Nollywood actress, Hilda Dokubo, is a filmmaker, activist, entrepreneur, life coach and Executive Director, Centre for Creative Arts Education (CREATE). Dokubo was a popular face in the movie industry for many years before she took a break to focus on other engagements that reshaped her focus in life. In this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO, the light-skinned actress said she had not lost the aura that made her the toast of many people years back.
It’s been a long time since we heard about you or your work but you have returned to acting after a long break. How have you been coping with your return to movies?
The truth of the matter which I have been trying to explain is that I never left acting completely. I actually went to school. I decided to set up a school. For the records, I went to work with my community and I went to serve in the state. It was not that I left, I took a break to serve the nation. But now that my break time is over, I have come back to concentrate on my acting career and I can tell you that it has been one interesting journey. It is has been said over time that when you take a break from something, you come back a better and stronger person.
A lot has happened since you left. Some of your contemporaries have moved up the ladder while some new faces have taken over the industry. How are you finding your way back?
Your question sounds interesting because you don’t know how much I like what I do. This is something that I was trained to do and even in the course of my break, I was doing other things that engaged my mind and brain in order to get better. I don’t have to find my way back into what I understand very well, I just have to do what I know how to do and leave the people to tell if truly I have found my way back or still struggling to catch up. As far as I know, stars only shine and that is what I do. Just wait and see what I am up to. I know a lot of people want to know what took me away and how I have been coping with life without acting. At the right time, they will begin to hear from me.
How easy was it for you to walk away at a time when your name was on the lips of many home video lovers?
You are missing the point. I didn’t walk away. That is the point I have been trying to let you understand. I did not walk out. I only moved into something else. As I said earlier, what stars do is that they throw light and just shine. I am not in any struggle either with myself or with anyone. There is no competition going on; it’s just me doing my work with my team. Yes, decisions are not easy, but you need to also look at what your options are at the time and what satisfaction it presents. What gains, what losses and reach a decision. That was what I did. It was something I thought about extensively. I needed to give back to the society. I have enjoyed so much love. I had won every single award at that time. I mean there is a level at which you get to and you would want to do something new. I just needed to give back to the society. You offload a bit and reload, and that is what I have done. I am back, bigger, better, extraordinarily stronger. It is not that I did nothing for three years. After staying away for three years, I came back to do one or two and left again.
How rewarding was the thing that took you away?
If you talk about monetary reward, I will say no but it was mind-rewarding. It provided emotional satisfaction that I can’t measure. I am happy about the quality of people that I have built around me, I can’t measure that. That is just immeasurable because today people want young people who are strong, good character and everything. People call me up and say Hilda send me a young person between this age and this age that I can engage. So now, people trust that I have trained proper people. And they take my recommendation seriously. So I think I have tried.
Now that you are back, what do you think about the jobs that have been coming?
The producers know my typical style. If a job is not good I don’t do it. I don’t care how much you want to pay. Once you have a good script and I can see that you are ready for the job with the availability of other things on ground, I will jump at the script.
You have featured In the CEO and Stigma, what was it like working with the producers?
These two movies were great. I mean everybody knows that they stand out and I am very happy to be part of the cast. It was really awesome.
I was going to ask you about CEO, how challenging was the role?
Of course it was a very challenging role to play. I am not a man. It was a role written for a man. It was written for a police officer; there is nothing military about me. I am 500 per cent civilian in my mind but being military, a police officer, playing the role originally written for a man was quite tedious. Yes, it took a lot of hard work. I was also working with a superlative man; Kunle Afolayan. If you know Kunle, he would make you play the role that you are comfortable in. He wants you to express yourself the best way you can, so it was nice.
What do you think about the development that has taken over the movie industry in the last few years?
Well, we have different kinds of development; some are positives while others are not. For the positive ones, they were late in coming, they should have come earlier.
They should have come during your time?
Who told you this is not my time? I enjoyed every moment back then and I am still here today with a very high degree of relevance, if you know what I mean. The industry is wide and those who dare to fly can do so without any hindrances. There are negative developments too but what I would say is that it happens in every industry. There would be that time when everyone thinks that this is a cash cow; we need to get our cash. With time, it also begins to fall off. So, the truth is that I don’t worry myself with this kind of thing; I worry myself with the positives. I think about we can better what we already have. I think that should be the focus of every stakeholder.
When you were away, was there any time you felt like coming back?
Yes, it happened to me virtually every day, especially when you watch a movie and you think this could have been better. There were those moments.
The movie industry has changed from the way you left it. There are new actors and actresses on the scene doing very well. These people don’t appear to be letting any moment pass away. Do you really think you have come back at the right time and what do you think about the new faces you have been seeing around?
There you go again. I have always been an advocate of the more the merrier, the better. If you are the only candle in a room, when you burn out that is the end of it. But together, the light is brighter and more people can see what we have all got to offer. Nothing moves me. I am not competing with anybody. I have been around for a while, so at this point, what could I possibly be proving again?
What is your next project now that you are back?
What does that mean?
Asawana means a beauty retort. All the people know about Niger/Delta; its oil vulnerability, restive young people, restlessness but I have a different story to tell. I want to be able to tell a different story. The region is not about restiveness, illegal oil bunkering, oil tap, sacking of communities alone. It is also about our community, philosophies and people’s way of life. I want to talk about the aspirations of the people of that region.
For somebody who was once in government as a special adviser, will you rule out full-time politics in the nearest future?
If you talk about the politics of Nigeria as it is today, I will say no. But politics when it becomes politics, yes I will be there to contribute my quota to the development of my people.
Why not now? Your colleagues are there and they are doing fine…
Don’t forget that I was the first entertainer to be given government appointment. As a Special Adviser to the governor on Youth Affairs. It was after my appointment that other governors felt comfortable appointing entertainers. They knew that it had nothing to do with the fact that we were appearing on the television. These people had something in their heads. Today, it is easy for any governor to pronounce an actor SA, Commissioner, whatever it is. I beat my chest and say thank you for doing everyone proud. And I am proud for setting that pace. Having said that I want people to also know that because of the office that I held, I was so close to government structures, council and saw a lot of files and letters. If politics is as it today, I don’t want to be part of gun-running but if it is service to humanity, trust me, I will be there.
What do you have to say, about the economic situation, of the country?
When you get to the end of the road. You have no other option than to find your way back and convert that to … the choices are ours. But you know as a Christian. I always say to myself, in times of hardship, God always raises… If he could do it then with someone, he can do it now with someone. Yes we are where it seems like nothing is working but don’t forget we are still thinking creatively. This is where creative people are making the money. This is where people are beginning to say where the creative minds around us are. What can we do? People are beginning to think outside the box. So it won’t be for long. I told someone that I have made up my mind not to talk about how bad it is but how good it ought to be.