Switching from banking to acting wasn’t the easiest of decisions for Nollywood actress, Meg Otanwa, but she made it all the same.
Having worked “comfortably” at African Development Bank in Tunis, Tunisia for several years, no one – but Meg – would have thought acting would be her preferred career choice.
“I personally recognise that it was a very courageous move because trust me, it’s not the easiest,” the October 1 actress told TheCable Lifestyle in an interview where she gave insight into her career, personal and spiritual life.
“I just got to a point in my life where I felt like it’s time to move on to the next thing. I’ve always wanted to act. I knew that at some point in my life I would venture into it.
“So it was never a question of ‘if’, it was a question of ‘when’. And when the time came, natural instincts set in and I knew immediately it was time.
“Because at the point I had accomplished a lot of things I wanted to. I wanted to have degrees in different fields, I wanted to get an international experience, I wanted to work in a corporate environment.
“I had done all of that but I just didn’t want to keep enjoying the steady pay because It was a very comfortable place to be in.
“I didn’t want to remain there. So when the time was right, when I felt it in my bones that it was time, I didn’t hesitate to move,” said Meg.
Challenges in the film industry
For Meg, a challenge is only part of the process as she wouldn’t trade her experiences, the good and the bad, for anything.
The Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards nominee says she’s gotten a hang of Nollywood, particularly the challenge of being underpaid.
“I had to go for auditions, rowdy packed auditions with bad treatment,” she said.
“But I’m grateful to God I went through it because having gone through that, I appreciate the growth, I appreciate the process, and I don’t take for granted today where I am in my career.
“And this is only so because I went through the process and I went through all those things I went through.
“Sometimes, you don’t get cast and you don’t know why or your get some jobs and you don’t get paid or you get underpaid and then treatment on set can be below average.
“But Nollywood is still a growing industry, things have improved over time. But I always found a way to handle and deal with those situations.
“When I go on a set, if you go on a low budget movie set you will know, you can tell. So I will not go on a low budget movie set and expect to get the best treatment.
“So going to a place like that, I will prepare myself for whatever I get. So when you prepare yourself mentally, it’s easier to deal with those challenges and not see them as challenges.
“Like I say, I don’t think I will trade going through all those experiences and going through those challenges because, at the end of the day, they make you a better person, a stronger person, and it makes you appreciate what you do and your journey.”
Family of linguists
Meg Otanwa has a wide range of talents which include her knowledge of five languages.
She disclosed how she came to acquire the language skills.
“I love languages. If I had the time, I would learn five more languages,” the actress laughed, and continued, “my dad speaks about nine Nigerian languages fluently. All my siblings speak at least three languages each.
“I think we just learn languages easily. For me, the only language I learned formerly is French. The other languages I kind of picked up.
“Spanish, I’m not fluent in but I read and understand. I’ve not been in an environment where I get to speak and practice.
“I grew up partly in Lagos so Yoruba came naturally to me. And my dad is very fluent in Yoruba so sometimes he speaks Yoruba to us in the house. I schooled in the north and that was how I learned Hausa. I had my first degree in ABU Zaria.”
The loss of her mother
As it would be for anyone, the loss of her mother was tough on Meg but coming from a large family, they were all able to lean on each other and pull through.
“It was tough but life happens. I’m just grateful to God that I come from a big family, so my siblings became like my mother,” said Meg.
“The way my family is structured, there’s always a mother when you need a mother. I have two younger sisters, sometimes they are a mother to me.
“Sometimes I’m mother to my younger ones, sometimes I’m mother to my older ones. So because we have that kind of dynamic in my family, it kind of cushioned the effect of not physically having a mother.
“But it still doesn’t take away the pain, because, at the end of the day, they are not physically her. Nobody can replace a mother so that void is always there.”
Meg’s love life
When it came to her romantic life, Meg held back, but said she’s where God wants her to be, romantically.
“My romantic life is where God wants it to be. It’s in a beautiful place but you know how life is, so prayers are needed.”
What the future holds for Meg’s career
For the actress whose career is on an upward trajectory, her future in the movie industry lies in the hands of God.
“It’s one thing to do your projections and hope and dream and see yourself in places. But I always go back to hold on to God and pray for grace because it’s not going to be by my power.”
“The same way God is responsible for where I am today, he is responsible for where I am going to be in the nearest future.
“So I beg him for the grace to be able to bless people and be able to build a brand where it’s not all about me but about how I can use what he’s given me, the influence he has given me. My voice, my talent, my craft.”
Otanwa, who made her Nollywood debut in 2011, said she’s fully convinced of the immense power in storytelling and how it can change the world.
“It’s not just by foundations and charities, there is power in what we do.
“It can be something as little as exposing a story for the world to see. There is somebody somewhere that will watch that story and will reach out to people just by watching that story.
“That is why I do what I do. I see the strength, I see the power in telling stories because we don’t live in isolation.
“If not for people like journalists, actors, filmmakers who are able to put out stories, there are things going on in parts of the world that you and I will never hear about. So there is immense power in it, said the Hush actress.
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