You have been off the radar for a while, as a thespian (a good one at that) are you cooking up something for the fans?
Yes I am. Affairs of the Heart is the first one you will probably see. Between is the next one which is in post-production. Produced by Daniel Ademinokan and I. Directed by Daniel.
You relocated to the US obviously for good reasons, but do you by any chance miss the movie scripts back home?
I miss everything back home, not just the scripts. It's so amazing to see all the new movies and new Actor's that have emerged. I am so proud of the movie practitioners who have worked hard to raise the bar in our film making.
You starred in the emotional and captivating movie, Affairs of the Heart, which premieres at the Siverbird Cinemas nationwide come March 11, 2016, how would you describe the movie?
AFFAIRS OF THE HEART is a movie that a lot of NIGERIANS both home and abroad can definitely identify with. It's an emotional movie but also very expository as regards the plight of people who would go to any length to live the American Dream.
It’s a story of betrayal, love, romance and distrust, tell us about your character in the movie?
I played the female lead, who was deceived into a union that she believed was a blessing. My character went through a series of emotions that a lot of women go through daily but we don't know how deep some of these issues are. Two things that people also will take away from this movie but are often overlooked is FORGIVNESS and REDEMPTION. In some ways, you can say it's a movie that will also speak to the hearts of CHRISTIANS.
What did you take away from in terms of personal experience?
AFFAIRS OF THE HEART is a constant reminder to adults that are looking to get married to really be certain of the character of their intended spouse. Getting into a lifelong relationship cannot be business as usual. The intentions of both parties have to be clearly stated. Apart from that, it also made me analyze my decisions better.
What will you say is your favorite scene from the movie and why?
I love the scene where my character was trying to seduce her husband by taking off her robe to expose (what she believed was a lingerie), but was embarrassed and rejected. It's my favorite scene because it carries mixed emotions. I felt bad for women who have gone through that, but it also made me laugh. Joseph Benjamin is such a funny guy and the way he played the scene was hilarious.
Any advice for all the Viviennes (the character you played in the movie) out there?
Like I said earlier, try and get to know the person you intend to marry. Nothing should be done in a rush because the relationship is for a lifetime.
Your absence from the Nigeria movie scene has really been felt by your fans. Would you say Affairs of the Heart is part of the moves to keep that name, Stella Damasus alive in our hearts?
I will not say STELLA DAMASUS is making moves to keep herself in the hearts of people. When people love you, they don't forget you. The ones that don't care are those that can easily forget you. I have always given attention to the ones who really care about me and what I am doing. AFFAIRS OF THE HEART was one of the most professionally written scripts that I was offered and the director ROBERT PETERS is someone I trust to make a great movie. I had not done a movie in a long time so when they sent this to me, I knew it was something worth doing. As you may have heard I was working on many other things in America and really could not make movies because of schedule. After AFFAIRS OF THE HEART it took me another full year to have the time to do BETWEEN.
There is a tremendous improvement in movie productions currently in Nollywood, what would you say stand Affairs of the Heart out among the lot?
AFFAIRS OF THE HEART is an amazing movie that should be rated by those who see it. I am not one to compare people's movies because it takes a lot of effort to make them. Besides, the budget of the movie plays a major role in the outcome so it will be unfair to make a comparison when you don't have the budget different people have worked with. I just know that AFFAIRS OF THE HEART is a movie that I would love to watch over and over again. JOSEPH BENJAMIN is one of the best actors I have worked with, ROBERT PETERS is such a talented and gifted DIRECTOR, the other actors who I worked with for the first time were so professional. I know that NEVEADA BRIDGE PRODUCTIONS did so much to make sure the production was properly done. I don't have any doubt that people will love and recommend this movie.
What will you say attracted you to the script?
The dialogue, the subject matter and the fact that I would work with JOSEPH BENJAMIN.
What was it like working with Joseph Benjamin as the lead actor?
He is the most professional actor ever. Extremely patient through every scene and every location. Always minding his business but very funny when he joins a conversation. I got to see the spiritual side of him which made me so happy as well. He is talented and knows the true meaning of becoming a character.
Affairs of the Heart addresses two major issues, one is the damaging effect of betrayal and secondly, the ultimate power of uncommon forgiveness; do you think you guys did enough justice to the message?
I believe we did and even more.
Any plans to delight your fans soon with coming down to Nigeria for a production soon?
Yes. I have already spoken to two producers, one in Nigeria and a collaboration in Ghana. By God's grace when I finish the projects I have for this year I will head down.
Why do you think anyone should go see the Affairs of the Heart?
STELLA is in it. (Laughing so hard now because I can imagine what some people will say). Well, it's a great movie that everyone can identify with. It has all the elements people look for in a movie, good acting, good costumes, good locations, good dialogue, great chemistry, good technical work, strong message.
With fame comes negative vibes from both the media and fans alike. As an actress you have had your fair share, what would say has been your weapon in handling negative stories about you?
GOD, my family and maturity
Your girls are all grown up now, what new lessons have you learnt in the area of motherhood?
Too many I would need another interview to talk about it. Motherhood has taught me patience and endurance. It has also made me love and trust God more.
One thing that most Nigerians miss when outside the country is the unique Nigeria delicacies, which would you say you miss the most?
I don't miss anyone because we have African stores here so I cook African food once in a while.
There are often complaints from actors which often bother on either the overbearing attitude of the director or the shabby manner of the entire production. What was it like working on the set of a Nevada Bridge Productions?
I have explained that earlier and I think in this production we worked as a family and have remained close friends ever since. Anyone who works with Nevada ends up doing different things with them. I am hosting a show for NEVILLE's band soon and many other things lined up.
Would you say the growing trend in the Nollywood/Hollywood collaboration is a positive development of the Nigeria movie industry?
Definitely. No man is an island, so the collaborations helps in expanding the followership to other regions. The fan base will definitely grow and we also learn from other cultures. When you have a symbiotic relationship we all strive for a common goal and working together makes it better and more authentic.
Movie roles defines an actor and often times determines how far the actor progresses in his/her career. What will you never do in a movie or better still, what script will you never accept, no matter the financial gain or career elevation and why?
I can play any role as long as the things I am asked to do are relevant to the story. I am not one who believes that sex sells. Even if there will be a sex scene I always confirm how it will be done, VULGARITY should not be the driving force of a movie. I am a story teller not a STRIPPER.
The movie opens in Cinemas nationwide from March 11, 2016.
Interview by Chifa Concepts