Esther Smart: When language is not a barrier
She is a regular on Arewa24’s primetime drama series, Dadin Kowa Sabon Salo. She has even earned an alias, Madam Gloria, from playing a villain in the original drama that tells the story of Dadin Kowa, a fictional town in which the main character reflects real life and society in northern Nigeria.
So, if you are in Kano and you want to see Esther Smart easily, ask to see Madam Gloria, who plays the villain in Dadin Kowa and in most of her Hausa movie appearances and fingers would readily point to the Osun State-born actress, who has become a constant visitors to most homes, especially fans of the drama series, which won the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award for best Hausa television series.
A member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and a charming mother of three, who was born in Kaduna and raised between Kaduna and in Kano, where she currently works as a teacher, Esther had always been passionate about acting.
She hinted that even though acting came naturally for her, she had cut her teeth as an actress during her early school days. “I was an active member of my school dramatic club. I was a visible part of all the school drama presentations and even after I left school, I did not stop.
“I continued in my church drama group and even featured in two movie with them, joined the AGN through the fellow that came to direct the church productions before I got the invitation to join Arewa24’s Dadin Kowa,” said Esther, who rose to become president of her drama club.
But the invitation she got from Arewa24 was to attend an audition for the drama series. “It was not as if they asked me straight to come and pick up a role; I was auditioned with so many other people. I was given a script to read and to act out and as God would have it, they were satisfied with my delivery and they cast me to feature in Dadin Kowa.
“That was how my journey on screen here began,” she recalled.
Although Esther said she got several invitations to attend auditions, she didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation from Arewa24, because as a fan of the channel, she likes the fact that its drama series deal with real and contemporary issues that the audience can learn from.
She is also pulled in by the station’s wisdom of integrating talents across regional borders in its series, saying: “They don’t just aim at entertaining; their drama series are educative and issue-oriented. They promote national integration with their series. In fact, my participation in the series symbolises national integration.
“They also use the series to promote our values and discourage discrimination and social vices. That is what we should use our movies and series to do and that is their focus.
“So, that is what really inspired and motivated me to be a part of their drama series.”
Asked how it feels working up north, Esther declared that the experience has been awesome, adding that there has been no case of discrimination and she feels loved and very much at home, with a high sense of belonging.
On how she has been able to manage her full-time job as a teacher, being a mother and acting, she replied: “It has been the grace of God, then planning and, of course, the support of my family.
“Anytime I am on call or know that I will be on call, I make sure everything is ready at home, plan my movements and ensure that they do not clash with my job. The good thing is that I normally get the script and call sheet in advance, so it gives me time to make necessary adjustments.
“But I have enjoyed the support and understanding of my family. It would not have been easy without their support and understanding.”
Esther looks forward to playing a long game in the movie and would like to take up roles in Nollywood, as well as in core Kannywood movies. But whenever the roles come, Esther said she would prefer to feature in movies that are didactic.
“We need to use our movies to change lives and society. The reason we are still experiencing a lot of these social vices is because we are not educating people enough. We need to teach, through acting and through our movies,” she stressed.
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