Lifestyle: 'All Sexual Advances Don’t Count as Harassment' – Actress Andrianna Adebiyi
On-the-rise Nollywood diva, Andrianna Adebiyi, may not be a regular face on movie screens, but in her less than five years of acting career, she has been able to carve an enviable niche for herself. In this exclusive interview with Star Tracker, the Quantity Survey graduate of UNILAG talks about her challenges as a make-belief greenhorn, sex, love and more.
How and when did your acting career begin?
My acting career started as a child in church, I’m not sure of the exact age I was but I participated in a lot of church drama activity and one of the instructors told me I was the best actress amongst the children in the church. Somehow it got into my head and since then I knew I wanted to be an actress, I just didn’t know how to go about it until 2012 when a friend made me accompany her to an acting audition. I gladly followed her, as I had nothing doing at home. When I got there I also auditioned, even though it wasn’t planned, I was so nervous. Two months later I got a call from the producers of Squatterz to go for a script reading, and that’s how I got my first acting role.
You graduated from UNILAG with a degree in Quantity Surveying, but chose acting, why?
I started acting while I was still in school, and it gave me the best feeling every time I got a chance to do it. I’ve never seen acting as work, its fun for me. I worked in a real estate firm for a while but I was not so happy working there, I also couldn’t meet up with acting calls at the time. But funny enough, a lot of people randomly called me while I had my job, telling me to focus on acting. I wasn’t so sure I would get a steady income or acting roles if I quit my job. But one day I realized if I continued that way I’d never meet my dreams, I prepared my mind for the sacrifice, dropped my fears and resigned to face acting.
What’s your fascination with the Nigerian movie industry?
I love the Nigerian movie industry because it tells us about the Nigerian culture. I have learnt a lot about life through Nigerian movies, and I am also happy with the growth in the industry.
What stands you out from other actresses?
To be honest I don’t know how to answer that question, because I have never compared myself to another Nollywood actress.
How would you assess the level of promiscuity now prevalent in Nollywood?
I have heard rumors of promiscuity in the Nigerian movie industry, but I have never seen it happen. So I can’t speak on it, if I do I’ll just be assuming.
What’s your most prized body asset?
I have thought about this before, but unfortunately I have never come to a conclusion. I love a lot of things about my body, I can’t pick one part for now.
How have you managed to stay away from scandals?
I have not had a reason to be in one, I hope I never. I basically like to stay away from trouble.
Is it true that there is discrimination in Nollywood?
I am not aware of discrimination among Nollywood actors, but I know in every industry or organization people have their favorites; you can’t relate with everyone the same way, unfortunately this may be mistaken for discrimination. I am also not saying discrimination does not exist, I am just not aware of it.
Have you ever been sexually harassed by a fellow actor, producer or movie director?
I have had actors, producers and directors made advances at me but not sexually harassed.
Have you ever been denied a movie role because you refused the producer or director sex?
I have been denied a movie role by a director who made advances at me and I turned him down.
Is it true that even some big actresses offer themselves to producers and directors for movie roles?
I have only heard this as rumours, but I have no facts to answer. I know it is possible. But this is not peculiar to Nollywood. All over the worldwomen believe in giving their bodies in exchange for what they want.
What is your take on nudity and indecent dressing prevalent among actresses?
There’s a saying that goes “dress the way you want to be addressed” I believe everyone has a right to dress as they wish. But if you’re asking about nudity and indecent dressing in a movie, I have nothing against it; it is simply acting and not the actor. The more challenging roles you can pull make you a better actor; but for cultural and religious reasons many limit themselves.
In your estimation what do you think has brought you this far?
Looks are very important in acting, for you to get any role you must look like the character, and you must also have talent. They go hand in hand, you can’t ignore any. I can’t play the role of an eight year old for example. So my looks are important for the roles I can get. My talent has also pushed me this far, I am not even judging myself; I have heard from a lot of people I have worked with, and also people that have watched my acting.
Do you believe a romantic relationship can work without sex?
Yes I do. It depends on the people involved; if they can agree to ‘no sex before marriage’ then why not? People still get married as virgins in these times. So as long as they have an understanding, I believe it’s possible.
What’s your take on the state of cinemas in Nigeria?
I see progress in the Nigerian cinema, as many cinemas as I know today, were not here when I was younger. But sadly there are not enough cinemas compared to the Nigerian population. There is a lot of room for growth; I hope that we can get more cinemas in the nearest future. I also hope we can properly maintain the ones available, because we lack good maintenance culture in Nigeria. Second, the Nigerian cinema has been a great advantage to Nollywood. Film makers are able to make their money through that means; unlike when they only had the option of DVD, with the rate of piracy in Nigeria. Now Nigerian movies are showing in cinemas, I’m happy about that.