Zulaihat Umar is one of the upcoming stars in Kannywood with close to 20 films to her credit. The friendly and soft-spoken actress, who hails from Kano, in this interview with ALIYU ASKIRA opened up on how she joined the movie industry, why her marriage failed and challenges she faced when she started acting.
What else do you do aside acting?
Well, when my marriage crashed I had nothing doing and I had only secondary school certificate. Unfortunately, I am not from a rich family.
As a grown woman, I don’t have to depend on my parents for feeding or clothing. In fact, they also needed my assistance. Then I decided to go into fashion designing/tailoring.
I prepare brides on their wedding night. I also give counselling to families, but most importantly, I later discovered that all these will not fetch me good money. I therefore decided to join Kannywood. So far, I have featured in over 20 films and on daily basis I get offers.
However, it wasn’t easy for me in the beginning. There was a day we were shooting a film and I got so nervous that I couldn’t act the script given to me.
There were so many instances of difficult times, but with patience and understanding of other members of the crew, I later picked up. I can now say I am on my way of becoming a star.
Is it not curious that you are into marriage counselling when yours wasn’t successful?
Well, I think I don’t have to go into details of why my marriage failed, but I am the type that believe seriously in the family and marriage institution.
I can honestly assert that I am a peace-loving person. I want to say that marriage counselling like being a beautician is a profession that has nothing to do with being married or not.
You see, this is one thing with our society that I don’t like, always talking negative about Kannywood.
Stereotyping is a bad syndrome. There are plenty of prostitutes around, who are either Muslims or Christians. In every profession also, you will discover that there are bad eggs. Why is ours always the subject of discussion? Is it because we are in a profession that we can’t hide our secrets?
Let’s always reflect us in positive light, so that we would not find it difficult to settle down again.
Can you marry from Kannywood?
Marriage is like an accident while travelling on the road, you cannot say when it will happen.
So, I cannot say whether my next husband will come from Kannywood or from another profession. By the way, why didn’t you ask me whether I will marry a journalist or another professional?
Are you in a serious relationship?
Do you want to know whether I have somebody in my life so that those that are aspiring to come into my life would run away? Or are you asking me because you are also an interested party?
There is no grown woman that does not have a man in her life. For me, the answer is I have, but not so serious ones.
Can you have relationship with producer/director who promises to make you a star and pay you good money?
I can’t. You know that I am an indigene of Kano and a Muslim for that matter.
Remember that some of our members were suspended, some even expelled over ordinary hugging and cuddling in a video. So, anybody that wants relationship with a lady or a woman in exchange for roles should go to his wife or commercial sex worker. I can’t take that shit. I am proud to be who I am.
What are your challenges in the industry?
My only concern is that whenever we stay late in the night to shoot films and I return home late at night, our neighbours would be looking at me somehow, as if am coming from ‘yawo’.
This really disturbs me but God knows from where one is coming from. I am promising myself that I will stay here and when I am going to leave, I will leave in peace not in pieces.