When Annabel Zwyndila broke into Nollywood with Samantha, it took only six months for her to become a screen diva. In no time, she duly earned herself the ‘fast-rising actress’ tag. The Adamawa State-born actress has continued to carve a niche for herself in the competitive world of Nigeria’s tinsel town, dazzling home video viewers endlessly with her scintillating performances.
Nevertheless, the screen siren is not resting on her oars: “I still have a long way to go. My eyes have always been on the top because I dream big. I believe I have the potentials to storm Hollywood and act with the best in the industry,” she declares.
During a recent interview with James Emmanuel, the Samantha actress who came 5th in AMBO 3 shares the story of her rise to stardom. She also unveils her love story: “Forget about what we act. I live a very decent life… I’m even still a virgin. Though I used to have a boy friend but we agreed on a clean relationship, relationship without sex. We dated without having sex.”
Leaving AMBO with 5th position did not dampen the spirit of the elegant looking talent, as she has within a year featured in many hit flicks including ‘Common Ground’, ‘Twisted Union’, ‘Beauty’, ‘Painful Sin’, ‘Motive for Murder’, among others.
Aside giving the lowdown about her past and present, the Masters degree holder in Human Resources Management from the London Metropolitan University also talks about other issues of interest, including how and why she has preserved her ‘womanhood’ in the face of dire amoral advances from all angles.
Give us a brief insight about yourself
My name is Annabella Zwyndila and I hail from Adamawa State. I am a graduate of Physics from the University of Jos and I also hold a Masters degree in Human Resources Management from the London Metropolitan University. I am an actress and I was in the Amstel Malta box office (AMBO 3) reality TV show.
For how long have you been acting?
I started acting professionally about a year ago with the movie titled Samantha which was produced by Jonah Jackson.
Was Samantha the movie that brought you to limelight?
Though Samantha brought me fame but I had been in the spotlight since 2007 when I took part in the Amstel Malta Ambo.
So tell us how you ventured into acting; did you stumble into it or you had a passion for it from Childhood?
I would say it’s just God that directed my foot into the entertainment industry because I never thought I was going to be an entertainer. Though I used to entertain my siblings in the house but I never thought I would go professional with acting.
How were you able to secure a lead role in Samantha?
I went for an audition just like every other person did and at the end, after a rigorous screening, I was chosen for the role. During the auditioning, I understood that they were looking at mannerism, diction, comportment, ability to interpret the role very well, among others. Even though I don’t have the character of Samantha in real life, I was able to interpret the role.
What happened after your challenging lead role in Samantha?
Samantha really opened a lot of doors for me because more jobs started coming immediately after it. Movie jobs like- Common Ground, Twisted Union, Beauty, Painful Sin, Motive for Murder and others came immediately after I starred in Samantha. Common Ground was an inter-religious advocacy project movie with the Niger State Government.
Was Samantha, the character you acted not supposed to be a beautiful girl?
(Laughter) Are my not beautiful? Yes, Samantha supposed to be a very beautiful lady and I think I also got the beauty!
As a fast rising actress, how far can you go to remain relevant in the movie industry?
I will continue doing the best I can do as an actress, increase my faith in God, and keep on learning and working on my talents…especially my diction because I believe once you are a good actress jobs will definitely come your way.
What is the unique thing about you that would make producers prefer you to someone else?
It’s my ability to interpret my roles flawlessly and effortlessly most times. There is always this God’s given expressions on my face that indicates when I’m sad, happy, or when I feel disappointed, etc. So must times I don’t find roles difficult to interpret because of this God given natures in me.
Who and who do you look up to in the industry as your role models?
We have lots of great actors and actresses in the industry but I won’t say I am looking up to anybody; I am only looking up to God. Everyone has something good…all I do is to pick anything good from anyone of them and move on.
What are your challenges as a rising actress?
I don’t have any challenge because things have been working out for me. I have supports from my parents, loved ones, friends, and I have all it takes to be a good actress; so there has not been any challenge. Though I understand that scandal might along the way come but as for now there has not been any challenge.
How have you been handling amoral advances from some of the producers with extreme appetite for sex?
Men are always men…it’s not only in Nollywood. You find men who want to lure to bed those they work with in every sector. It’s just like that everywhere; though we have it more in the entertainment industry.
So share your sexual harassment experience with us
I had a very terrible experience when one producer called me into his hotel room at Ikeja and tried to sleep with me before giving me a role in his movie. When I came to Lagos for the audition, I was told by this producer (name withheld) that they were almost through with it but that I should come because there was still opportunity for me. I got there he asked me to portray a poor girl for him-someone begging for money and stuffs like that. I did it and he was like wah! This is wonderful. He called his colleagues and other ladies already auditioned and asked his colleagues to pick someone for him, and luckily, they said I was the best character for the role, so I was picked. Then he asked me ‘can you drive a hummer jeep?’ I told him I have driven cars but not hummer jeep and that I can learn it within hours. He was like wah! I’m ‘good to go’. So I was picked. He said I should call him and meet him at a particular joint to collect the script. By the time I met him to collect the script, he started acting funny. ..He said I should take alcohol and I said no but he insisted. He succeeded in keeping me in that joint from 10am to 4pm. And told him ‘sir, let me have the script and start going’. He was like this is one thing with you girls; you can’t have patience. That he is trying to help me. I stayed there till it was almost dark, and he was behaving funny …trying to touch my boobs…trying to force me to have sex with him before giving me the script! Of course I refused. He got angry and started asking me who I think I am; saying that he had slept with a lot of people who are stars-he even called names. That I’m just one little girl he is trying to make a star. He was just calling me all sorts of names…and I started crying. It was my sister that consoled me when I got home.
How was growing up like for you?
My growing up was very memorable. Though I was brought up in a very strict way, but I had all I needed as a kid. My parents provided everything I needed and I had a twin sister and that made my days fun-filled. We were brought up in Ghana but later relocated to Nigeria. My dad is an army officer and is ardent Catholics by faith.
How would you react to scandals in years to come?
I will try my best to stay away from scandals, through prayers and by doing the right things. Scandals would come only when you give rooms for that and I think my good upbringing can guarantee me a scandal free career.
What do you mean by having a good upbringing?
My father is an army officer and we are very good Catholics. So I was brought up knowing the right things and doing the right things at the right time. I have always had heaven and hell at the back of my mind and so by implication I do the right things which will definitely never attract scandals.
Coming from a home with a disciplinarian as a father, you must have been beaten up in series of occasions while growing up; so when was the first time a man not your father beat you up?
I have never been beaten. In fact the fact that people knew I am a daughter of an army officer made them never to try such.
Not even your boy friend?
My ex boy friend never had reasons to beat me. He was my best friend until the relationship got over.
Why did you walk out of the relationship?
I lost him to the cold hand of death.
That was two years ago. He is from Edo state.
How was the feeling of losing someone very dear to your heart?
I felt like taking my life; not until people around me consoled me and made me to understand there was more to life than that.
How long did it take you to step into another relationship?
I have not been able to enter into another relationship since then.
Does that mean you are still mourning him after two years?
That is just the truth.
Who was the man in your life before your deceased boyfriend came on board?
There was none. He was my first and last boy friend. I dated nobody before him and I have dated nobody after him. We knew back in primary school at Ghana and were just close friends then, until we met again in Nigeria after our University educations.
Does that mean he was the one that made you a ‘woman’?
What do you mean by making me a woman? (Laughter) Not at all because I still have everything intact. We agreed on a clean relationship…a relationship without sex until after walking down the aisle.
What necessitated the decision?
He was a born again Christian; so the fact that we knew we were going to get married made us to stay away from sex because we knew a time would come when we would be having a dose of it without offending God or anyone else.
How does it feel being a virgin at about 25-year-old?
Well, I never said I’m 25-year-old, maybe I might not be up to that yet. I will say it feels good being a virgin, it makes me feel holy. Sometimes when I want to ask something from God I do so without feeling guilty of any sin, especially sins of fornication.
Don’t you think you might be missing something?
Missing what? Is there anything that I should be missing? To me I’m not missing anything because it’s deliberate thing and it is in the family. We were brought up in a manner that you can’t easily make friends…if you do then you stand to be questioned about the person’s moral upbringing.
What turns you off from a man?
It’s nothing more than his attitude and his inability to stand up as a man. I love men who are determined
Now that you would soon find yourself in another relationship, what kind of man attracts you?
I get attracted to a man with good heart, good conscience, God fearing and more especially a focused person.
What about a man with fat bank account?
Fat bank account might just be an added advantage but if you don’t have the fear of God don’t even border coming close.
As a pretty young actress, how do you handle male admirers?
I try to be sincere and honest to everybody. I like them as my fans right from the time when I was at AMBO house, but I know my boundaries. I try to respect everybody by picking calls, giving humble and correct addresses, but I know when to cut a male admirer short. My ability to handle situations of this nature well has helped me to get more fans and at same time maintain my attitude.
Looking at Nollywood and marriages, are you not worried that actresses find it difficult to get married and most of those who eventually get married end up in the court for divorce?
I am not disturbed by that because I am myself. When the right time comes my God will definitely send my husband…the man that would love me till eternity.
So how far do you want to grow in this industry?
I know I’m going to soar high. I see myself going into Hollywood and acting alongside the best acts in the world.
How do you respond to sexual advances from a fellow woman?
I have never been approached for that and I think the idea is even crazy. How can a woman get sexually attracted to another woman? How can a woman go for a woman when there are lots of men out there? I think those doing that in the industry are not only crazy but need deliverance. God never made Adam and Adam-He made Adam and Eve so that they can procreate.
How many times have you gone nude in order to interpret a role?
A lot of people have reduced themselves to prostitutes in the name of movie making. I want to state that to interpret a role perfectly does not call for nudity. One can pass a message across without being nude; that is where professionalism comes in.
So how far can you go to interpret a nude scene?
I can put on skimpy wears but I can’t go stark naked no matter the amount of money involve. It’s not our culture and my upbringing forbids it.
What are you currently working on?
We just rounded up the shoot of ‘Twisted Union’ which will soon be in the market. I played the protagonist role of a young girl who got married to a young man. At a point my husband started cheating on me. I got bored in the marriage because there was nobody to talk to… from there I met another man and fell for him. It’s story that teaches a lot of lessons.
What is the best advice you have ever been given and who gave it to you?
It’s to always believe in myself; a very good advice that came from my dad. Since then I have always hearken to that advice and I’m now doing things I never knew I would be able to do.
What have always been your pains in life?
It’s the lost of my loved one two years back. If I could turn back the hand of time I would want to have back the man I loved so much, the man I wanted to get married to and was patient enough to wait for me.
Haven fallen deeply in love in the past, what is your definition of true love?
To me love means sharing; love is being kind; love does not necessarily mean dating someone; it’s not all about sex; it’s more about being there for somebody.
If you again find yourself in love with someone who believes in sex before marriage, contrary to your desire, what would you do?
Like the music says, ‘if you love me you will wait for me’. Before deep commitment I will tell you this is the boundary. If a man loves me he would not push me into doing something I don’t want.
Who are your close friends especially in Nollywood?
Right now there is no particular person to call my friend because I have been betrayed a lot by friends in the past. I only have my twin sister as my friend now.
You came 5th in AMBO 3; share your experience in the house with us
I must confess that that I really enjoyed myself in the house. My target was to emerge the ultimate winner, though I didn’t make it at the end. I worked so much in the house to the admiration of most Nigerians; I later learnt that some would always tune in to the stations just to watch me. To me, it was not the money thing that got me excited, it was the fun and the opportunity to showcase my acting prowess, which I actually did.