People feel I get roles because I’m light-skinned

Budding actress, filmmaker and video editor, Christiana Martin, says multi-tasking is a way of life for her. For the love of the industry, the half German, half Nigerian sought knowledge at the New York Film Academy. She speaks with OVWE MEDEME on her sundry issues.

AT OTHER TIMES, I DON’T GET A ROLE BECAUSE THEY FEEL I WON’T BE ABLE TO PORTRAY THE CHARACTER WELL BECAUSE I’M LIGHT SKINNED

YOU just wrapped up Stormy Hearts production. What was the experience like?

It was a lovely and fun experience. Everyone on set was amazing to work with. The producers made the whole production process a breeze. And the whole cast and crew was so easy to work with.

What role did you play in the movie?

I play the role of Ella.

Did you find it challenging?

It wasn’t that challenging except when I had to sing. I can’t vouch for my vocal cords.

Are there similarities between the role and your real self?

Not really. Ella has a different personality from Christiana.

Aside Stormy Hearts, what other projects are you working on?

I am currently in pre-production for my next project. It is a feature film. In time, I would talk more about it.

This would be your first time in the cinemas. How does that make you feel?

I’m actually feeling a bit nervous and excited. It’s a big deal for me, so I’m over the moon. When the producers called me about the movie, I think I did a back flip because I was so excited. I started reading the script immediately and it blew my mind.

What drew you to the script?

After reading the script, I found Ella’s character very interesting; especially with the risk she was willing to take to achieve her dreams. Even though she wasn’t sure what the future held for her, she took her chances.

Is that something you relate with on a personal level?

Not really. I’m more of a pros and cons lady. I evaluate every situation carefully before I make a decision. I do take risks but after very careful consideration.

When did you decide to go into acting?

That was in 2014. I was asked to do a cameo for a movie. After that experience, I decided to go all out with it. So I went to study at the New York Film Academy where I studied hi-def filmmaking and acting for film. I also studied video editing, although I’m still perfecting my editing skills

Between acting, filmmaking and video editing, which is your first love?

Acting is my first love. I love being in front of the camera. Playing a character that is the opposite of me as a person is quite intriguing.

How did the Nigerian movie industry receive you?

Well it hasn’t been an easy ride. But I am still hanging in there and things are looking up.

Of all the movies you have done, which do you find most challenging?

I haven’t gotten there yet. I am open to more challenging roles.

Have you had any experience that almost made you give up?

Yes I have. So many times I wanted to. But I kept pushing and putting up a positive attitude towards life and all its ups and downs. Nothing comes easy. If it did, there will be no value for it. Aside from studying, I have learnt so much from being on set.

So far, how would you say you have fared this year?

I am not one to toot my own horn. But I am thankful for where I am now. My first ever feature film was Scorned which I co-produced is being shown on major TV stations and is getting good reviews. It’s also a finalist at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival. And now, I am in a movie that’s going to a cinema. I have to say that I’m happy with where I am today. It’s not easy.

As one who is of mixed race, have you experienced any form of discrimination?

Yes. Most people feel I get my roles because I’m light-skinned. At other times, I don’t get a role because they feel I won’t be able to portray the character well because I’m light- skinned. As an actor there’s nothing you throw at me that I can’t portray. Sometimes people even feel I can’t speak Pidgin English but I am from Delta State. Pidgin is what we do. And I am thankful to Judith for giving me this opportunity.

Did you grow up in Delta State?

Yes I did, in Warri to be precise.

What was growing up in Warri like?

Warri is a nice place. I grew up with my elder sister and my mom.

Is it as rough as it is constantly painted?

Not at all. Some areas could be rough as with any State but generally, Warri is a cool place.

Between Germany and Nigeria, where lies your allegiance?

I am Nigerian.

How much of your time does acting take?

It’s not like it doesn’t take much of my time. But I know how to juggle my career and my personal life.

Does it leave you time to take care of your family?

Yes I have enough time to take care of my family. I am very good at multitasking.

What are your plans for the remaining part of the year?

Work Work Work. My next project is already in its pre-production stage like I said. And we are working hard to make sure we get it right. Scorned had great reviews. And we want to do something even better and fresh.

Do you have any hobbies? What are they?

I love to cook. I can cook all day. I swim and I write.

Aside acting, what else are you into?

I am also a movie producer and a video editor. After graduating from NYFA, my business partner and I started our own production company called The Filmsage Productions. It was under it that we shot our first feature film, Scorned where I played a rape victim. It was an experience.

Does the profession give you time to develop relationships?

Yes of cause. I have met a lot of lovely people. When you’re on set, it’s like for a moment you are all one big family coming together to create something extraordinary to ‘wow’ the world. And even after the shoot is done that friendship still remains.

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