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Okawa Shaznay: New golden gel of silver screen

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Okawa Shaznay. Photo/Naijacorrect

It is usually not how long, but how well. That is the story of the delectable Cameroonian-born Accounting graduate of Texas Southern University in the United States (US), Okawa Shaznay.

Since the former banker, who lived and schooled in Houston, US, for close to a decade joined Nollywood, precisely in 2014, Okawa has left no one in doubt that she has her eyes on the summit.

From Iyore, her first major movie appearance, to the more recent, well told epic movie, In My Country, directed by the award-winning Frank Rajah, where critics agreed that she exhibited unerring skills, the pretty and dark actress has proved that she is focused on playing a big game in Nollywood as she runs along.

Described by colleagues as focused, confident, savvy and hardworking, Celebrity stalked the amiable actress from Rwanda, where she attended the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) as a nominee in the leading actress category, to Calabar, on a movie set, and eventually caught up with her on Twitter.

She obliged an interview and shared the story of her journey.

Okawa And Acting
Acting has been a companion for as long as I can remember. I had no other particular serious career interest before acting. But even while in Houston, I took part in some stage and film production part time before coming to Nigeria.

My inspiration to venture into acting started as a kid living in Cameroon.

Growing up, I enjoyed watching lots of movies, specifically Western and Hindi movies, but my interest really sparked when I started watching many Nigerian home videos that came into Cameroon.

I saw people in these movies that I could easily relate to, in terms of the stories and culture.

I thought to myself that this is not far-fetched after all and that I really can do this some day. So, my acting journey, for me, sort of started from there.

Movies like Glamour Girls and series like After The Storm started to inspire me a lot.

I was also inspired by some of the actors, some of whom I have had the opportunity to work with, like Rita Dominic, Ramsey Nouah, Ini Edo, Desmond Elliot and others.

I just concluded a shoot, starring alongside (uncle) Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD) and am looking forward to working with many more actors.

Internationally, I love Viola Davis, Daniel Day Lewis, Regina King, Eva Green and Octavia Spencer, amongst others.

There are so many talented people I would love to work with.

Parental Objection?
Not necessarily! But I was advised by them to be sure if this is what I really wanted and to go for it.

More so, I would have had a Theatre Arts degree, but was advised by them to go for another, in case I don’t get a chance to do any films, basically as something to fall back on as security, and that I could later on, go ahead and get acting classes, rather than pursuing a degree for it at that time.

So, as of now, I have an Accounting degree and have and will continue taking acting lessons as I grow in my acting career
Enter Nollywood

My first Nollywood movie appearance was in Iyore, which was filmed in 2014 and released in 2015.

I played three roles (the maiden, Amenze; the warrior, Onaiwu Esosa and Princess Ajoke) that spawned through different lineages in a reincarnation plot.

It was an amazing experience for me, as I went to Benin City for the first time and got the chance to learn about the amazing culture and about the great Oba of Benin.

I had the opportunity to work with Rita Dominic, Joseph Benjamin and (uncle) Paul Obazele for the first time that I grew up watching in After The Storm.

It was surreal moment for me. I am forever grateful to Frank Rajah and Kwame Boadu from the Raj and Heroes Production team for the opportunity.

So far, I would have taken part in say about 20 movies or so and I still have a few works ready to be released any moment now.

My breakthrough and most memorable would be from the television series, The Mysterious Case of Delilah Ambrose, where I played Delilah.
Pains And Gains Of The Profession

Well, just the fact that I have the opportunity to do what I love makes me really happy and fulfilled, and that alone is a major gain, coupled with other opportunities that you get from the exposure. But I am generally satisfied to do what I love doing.

The main reverse side of it is that people assume things easily that do not necessarily pertain to the actor as a person.

Why She Signs Only Films By Raj And Heroes Production
Actually, it is not so! When I first came here, he gave me my first and other movie role opportunities here in Nigeria before others started to see my work and started working with me as well.

I also have had the opportunity to work with other directors, like Teco Benson and some other directors in some television movies you might not have come across yet.

Hopefully, soon, you will get to see them. And I am looking forward to working with other great directors in the industry soon.

Likes And Dislikes
My likes…my serenity is very important to me. I like anything that leads me to that point. I love going to the beach. I like travelling and I love watching my favourite series.

My dislikes, generally untidiness and an obnoxious behaviour and as for what I like in a guy, among other things, fun, honest, ambitious and God-fearing.

As for my beauty routine, I use my face wash cleanser and moisturiser daily. I try to drink lots of water too and stay away from the sun as much as I can.

Generally, nothing too serious, just regularly keeping yourself at your best sort of thing.

Will Quit Acting For A Bank Job?
I already worked in a bank before I joined Nollywood, so nothing there again. But I will say this: I won’t quit acting, because I can still do other things like I do currently, but acting will always be there with me forever.

And to your question on if I am asked to quit acting by my husband to be, hypothetically, as we get to know and respect each other, there will be compromises. Of course, but it will not have to get to that; we will sort it out.

Career Ambition
I would want to venture in other areas of the filmmaking process with time.

Not sure which, as I am still growing within this path to see where it leads. But I generally want to be better and strive to be great with each role I am presented with.


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