When A-list movie director, Charles Novia, was asked to name his best five actresses in recent times, he mentioned Mercy Johnson as number one and Tamara Eteimo as number two. Such is the rising profile of the Bayelsa State-born actress who only recently shot her own produced film.
Here, Tamara opens the door to her world and takes us through the mind of the girl behind the actress. Excerpts:
What has been happening?; have you started music like you said you would?
A lot has been happening, although I have not gone back to music as fully as l would want. I rapped in the movie l am working on and may release the music in future. I have been shooting; I did a job in Port Harcourt with Nse Ikpe Etim, Kalu Ikeagwu and Blossom Chukujekwu. It was great going back to my roots.
By the way I am producing now; It is my first movie, ‘Somewhere Down The Line’ is the title of this movie and by the special grace of God, I will say that it’s a good one and we did our best in the movie. On the set were Yemi Blaq, Bukky Wright, Racheal Oniga, Yinka Ayelokun, Mary Lazarus, Adetomiwa Kukoyi, Yinka Salau and lots of other great actors.
The film was directed by Alex Mouth, a fantastic director. In the movie I played two characters. That is what l call using one stone to kill two birds. I am also launching my website soonest where all about me will be revealed.
How do you intend to keep with the competition with so many new faces springing up in Nollywood everyday?
Children are born daily and they all have different abilities and selling points. In other words, great talents emerge every day. Just like there are many stars in the sky, but some stars do shine brighter than others without stress.
Like they will ask in the house of the ‘Next Movie Star’, what differentiates you from the next housemate? I am a Bayelsan, not short, not tall, not fat but slim and I am fair in complexion. I am sexy and focused, I am passionate. I am good at what I do and I have confidence.
How far can you go into a character?
I try my best to interpret a character to the best of my ability. I try to live the character for the period of that shoot. I also research the character too if the need arises because there are some characters that you just need to research to understand.
When I acted the role of ‘Itohan’ in ‘Itohan’, Superstory, I had to learn how to play football with professionals. It wasn’t easy but it was fun because every character is an experience for me. My directors help me in my characterisation too, in ‘Itohan’ Mrs. Pat Oghiri Imohbio helped me a whole lot.
She didn’t make me feel like I was working with her for the first time. I try to go to the extreme length to interpret my role. And acting nude is a different ball game? I think it’s been abused so I will not act nude.
You said in one interview you granted that you wish to take your art to Hollywood; would you act nude there?
Like I said, it’s been abused but it has to be relevant before I will give it a thought but I am more particular about making a difference and going nude is not accepted in this part of the world.
What challenges have you had in interpreting roles?
Every role comes with its challenge and ‘you are as good as your last performance’, they say . These are theatre words that help in keeping me and my character, so I would not say I didn’t do this well or I acted this better. I don’t have a best or worst character, every character has its interpretation and that’s what I love about my job because I play different personalities at different productions.
So far, what movie would you say you have given your best and what’s your worst character?
I don’t believe in a lead role all the time, once you are good you will stand out. Funny enough, some minor characters stand you out to the extent that they mistake them to be major characters depending on how you handle the role. I will use ‘Finding Mercy’ by Desmond Elliott for example.
I acted in just four scenes where I played Blossom Chukujekwu’s girlfriend. It felt like it was more and I loved my character there. People identify with my role and they remember my key lines. So you can steal a whole movie with just one scene. I won’t also deny the fact that the Director helped my characterisation.
What is your fan base today; how did your fans react to your lead role in ‘Itohan’?
My fan base is increasing by the day and its amazing how one will go and people say your name. .., you will be wondering where you met the person and they say they watched your movie. And it’s amazing too because it shows that we appreciate our works and a lot of people watch our movies.
We read recently that your brother was murdered in Cuba; can you share with us what led to his death?
My brother was killed in Cyprus. He was a student of Ganni American University when he died. Stanley Royal Eteimo organised and produced music while in school. On the day he died; he had a show and he was to perform. He got there without my other elder brother and his girlfriend as he had to perform.
Getting there he saw a classmate of his and decided to chat with her, her boyfriend got jealous and threatened my brother that he would kill him and nothing would happen because he was in his country. They argued, after that, we didn’t hear anything from my brother until we received a call that my brother didn’t come back to his hostel.
That was the last time my brother was seen until his body was found at a beach. They said he committed suicide, which to me, is a big lie. The hotel where the show was held refused to release the CCTV to show us what really happened.
What do you think of the justice system in the world today; using Nigeria as a case study?
My opinion about Nigerian justice system is that it doesn’t actually work. Often, people say that there is a problem of access to justice but in my own limited experience of the Nigerian justice system, it is not about the access to justice, but about justice been rendered. The Bayelsa State government also sent a letter to the Ambassador of the Cypriot Embassy but nothing happened.
Recently, you were nominated for the AMVCA; why do you think you were nominated and which movie do you think you were nominated for?
I was nominated for the movie ‘Desperate Housegirls’ and in the category of ‘Best Supporting Actress’ in drama. I will say that my work is appreciated and all my passion is been noticed and in that note I am highly honoured and grateful.