Pretty actress, Hilda Dokubo, is not only one of the nation’s most talented, she is also one of the most educated. Hitherto based in Lagos, YES INTERNATIONAL! Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, ran into her on Friday, July 18, 2014, in Bayelsa State. And right there on the spot, they had this exclusive interview where she explained the reasons for her relocation to Rivers State, where she actually hails from, the thing that keeps her busy now, her success secrets and more. Still looking very good and gorgeous, the mother of two (Isosia and Tuvi), who was clad in a smart red skirt suit on the said day, attended the University of Port Harcourt where she read Theatre Arts and Public Administration (Education Curriculum – Theatre Education) for her first and second degrees. A native of Buguma, in the Garden City, some of her works that we can never, never forget include Goodbye Tomorrow, Another Campus Tale, Forever, Evil Passion and Black Heart. Her story…
What makes a good actress?
Ability to interpret your role, ability to work with other people, ability to understand that it is business and that somebody needs to make profit, ability to know that you have the power to influence other people.
What is the greatest thing that acting has done for you?
It’s actually helped in carving for me an image of respect; it’s also been able to give me a voice to say the things that otherwise I probably would have bottled up inside of me and it’s also given me an opportunity to express the inner strength that I have.
What has acting not done for you?
Acting has stolen (Laughter) my privacy. What it has not given to me is – it’s not given me the ability to be as private as I want to be. I’m a very private person, but you can’t be private when you are a celebrity and you are in the face of people all the time. People consider you a role model, people are busy setting standards for you, people are busy assuming they know what you want and all of that. So, it steals your privacy from you.
What is the costliest mistake that any actress can make?
Hmm! Over assuming you are who you are not. Acting, all the time, puts you before people and so you are required by this same profession to stay as humble as life can give; meekness becomes a necessity for you because you cannot be in love with people and have airs around you. So, the costliest mistake as an actor is to believe that you are bigger than everyone else simply because they love you. It’s a mistake that no one, no one, no actor should make. Do not assume too much of who you think you are.
What is the most memorable role that you have played?
Very difficult for me to respond, because for me, every role is special and every role gets a different treatment. So, the roles are as important as they come and so it is difficult for me to clearly say this one or that one. However, a few of those roles are very dear to me because of the lessons learnt, either in the course of doing the work or in interpreting the role or in the morals of the story, and one of them is Forever. From the morals of it, a lot of times Nigerians and maybe Africans have issues concerning genotype and they equate it to witchcraft and they begin to torture somebody and you know, the woman would have to bear the brunt all the time and then society thinks that it’s a man’s world. So, it doesn’t matter whether it was a man who had the health issue or medical issues or the female. So, Forever had a very special place in my heart and still does. Then, Good bye Tomorrow. Again, because of the lessons drawn from it and Another Campus Tale, which was my first production as a producer, because first, it was set out at the time to talk about cults and maybe it’s still relevant till date. It was meant to rescue young people from joining cults or organizations that they did not understand their objectives properly and it helped in building character for young people in the universities at the time and even now.
Can you remember the worst role that you have played?
Seriously, I don’t remember. But there were few. One, I don’t even know what the title is and it was the first and it was the last, because first, it was when we were just trying to define Nollywood and at that point, they would give you sheets from the full script and of course, you didn’t know what the beginning of the story was or what the end of the story was. You just had your bit and you would go on location and assume that you knew what the beginning was and what the end was and then you had a bad editor edit the work and it comes out and you are like really? When did I shoot this? How did this happen? You are querying, but nobody has an answer! You don’t even have an answer. So, I had one of that incident, although I don’t remember the name of the script. And at the time, I think they used to give us working titles and then they would change the title when the movie is released. Yes!
What is your definition of acting?
Re-enactment of an action. It’s a one sentence for me (Laughing). That’s what acting is.
You used to be in our faces then, but all of a sudden you took the back seat as far as acting is concerned.
Why did you stop acting?
I didn’t stop acting. At least, this year alone, I’ve done six movies. What I did was to slow down. I took a break to go to school, then I got back and a few things had gone not so right. So, I took another break to go and give back to society and ended up serving in my state government. Then, I got back again and realized that mediocrity had taken centrestage; it had become clamour for money and being used for all the wrong things. I’m not someone cut out for that. Again, I took a break and began to build an institution for training people and then that institution started running and I began to build a team of…
(Interruption) – What’s the institution called?
Centre for Creative Arts Education…
Here in Bayelsa or Rivers State?
In Rivers, and indeed we work across the Niger Delta States, working with young people and women. At some point, we included advocacy. Really, it wasn’t at some point; it started off as an advocacy group, then it became a training group and then it became a support group for young people and women and today it does the three – it does advocacy, it does research, it does training and it does empowerment across the Niger Delta.
You happen to be among the few star actresses who have been able to re-invent themselves. How did you do it?
You know, when I defined acting, I told you it’s the re-enactment of an action. Acting includes re-invention of who you are. Because every time you take on a role, you re-invent you and it’s part of your business as an actor that you are also a teacher. It’s part of your business. Now, what you need to do at every point in your life is to set a life goal. When you set a life goal and you have objectives that you want to reach, set them. I draw up a 5-year plan all the time, including when I was doing strictly acting. I had a 5-year plan every 5 years. There was always a plan and sometimes I ran faster than my 5 years. I accomplished what I thought I was going to accomplish in 5 years in 2 years and then I had to set another 3 years to cover my 5 years because, for me, 5 years would shift me from one stage to another. So, my advice would be – if you want to re-invent yourselves, set a life goal. Who do you really want to be and when you set that goal, do not be embarrassed to tell yourself I have achieved it or I have not achieved it. Always be sincere to yourself about the things that you have achieved and the things that you need to achieve. Clearly timeline things. And as you achieve them, check them off the list and the ones you don’t achieve, still check then and the ones you don’t need to achieve anymore, check them and just put them in the bag of experience; don’t worry about some experiences not being so good and some being very good. No! Worry yourself more with the lessons that you learn in the course of achieving any of the objectives that you have set for yourself and do not allow anybody to tell you who you are.
Most people attain success in what they do, but find it difficult to sustain it. What is the best way to attain and sustain success?
The best way to attain success is for you to be success – minded. Start! Start!! Don’t wait. You see, the reason people are not able to sustain success is because they are not able to define success. If you define success, then you will be able to sustain success and people have a difficulty with thinking things through. People just know what they want now; they never take their time to think through a process. I take my time, it doesn’t matter how long it takes me, to plan an action. Before I left Lagos completely; I left gradually. I didn’t just wake up one morning, picked my bag and left. No! It didn’t happen that way. I went first to the places I wanted to go to; to the places that my mind’s eyes saw and I went there to see what it’s like, which is like peeping. I peeped into the future that I wanted to see, whether really that was the future that I wanted for myself and I take my time all the time to study the gap. I tell people, whenever you want a job, don’t bother going from one place to the other, sit down and look at a situation before you, identify a problem needing solution, provide that solution, you have a job. You don’t need money to do that, you just need your head. It’s when your head is in place that you can begin to say okay, money, come in and sustainability does not go from top to bottom; it goes from bottom to top. A lot of times when people think, they think only in terms of end product; they do not think of the process. But success is a process. It’s not an end product. It’s a process. So, it’s a journey that keeps improving all the time. So, if you want to sustain success… Sustaining sounds a bit static for me. It surpasses sustenance. Okay! Because you keep moving and it keeps improving. Well, if that’s what they call sustainability, great! But for me, it goes beyond that because there are several phases to success. But you must be prepared to deal with the challenges or you are not prepared for the challenges. If you are not ready to battle with the challenges, then trust me, you can’t even succeed, let alone sustain success because success is a journey and on this life’s journey, there are bumps.
Specifically, why did you abandon us in Lagos?
Em…you go to where they need you most. In Lagos, there are a lot of us who can do a lot. Plus you know that there’s this general saying that the West received education before the South, which may or may not be true. But charity begins at home and whatever you plant at home, be prepared to reap. That’s not to say Lagos is completely off my radar. No! Because some of the kids that I train return to Lagos and some of them actually come in from Lagos to get trained and return. So, in a way, you influence your environment and your community, your state, your nation and the whole objective of this is to be able to build a pool of people that you can say Nigerians can depend on because they will come out dependable.
What do you do for relaxation, what do you do when you are not working?
Read! Read, write, play with young people. My work and my play are the same. I do nearly everything except that all my life, I’ve never been a party person, never been a food, food, food person, never been a drinking or a smoking person. My drink has never gone beyond Cocacola for as long as I’ve known myself (Laughs). I’m not a late night person. I’m one of the early birds except when I’m working. So, my relaxation is very easy – being round my friends, chat a lot, read, write and sleep.
Of all the books you have read, which one has impacted you the most?
Other than your Bible, which other one has had a great impact on you?
Who is your favourite author?
Brian Tracy. That’s my favourite author.
You still look good and gorgeous. What is the secret?
I live a very healthy, peaceful life. Without blowing my trumpet, I’m probably one of those people who go to bed without worries. I’ve never spent one minute of my life brooding over anything. Whatever is not so good, I check it under the list of experience and I just use the lessons learnt. I never spend my time brooding. Most importantly is that I am as young as I believe I am and you know I work with a lot of young people. So, inside of me is high level of youthfulness. High! High!! High percentage of youthfulness and it plays out on the surface and you know, when you live a healthy life, you sleep peacefully, you drink a lot of water, you eat healthy; not eat a lot of carb, you will look good.
Obviously, God has been nice to you, what more do you want from Him?
What more do I want from God? Everything! I just want peace on every side – my job, my family, my home, you know, every side. My health! Everything around me. Peace!
NB: First published August 2014