Interview with God Calling actress Zainab Balogun.
- God Is Calling is one of Nigeria’s Top 10 Films on Netflix
- Currently streaming
- Suicide is a reality in African culture
- Telling African stories for global consumption
One of CSA’s new favourite African Heroes, Zainab Balogun-Nwachukwu is currently starring in God Is Calling, one of the top 10 films in Nigeria. The Nigerian actress is also a model and television presenter. She began modelling at an early age after being scouted at 16 and has been featured in several international campaigns for different brands. She co-founded “The J-ist TV”, an online entertainment web-series featuring some of Africa’s top personalities that highlights African culture and a range of topical issues.
Gqom superstar Sho Madjozi, fiercely proud of her Tsonga heritage, often rocks a braided hairstyle with its Fulani and Tuareg influence; Moonchild Sanelly deconstructs the conversation with the ownership of her electrifying deep blue oversize woven mop style, to; illustrator wunderkind Karabo Poppy, who cleverly weaves barber culture into her art. That big brand Tresemme and beauty and health retailer Clicks got the conversation so wrong is telling, especially in an era where brands and culture align themselves inextricably.
The Wire spoke to Zainab about God Is Calling, telling African stories and a whole lot more:
As an actress, what was it about a script that appeals to you most?
The journey to picking up a new project starts with two things: story and director. I look out for characters with layers and abilities to stretch me beyond my previous roles. I am always trying to grow in new ways as an actress and God Is Calling represented that, on both a practical and spiritual level.
Do you and your character in God Is Calling share any traits?
Sade and I share our love for family and desire for fulfilment. She is troubled on numerous levels and that constant struggle to win was one of the many things that attracted me to her.
What do you believe is the most important message of the film?
It’s hard to settle on one message but for me it’s the notion that you shouldn’t count yourself out despite the odds – and Sade had many of them. There is always room for redemption with God. This reminds us that hope is extremely powerful.
Suicide remains a taboo topic in African culture. What are your feelings about shining a light on this issue?
Acting for me is about telling truths. No matter how hard or uncomfortable they make me or the audience. Suicide is a reality in the African culture and part of the problem is that we are trained to sweep it under the carpet, especially at home. I want to help young Africans amplify their voices using art such as God Is Calling which then becomes more just than an entertaining movie but therapy in itself.
The film is currently in Nigeria’s top 10 movies on NETFLIX. With the Covid-19 pandemic and so much uncertainty, do you think there is a need for more films like these?
There is always room for purposeful projects. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s the fact that people require a deeper connection. They want more than just laughter and content that makes them forget. They want to feel!
What do you enjoy more, television presenting or film?
While I do have a soft spot for television and presenting, acting is definitely what I am born to do!
As a content creator, what are your feelings about the rise of African culture and interest by the rest of the world in African stories?
The world is simply just waking up to our magic. We have so many amazing stories and haven’t even scratched the surface as to the depth of what we have. While I want us to share this with the world I am protective about African culture and ensuring that this adoption is done in the best interest of the people. I want us to tell our stories and to benefit equally with our western counterparts. This appears to be the best time to tell African stories as technology is making things a lot easier.
What is your advice to young aspiring story tellers and presenters?
Don’t sell yourself short and don’t be afraid to tell your African truth. Protect the culture at all cost!
“Tell us about Zainab” What is the one thing we will be surprised to know about Zainab?
When i was younger, i thought I’d be a big shot singer. I was in a girl band and had an album to show for it. It really seems like a lifetime ago but I was convinced I was going to be a singing sensation.
Who is your favorite music artist and what is your favorite song?
I am a RnB/soul head and absolutely love Brandy. I have her “B7” album on rotation all the time along with her previous albums. My favourite song is “Lucid Dreams”.
What was the most significant thing you learnt during the lockdown period?
We’re all in a hurry for nothing and it’s okay to slow down! The lockdown was very sobering for me as an artist. It gave me a chance to be still and ask myself important questions that the normal speed of life didn’t allow.
Will we see you in a film project again soon?
Yes! I am in pre-production for a new Netflix project which will hit your screens in 2021. It’s a sequel and I’m excited about it.
What is one goal you still have to attain?
Getting my hands on a little gold trophy called the Oscar statuette!
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
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