African Entertainment: HILDA DOKUBO: My first movie made me
Hilda Dokubo is one of the few actors that witnessed the birth of Nollywood and as such had excited its buffs for years. Her career spans 35 whopping years but her hiatus stirred controversies too. And now that she’s back clinching the laurels as of old, she speaks about her humble beginning, other venture and sundry issues with LANRE ODUKOYA.
You were one of the few people who got the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the recently concluded City People Entertainment Awards, how does this make you feel?
I feel elated to be so recognised. But you know if you get this kind of honour in line of duty, that’s to mean that more is required. Every time I get an award I know the onus lies on me to do more.
It also came at a time you’d obviously slowed down on your appearance in Nigerian movies, in the early ‘90s you were all over the industry, why did you take such a long break?
I just wanted to give back to the society and also wanted to improve on learning. I wanted to say thank you to individuals and organisations that had shown me love and helped me grow. And it was also because of the hunger to broaden my horizon. But saying the award came at a time when I’d slowed down won’t be entirely correct because it came at a time when I re-invented and re-entered afresh. This is because awards are just coming in for me. I don’t know if you’re aware of my role in a movie I did last year entitled ‘Stigma’ and that movie won me a whole lot of awards including AMAA. It came at a time when I’m beginning to receive awards again for coming back. I took a break for a while but I never left completely, so once or twice a year I can do a job or two and that’s it. And again I was looking for the right kind of movies. I didn’t want to be in just any kind of movie.
In our earlier interaction, you said you were having classes. Are actually back to school?
I run a training centre where I train people in various areas; lifestyle, creative arts, business growth, entrepreneurship and all of that.
What’s the name of the school and do you own it?
Well, one person cannot own but I manage it. I am the executive director of the school. The name is Centre for Creative Arts and Business Development.
There was a photograph of you and Asari Dokubo online a while back and it got tongues wagging. Who exactly is he to you?
Asari is my brother, my cousin, my community homeboy and whatever name anybody wants to say about him. Well, the truth is that Asari is my cousin, but you know where we come from we don’t have such things as cousins- just brothers and sisters.
Have there been things you are not proud of in about three decades of your career?
I’m always proud of myself and for me, everything is a learning process- whether it goes right or not. And nobody expects everything to work excellently well all the time. We’re not God Almighty, are we? Sometimes we could make mistakes and there’s nothing wrong in making mistakes, dwelling on the mistake is what is wrong. You use the mistake as a springboard to achieve something much bigger and brighter.
Starting out early in life, did you plan to be an actor or was it an after thought?
I had always wanted to be an actor. It was never a detour or an afterthought, it was very deliberate. I started acting at age 7. Not that I knew what I was doing at seven or that I knew where it was taking me at seven, but people could promptly recognise me as a talented little girl at age seven. And at seven, I had started performing from radio to TV and to stage again before home videos. So, by the time I got into home videos, it was clear that I already had gone to school to study Theatre Arts. I studied Theatre Arts because I also wanted to be able to teach what I knew. It was therefore deliberate for me to become an actor, it was too clear to me that it was what I was going to do.
Which in particular was the movie that brought you fame?
Fortunately for me, my first ever movie was the breakthrough. I didn’t have to do more than my first film to become a star. My first movie was Jezebel but I shot two almost back to back, the second was Evil Passion. Before Evil Passion was released, I’d already become a star because by then, I’d come into home video from the stage. People already knew me as an actor from school, so those that I met when I arrived Lagos were people I already knew at the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival. So, most of them knew that I could act and I’d done many stage plays.
You still maintain a bright gait and complexion, what’s the secret?
I just live a healthy life. I neither drink nor smoke. I don’t eat unhealthy food. I only eat what my body needs and not what is available for me. Meaning that if at any particular time I’m hungry and all I can eat is very little, I eat that little and I don’t force it. Again, I take a lot of liquid and plenty of water. I don’t know what is responsible but I think basically, I look the way I look because right inside of me, I am extremely thankful and a happy person.
Is any of your children taking after you?
My eldest son was into acting too before he went back to school to study ICT. At the moment, he’s trying to blend digital craft with film making.