Why I’m not practising as a lawyer, star actress, Najite Dede – By AZUH AMATUS

Najite Dede

Petite and pretty, Najite Dede is one actress in Nollywood who has her hands in many pies basically because of her quest and passion for creativity and excellence.


Aside being a stage and screen actress, Najite who hails from Delta State is also a Lawyer, though not practicing. “I’m also a dancer, TV and radio presenter, comedian and scriptwriter”, she discloses with smiles playing round her luscious lips.


A Theatre Arts graduate of University of Ibadan, Najite who was also opportune to work under the tutelage of some of the best hands in stage productions before crossing over to Nollywood in 1997, in this incisive interview with AZUH AMATUS, says being single at 33 does not bother or weigh her down.


“I’m single but seeing a special person. He is a Yoruba guy. If at the end of the day marriage takes place, all well and good. Must every woman be married?” She queries.


“My single status does not bother me, I’m happy with the special person in my life”, further confesses the soft-spoken and cerebral thespian who registered her presence in Nollywood with a scintillating role in Patrick Doyle’s classic, “All About Ere”.


Still baring her mind, the dreadlocks donning actress who was among the few Nollywood stars that recently dazzled in a soon to debut international movie alongside some Hollywood stars in Abuja, also shared her location experience with us as well as why she won’t practice as a lawyer.


“It was fun on set in Abuja. I also gained a lot working with Ego Boyo and the rest. It is a movie that will change the face of Nollywood when it comes out. Even the foreign cast and crew members attested to this, while we were on set”.


Optimistic, blunt and daring Najite also spoke her mind about Nollywood and how it can be moved forward for the betterment of all stakeholders.


Enjoy the interaction.


We would like to know more about Najite Dede?


Like you already know, I’m Najite Dede from Delta State, I spent my formative years in different countries abroad because my dad was in the foreign services. But I did most of my schooling in Ibadan. My first degree was in Law and I later went back to read Theatre Arts, all in University of Ibadan. I chose not to practice Law because there are a lot of lawyers. Entertainment is what I have always dreamt to do and have in my heart since when I was a kid.


And your parents supported your abandoning law for theatre arts?


Yeah! My dad was like, why didn’t you say that in the first place. I’ve always been an arts person from childhood my first love is dancing. It is a natural progression starting from my primary school days. My parents are alive and happy with my decision. We have five girls and a boy in the house.


You were among those who recently went to Abuja to shoot an international movie with Ego Boyo. We would like to know more amount this project?


It was a wonderful experience. The project was between Ego Boyo and an American based movie company. It was a potpourri of Nigeria and American cast and crewmembers. It was an eye opener and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It took us time and there was a lot of attention to details on set. Everything was superb in the movie. Even my role as a killer in the movie was very challenging and I interpreted it very well. I acted alongside Joke Silva, Genevieve Nnaji, Segun Arinze, Norbert Young and a host of other artistes.

We spent about a month on set. I’m more of a stage person. But the truth is that I have been around in the movie industry since 97. Let me also correct one wrong notion about me, I did not leave Law for acting, I’m only more interested in showbiz than Law. My dream is to become a filmmaker at the end of the day. The truth is that I came into acting by accident, this day, the artiste they wanted to use was not available and I was thrown into the role. It was a long time ago and Patrick Doyle directed the movie in question. Again, about Law, I realized that it was not the career for me, not that I dumped it. And I will not practice Law.


What are the major challenges you have encountered or faced with in your acting career?


A lot. The truth is that acting is a very difficult profession but most people think it is easy, it is not. Do you think it is easy to become someone else convincingly? We spent six weeks rehearsing before we commenced shoot for Ego Boyo’s movie. You have to understand the story and the character you are playing.


So, how was it like acting alongside foreign stars in Ego Boyo’s movie?


I had a lot of fun and we got along very well, even most of the Nigerian stars on set, I’ve worked with them before. Genevieve and I did stage play together last year. The experience was eventful and we all acted like one big and happy family.


Were you well paid on set, and what is the title of this movie?


(Laughs). I was well paid but would have loved more money. I’m sorry, right now, they are keeping the title of the movie a top secret.


How soon do you intend actualizing your dream of becoming a moviemaker?


Very soon! Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, that is my aspiration and I’m hoping to do a course in directing and cinematography.


Who are your role models in Nollywood?


In Nollywood, first is Joke Silva, she is the greatest. Ajayi Lycett, Bimbo Akintola, she is brilliant. I also admire Genevieve Nnaji for her progression. And I’m sorry to say; we don’t have directors, only a few of them. All the actors that have come out with brilliant performances in Nollywood as far as I’m concerned, they are miracle workers. There is a big difference between a good director and somebody who just call the shots.


Aside being an actress, do you engage in other ventures?


Yes! I write for radio and television, I’m also a contributor/columnist in Photo News. I also present on television currently, but was once an on-air-personality with Rhythm FM. I’m into standup comedy and took part in a recent one that held at Muson. I like comedy a lot because it’s fun and gives room to everyone.


Among the entire things you listed above, which is your favourite any day, anytime?


My first love is dance, I love it from my heart but funny enough, I did not major in dancing while in school, and I majored in directing for the stage and minored in dance. So, from my heart it is dancing any day, while from my head, I will go for movie making.


And why dancing?


Unknown to people, dancing is one of the most beautiful expressions of human beings. People dance for different reasons and also dance for no reasons at-all. I personally believe that dancing was one of the first things that God did before he created man.


And how often do you dance?


As often as I can. I even danced this morning before coming out to meet you.


Are you married?


No! I’m not married yet.


How old are you?


I’m 33 this year.


And why are you still single and may be searching?


(Laughs heartily) I’m single but not searching. I’m seeing someone special, he is lovely and wonderful. If marriage takes place in between fine, but I don’t know when exactly, I have no idea. But it will come.


As a trained lawyer turned artiste how would you rate Nollywood?


A lot of rubbish has been said about us, but that does not mean we are doing badly. We are trying and would soon get there; it is a matter of time. As soon as viewers become more picky and critical a lot of things will change. People want to see stories about our lives and not the juju, drug and 419 stuffs they are used to. There is a progression and we are happy for that.


As a lawyer, what are your views about the actors that were banned by movie-marketers?


From what I heard, they chose not to do businesses with the said actors. But I know you cannot tell a person how much they earn, it is called restrain to trade, it is absolutely illegal. If they felt the actors were charging much, they should call them to order. They the marketers have the right to say we won’t use these people, but they don’t have the right to tell people how much they earn.


You always don dreadlocks, any special reason{s}?


It’s my natural hair and I’ve been growing it for about two years now. And I have no special reasons for donning the dreads, only that it is very easy to manage.


Currently, what are the projects you are handling?


Right now, I’m looking at the possibility of a stage play, we are kicking-off very soon.


How did your path and that of Ego Boyo cross and how was it like working with her on set?


Our meeting was very normal based on the fact that she was the producer of the movie; she handled most of our production needs on set. It was fun and nice working with her and her team. She brought her wealth of experience to bear on the set.


Aside being a prominent filmmaker, what are your other future goals?


Well, talking about moviemaking I won’t dabble into it till I have the requisite training. I want to be a known force in Nollywood because we have got amazing stories to tell. I want to contribute to the growth of this society by telling positive stories.


What would you say is the biggest problem facing Nollywood today?


The truth is that we have many problems, but to me, the biggest one is content as in the scripts, stories and also character development. We work miracles by doing film in one week. We should devote more time in filmmaking. It is a process and planning should be followed to the last letter.


Which was your first movie in Nollywood and how did you come in?


I came in ’97, but can’t remember the title of the movie again. One of the movies that brought me out was Patrick Doyle’s “All About Ere”. And sincerely speaking, joining the industry has been rewarding and the financial reward is just beginning to come in. I’ve paid my dues, so I feel it is time to reap. I came into acting with my whole heart. I have a passion for acting. And let me say it here that anybody that is coming in because he or she wants to be a star is making a big mistake.


What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind when you are no longer here?


I want to be remembered for making a positive impact on my society through my works as an accomplished artiste cum entertainer.


As a pretty actress, how do you cope with overtures from Nigerian men?


(Laughs). Nigerian men are very interesting creatures… I don’t really have a problem with them because I have a lot of male pals and get along with them very well. And because I’m seeing a special Nigerian man, I see all of them as very loving and nice. My man is a Yoruba man.


And what got you attracted to your Yoruba Romeo?


Everything about him got me attracted. He is special, nice and loving.


What should movie-buffs expect from you and the entire cast when this yet-to-be-titled movie comes out?


A lot! This movie is going to make a huge impact within and outside Nollywood. It is also going to give people a lot to think about and also change the perception of most moviemakers around. It is also a political movie that will get many thinking about this country especially in times of problems like this. It will surely blow the minds of core movie buffs. Lest I forget, a woman directed this movie.


You seem to be very quiet in Nollywood, any special reason for lying low?


Ehm! Initially, I was extremely snobbish about Nollywood films. Sorry to say this, I thought they were rubbish initially, so I devoted all my time to stage works. And remember if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Talking without contributing is just rubbish. I was away for sometimes to study the industry, but right now, I’m fully back in the industry. Again, I’m also quiet in Nollywood because I don’t like making noise; I prefer my wonderful works to speak for me.


But what now made you change your mind about Nollywood, after stepping aside for many years because you felt they were doing rubbish?


Initially, when Nollywood started the earliest movies were excellent then all of a sudden every Tom, Dick and Harry jumped on board and started derailing the clear vision of the industry. It was during these periods of low creativity that I opted out. I decided to stage a comeback after a careful study of the situation. Again, I said to myself that would I for the sake of the generality not put or contribute my efforts towards the salvaging of this industry.


You exude so much confidence, what keeps you going, inspires and stands you out?


Being myself and believing in all the things I stand for keeps me going. I believe in fair judgments and doing the right things always.


Your single status at 33, does it weigh you down?


Why should it weigh me down? I told you I’m seeing someone special and we are carrying on very well. And if at the end of the day it happens, fine! Being single doesn’t weigh me down. Must we all be married? It does not also bother me.


Have you ever encounter any form of sexual harassment from moviemakers since your sojourn in Nollywood?


No! It can only happen to you when you don’t know your worth as an artiste. I’m a total artiste and not a gatecrasher.


And if you are not in showbiz today where else would you have been?


And what makes you think I will ever quit showbiz. It is where my heart has always been.



First Published, September 2005.


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