Tracking down Belinda Effah was easy, thanks to Instagram. Getting her to sit for an interview, even online, however, was no piece of the proverbial cake. She has been busy minding her own business, quite literally.
Belinda Effah is an actor, with appearances in over 30 Nollywood movies. Her debut on the screen was in a 2005 TV series Shallow Waters and her first movie role was in The Room, an MNET short movie.
Effah featured in reality TV show, Next Movie Star, founded by Sola Fajobi, and was thrust into fame. She was once a television presenter for Sound City, and left to start her own TV show, Lunch Break with Belinda, which made her even more popular.
She has gone on to feature in many popular movies, like Kokomma, the 2012 film that won her Most Promising Actor at the 9th Africa Movie Academy Awards.
So, what is she up to these days? Effah tells us she has just finished working on a movie – Sanitation Day, produced by FilmOne and directed by Seyi Babatope. Thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown, there is no release date yet.
Also thanks to the lockdown, Effah has been able to take time to work on her business, House of Belinda, a fashion company in Lagos, Nigeria. “We make handmade footwear, made in Nigeria. We are also into clothing but not fully yet.’
Actor to entrepreneur? How is that working out?
“Transitioning from actor to entrepreneur is a norm amongst most actors – multiple strings of income,” she tells us. “I have always had a business orientation. My family says I have Igbo blood. I am very industrious so I am always looking for legit ways to make money.”
She used to run a food business called FavourRight Foods, but that did not quite work out. Along the line, the opportunity came for her to start her footwear line and it is successful.
It may seem strange that a food business did not work out, considering ‘everyone likes food’. But the truth is, she admits, very few business ideas are successful, no matter how lucrative they may seem. This is due to many different factors. “I did everything by the books – had a business plan, employed right. But I was never on ground to manage the business due to my busy acting schedule.”
Her business keeps her very busy. She has a huge vision for House of Belinda. She recently had to interview potential cobblers. “We had overwhelming orders during our recent promo. We needed more hands. Then I have been taking care of customers’ orders and making sure my staff are doing what they are meant to do.”
Well, back to acting
Belinda’s dreams started when she was a little girl. “I took every acting chore in church and school. I’d write poems, short stories, I’d mimic people. I was just waiting for the opportunity to present itself to me.”
But the opportunities did not come easily. “I attended a lot of auditions and they didn’t work out for me, but I stayed true to the course and myself and eventually it worked out. To God be the Glory.”
Effah deeply admires Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada), her favourite actor. “Meryl is just amazing in every role she plays and makes everyone unique. She embodies her character like a second skin. She is a true definition of a method actor, and I strive to be like her.”
And what does Belinda Effah think about her movies and her own acting skills? We ask her about her favourite movie and performance.
“Really I cannot say which is my favorite movie because I really pay attention to every project I take on. Is it favorite in terms of production value , or cast line up, or director, or storyline? Whichever way, once I get on set I bring my best. Sometimes it might not be good enough but I alway try my best. So every project I embark on, I make it my favorite.
“And I don’t act better because I feel one production is better than the other. I always try to do my best.”
With all her awards and decorations, including her numerous wins and nominations for best actress, her best is obviously spectacular.
“Stay true to yourself,” she tells young and emerging actors. “Ask yourself why you want whatever path you have chosen. Also ask yourself if it is worth it, whether or not it pays the bill. If your answer is yes, then go for it. Always stay true to yourself and you will never go wrong.”
We stumbled upon an oldie, “Belinda” by Grady Harrell. We mention it to her, and she laughs. “I know, right? Story of my life. Once I introduce myself, the song follows.” And yes, she danced until she was tired the first time she heard it.