James Ibechi

My experience as actress, challenges and prospect, by Benue’s Ebony Diamond

*Why I won’t play nude

Prima-donna or diva you may think the actress born Eunice Agwu popularly known or called by her screen name Ebony Diamond is, because of the way she speaks of her big dream. But you may be dead wrong. Being a mostly known lone actress to arise out of Igedeland in Benue State, Nigeria, the up and coming star actress is but a humble and talented someone in the Nigerian make-believe industry who is working hard to feather out her dream of becoming successful amid challenges in the Nigerian movie industry. She had an exclusive interview with James Ibechi of jamesibechi.com recently in our studio. The actress took us through her journey into NollyWood and through the industry, so far. jamesibechi.com’s studio version of the chat with her is now available on CD for you to order.

Eunice Agwu Abine, aka Ebony Diamond

Excerpts

You’ve been in the Actors Guild of Nigeria and by extension NollyWood. What has been your experience in the Make-believe industry so far and how are you faring?

Thank you very much jamesibechi.com. It’s a great pleasure to meet you. My name is Agu Eunice Abine, aka Ebony Diamond. I am from Ucho Ainu in Oju LGA of Benue state; an actress and also a makeup artiste.
In the industry, I have featured in so many films, although I have not taken a lead role before, yet the ones I have taken so far are good roles. Some are speaking roles while others are acting. The industry now is quite competitive and also as an upcomer I am yet to see money in the industry. I am just doing it because of the passion. It’s a career that I have chosen to follow. So I don’t mind if there is money or not from the beginning because certainly with time everything will be put in places because all those people that made it big today in the industry started from somewhere. I believe that with time God will take me higher than the stage at which I am now.

How do you feel coming from a place where you hardly find many actresses of your state of origin in NollyWood, but plenty of Yoruba and Igbo dominating the industry?

I feel good and I am glad to come from a place where they are not that known in the industry. The Industry is quite dominated by mostly Igbo and Yoruba followed by the Hausa. We in Benue are still trying although there are some actors and producers that are from Benue too who are doing well and recognized like the other mentioned tribes. I feel so excited because for me to be a star or to be someone to represent my people is a great privilege because it’s promoting my fatherland, not only myself, but also Igede to the world and I am excited.

What do you see as challenges in you becoming like celebrity actresses such as Genevieve, Omotola and others?

In the industry, why Igbo mostly dominate is because they have someone who sponsor them. They have people who stand by them as executive producers. Take for instance, I am going for any production or an audition that warrants me travelling from here to Lagos or Enugu and I don’t have the money. If I can get someone that will be a sponsor and say ok Eunice, go for this audition if you know it’s going to be a great project, it will definitely help me in the journey to stardom. That aspect is what is making some of these people get popular more than other tribes because they have people who assist them. Lack of sponsorship is one of my challenges because I haven’t gotten anyone who has been helping in sponsoring me yet which I am looking up to.

When you say you need sponsorship, can you be a little more clearer?

I need someone that will recommend me for a higher role and also someone that will bring out money to partner with a production house to feature me to give me a good role like a lead role.
The executive producers are the people who bring out money to produce a film so if I can get someone like that too it’s also fine.

How have you come into the film industry?

I formally joined the Actors Guide of Nigeria which is the NollyWood, in 2017.
Though I acted one movie before then in Oju. It was produced by Solace Cloud Media by Mr. Ikani Solace. That was 2012. After that, I went into the industry in 2017. My first movie I did then was ‘Inikpi the lamp’, which was produced by Mr. Johnson.

What other challenges do you think that untapped talents or up and coming actresses are likely to face/facing?

The main challenge is that the industry favors the upcoming males better than the females and why I say that is because as an actor if you go for an audition if you are able to interpret that particular role given to you in that audition you will be picked. Although there are some producers that already have their members, crew and cast before doing audition. Some do auditions just to fulfill all righteousness but there are some that still need more cast before they call for audition. So if they call for audition and you pass it, it is possible they will pick you as a male. But some producers, as a female, they want to have you in one way or the other and if you refuse some of them will deprive you of the role. Am talking from experience because it has happened to me before.
If, as an upcoming artist I should start that way, how many producers or directors will I be able to sleep with? And I am still coming up. That is not going to help me because if I compromise to a particular producer and he features me in the movie maybe the next movie he will look for another person to sleep with and feature.
That has been my challenge.
Now as an actress in the industry there are some scripts that I wrote myself. If am able to get someone to sponsor me and I produce the script, give myself a lead role and I interpret the way it’s supposed to be at least it will take me to another level too. That is that in that aspect.

Can you mention or tell us why you chose a role of imbecile in one of your outings so far since you ventured into the industry. What is it all about?

That particular imbecile is a short skit not a movie.
It’s just a short form of a movie and it’s more of a comedy aspect. And I have featured in some well-known movie too. There is a particular one they call ‘Talent prejudice’ and it was produced by DMI TV production in person of Director Chris Oge Kalu DJN. I acted as a police officer in that particular movie and also I was behind the scene and also in front of the scene.
Behind the scene are the crew members. So I was one of the makeup artists on that set.
The other one too is “Unchurched” it’s a movie that was produced by Black Giant Movies. The producer happens to be a Benue man, an Idoma by tribe. It’s a movie for the church and unchurch. I actually brought the movie home in 2018 and I was able to sell up to 65 copies to my people in Oju LGA and they encouraged me, advised me very well. I acted as a receptionist in that movie.

What inspired you into make-believe industry as a career path you have chosen?

I chose it because it entertains and passes a message to the audience.
When I was coming up if am watching movies and I see those actress and actors on the screen I use to feel inspired and very happy so I was like what if I happen to be one of them and someone will be seeing me on the screen too.
I do tell my friends in primary school then that I want to become an actress when I grow up and fortunately I grew up to be one and am so happy about it.

Money is also a factor in the success of the industry and it cannot be over emphasized.
There is something that is plaguing the morality of the industry like some actress can go to any length if the pay for the role they are going to play is right. For example, some will take the role of nudity to be able to make that money. In your case can you do this?

No I won’t.
I can only act a sexy role but not a nude role.
Early September I was called to play such role, they even sent me the monologue to do it. I told the producer, ‘Sir please I am very sorry, I won’t be able to do it and was a kind of angry because he told me from the beginning if I want to work with him, his option is he doesn’t have actors with limits and the limit aspect is that anything they give you, you will do it.
When we were talking from the beginning I told him, ‘Sir I can interpret any role given to me but am not sure I will promise to expose my body in a film because of my personality and also where am coming from.’
One must not go nude before you will be known.
If God wants to raise you definitely He will without acting nude.

A little about your history into film industry

There was a talent hunt that Mercy Johnson Organized in 2017. My elder sister who is Mrs. Joy Simon Okwoche based in Lokoja; she saw the audition on Instagram and she told me because it’s something we had been discussing about before and she believed in me, she knows that yes I can do it because that first movie I acted before and our drama when I was coming up. She knows that in this career I always talk about ‘I will be able to make it big in it’. So she believed and helped me from the beginning.
She told me Mercy Johnson is organizing a talent hunt in Lokoja, try and come around. She sent me transport money and I went from Abuja to Lokoja. When we got there we were feeling a form and I was told to put any local government from Kogi because we were made to understand that it was only meant for Kogites. I told them am not from Kogi and I can’t put any local government from Kogi. What if I put any and am called to speak any tribe from that local government and I won’t be able to speak it, so there won’t be any point deceiving people and myself and I put Oju LGA there and to my greatest surprise they sent me a message with a number I called. At first I thought it was a scam so forwarded the message to my elder sister. She called the number too and she was told that I was picked.
We were over thousands of people in that talent hunt and we grouped five each in a group to present a short playlet and among the five members of my group I was the only person they picked.
When I was picked they called me and I went for the movie which was ‘Inikpi the lamp’ I acted as a moonlight dancer there, a friend of the princess Inikpi. That was the first movie I featured in.

Categories: James Ibechi

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