Memry Savanhu was the cynosure of all eyes when she sashayed into the venue of our interview. Though she is yet to be a household name, the Zimbabwean born actress, who recently relocated to Nigeria, is all set to contribute her quota to the growth of Nollywood. The light skinned actress and filmmaker studied drama in London and also attended the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi. In this interview, she explains why she became a filmmaker, being a single parent, working with Rita Dominic, among other issues
Why did you decide to be an actress?
I have always had love for film. I think my first love is actually making films. It’s not that I don’t like acting, but my first love is film-making.
What ignited your love for film making?
Seeing a production comes to life or putting up a production, thrills me. I am fulfilled when I see my creativity translated into reality. That is why I love film-making. I am so different from everybody in my family. My entertainment journey started when I was in school. I usually act in school plays and coordinate school assemblies. I just knew I was going to head there. I studied film-making at Abu Dhabi between 2008/2009. I also attended the New York Film Academy.
What is your opinion about filmmakers getting professional training in film-making?
It’s great. Film-making is like any trade. I know so many people in the business who learnt the art of film-making from someone and they are making great movies. I know filmmakers who were not professionally trained when they started out, but they have gone on to take short courses later on. They get the training in order to improve on the areas they are ignorant, in order to produce better films. I think for me, the number one option is to have love for film-making.
Do you think African film-makers are telling good stories?
I think we are telling beautiful stories, our stories are authentic and they are original. We relate to our stories. If you see a Nigerian film, you can pick up the Nigerian culture from it. You will see it in the dressing and in the food they eat. When you see someone eating Eba and Egusi, this is indicating the African culture in our films. Our films reflect our culture.
What made you relocate to Nigeria?
Film-making made me come back. I had a bigger opportunity to make films and for my films to sell. I believe this is the place I can grow big and do great.
Do you think Nollywood is where it is supposed to be?
I feel the same way that Nollywood is not where it’s supposed to be. When I say that, I am not saying we are in a bad place, we could be in a much better place. I am using the word “We” because this is home to me. The only problem is that of distributing of our films. Once that is sorted, Nollywood would be on another level. I still feel we are doing okay and people are still in business. People are still making money from their films, if they know what they are doing. Right now, there are so many TV stations across Africa. So many people are looking for content. It’s amazing how you make a Nollywood film in English, Igbo or Yoruba and then you find a French speaking country buying it. It is subtitled so their own people can understand. Every African wants to watch Nollywood. When I tell people I live in Nigeria, this is the first reaction I get: “Oh you live in Nigeria? Oh Nollywood!” This shows how big Nollywood is.
How would you rate your first movie production?
It was amazing. The movie is titled The Distance Between directed by Izu Ojukwu my favorite director. I hadn’t gone to a film school, but I knew what I wanted to do. I spoke to Izu Ojukwu and learnt a lot from him before I eventually attended a film school
What did you learn?
He taught me many camera angles and lighting which is very important. I learnt a lot from my partner who I was producing with. It was my first time being on set as a producer, putting people together and being in charge of a production. It was successful. I learnt to be calm and much grounded. On the first day of the shoot, I was perturbed whenever something went wrong. From then on, I kept going and learnt to be grounded.
What is the difference between Nollywood and the movie industry in Zimbabwe?
Nollywood is the king of movies. Nollywood is big. It’s not that I don’t love Zimbabwe, we are trying. I am even supposed to shoot a movie there in September. What I have learnt here, I will love to take back and do some films with my Zimbabwean people. I will also love to teach one or two people about film-making.
Tell me about yourself
I am a filmmaker and an actress. I started in 2007, so this should be my eighth year in the industry. I am single though. I am not married, I am divorced. But I have got amazing kids. When I had the last one, I actually went back to London and took care of him He is five years old now. I am comfortable now to come out and do my work, rather than just staying at home.
What happened to your marriage?
It just didn’t work out.
Is getting married still in your plans?
Of course; why not? I am still hot. If I get the right person, I might get married again. To be honest, I am not searching. Right now, I am focusing on my work.
Can you tell me about the movies you have starred in?
I have worked with Emem Isong. I did Catwalk in 2010. We just finished Lagos Cougars, the new one. It’s a TV series starring Jocelyn Dumas, Rita Dominic and I. It was a beautiful experience working with these ladies. It’s amazing. I was excited when I knew Rita is going to be on set. I have learnt a lot from her as well. Rita was always there to explain whenever I had issues with my role.
Who is that Nigerian actor you are looking forward to working with?
I have worked with Rita Dominic and Ramsey Noauh. I will love to work with Genevieve and Omotola. Their work is amazing. I think they deliver their characters so well. Sometimes you can actually tell that somebody is acting, but with them, it’s just flawless. I will also love to work with Kanayo O Kanayo
What do you think about love?
Love is a beautiful thing. I want to be in love again because it’s beautiful.