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Kannywood’s beloved ‘Starlite’ Zulaihat Ibrahim unveiled

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As a child, pretty Kannywood emerging actress, Zulaihat Ibrahim, who is popular among friends as ‘Zpretty,’ made a list of her career choices, and becoming a lawyer was on top, followed by modeling, singing and then acting.On becoming a lawyer, she said: “I like their dress sense and I love the way they argue cases in court. You have to be smart and intelligent to be a lawyer.”

But when that didn’t materialise for reasons she said were very personal, ‘Zpretty’ settled for her second choice – modeling. She didn’t have to think about her choice because as she revealled, she has always wanted to strut the runway.

Zulaihat had only started making inroads into the world of modeling when her career swivel chair turned towards her third career choice- acting. A 2017 encounter with notable Kannywood movie director, Sunusi Oscar, who is popular as Oscar 442, was what changed her career story for good.

Sunusi provided the referral with which she earned her first call-up to a movie set. She disclosed that the resourceful movie director introduced her to a production company managed by the popular Kannywood actor, Ali Nuhu.“He also introduced me to other production companies in Kannywood and they invited me for auditions whenever they wanted to shoot. That was how it started for me,” she recalled.

With just two years on the turf, the Kano-born actress has grabbed over a dozen movie roles and still counting. “I must have taken part in over 20 movies,” she snapped in response to the question on how many movies she has featured in so far. And for an emerging actress, even critics of the industry agree that 20 movies in such a short time is a huge feat, considering that there are so many talents in Kannywood waiting to explode.

Zulaihat had her break on the series, Zamantakewa. She recalled that it was even while on the project that a lot of people, including her co-actors on set, walked up to her to commend her acting skills. The success of that series and her believable interpretation of her role earned her other invitations.

Akushi was next after Zamantakewa, and it was well received too. Later, she starred in Sagegeduwa and Bakauye, and since then, there has been no stopping the 22-year-old actress, who thanks Nuhu for being a reliable and dependable career guide and mentor.

“It is an honour to be working side by side with a star, like Nuhu. These were people I only saw on television. But it is a dream come true for me to find myself in the same movie with them. Not only that, I consider it a dream come true to have someone like Nuhu as my mentor. “I like the way he acts. I also like the fact that he is very approachable and always willing to guide you to achieve your potential,” she said.

Star of acclaimed movies, such as Inda So Da Kauna and Dace Da Masuyi, Zulaihat is a darling of the Kannywood movie crowd because of her ability to sing and dance. Of course, singing and dancing, like the Indians do in their movies, is the hallmark of most Kannywood movie productions.

“I picked up dancing as a child; it came naturally. They told me that whilst I was a child, I won’t let a day pass without singing and dancing. So, whenever I get a role that requires dancing, I just roll along. But it does not mean that I have only featured in movies that involve singing and dancing; I have taken part in movies that don’t require me to dance and sing.

“What is important to me is the message in the movies. It must be able to teach, inform and enlighten, while entertaining them. There is no movie that I have done or have been produced in Kannywood that doesn’t have a message. Even the ones with song and dance have serious messages.

“Our movies should be impactful. People should be able to take something positive from it,” she clarified. Described by close friends as humble, friendly, fashionable and religious, Zulaihat said, in response to the question on her career ambition, that she is looking forward to a rewarding acting career.

“Even though my decision to join the industry was not borne out of the desire to be famous or rich, I want to get to the top of my career. I want to keep learning and keep doing well with every new movie I feature in.

“I also want to be amongst the respected professional actresses of the industry. I want to always be reckoned with as an actress who worked in accordance with the dictates of my religion, tradition and norms and as an entertainer who impacted people’s lives and society positively. “That is my biggest motivation for acting and in shaa’a Allah, I will not disappoint myself, my family, friends and my fans, who I must say, have been very supportive.”


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Zulaihat Ibrahim
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