Rise and rise of screen diva, Doris Simeon
She flooded social media timelines and literarily lit up Facebook and Instagram with loads and loads of her colourful pictures in native attire. Until she followed it up with a written text, popular crossover actress, Doris Simeon, left a lot of her fans and moviegoers wondering what else she was celebrating.
The last time she sizzled on social media, as one of her fans recalled, was when she joined her son to celebrate his birthday in the United States (US) after so many years apart. The other time, as another fan recounted, was when she took part in a photo shoot for a ready to wear African print in London in 2016. “So, what is Doris elated about this time?” one of them asked on Twitter.
“It is my 40th birthday. God has opened Chapter 40 of my book of life for me and I am grateful,” Doris declared in the early hours of Monday, minutes after she shared those stunning pictures. She also wrote: “God, I thank you for the grace over my life all these years. It is not by my power, but it is by your grace that I have come this far. God, I am grateful.”
Asked, privately, how it feels to be 40, Doris enthused: “I don’t know sef, but I feel great sha.” She, however, revealled that the celebration is the best commemoration so far, “because I get to spend it with my son in the US. I have been spending all the other birthdays alone, but this time, it is with my son, my special paddy.
“So, I feel great and consider it my best after so many birthdays without him.” A darling of the movie crowd and one of the few actresses in Nollywood who has successfully straddled both the Yoruba and English genre of the vibrant industry, the pretty and amiable actress, who is currently in the US and explained that she might have to be working from there “for now,” has been having a good run in moviedom since she joined the turf nearly two decades ago.
Blessed with stunning complexion and beauty, those who have followed the career of this Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) recipient for Best Actress in a language movie, have always held that Doris’s wholehearted application to work, as exemplified by her performance in acclaimed movies, such as Purple Petals, Onitemi, Blood Sisters and Omo Jaiye Jaiye, is what distinguishes and keeps her in contention for a very long time.
Described by close friends as friendly, jovial, focused and adorable, Doris’s initial career interest was to be a newscaster, having always been fascinated by the way they read the news fluently and with so much confidence.
But as years passed, she developed another passion, that of make believe, and luckily, the movie industry was witnessing a boom. A friend hinted of an audition exercise for a cameo role in the situational comedy by Wale Adenuga Productions (WAP), Papa Ajasco. So, Doris attended and got a role that marked the beginning of the journey for the old girl of Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School, Lagos and alumnus of the Pencil Film and Television Institute (PEFTI), mentored by the late actor and director, Yomi Ogunmola, into the movie industry.
Inspired to venture into acting by the chops exhibited by the likes of Joke Silva, Liz Benson and Onyeka Onwenu, the 2010 ZAFAA best actress in an indigenous movie actress was born in Lagos and raised in Ojota area of the city. The star of hit flicks, such as Oluju Ede, Omo Pupa, Ago Kan Oru, Iseju Maran, Ako Pepeiye and Eleda Teju, disclosed that she was raised by parents who did all they could to make her growing up memorable.
Doris described her winning the AMAA awards for best actress in an indigenous movie in 2008 as her most memorable moment as an actress. She also rates Onitemi, the movie that earned her the AMAA crest, and a few others, such as Modupe Temi and Omo Iya Mi as some of her most challenging movie runs yet.
An actress who doubles as a producer and an entrepreneur, Doris explained that she decided to add production to her career plate because she wanted to make an impact in the industry, adding: “Often times as an actor, there is not much you can do to influence the movie you are doing, because the director has a certain picture in his/her head he/she wants to achieve and the producer is also doing what he/she can, to the best of his/her ability, to make a good film.
“They might not necessarily be doing the right thing, but as far as they are concerned, you are just there to act and you cannot change their opinions about certain issues. “But I had to produce my own movies, such as Onitemi and Omo Iya Mi, among others, to contribute my quota to the development of the Nigerian motion picture industry. I just wanted to prove that those of us in the Yoruba movie industry could make films that can compete favourably with films produced by our English producers.
“Look at Onitemi, for instance. It got two nominations at a previous edition of the AMA Awards and won one. So, it is just to contribute my quota.”A recipient of a number of industry awards, including the 2015 City People award for the Most Creative and Dynamic Actress, Doris disclosed that she is attracted to honest people, but would do anything to avoid “busy bodies who just come around you and act like your friends and at the end of the day, they stab you in the back.
“I avoid such people. I cannot stand them.” Asked her career ambition, Doris, whose favourite meal is Ogbono and Semovita, replied: “I just want to be a good ambassador for Nollywood. I want the generation of filmmakers coming after me to use my works as reference points when they are working.
“I have a strong passion for this job and I believe that I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. I love my profession and I could continue to be in it. I may try my hands on other ventures, like I am doing now, especially my business and charity commitments, but motion picture practice is my first love.”