Bold, beautiful, daring are words that one could use to describe veteran Nollywood actress and entertainer, Shaffy Bello. With a career spanning decades, Bello says she will not stop appearing in movies, as she still has a lot to offer. The phenomenal actress would not grant an interview easily but SEGUN ADEBAYO, after several attempts, got her to talk.
You are one of the faces that command people’s attention in the movie industry despite being around for a while. You seem to have a special way of delivering your lines and interpreting roles as well. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you are asked to be part of a movie project?
The story line of every movie project I want to be involved in has to be top notch. This is not something I am just doing now; it has always been part of my career from the day it all started. The script must appeal to me and it must be able to give me mileage. The script should and must reflect professionalism. I also look at the production company handling the project because when you talk about a new project as an actor, you will talk about the mileage and the storyline.
You were on the set of Olokun where you played the lead role. Apart from the location of the movie inside a Fulani settlement, which obviously could have discouraged some of your colleagues. Did you expect the job to be that demanding?
I had an idea that it would be something so difficult and demanding with a sunny weather that could boil your flesh right before your own eyes. I didn’t know the location would be inside the Fulani settlement. But when I got there and we started the shoot, it was very interesting to see how they live and more interesting to see how receptive they are to people as against what we have heard about them.
What was the attraction?
I love my job and everything that surrounds it. I was all out to interpret my character because I love the character. It was an epic setting and I have done a couple of epic movies in the past but this is about one of the most if not the most challenging character I have ever played.
Do you think the role brought out the best in you?
I can’t say if it would bring out the best in me. I will leave that to the audience that would see the movie to tell me if they think I did a good job. They are the ones to say they love or they don’t. I am hoping that they see the versatility that I have in me to be able to play any role that is given to me.
Does it cross your mind why the producer chose you for the role because I learnt there were a number of your contemporaries that were also contacted for the job; what do you think you have that others don’t possess?
It did cross my mind for some time, but I didn’t dwell too long on why it was me or somebody else because I knew that without a doubt, the reason they called me was because I could do it and be the character. It is not in my place to think about what I have or have not. I have a job in hand, I have to bring my best self to the game and get it done. I can’t be in every movie. While I was on set, I turned down other jobs because I can’t just be everywhere.
At this stage in your career, one could possibly say that you have seen it all. Is there any role that still challenges you?
I have always loved to play a challenging role and I think Olokun really challenged me; that’s what I truly want. To get a role that will challenge me and bring out the best in me. No man is an island; it takes joint efforts to be a good actor on set. I had a language coach that was always close to me teaching me pronunciations.
But you have played similar roles before, why do you need a language coach?
Yes, I have done something similar and even though a little bit of that was in me before, it still needed to be polished.
How do you find easy to interpret different characters often as you are always seen in different movies switching lines and captivating your audience?
You know you have to think about many factors before you take a new job. It is the same with acting. You may have been doing this for years but you can’t do it the same way all the time. There has to be something fresh and original about you that make the people looking out for you. You have to first of all look at the character you want to play if it is something you truly want to play; something that you know you can do better.
It definitely would not come easy to keep switching the way you do, how much of work goes into this transformation?
The first thing you need to realise is that I am an actor who takes her job very seriously. I am happy that you recognise the fact that we do a lot of work to bring the job to your homes and cinemas for millions of people to see. Another fact you can’t rule out is that this job comes with a lot of discipline. It all has a lot to do with the discipline of becoming your character. Building a character must first come from the mind of the person who wants to play the role. It is not the kind of job you just want to jump into without doing the needful. You need to do the background job and know what it takes to play every character well because for every job that you take on, you have to find that role within you first. If you can’t find that role within you, the job would not get the best from you. But having said all of that, I think I have the grace of God upon my life. God’s grace comes with the job and I am happy I have it on me.
You don’t seem to be giving up; there is always something coming from you. What do you think you have not seen in the movie industry that appears to keep pushing you to go all out?
There is always something to catch up on as far as the game is concerned. If you think I am done yet, then you don’t even know what I am up to. I am not done yet. I have not even got to the level I want to be. I am still pregnant with characters that I would like to give birth to. There is always more. Once you stop learning and stop growing, then you are gone.
What kind of character are you still pregnant with?
I am still looking for that character that will challenge me and put me on my toes. I have always wanted to do what I did on the Olokun set. Now that I am done with that, I am looking forward to another one.
Is there any role that is bigger than Shaffy Bello?
Is there any role like that? I don’t think so and I am yet to see. I am yet to get that role that is bigger than me.
Maybe they have not offered the kind of money yet; does money even matter to you anymore on the job?
Did you just ask me if money matters to me? Do you work with Tribune for free or you just go to work without considering the money in it? Let me tell you, money matters to me on this job. I want you to quote me anywhere and you must not remove a line from this sentence: money matters to me. Am I going to feed on sand or water? If it doesn’t matter to you, when you get your salary at the end of the month, please share with me.
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