By Ikenna Obioha
A self-professed feminist, Sharon Ezeamaka launched her acting career at the age of five with her appearance in the movie, ‘Narrow Escape’ alongside Nollywood juggernaut, Pete Edochie. Ever since, she has progressed into appearing in dozens of movies and TV series much to viewers’ delight.
In this chat, Sharon takes us on a journey into her childhood, growing up with a single mother, passion for acting and her stand as a feminist in a male dominated industry. Enjoy the read.
You started acting what year?
I started acting when I was five, but before that I did a commercial. I did my first commercial when I was a year and six months, it was a Peak Milk calendar. I remember because it is my favourite picture ever, and I did a lot of commercials in-between. I did my first film when I was five-years-old. My first film was called ‘Narrow Escape’. It’s really, really old. It was with Pete Edochie and Ann Njemanze.
How did you get into acting at such an early age?
I had a modeling agent because I was doing commercials when I was much more younger. I think he used to be my mum’s modeling agent because my mum was a model. So, somehow he said, ‘there is a film, do you want to do it?’ I was like, ‘yeah, sure let’s try it’. Apparently, I’ve always had a thing for performing, acting and singing and just being all over the place, so my mum thought it was a good idea, and I did it. So long as I enjoyed it, I continued to do it.
Acting for the first time at five, what was the experience like?
I think the first time I got the feeling of ‘okay, I’m an actor’ was when I did this film called, ‘Romantic Attraction’ with RMD, Stella Damasus and Chioma Chukwuka; that was my first major role as a child. That was when I kind of fell in love with acting. I really enjoyed doing this and it was really exciting getting to play someone else, because I’ve always loved playing dress-up anyway. I remember when I was younger and my mum had visitors; I used to dress-up with her wigs and her shoes and imitate her the way she talks, imitate her friends and stuff like that. So, it was really nice for me.
So basically, you are following in your mother’s footsteps?
Yes. I got my creative part of myself from my mom.
So when did MTV Shuga happen to you?
I think I was twenty-one. I stopped doing ‘Dear Mother’ series when I was eighteen. I took a break from acting to really figure out if I wanted to do it as an adult, so I took a break and did a couple of other things that weren’t acting related. I worked in Fab Magazine, for like a year and half. It’s a fashion and lifestyle magazine. So, I wanted to take a break to really figure out, because I’ve been doing it (acting) for such a long time and I’m comfortable or do I really love it? So, while I was in the middle of my break, I was called to audition for Shuga and I remember I auditioned for Tope Oshin and got the part, that’s how it happened, which was really exciting because I was a huge fan of the show before auditioning.
Aside acting, what else are you into?
I just started a company with my mum; it’s a clothing company. We are still trying to get it off the ground. I’m building my business and considering learning cinematography and editing and other stuffs that are related to film because it’s really a part of my life. I want it to be part of my life forever – not just acting but writing and directing and producing and things like that.
It must really be hard for you as a woman to do all these?
No actually. I don’t think it has to do with gender. I think if you love it enough and you are willing to put in the work, because what lots of people fail to understand is that it’s hard work. People want to be an actor and when they see how much you have to work and how long the hours are, they are like; I don’t think I want to do it. I think if you love it enough and you are willing to put in the work? Anyone can do it.
So, you are saying that hard work eclipses the idea of gender roles? Don’t you think men are more favoured?
I’ve been an actor, obviously I always play the part of girls, so maybe when I decide to venture into other parts like directing and writing then maybe I can have an informed opinion about what it’s like. I think generally in the world, women have to usually work twice as hard as to get what a man doesn’t even work that hard for. It’s just the way the world is but I do think it’s getting to a place where more women are standing up for themselves and more people are starting to realize that just because someone is a woman doesn’t mean that she can’t bring just as much, or even more to the table. My gender has never really been something that I feel like it’s going to limit me. I think the only thing that can limit you is yourself at the end of the day.
The feminist movement is…?
I’m a feminist! Let’s start from there. I don’t joke with that part of my life. I’m a feminist. I’ve been a feminist since before it became a ‘thing’. I’ve always been a feminist.
How do you describe your version of feminism, as there are different types?
For me, whenever someone says, ‘you are a feminist?’ I’m like, ‘have you gone to the dictionary to know what that word means?’ It just basically means someone who believes that men and women should have equal opportunities; economically, socially and in every area of their lives, and I don’t think that is far-fetched. I think that if I work hard for something, I should be able to get it whether I am a man or a woman. It means that I believe that we should have equal opportunities. Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I can’t do this because I’m a girl.
Most people would disagree with you on that.
I know. I would disagree with them on everything.
Especially when it comes to the home front?
Yes, I disagree with them on that too. I was raised by a woman. It never stopped her from being an incredible parent. I mean it’s just society’s idea of what a woman should be. I don’t think that applies to anything. I feel a man can be just as good a parent as a mum and a woman as good a parent as a dad. Does it really matter what your gender is? All that matters is who you are at the end of the day.
You grew up with a single mother?
Yes, I did and I turned out like this because she is amazing. I grew up with a single parent and I never felt like I was missing anything because she puts all of her attention on us. My mum is a superhero and there are lots of mums in the world who are superheroes like her and most people don’t see it that way because you don’t have a dad. I don’t think why people feel there is something wrong with you because you grew up with a single mother.
How did it feel like growing up without a male figure in your life, were you bullied because of this?
I dare someone to bully me about that. I wasn’t bullied by anyone, I never felt weird, and I never felt some type of weight, I never. It was just my reality; it’s perfect.
What about your dad?
My parents are divorced. I don’t hide it. I’m comfortable about it. The thing is, it’s a reality for so many people, but somehow it still seems like such a taboo and I don’t understand why. Sometimes, relationships don’t work, and at the end of the day, parents do what’s best for the children and my mum did an incredible job.
Most people would say that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, what’s your take on that?
No it is not. A grown woman’s place is wherever she decides that it is. There are lots of women who are so well-educated, they have great jobs, it’s not like people expect them to end up in the kitchen or making the beds and all I can say is, would you expect that of a man?
You are not single are you?
I don’t have the time. I mean, being in a relationship is fun but I feel like there are times in your life when you need to be by yourself, because you are trying to evolve as a person and figure out what you want and it’s hard to do that when there is someone else’s feelings you have to consider on everything. I am not searching; I’m happy, single and okay with it.
After your secondary school, did you advance to the university?
I didn’t want to.
Why is that?
I don’t know, maybe because I have spent a long time being an actor. I didn’t just want to go to school just for… ‘Okay she went to school’. I am going to school in a couple of years to study film. I figured if I have to go to university, I might as well do something I cared about. Get some experience and do something that I really, really love, something that I can actually use in my real life.