Daniel Etim Effiong is a multiple award-winning Nollywood star whose versatile acting skills have been evident in notable movie projects like ‘Blood Sisters’, ‘The Men’s Club’, ‘Castle & Castle’, ‘Gidi Up’, ‘Fish Bone’, ‘Storm’, and ‘The One for Sarah’. In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle’s Faith Famakinwa, Effiong discusses a series of topics including his career shift, sexualisation of women in movies, and fidelity in marriage, among others.


Why did you quit oil and gas job for acting?

Effiong: I have always loved to act. I have acted as far back as I can remember. I have always acted in secondary school and university. Even though I was in the sciences and ended up in oil and gas, I still had a very strong passion for performing art, for entertainment. I really did not stop acting. Even when I was working, I was acting on the side. I would go for open mic shows, I would perform in a stage play, and I was very active in drama in church. But it got to a point where I got more involved in Nollywood, people were inviting me to be in films although I had a day job. I had a nine to five as a process engineer so I had to decide what to do. If I quit acting and continue as an engineer or quit oil and gas and focus on acting, I would choose the latter. I chose it because I really believe in the power of storytelling. I believe it is transformative. I believe stories are powerful, especially African stories, and I desire to use storytelling to impact the lives of people around me and the world. So I thought it was a worthy cause. Even more worthy than that process engineering. So I quit my job.

How do you view fidelity in marriage as an actor?


Effiong: I do not think acting is very different from other professions when it comes to being married. Acting is a job. You have a home to return to, you have a family to protect, to love, and to care for. So you go for your job but you have to come back to your family, you do not sleep in your job. Is not anything different from a profession of a soldier, banker, doctor, or engineer. You go to work and you come back home. You still have to come back to your family, to those that you love, to those that you have sworn to protect. So I really think it depends on individuals and what we regard as our core value system.

Daniel Etim Effiong and wife Toyosi

For me, family is important and to protect that family, you have to maintain fidelity to your spouse and I think once you have that as one of your core values, you uphold it. I do not think actors have it any different. Once you get married as an actor, first of all, it elevates your craft because you become very more disciplined, you become even more structured with your life, you pretty much focus on politics and you are focus and those things invariably promote you or causes you to advance in whatever you are doing.

As an actor, once you are married and you allow your marriage to structure your life and to make you focus, it will cause growth in your career and that is an advantage. It is not a walk in the park, do not get me wrong. It is not something that is easy to achieve by any means because it requires discipline and I am not saying this as an actor but as a man across the board. Being married, staying married and having a successful marriage requires discipline, commitment, and hard work. Once you induce these things into your life, it will promote your craft. I think it is not more difficult for the actor, it is more difficult for the human being and maybe for men.


Is sexual harassment a prevalent issue in Nollywood? Does it happen to both genders? Have you been a victim?

Effiong: To be honest with you, I have not been a victim of sexual harassment per se. I have been in the industry for 7 to 10 years now and it is not something that I have encountered enough to speak on. I heard about it but I have no experience with it so unfortunately, I cannot respond to that question to be affirmative.

What are your thoughts on the sexualisation of women and children in movies?

Effiong: Well, it is something I would consider a pandemic in the world and it is not just movies, it is across media and entertainment. Women have been sexualized as early as there has been subjugation of women as early as patriarchy has existed. So I think the sexualisation of women is a result of patriarchy.


And it is only good to see that the vibe expression in entertainment and films is something we need to deliberately move against. It is something that we need to check with outer narratives to show that women should not be sexualised. There are other ways to represent women other than the fact that they are sexual beings. Women should not be singled out to be objects of sex only. First of all, I think the way to go about it is by acting against it, telling stories that elevate women, not just mothers and homemakers but as creatives, women as inventors, women as CEOs, heroes, warriors, and queens. Even our traditions and our culture as Africans are filled with such stories. There is Amina; the warrior queen, there is Queen Idia, Queen Moremi, there are a lot of stories that portray women as royalty.

Bolanle Austen Peters is just about to come up with a film about Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, who is a great woman in Nigerian history. I think she was the first woman to ever drive a car in Nigeria. She was at the forefront of Nigerian independence as well. She was the mother of Fela Kuti. So these are the things we need to celebrate about women and the narratives we need to push forward against just viewing women as sexual beings alone. That is just one part of them and that is what Chimamanda Adichie would call a singular story. Our stories must be filled with women in their full glory and all the different sides of the African woman.

Given the current economic challenges in Nigeria, including the fuel price and the exchange rate, Do you have hope in this current administration?


Effiong: To be honest, I am an optimist so I tend to always focus on the bright side. We have a new administration that has been sworn in and what we must do is we must support and we must hope for the best. I am an actor, a filmmaker, and a storyteller, I must focus on what my craft is and what my career and obligations are and I hope the new administration favors us. If it does not favor us, our responsibility is in the next election to let the thing be expressed in our votes.

Does your wife watch your films? How does she feel when you take up a kiss, cuddle, and sex role in movies?

Effiong: Well, she understands media and entertainment. She has studied producing and journalism at the New York Film Academy and she also met me as an actor so she understands the craft. She understands that it is my profession, it is a job and understands that I do separate my personal life from my work life, and my career and she is very supportive. But it is also my responsibility to be professional even when I am at home, I could talk about some of these roles that I played with her and ensure that she is not exposed as my wife and mother of my children.


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