Beatrice Auta, 35, a Christian from Taraba state, lives in Kaduna with her parents. Beatrice, whose grandfather is a Muslim, in this interview with ALIYU ASKIRA, notes that there’s no discrimination based on faith in Kannywood.She says further that Kannywood ladies are decent too.
As a Christian lady, how did you find yourself in Kannywood?
Well, let me start from the beginning; my name is Beatrice Auta. I hail from Taraba state, and I am 35 years old. I attended Adeyemo College Kaduna before proceeding to Kaduna State University where I obtained a degree in English Literature. Along the line, I started going to Kaduna State Ministry of Youths Sports and Culture, and one day, I met with a crew from Kano Dadin-Kowa and Arewa 24 Television Houses, they came to audition new artist, and I decided to try my luck and likely for me, I was the only one chosen. Since then, I have been getting offers from the main Kannywood. I have featured in Talatu Number 1 alongside Ali Nuhu and later did another film with Adam A. Zango. I also participated in other films that are yet to be released, but basically, I do television series for Dadin Kowa.
Do you speak Hausa fluently? I asked this because to act in Kannywood, you must speak Hausa fluently?
Well, I told you I am from Taraba state, but based in Kaduna. I am fully a Northerner and I speak Hausa very well. One thing that even surprised me was that as a Christian, I was easily accepted into Kannywood which is 99.9% dominated by Muslims. From my first film, I related very well with Adam Zango, Ali Nuhu and other senior members of Kannywood. Ali Nuhu, for instance, I used to hear people saying all sorts of things about him ranging from – that he is pompous and all that. But people need to meet Ali in person and know the type of person he is; a complete gentleman, very friendly and relates very well with whoever comes his way. I am looking forward to featuring in many films with him or other members of Kannywood that are first-class actors and actresses.
You have a degree in English, and you speak the language with ease; if an offer comes your way, will you act in Nollywood?
Well, I have very good friends in Nollywood, people like Emeka Ike, but the truth is that I am not interested in acting in Nollywood. This is because the story I hear is that for a beautiful lady to be successful in Nollywood, she must be ready to sleep with directors or producers; secondly, even if one will not compromise her body, the way they act and interpret their scripts is more or less like having real sex. One will not mind if it ends at only kissing and hugging. That is why I prefer Kannywood because one will marry one day and have children. You will be embarrassed if they watch your film with a man and both of you are almost naked in bed having sex, even though it is stage-managed. Children may not understand this; in Kannywood, we don’t even hold each other’s hands.
Your love life so far
I have a man whom I am into a serious relationship with, but there are some things about me which I don’t want people to read on the pages of newspapers. I have a boyfriend and he is more or less part of Kannywood. When I settle down and have children, if they want to take acting as a profession, I will allow them. I used to hear a lot of things about male and female members of Kannywood about sexual harassment, sex for role, and drug consumption, but I can tell you that most of these things are not true and even if they are true, these are vices you can find in any other profession.
It is because we are always in the public eye; that is why people bother to know our lives in detail. Society believes that we are cheap including allegations like we don’t stay in marriage whenever we settle down. All these things are not true, so people should feel free to approach us for marriage or relationships. We are as decent as other ladies out there. Some things that ladies do in higher institutions in order to pass examinations are worse than what is obtainable in Kannywood.
Will you marry a Muslim?
Well, it depends, I told you my grandfather was a Muslim, my father went to an Islamiyya school, but later converted to Christianity and died as a Christian. So, anything can happen, but the truth is that I am into a serious relationship with somebody who has promised to marry me and he is a Christian.
Most times on location, directors suspend activities temporarily to go and pray. How do you feel as a Christian? I asked this question because when they are praying you will only watch.
First, I am deeply grateful that I was easily accepted into Kannywood in spite of my religious background and since then, nobody has ever shown me differences based on religion or discriminated against me. In fact, as a lady some of our colleagues do approach me for casual relationships without minding the fact that I am a Christian. I think this is why it is always good for the government to invest in the entertainment industry so that they can use the opportunity to integrate Muslims and Christians. The government can use us artists to easily pass messages to the society including even their achievements and what they want to achieve. So, Kannywood as a very big entertainment industry can be used by the government for many purposes.
Whenever you go for film production outside Kaduna, you normally stay in an hotel; how do you feel as a single lady?
When we go on location, we do things uniformly. If it is an hotel, the whole crew will stay in the hotel, when it is time for eating, we eat together. But so far I have visited only Kano and Kaduna for film projects, and in Kaduna, I normally stay in our house when we are shooting film there and in Kano, I also have where I can stay. But for one to stay in an hotel does not mean that one is wayward.
You are now two years old in Kannywood; what are some of your material benefits so far?
First, I have fans all over the North; when I go out shopping, people sometimes pay my bills, and some will ask for my number, some will tell me openly that they like me. But financially, I won’t say I have gained much yet because I am still new here. However, honestly, I am not complaining. With the way offers are coming my way, just give me a little time so that when next you come here, I will be choosing which car to use to go and drop you. There is good money in the industry, and please tell those watching us that we are not prostitutes or cheap, but that we are only interpreting roles given to us by directors. So, our lives on stage are different from our real lives; after all, people do all they can to associate with us and even marry us just to brag that they are married to a Hausa film star. So, whoever is coming to us, please come with a clean mind.
Before approaching you for this interview, I did my investigation and discovered that you have two children – both boys; is it true?
At times, these are some of the things that scare us from talking to the press. If one has children whether through wedlock or not, there is no way you will deny your children. After all, I don’t live in isolation, I live in the midst of people and definitely one cannot hide it if you were married before or you have children. As for your question, I have no comments, but that’s a topic for another day.
Apart from acting, what else do you do for a living?
I am into petty businesses; I travel to Lagos to buy goods and sell in the North, but these days I am always on location doing one film or the other. I love acting, I am praying hard to be popular and accepted by the society like Ali Nuhu, Sadiq Sani Sadiq, Sadiq Ahmad, Mai Shinku, Tijjani Asase. And on the side of female artistes, I want to be like Jamila Nagudu, Nafisa Abdullahi, Fati Washa, Halima Atete, Hadiza Gabon and a host of others. I still have a long way to go, but I am growing; in fact, when I joined Kannywood recently, my mother used to go to our location to chase me away. But with time, she has accepted that I can continue. About the politics which you asked me earlier, I prefer to set up an NGO to help the less privileged like orphans or to be a producer so that I can educate society through my films.