1At a time when Nigeria’s bubbly movie industry was picking up for what it has become today, several of its pioneers left the terrain. One of such is Rita Nzelu, who ‘disappeared’ almost a decade ago.

Nzelu was one of the popular actresses in those days, giving people the impression that she would be around for a while. It however came as surprise to many when she was no longer appearing in movies on a regular basis and nobody knew where she was.

But unlike some others, who left the industry in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece, Nzelu – who left for the United Kingdom – says hers was to raise a family.

“My leaving, when I did, was not intentional. I got married and needed to move, to stay with my husband and have a family once and for all. Everything happened so fast, but the good thing is that I have been up-to-date with happenings in the industry,” she says.

The industry has over time seen some of its practitioners leaving for other professions. Talented actress, Regina Askia, for instance, is said to have gone into the medical profession, serving as a nurse in the US. But Nzelu, who in her early days,played roles in blockbuster movies such as Living in Bondage and Nneka the Pretty Serpent, says she gave herself eight years to raise a family and return to the industry.

She explains, “God created the world with a spoken word, so when people speak, it does come into existence. I said I’m going for an eight-year break. It came to reality, because when it was close to eight years, I started putting things together. My coming back was something I planned for before leaving,” she says.

Nzelu, who notes that she also runs a beauty salon in London, is returning to the industry that brought her fame, this time, not just as an actress but a movie producer. The actress, who is ecstatic about her new movie, International Games, says she is happy to be back.

She missed Nollywood, she says with nostalgia. According to her, anyone who had passion for acting and has left the industry for any reason will miss a lot; from the experience on set to working with different people and learning from them in the process. She adds that she is also happy with the progress of the industry.

“When I was in Nollywood, it was good. Today, it is growing and we are becoming important in the world. In the next few years, a new generation will bring new styles to improve the industry more. But so far so good, Nollywood has done so well,” she notes.

Talking about her new ‘come back’ movie, International Games – with cast such as Ghanaian star actress, Jackie Appiah and British actor, Gareth McChlery – Nzelu says it is difficult for her to describe it but will rather term it as “amazing”.

“I thought I should do a good movie that would be good for Africans home and abroad. The story talks about everything that happens day-to-day abroad but most importantly about African culture,” she states.

She explains that International Games tells the story of Mma, a Nigerian illegal immigrant whom she uses to tell tales of Africans and what happens when two cultures meet.

Having produced International Games in London, Nzelu says she is also looking forward to coming back home, where it all started to produce more movies.

But having left the industry for a long time, enough for a new crop of artistes to emerge on the scene, would Nzelu cope with the competition and retain her status in the industry?

She notes, “Entertainment is about proving yourself and doing what you know how to do. You can imagine Elizabeth Taylor having to act alongside the younger generation despite her experience and fame. I will not feel funny acting with the new artistes at all.”


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