Once upon a time she hawked plantain and garri on the streets of Cross Rivers State to support her indigent family but today, by sheer dint of hard work and dedication, Beauty Queen, Sylvia Edem has carved a niche for herself both as a model, an actress and now a movie producer.
Penultimate week she hosted the media to a parley for her latest production effort entitled Sandcastle and the beauty opened up on growing up, polygamy and Sandcastle.
“I am from a polygamous family. I grew up working for myself though my father tried but I struggled all the way. I actually did a lot of things to support my family including hawking and all that. I hawked garri and plantain on the streets of Cross Rivers State just to become something in life and that has actually helped in molding me into the strong woman that I am today,”
The actress says what compounded her growing up was that her dad had two wives and the experience was far from pleasant: “He had two wives. The experience of polygamy was not pleasant; it has never been a beautiful experience for anyone. I cannot condone polygamy because I don’t want to go through what my mother faced and I don’t want my children to face what I faced as a child; it was a harrowing experience.”
Following the success of Ima, her first movie production effort, Sylvia Edem is set to heat up Nollywood with her latest movie entitled Sandcastle in which she plays the role of a blind young girl who falls in love with the man of her dreams. Sandcastle premieres July 9 and hits cinemas across the nation on July 14.
Speaking with the confidence of a woman who knows her onions, Sylvia Edem reveals: “We plan to take this movie to every state in Nigeria because it is not just your run-of-the-mill-everyday movie but an advocacy movie. One that rekindles hope for the physically challenged.
“By virtue of this movie, the physically challenged will know that they are not different from other people. They will feel loved and accepted and they will know that they can be whatever they want to be. As a matter of fact, we will be giving out free tickets to the physically challenged in every state we screen Sandcastle.”
A romantic thriller, Sandcastle was directed by Edward Ukah and Sylvia plays the role of Timi, a young blind girl who finds favour in the eyes of a prominent man Ayade. Sandcastle also features Wale Ojo, Charles Okocha, Shirley Igwe, Mary Uranta, Sylvia Edem and Bassey Okon Bassey among others.
Sylvia Edem is a successful actress and now a film maker. What is the secret to her success? “God,” she says in all sincerity, “It is just God. The little I do cannot be compared to what God does for me; it is the grace of God that has brought me this far.”
For the light-skinned beauty, working with Wale Ojo has been nothing short of a humbling experience. Her visage is animated as she recalls moments with him on set and the advice the veteran gave her: “It was quite exciting because he is so big in Nollywood. I was so happy working with him because he was very encouraging and his advice on set was wow!
“I really appreciate him for that. And you know, whenever I was intimidated by his presence he would just say ‘Sylvia, feel free and just be yourself. There were moments I was trying to hold back but he was like ‘don’t do that, be yourself. I know you are a very good actress. I know you can pull this off.
“He really liked the fact that as a young girl I was taking on the challenge of producing a movie and also acting in the same movie. Sometimes it was very difficult but he liked the idea that I could pull it off and all that. There were so many other things like keep on doing what you are doing, don’t give up no matter the challenges that you are facing just be focused.”
Sylvia played the role of a physically challenged person, a blind pregnant woman to be precise. How did she pull it off?
She bursts out in a gale of laughter as she responds: “I am an experienced actress though but I guess, maybe, it is because I studied Theatre Arts in school but I know how to interpret characters. It has been part of me; it’s a talent. And talking about the baby bump, I have done a role like that before on stage so it wasn’t really difficult for me; I guess it is down my alley.”