Glory Akhere, the Nigerian born international actress cum model left our shores some sixteen years ago in search of greener pastures. And today, the Ishan, Edo State born megastar is a household name in the U.S., where she is hoisting our flag high and at the same time making Nigerians proud as a top actress and model.
33 year-old Akhere who is also a graduate of the famous West Indies University, Kingston, Jamaica, where she trained in acting and modeling is married to a Nigerian physician based in the U.S.
In this exclusive interview with AZUH AMATUS, Akhere, who breezed into the country from her U.S. base recently, bared her mind to us.
“After spending over a decade abroad, I have decided to come home and do an international movie that will also be of international standard. I’m working with Zeb Ejiro and other Nigerian stars. We will shoot in Nigeria, Europe and America. The movie is titled Highway Loss Connection; I’m the producer and lead actress”, the reigning US African Class Magazine, Model of the Year divulges.
When asked if she can act or pose nude based on her experience and exposure as an international actress cum model, she maintained an emphatic no. “I can’t act or pose nude as an actress or model. I’m an African woman and also married to an African man. It is not part of our culture…”she fires.
Akhere, who is a trained nurse also talked passionately about her dream for Nollywood, life outside our shores and other sundry issues.
Enjoy the interaction!
Who is Glory Akhere?
Glory Akhere is a Nigerian based in the U.S. she is an actress, model, registered nurse and a karate expert. I attended the University of West Indies in the Caribbean, in Kingston, Jamaica, that was where I started modeling. Funny enough, I read nursing.
And how have you been able to combine and practice all these together?
I manage to combine all these together but not on full time basis, like the nursing job, I do it whenever necessary. But I’m pretty busy with the modeling and acting aspects of my career.
Tell us more about yourself
My names are Ukimogbe Glory Akhere. I’m from Ishan, Edo State. I left Nigeria in search of greener pastures abroad about sixteen years ago. I traveled straight to America but went to school in the Caribbean I was shuttling then. I’ve also done some movies abroad with some foreign stars. I did miss USW and Miss University; I won a sectional prize with these pageants in the U.S. A physician from London taught me how to model; I now went to a modeling school after that encounter. It was when I graduated that I moved permanently to the U.S. I specialized in TV Print works. All together, I’ve put thirteen years of my life into modeling and acting outside out shores.
Which did you start with first?
I started modeling first in 1992 with Miss USW. In 1997, I was auditioned for model of the year in the U.S. for black models. That same year, I got a major role in a popular sitcom in the U.S. titled “Lawless”. And since then, I’ve done lots of production jobs. My casting director helped in grooming and shaping my career as an actress in the U.S. At a point, I nearly dropped acting for modeling because I was getting lots of jobs. But I changed my mind when my casting director told me; Glory the camera is all yours. He encouraged me to continue with both and since then, I’ve not looked back.
How old are you?
(Chuckles). I’m 33, this year.
Among the things you do in the U.S., which one brings the highest amount of money into your accounts?
Ehm! For me, it is a combination of everything. They all bring money. Acting, modeling and nursing, as an occasional nurse, I take care of newborn babies and the premature ones. It gives me joy taking care of the little ones.
When did you come to Nigeria last and what project brought you home now?
Okay! I love acting and modeling, I also have passion for acting. So I want to bring these entire stuffs home and make them a reality. I want people outside to see and feel the beautiful parts of Africa, especially Nigeria. And I feel I can do that through modeling and acting, especially acting. It’s been long that I came home last. The new movie project I’m about to embark on brought me home.
Tell us more about the project that brought you to Nigeria, after so many years abroad
I’m home basically to shoot a movie with Zeb Ejiro. It is an action movie titled HIGHWAY LOSS CONNECTION. It is going to be an action movie full of suspense, intrigues and a bit of romance. It is not a true-life story it’s a fiction.
We have lots of directors in Nollywood, why did you pick Zeb Ejiro, any special reason(s)?
Prior to our meeting in the U.S. when he came visiting, a family member recommended him to me. Even before that, we had not met one on one. And so far, I’ve had no regrets in interacting and working with him. This movie is an international project; it will be shot mainly in abroad with some scenes here.
Like how much will this international movie project gulp?
Ehm! Of course, it is going to be a big budget movie, we don’t have a definite budget now; we are still working on the budget. We will make it public as soon as we are ready.
As a black lady making waves in the US showbiz world, we would like to know some of the initial constraints that you encountered. We all know it is not easy out there?
First, I want to thank God for his blessings, because it is really tough out there. Funny enough, the bulk of my jobs came from white people. I’ve been favoured by God to excel and succeed out there. Out there, if you are liked, then you have no problem. People will also want to work with you when you are easy and not troublesome or too demanding. But as a black woman, you have to work a little harder, no doubt about that. At several auditions, I’ve doused white models and actresses. I would really say it’s been a blessing…
Have you modeled or endorsed any popular product in the U.S.?
Yes! A lot. One of the popular ones was for Acuview, a disposable contact lens product. I have also modeled for hip-hop fashion show in Houston with Nicky Topples and many others. I’ve also turned down a lot, may be, because of my schedule. I’ve also done car commercials, but my tight schedule does not permit me to take every job.
As a Hollywood actress, can you act nude in movies?
No! No!! No!!! No nude scenes for me as an actress. I’ve never played any nude scene as an actress and I also don’t intend doing so.
In the U.S. where you operate from, what would you say stands you out from your other colleagues?
I like being myself. I’m also full of action. I do taekwando a lot. I also like doing action movies a lot. I like the adrenalin pumping that comes with it. I also like aerobics and anything that has to do with cardio. But above all, I do taekwando , as a form of self defense mechanism.
How soon are you going on location to start this project?
Hopefully, we will be storming set by September 2005. We have started with the production. Like I told you, it is going to be an international movie, we are shooting everywhere, Europe, America, Africa and may be, Asia.
How do you intend to cover all these continents with this movie?
I’ve been away for more than a decade. My international contacts and agents will assist when the time comes.
Are you married?
Yes, I’m married to a Nigerian physician. We met in the States. It’s been a while that we met. He is also from Edo State. We’ve got kids also.
Is he in total support of what you are doing?
Yeah! But please, I don’t like talking about my family and personal life on the pages of newspapers. He has been very supportive of the things I do as a showbiz person. We came to Nigeria together. He is also part of this project. Let us leave my private life alone please. I cherish my privacy a lot.
What countries are you using as locations for this international movie?
We will shoot in Miami, London, Las Vegas, Houston Texas, Lagos and Abuja. We will take our time on sets while shooting in these cities; it’s not your normal run-on-the-mill-movie. The cast will also be tight. Like 40% known and 60% not known. Zeb Ejiro is taking care of everything. Saint Obi, Desmond Elliot, Sam Dede, Ramsey Noah and few others are still being considered to be part of this movie.
What roles are you playing in this international movie.
First, I’m the sponsor and executive producer; I’m also the lead actress in the movie. I’m also the producer. This movie will change Nollywood and it will be shot with HD Cameras, to make it acceptable globally. We are not taking chances; our dream is to make it the biggest action movie in Nigeria and even Africa. We will travel to these countries with the major cast and crewmembers. Everything will be perfectly done.
Do you watch Nigerian movies?
Yes, but occasionally. I’m coming in basically to help improve the quality of our productions. I’m not saying that all our films are bad, we have the good ones. So my coming in is to assist them especially in the areas of audio and general production. If I were permitted, I would love to add some quality. Zeb was with me in the U.S. recently, our aim is to help sanitise Nollywood out there. We spoke with a lot of stakeholders when he visited. We want to put this movie at the mainstream both home and abroad; it will be released this year. Remember we are shooting with HD, so we can also upgrade it to celluloid, if we feel like.
You have been away for sixteen years what got you attracted to Nollywood?
Well, like I said earlier, I want to bring some quality to Nigerian films. There is a big market for our movies out there. Besides, if we can do it outside, why can’t we do it for our own people? The desire to be among my people after so many years of being away got me attracted to Nollywood. No place like home. Let me use this medium to thank U.S. African Class Magazine for giving me the award of model of the year 2005, it has really boosted my image a lot.
Whom among the Nollywood stars do you look up to as role models?
No one in particular I admire every one of them. I appreciate them all for helping to move Nollywood forward. They are doing a wonderful job and that was one of the reasons I chose to come down and work with them.
The fund for the movie is it solely from your purse or you have partners working with you?
Like I said earlier, it is my project. I am the producer and lead actress. So, the funds are coming from my purse. My husband is also there to support and assist. I also believe so much in the directorial skill and expertise of Zeb Ejiro. And together, we will make this film an international success. I’m not shooting it for just the Nigerian markets. I want it to grace and compete with other foreign movies at major big screens and awards. By the time it finally comes out, this movie will change the perception people have about Nigerian movies abroad.
As a professional showbiz person, a lot of people expected you to marry from the showbiz world, why did you marry a physician?
(Laughs). No special reasons. I feel that was where I found love and that was where God also destined for me to pick a husband, no regrets about that. The important thing is for love and happiness to be in a marriage.
For how long have you been married and what got you attracted to your husband?
(Laughs). I’m so sorry, I told you I want my family to be kept out of this interview. I want their privacy maintained. We are here to talk about my life and career in showbiz and why I’m home. I don’t want to talk about my family here please. But the truth is that my husband likes and supports what I’m doing in the showbiz world. He also assists and encourages me to move on with my career always. We came back together to discuss this movie with Zeb Ejiro, he is a very understanding man. Like I told you we met in the U.S., he is from Etsako, also in Edo State.
What do you see as the biggest problem facing Nollywood?
For me, it is piracy first. Then the issue of poor production coupled with poor distribution and marketing of our movies. Once these areas are adequately taken care of, Nollywood will compete favourably globally. I’m optimistic; we will get there very soon. I’m happy and impressed with what some of our directors are doing.
Are you saying that no amount of money can make you pose or act nude as a model cum actress?
The issue is not about money, but morality. I don’t see myself posing or acting nude as a model or actress. I’m an African woman that is married with kids. Posing or acting nude is un-African.
How many kids do you have?
Still a personal question. I’m pleading with you to keep my family out of this interview. The truth is that I’m married and blessed with kids.
First published, August 2005