Paul Omokuvie, Bauchi
Miss Otouaye Gloria Oduifa is the reigning Miss Nollywood Culture Nigeria. She was the first runner up in the Queen of Nollywood Pageant held in Abuja in September 2018. Yesterday at the National Craft Development Centre, Bauchi, she held a one-day cultural carnival to promote indigenous languages.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, Oduifa, a graduate of Mathematics and Statistics, who hails from Agenebode, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State, speaks on her journey into pageantry and her surprise emergence as Miss Nollywood Culture.
Tell us how you emerged Miss Nollywood Culture
Around February last year a friend forwarded an social media advert for the 2018/2019 Queen of Nollywood pageant. I applied, got the form online, and that was how the journey started. We did online screening and picture voting which I scaled through. Through this, the number of contestants was reduced, and went into the video voting stage, where you had to act on video for one minute. I did an act of dancing which I knew how to do very well. We were also screened and some applicants were eliminated. I was selected. Next we went to Yankari Games Reserve in Bauchi State for camping. We were 20 inmates. We stayed there for some weeks. We were screened and some were evicted in the process. I came out among the top 10. After that there was online voting for the top 10 contestants that remained. I also scaled through. Then we went to Abuja for the finals held on September 30, 2018. During the finals we were 10 contestants. They added our activities from the camp and the online voting that they did, plus and minus. I emerged as the first runner up and given the title Miss Nollywood Culture. s
Did you expect to come this far?
No I wasn’t. Because during the camp housing I was kind of intimidated because I had never featured in any project when it comes to movies. It just the ones we do in Bauchi here. I had never done any major project or been in any contest before. We had ladies who came from Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt. They made you feel intimidated and I felt down. I just came up with the mindset that let me just be myself and see what I can do. Some will come and tell you that they had acted alongside Genevieve, Patience Ozokwu, Mercy Johnson, many of them and you are just there and had not done anything and them come dey show you their movies. I didn’t have anything to show but I was just diligent in doing whatever they asked me to do not minding where these ones were coming from even though I didn’t have a name. I was just doing what I was asked to do so the day of the final and announcement it was really a shocker for me because my family came down to Abuja from Jos, my brother and sisters. And I had family and friends around. I really felt happy whether I should cry or not, the feeling was just too much; I was simply overjoyed.
What gave you an edge in the long run?
It was the favour of God. It was not by my acting because there were people that were more talented. If it comes to doing your task, there were contestants that did it better so I shouldn’t come and say it was the way I acted, danced or smile. It was just God’s grace that covered me.
Did you receive the support of your family?
Wow the support was massive. I remember last year when I called my parents that I wanted to enter for the pageant, my dad asked me whether I was okay to do it or someone was forcing me into doing it. I said I was okay doing it even though someone actually showed me the advert. I said it was my choice and he told me if I was okay with it they would give me their support and since the support. My dad calls me every first week of the month and prays for me. That is what he does for all of us. And whenever he does that, he prays and talks about my career and encourages me. I thank my brother, Destiny and my sister, Blessing, my younger brother, Andrew and mother for the immense support.
So what were you doing before entering for the pageant?
I am a graduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi. I read Mathematics/Statistics. After my National Youth Service, I worked briefly with a commercial bank. I am currently a Maintenance Service Provider with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). I am also a fashion designer and my fashion house is called GLOwares Academy based in Bauchi. I make dresses and all that.
As the Queen of Nollywood culture what are you expected to do during your one-year reign?
More of cultural things; one you have to know what is culture. You have to know about culture as a way of life of a group of people, their beliefs, their perspective towards life, their tradition, their food, their clothing that is what culture entails. So my office has to do with culture. I am an ambassador of culture irrespective of where you come whether Bauchi, Plateau or Edo state, my task is to promote the rich and diverse cultures in Nigeria. We can actually unite ourselves with culture if we embrace each other’s culture. We must respect each other’s culture and learn to eat the food of other ethnic groups. For example, there is this delicious food called gote in the north. I am from Edo in the South but I have learnt to eat gote and I am enjoying it. I enjoy it though it is a northern food. So we can live in peace and enjoy each other if we embrace each other’s culture.
What are the challenges of being Queen of Nollywood Culture?
Presently the challenge I am having in this part of the country (north) when you go and tell someone you are Queen of Nollywood Culture, the way they look at you first of all, you may feel bad but over the months I have learnt to embrace whatever I experience from people and deal with the reaction. So when I go to a particular office or group of people I try to explain to them that because of some aspect of Nollywood that is not actually doing well and all of that, I try to educate them that we are trying to address them and all that.
So which actress or actor is your role model in Nollywood?
Mercy Johnson. She is my role model. I love her because she is just natural. Natural in the sense that if you give her any role, she just sinks into that role. Whenever you watch her movies whether it is modern day film or village or epic film, you see her giving her best and I love her for that. And I love her scenes when she cries. You will just think on a normal day she is the crying person so she just sinks into her roles. I love to meet her someday.
What is your vision and where do you hope to be in the next five years?
For now, I have started a project I was invited for under the NELAS Academy, that is the Nollywood Excellence and Leadership Awards Academy founded by Mr Frank Ikegwuonu, the President. We just finished shooting last month. We did half and we will complete shooting in Ukraine. This is a starting point for me in my career and I am looking forward to meet bigger producers and directors and I hope to be a household name like Mercy Johnson in the next five years that whenever you call Gloria, they will say yeah she is a Nollywood actress.