#Spotlight-art – 25 Questions With Belinda Yanga

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G-xclusive

The first time i saw Belinda on screen was while watching MTV Shuga Naija, i remember saying to myself; wow she is beautiful and a pretty good actress. At that instant she won me over as a fan.

And when i came across her page on Instagram, i knew i had to have a conversation with her and bring her here.

Before you go ahead to read, it will interest you to know that, Belinda Yanga holds a degree in Creative and Cultural Studies (MA Creative and Cultural Studies) from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She specialised in Film and Television Analysis and Arts and Media Informatics. She is so passionate about film making and runs a production company “Rhythm Media Enterprise – RME PICTURES” which has produced quite a number of short films and documentaries.

With that being said, here is how she answered our 25 questions…

Describe Belinda in 3 words.

Human – woman. Film maker, Goddess

As a child, what did your parents want you to be? Share with us one of your childhood memories

The usual, a medical doctor, or an Engineer. Hmmm, childhood memories? I hardly live in the past. The things I remember clearly as a young kid that were fun; was me watching films, me encountering some really good oldies and that has crafted where I am now as an adult.

We love how you deliver the character MJ on MTV Shuga. How did you get that role? And how would you describe the experience so far?

I auditioned for it. And fortunately I got it. My experience was awesome, it was great. A’mean, it’s MTV Shuga, you know. I started watching it when MTV Shuga was in Kenya. You know the first season was Kenyan,with Lupita Nyong’o actually. . And when they announced MTV Shuga Naija, I wasn’t even in the country then. But I hustled: sent tons of emails… Willing to fly down, like I wanted to be a part of this show. years later I still got to be part of it. I am really grateful for it.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

Nothing funny has happened to me, recently it’s mostly trauma; the world is in chaos. Making me realize how naive I am.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?

I think I am an extrovert, what you see is what you get. I wear everything on my sleeve. If you follow me on social media, you will know I like to drink a certain energy drink, you will know I like my coffee, and I am a hopeless romantic. Technically I am pretty boring. Because I don’t really have secrets. Ooo! I day dream a lot.

In the Nigerian Entertainment world today. Who would you say inspires you to become more in terms of Acting?

I am first a film maker before an actor, it will interest you to know that I studied film making for 5 years and I just even started taking acting seriously.

So who inspires me? I wouldn’t want to narrow it down to just acting, because I get inspired by people who work hard, people who push their craft, who get better at their craft, who always strive for more. So, everybody in their little corner who is winning, those are the people that inspire me.

Judith Audu, Mo Abudu, and Jade Osiberu inspire me, they are hard workers. And the women in the film and television space in Nigeria who are doing awesome works out there;The Oshin sisters, Ijeoma Grace Agu etc. They are so many women that I love and I can’t even start to mention them.

And how many movie projects have you been part of? (List them).

I will mention a few that I am passionate about.

Romance is overrated. I directed, wrote, and produced it.

I directed Love in a time of Keke, Women are scum, Another ordinary days, and I was one of the directors for Head over heels, an Africa magic 40 episodes series, I have also directed a couple of short films and documentaries., including Picture perfect for the entertainment network.

I have acted in a couple of movies, like; – The girl king, MTV Shuga, Romance is overrated,A Voice For Ellla, I was in a series called The Encounters, an Ebony life series, and Kings’ concubine. I can’t remember most of them. But I have featured in quite a few project, I have a couple more coming – fingers crossed.

Thinking about your career to date; what has been your greatest achievement as an actor?

Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t dwell on the past. I do stuff and I move onto the next one. And I feel like I haven’t even gotten there. Whatever this greatest achievement is, I don’t know. I’m sure when I see it, I might recognize it, I don’t know. But we keep moving. I have no greatest achievement, I am grateful for every little win out there. I love being on set. So every time you call me to be in a film, to direct, to edit, and to attend script workshops; I am grateful. I love being in that creative space. Just being able to say that I am a working film maker, a working actor. That’s my greatest achievement.

What was it like working with the cast and crew of MTV Shuga?

It was fun, made new friends, new contacts, and hopefully we get to do more work together in the future.

Tell us more about your acting career? How did it all begin?

It began long-long ago, when I was a child, in a school called Hillcrest. Lol

I have always been a creative. So I was very much involved in the drama club. The school was very hands on and forces you to be creative. I started acting there. I played the character that was on trial in the incorruptible judge play by D Olu Olagoke. The character was male I think but my teacher changed most of all the characters to women (a feminist ahead of his time winks!!) alongside other classics . I performed a lot in the school choir. And it was only natural, when I got into secondary school that I would be very involved with social life; Drama club, dancing/choreography, even though I was a science student. When I was done with secondary school, I started dancing professionally. Then I did 2 major plays. I was Ella in a big musical “for its time”, called A Voice for Ella.It was directed by Solomon Macauley and I starred along side Najite Dede . And I also produced and directed the play Magnificent Obsession. Since then, I have been acting in and out. Left Nigeria for a while, came back fully in 2013 and started pursuing film making. A lot of friends, including my husband kept asking why I wasn’t acting, and encouraged me to do both. But, then I decided last year to put film making on hold for a bit, and just focus on acting, luckily for me it’s been great, I have been blessed to get on projects that I truly enjoy. The moment I decided to start acting, I got Shuga. It’s awesome.

What should we expect from you in 2020, any underground projects? More acting deals?

I am back in full capacity to film making, back to directing. I will be pushing my production house more which is Rhythm Media Enterprise – RME pictures. We have produced series of short films like Another Ordinary Day, Romance Is Overrated, which is an anthology of 3 short films. We will be making more short films and hopefully this year is the year we proceed with our next feature film which we have been working on for a bit now, a love story called The First Time We Met and a comedy called Goons Squad, look out for it.

And then, for Belinda as a creative! I am back to directing for hire, so I’m accepting scripts from producers. I am acting fully, I am taking on everything, bring it on. I also write, I use to write just for my company but now I am open to writing short films for producers, I am also a script editor. In 2020 we are back in full gear. No more excuses

What are some things that sound like compliments but are actually insults?

I hate when random people particularly guys tell me to smile when I don’t feel like it. Also hate when people say I look good for a mother. It always annoys me, like you don’t know what it’s like to go through child birth, so how anybody looks after having a child is none of your business.

Most interesting thing about you would be?

I really don’t know, if you experience me and like me, I am happy for you, if you don’t, that’s also your business, I am also happy for you. I don’t really care; I don’t even care. You take me as I am.

If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else, who would you pick and what would you do?

I don’t want to wake up in the body of anybody else, I love myself way too much. But however what I will like is to have this same body, but in another experience. Maybe with a different passport, maybe in Bill Gate’s family? As his daughter? Lol. To just experience it small. But nah, I feel like every experience that I have had, me being born in myself has brought me to where I am right now. I don’t wish to be somebody else. What I wish for is to maybe make better choices.

If not acting! What would have been your profession?

I keep mentioning film making, because there are so intertwined. For me, it’s not just acting, it’s making films, creating arts. And my art form is film. Telling stories, and if I am not doing any of these things. You might as well kill me because I live for my art. Art is the thing that keeps me going. I often day dream of being in a nice tiny house by the sea; away from civilization and the rat race, creating ART, eating good food, making love, having deep conversation and just go back to crating more art. You take that away from me, and that’s it. I don’t see myself doing anything else. I have to enjoy what I do to make me want to get up in the morning and chase after it.

If you could have personally witnessed anything, what would you want to have seen?

A lot of times I think about the Pyramid of Giza ‘the Egyptian pyramids’. A lot of times I space out and just think about the wonders of the world, wishing I was there. I am so curious about it, I am always reading about all the conspiracy theories about them, watching documentaries about who might have built them, and not just the pyramid, a lot of weird stuff about the world,like other dimensions in the universe. I just want to know, and I wish to experience it; Just for myself.

What question do you hate to answer?

I hate questions that have to do with… ‘oh as a woman, how do you balance work life and your family life’ I hate it; I think it’s very stupid. ‘As an actor, yen yen yen’. i’m like how many times do they ask men this same question? But they ask every woman and I hate it so much

What type of music do you listen to? (Genre, artists, songs)

I listen to all types of music. I am more of a lyrics person, you get me from the moment you’re saying things that just move me, and you’re telling me a story, taking me on a journey. So I listen to all.

RNB, Alternatives, Jazz, Hip-hop, Pop, Naija, though I am not a big fan of all this new generation Nigerian songs, but I like a few, depending on the mood I am more of a slow RNB type. Alternative type person. I will listen to Bez, Asa, Brymo, Burna boy, 2face.

When it comes to foreign music, that one is vast. I listen to everything, it’s not just about the artiste anymore, when I hear a song I connect with emotionally I will go and find it and put it in my collection

Describe the most terrifying moment of your life so far. Have you recovered from it?

I’ve never really had terrifying moments but I am more cautious now ever since I had my kid, my worst fear is dying and leaving my son, so that’s terrifying. Then I hate cockroaches with all of my might, aside those; no terrifying moments.

As a public figure, what’s your opinion on Politics? Feminism? Democracy? Stereotypes? And Rape?

Politics, I don’t have any opinion on it, I can’t deal with it. In Nigeria, Politics is just a mess. All I can say is Nigeria is where it is right now, because of very bad governance and bad leadership. It’s just unfortunate that we have bad leadership and bad governance.

Feminism, the propagation of equal rights of both man and woman, Yup! I am a feminist, I believe that everyone should be given equal rights, nobody should be discriminated against because of their sex

Nobody should be denied education because they are girls, abused or taken advantage of because they are women.

I believe in Democracy, but I also believe in balance.

I just feel like people should just leave people to be people. Stereotypes – oppression in the name of tradition and culture, all those things just get on my last nerves, just leave people alone to flourish, to grow, to be who they want to be in their fullness, as long as it’s not against humanity. So yes, I am against stereotypes.

Most things are grey areas for me, but RAPE? It’s black and white. I am an advocate against rape. I am constantly talking about it on my social media. Rape is such an epidemic in this country and it’s sad that it is even covered by tradition, culture, misogyny, patriarchy. Thou shall not rape, end of story. I am brutally against it and I heard that Indonesia passed a law where rapist should be castrated. I am all for it, I stan them for making that law.

What is the weirdest thing about you? Are you proud of it?

Lol, I don’t think I am weird, I am a very normal person, but I guess people can’t get used to the fact that I wear colored hair – Green, Blue, Bright Red, Orange, Gold, Purple, and White.

I also wear colored lipstick: Green, Blue, Black, Silver, and Gold glitter lipstick.

I love to day dream. One of my favourite pastime is to day dream.

How do you feel about the movie industry in Nigeria? And if you could change one thing, what would that be?
It’s a love-hate relationship, it’s an abusive relationship actually. It’s a relationship I shouldn’t be in.

You know that kind of relationship you can’t let go, where you’re constantly being physically or emotionally abused. But then, the love is too strong to let go; and the make out session afterwards? – You know when the makeup sex is hot. LOL.

That’s how I feel with Nollywood, it stresses and pisses me off. But I am so grateful to Nollywood, I can’t live without Nollywood. I am grateful for the little wins, for every work that comes, it comes with lamentation and also comes with gratitude.

And then I get so frustrated by how the industry is – the mediocrity and the lackluster (ness) of everything; but at the same time I realize that Nollwood is basically just a reflection of what our country is, there is no way that an industry {not just Nollywood} inside a country that fails already would be better, because what exactly are we holding them up to? When we don’t hold the country itself up to Higher standards.

If I could change anything? It would be financing and skill set. If we could have more training “educational” centers to just increase and build capacity. And then financing, just having access to finances. Those are the things that I am particular about.

What are the biggest mistakes new Entertainers make? And advice for them?

A lot of people think that the creative industry is glamorous,, but it isn’t. It is tough, and the hustle is gangster. There is the art and there is also the science to this work that we do.

There is a level of craftsmanship to it that means there is a skill set that is attached to the craft. That skill set must be learned. You have to be trained. Talent is great, but it has to be shaped.

People think they can just be a creative without putting in the work. There is so much more outside of acting, there is a craft of acting that you have to learn. Like voice control, textures, emotion internalization, knowing what a monologue/dialogue is, knowing how to keep lines, how to learn lines, breaking the script down to character wants and motives and essential actions etc; getting rid of self, feeding off of energy, learning silence and stillness. There is so much you need to practice and learn about, it’s not just for you to wake up and say, I sabi act na, I dey do am well for primary school.

So that for me, is the mistake people make. There is a craft to writing, then there is a craft to telling a story – to writing a screen play, which is different from writing a stage play, which is also different from writing poetry. These things you have to learn, you have to practice. Yes you might know how to take pictures, but then how do you take pictures to tell a story? What makes you a cinematographer? Tech is changing: you have to keep educating yourself. Stay informed and updated on the happenings in your industry globally; as an actor, costumier, writer, director, producer, makeup artist, and set designer.

There is no excuse anymore. Thank God for the wonderful thing called the internet, ignorance is no longer an excuse. Don’t be content with the status quo. Just keep rising.

Are you a fan of Belinda? You can keep up with her ART by following her on Instagram @belinda_yanga

Photo Credit – Belinda Yanga

Also follow us on all social media platforms – @glancenigeria

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