Akio Ilami is the winner of the popular Next Movie Star 2010. She is a final year student of the University of Jos where she’s studying English/Linguistics.She’s 20yrs old and was born on February 2nd, 1990 to be precise. She has a younger brother and though her parents are divorced, she lives with her mum. She had always wanted to be an ambassador for youths, wanted to be a role model and impact in others through her acting and other artistic endeavours. In this interview she narrates her experience.
What do you think gave you an edge over others?
First and foremost, I was focused and determined and the best thing I did was bring people I thought were a challenge very close to me to learn from them instead of praying for their eviction. Despite the fact that it was a competition, I tried to be real. I didn’t put up any fronts that would make it seem like I was too desperate to win and I think being real paid off for me.
Tell us about a life changing experience in the house.
Hmmm….a life changing experience in the house was the fact that I learnt to live with people from different backgrounds, cultures and religion, people from eight different countries across Africa and still tolerated them which is one of the qualities of a good actress as I learnt in the house. That, for me, is the most profound experience that has changed my life and which I will carry everywhere.
What has changed about your person since winning the NMS?
It is not winning really that has changed or impacted on my person; it is being in the house with other equally talented youths from different parts of Africa with their individual idiosyncrasies and characteristics. I have learnt to be a humble person. This has also given me the platform I have always wanted and dreamt about and I am ready to explore the industry with my talent. It has also taught me ways to go about life as an actress and it has really added value to my person.
What were your folks’ reaction when you told them you were going to participate in the Next Movie Star?
Well, surprisingly, being a disciplinarian and an advocate for education, my mum supported my decision to go into the Next Movie Star house because she knows that it had always been my dream. More so, she looked at the kind of people that had gone through the show and was convinced that it was the perfect platform to realise my acting ambitions. I recall my mum saying “Go and just be yourself and God will be with you. I believe in you and I believe you can do it.” That really touched me as it stuck with me throughout my stay in the house. My mum is so proud of me now, not forgetting the joy she felt and tears she shed when I was declared the winner. She’s always been very supportive of me.
You always wanted to be an actor; did you expect that you will be celebrated so early in your career?
To an extent, I will say I strongly believed so because I struggled at this age to get to where I am today, even if I didn’t come out the winner but was chosen among 15 other people to be in the house, that was all I needed to get my platform and with that I wouldn’t have stopped climbing the ladder and getting to where I want to be. For me, this is just the beginning of my evolution as Nigeria’s most celebrated actress.
Was there at any point during the show that you were scared you weren’t going to make it?
No, I was not scared because I have got this slogan which I always use which is “never give up,” I don’t believe in the word unsuccessful because I believe if you put in your best in what you are good at, you will always come out successful. Fine, there were very strong characters in the house but I knew I could always hold my own against anybody and that was all the fortification and motivation I needed to stand up to the other guys. For me getting to this stage already, I will say I am successful and it’s just to put in more efforts to get to where I aspire to be. The sky I will say now is my starting point(smiles).
Who is your role model?
For me, I wouldn’t call them role models, I will call them people I look up to and want to learn from, these are people like Joke Silva, Genevieve Nnaji, Angelina Jolie, and not forgetting Tontoh Dikeh.
Compared to other reality shows, how would you rate the NMS?
Hmmm…rating the NMS? At the risk of sounding biased, I will say it is the best reality TV show that has, without corporate sponsorship, continued to churn out celebrities with substance, not just reality TV show stars that always fade after one or two years. I doff my hat for the young man behind the show, Sola Fajobi, he is an inspiration to my generation. He is a man that should be celebrated and acknowledged for providing the enabling template to youths to achieve their acting ambitions and he has done this successfully without any backing for six years. What would happen if he had a few millions from the corporate sector? I’m sure the entertainment industry will not be the same again. The NMS is a show that doesn’t only look out for acting qualities but also personality qualities and so many others, which all add up to form a quintessential actor with strong values. Look at the guys that have passed through the NMS…. Porttia Yamahan, Kevin Chuwang Pam, Uti Nwachuku, Annie Macaulay and Lydia Forson among others, these are formidable guys in the entertainment industry. NMS is indeed the best
How is your lover taking your new-found success?
Lover? I am a young woman of 20 and I believe I still have more interesting years for a relationship. For now, my lovers are my parents and sibling and they are taking my success in good strides.
Where do you see yourself in 5years?
In five years, I see myself as already being an ambassador for youths, a role model for others and also a standard actress who people look up to and look forward to seeing good jobs from.
What would you do if your man says you should stop acting?
Like I said earlier, that’s still sometime from now, my focus now is my education and career, when I get to that stage, I am sure I will meet someone who will love me for whom I am and not what I do, a man who will be proud of my achievements and love me enough to want to live with me for the rest of his life.
Given a chance, what would you like to change about yourself?
I don’t think I will like to change anything about myself because this is me and I love me the way I am which am grateful to God for; the only thing I will like to do about me is put in more efforts in everything I want to achieve and do my best to get the best.
How sexually active are you?
I am just 20, maybe if you asked me this question in five years time i would be able to give you an appropriate answer. Thank you for your time.
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