At a close encounter with multi-talented Funmi, what comes to the mind of a movie-buff is that she is a carbon-copy of Jada Pinkett, the Hollywood star wife of even bigger star Will Smith. Petite Funmi, who is the last child of her family has not stopped dazzling Nollywood after her arrival few years ago. She says: “I have a passion for acting. Most people don’t even know I’m studying a science-related course at the University of Ibadan”. Her first lead role in Madu Chikwendu’s ‘Bound by Destiny’, late last year is still being applauded by movie followers
Most people don’t want to accept that you’re different person from what they see on television and that you’re not the one that has the life that that person lives. There was a movie I did in Ghana called Eating With the Devil, where I played Nkiru Silvanus sister who wanted to snatch her husband. Now when I go out, people look at me and say, Funmi, you’re a very bad girl, you’re wicked. How could you do that kind of thing to your sister? Some people react furiously like that. And then some people see my other movies where I act maybe a good girl who is very emotional and then they see me and they say things like, Heya, sorry. Oh, poor girl. See what that man did to you. It’s really hard for some people to differentiate between you in the movie and in real life. It’s really worse with movies where you play a bad girl, maybe a girl who sleeps with rich men, people will just see you on the road and say, See am, bad pikin. So I try to tell people that don’t judge me based on what you see on television. When you meet me, you’re meeting Funmi, a different person from that character you saw on the screen so please treat me differently.
She also believes this is one of the reasons why most people assume that actors and actresses are loose and wayward.
This is simply because of what they see on television. If they see an actress on screen kissing a man, they say, hmm, another person’s husband, God forbid. So they think if she can do that on screen then she must do the same or worse in real life. They think that you’re not responsible, they forget that you’re just being a professional and playing a role that you have been given, that that is your profession, what you do for a living.
One other thing that makes outsiders think of movie practitioners as lacking in morals is the frequent allegations of actresses giving sex for roles. But Holder believes it is solely a thing of choice, even as she adds that she has not been a victim of the practice.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been much of a victim. I really think it depends on you. If a guy sees me and he says he wants to date and I agree, fine. If I don’t, fine. It all depends on whether you agree to it or not. It’s not like they come outright and say if you don’t do this you won’t get this role, they just make passes. Of course you read between the lines to know what they are actually saying. But it’s left to you whether you want to respond to it or not. It’s left to you whether you become a victim or not, whichever way you want it.
So how does a lovely young lady like her handle attention from her male fans and producers alike?
Anyway, as for the guys, you just have to be nice to them. Your fans make you so definitely, you have to be good to them as well. When they come to you, you act nice and when they are going in that direction, you use diplomacy to make them understand that you’re not available. I’m a very straight forward person and I can be very blunt. I just tell them no very nicely. I still tell you thank you so much for liking me but I’m sorry. It’s a bit difficult though because they see you as someone else other than the person you really are. They see you as maybe the last role they saw you play in a movie. Some come to you because of that and they think oh, this girl she must be a very nice girl that one can marry because of the role they saw you playing.
Funmi says acting is something she has always wanted to do, though it can sometimes have its own drawbacks.
Of course as an actress, you lose your privacy. Whatever you do, everybody is watching you because you’re in the public eye. Any mistake you make is picked on and magnified and it becomes news for others. A particular incident I remember was my wedding. It was supposed to be a secret and the next thing I knew it was in the papers! People were calling me to say we know, we saw it in the papers and I was like, what? And they said don’t worry, we’ve heard, Funmi Holder does secret wedding.
Filmography: Fated, African Queen, Be My Val, Eating With the Devil