drama series, Tinsel, where she played the role of Angela Dede. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, the mother of two spoke about her foray into acting and more.
How did you get into acting?
To tell you the truth, I never knew I would be involved in acting. I was watching a reality show and I remembered telling my sister that I would be a good on set. She was surprised, because she knew I had no acting experience. I remember jumping from one audition to the other without success. At a point in time, I got a job with Kabat Esosa, film director and we went to his village to shoot a film. Later, I got a call from MNET through my sister, because at the time, I had no phone. I came back to Lagos and met big wigs in the industry on set that were nice to me. After the reading, I left. I had almost lost hope till I was called to be part of Tinsel.
What was your experience like at first?
At first, I wasn’t so comfortable, because I was in the midst of veterans who were doing massive things. I felt like I was small in the middle of a big project. Veterans like, Victor Olaotan, Richard Mofe-Damijo and other great actors made me feel relaxed and carried me along. We were like family on set and that made my work easier.
How were you able to play split roles effortlessly?
I must say that it was a lot of hardwork. Playing the role of Angela and Angelique wasn’t so easy, but I kept on working on my skills and learning from those before me. I tell you, playing dual personality role affected me personally, because it had to do with mental health issue. Some people think mental health is all about pulling off your clothes, but it’s more than that. You see, there are people around us who are going through a lot and need help, because they have mental issues. My role in Tinsel took a huge toll on the real Matilda, because I had to spend long hours on set being Angela. I gave it my best shot, read about mental health and it opened my eyes to what people like that are going through.
Why did you leave Tinsel?
I left because I needed to explore other areas. I love challenges and Tinsel was a huge platform that brought me to limelight. I am proud to be part of that production, but I wanted to do something different from what I was doing. Acting helps you to play variety of characters. I needed to be versatile. I wanted to be part of the movie making process. Since I left, I’ve featured in some films. I have been acting for 13 years now. I prefer movies to drama series, because it enables me move to another character.
How do you handle criticism?
When people critique me, I pick the constructive part and work harder. When I get negative criticism of my work, I don’t take it to heart because it is not everybody that will like you. I always try to take a step forward even when people say the meanest things. I teach my children to be positive and avoid negativity. I pray, read a lot and strive to be the best I can be. I don’t let things get to me and try to improve on myself. I believe I’m a work in progress and there is no end to learning.
How did your parent react when you left your studies for acting?
My mother was very upset. For the first year, she was dazed and wondered why I would abandon my course in school for acting, but I calmed her down. I told her I would be fine. The truth was that, I was very young at that time and wasn’t so sure of what I wanted to do. Inside of me, I didn’t feel studying English was what I wanted. I felt why waste time on something I wouldn’t use. Today, I am glad I made that decision and the right choice. I have no regret going into acting. Now, I have a clearer picture of what I want to study and working towards that.
Who are your role models in the industry?
Before going into the acting, I’d always admired Richard Mofe-Damijo’s style of acting. He plays his roles effectively and with panache. As fate would have it, he became my father on Tinsel. He motivated me and encouraged me a lot. He is the kind of person that lets younger ones shine unlike some who wouldn’t do that. RMD is like a moving university.
What motivates you?
Putting smiles on faces of people and knowing that I’m a passing message that impacts the society through my work as an actress motivates me. Knowing where I come from and the kind of negative reports made about people from my place especially ladies, I try to work hard and prove that good things can come out from there. There are bad eggs everywhere. So, in whatever I do, I try to prove my mettle and show people that they can excel through good means. Also hearing positive feedbacks and constructive criticisms of my work pushes me to do better. For me, there is no impossibility particularly if you put your mind to it, back it up with prayer and work hard.
Are you doing anything new?
Right now, I’m re-inventing myself and working on my You Tube Channel and other projects to be unveiled later. I have also featured in some Nollywood movies coming out soon.
What valuable lessons have you learnt on this job?
On this job, I have learnt that not everybody is after you or hates you. Some people just genuinely care about you. Sometimes, people might be wrong in their assessment of you. I’ve also learnt to be nice and if something doesn’t resonate with you, let it go and focus on others.
Advice to upcoming actors
My sincere advice is for them to be real. Don’t be who you are not because you want to fit in. If you stay true to yourself, the world would adjust. Also be disciplined, pray hard, focus, be open to learning and improve.