Nancy Isime : The training I got from my father set me off in life
Nancy Isime is an actress, model and TV personality. The Nollywood sensation who has become a force in the industry is a native of Edo State. She holds a diploma in Social Work from the University of Lagos. She began a career as an actress in the TV series Echoes in 2011 and has hosted TV shows, including The Squeeze, What’s Hot, MTN Project Fame back stage, Trending on HipTV. She has also co-hosted The Headies award, and was a presenter of The Voice Nigeria. She recently launched her TV show, The Nancy Isime Show. In 2022, Isime starred in the Netflix original series Blood Sisters, playing the lead role of Kemi. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for acting and her role in Blood Sisters.
Have you always wanted to be a TV host and actress?
IT wasn’t deliberate. I always wanted to work nine to five and just be in the corporate world somewhere. At one point, I wanted to be a social worker, at another, a pilot, a geologist and even a surgeon. But I feel like the career path that I’m on right now is definitely my destiny. I just had to watch it unravel. And I’m thankful to God for bringing me on this path because I’m truly fulfilled and living my purpose every single day, touching lives and impacting so many people around the world.
You started out as a model and then a television host. How did you get entangled with acting?
Acting came from even modeling. I was a model and on stage, I met a director who was like, ‘oh yeah, I think you’d look great on TV- on camera. You should try a role’. His name is Dickson Dzakpasu.
What determines the script you accept?
The story. I understand that it could look like the same story but with a difference here and there. I’m always interested in what the story is driving at.
Which of your numerous roles do you consider your best and worst so far?
No worst, only the best. Every role I’ve played has been a blessing one way or the other. Nothing screams best or worst. I feel like every opportunity I get as an actor to play someone else’s life or someone else’s story is definitely in my best category.
How much of yourself did you give to the Blood Sisters movie?
My job requires I give my best and it is what I have to do. If people say there was so much emotion in the movie, I will say they are right. At least, that tells me people are seeing the movie and drawing lessons from it. Talking about emotion, I actually put a lot of emotion into the shooting and into everything, it wasn’t Nancy on the screen, Kemi took over. It was Kemi that people saw not Nancy Isime. We were on set for almost two months and Ini and I were in character almost through. I was overwhelmed towards the end of the shoot. I was overwhelmed by Kemi’s character. There was a day I went back to my room after leaving the set and cried because I just wanted to be free from Kemi. We were so immersed, especially in the second part where we were shooting back-to-back at a remote village in Lagos.
For me, the project was not just about me, but it is a collaborative effort of everybody, including the director, crew, producer and Netflix who ensured that we give our audience within and outside this space the real movie. We believe that nobody can tell our stories better than ourselves, so it was a job that we all had to give the best of ourselves to. I am truly happy that the audience appreciates the end product.
What influences your style?
What influences my style is basically me being comfortable and wearing something comfortable and I look in the mirror and say, damn girl, you look good and I feel confident. I don’t go out of my way to buy what I cannot afford. I don’t go out of my way to follow the trend. I never broke the bank to look good.
What is your take on emphasis on physical appearance more than talent in acting as a career?
I don’t think there’s emphasis on that. There’s a look for every role. And that’s nobody but the viewers’ fault. But I don’t think there’s a specific attention paid to looks. Maybe people just tend to be more attracted to fine boys and fine girls. But I think more attention is paid to the talent.
How have you ensured you stay scandal-free as you evolve in your career?
The training that I got from my father who is a disciplinarian set me off into this life. At the same time, every disciplinarian act he put up helped me become the woman I am today and it made me cautious about the kind of things I do, how I talk to people and how I relate with people. That, I think, has kept me scandal-free. Scandals sometimes come from disrespecting yourself and the people around you, so I try not to. Although, I live my life, I’m a very private person. I like to keep my life private. The only way I think I can run into scandals is if I am desperate for attention, which, honestly, I can’t be bothered about. I am very grateful for the attention I already received, but I hope people focus on my work, which is the main thing.
What is your view on the industry with the advent of streaming platforms?
Fantastic. I mean the industry is growing everyday, people from the outside are coming to us. Before, it used to be us going to them, packing our stuff and going to ‘fetch the Hollywood dream’. More talents are rising everyday and people are excited for that. I can only be curious about what happens in fifty years.
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