She is an emerging actress we think you should meet. Introducing Ebbe Bassey!
LADYBRILLE.com: Ebbe, tell us who you are?
Ebbe: I am a live wire. I am vibrant, feisty, passionate, independent, hard working, fun loving, big into fostering and strengthening my relationship with my God, my family and friends. I am always open to opportunities whereby I can learn and improve on myself as a human being. I love traveling, reading, volunteering, the movies, theater, dancing, great food, great wine, great music and great conversation. And if I may so myself, I am the Queen of karaoke, I’ve got an inner rock star that comes out every now and again. [Smiles]
LADYBRILLE.com: Your story is quite interesting on how you ventured into film. Could you share it with us?
Ebbe: So this is how I got into acting, don’t ask me how I even found out that there was such a thing as ‘Backstage’ magazine but I used to buy it every Thursday, read it, circle the parts I thought I could play then throw it away because I thought I couldn’t do it. I would look forward to this every Thursday like a feen. I never missed a Thursday; however I would never even think about submitting myself for any of the roles. I gave myself every reason in the book, i.e. I was not a size 2, I had an accent, and I was not high yellow [light skinned] enough and didn’t have “good hair” like Halle Berry etc. So this one Thursday, they happen to be casting a Nigerian play called the ‘Fire and the Goddess’ by Dr. Chudi Uwazuruike, a professor at City College. I had the audacity to show up at this audition without a memorized monologue, one of those glamour shot 8X10 photos in color [yikes!] and a totally made up resume. Colored photos are in now but at the time…? No!
I walked in boldly, wrapped in my Nigerian attire like a Hausa woman [Northern Nigeria], I read-acted a monologue straight out of Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart.’ At the end of it, the director was so shocked at my boldness, that all he could manage to ask me is if I had any memorized monologue that I could perform; well, I told him that I had not acted in such a long time, I had forgotten my monologue and was so touched by this story I couldn’t wait to audition for it.
I got the lead role. And until then I had only been in a few church/school plays. I had never been to anyone’s acting school. Would I dare do that now? No. It was probably one of the craziest things I’ve done but at the time I thought “heck what do I have to lose?” I think I have lost some of that moxie because now I do have something to lose.
Anyway, I didn’t get to play the role because it had originally been offered to my buddy on the [Ladybrille July] cover, Femi Emiola.She had fallen ill after booking the gig but they didn’t think she would be well in time to do the show so they re-casted that is why I could audition for it.
LADYBRILLE.com: You are basically a Hollywood actress. But, do you have an opinion on Nollywood?
Ebbe: [N]ollywood is Nollywood. It is what it is and what that is, is good but there is always room for improvement in anything. It is my humble opinion that at this point, the industry is at a cross road, we are all waiting to see which fork in the road it will take. . .
LADYBRILLE.com: Do you plan to collaborate with Nollywood directors and producers to make some magic?
Ebbe: I have not been approached by anyone but yes at some point as an actor, I wouldn’t mind having that experience of working with some of Nigeria’s creative minds in the industry.
LADYBRILLE.com: Actually, I am curious if you’ve ever considered producing and directing a movie in Africa?
Ebbe: No, not really. I am predominantly an actor, Siri Oko Fo [Mending Fences] was my first effort as a producer, screen writer and I’ve not yet ventured into directing. At this point in my life, let’s just say I am a little too chicken for that because to shoot at home [Nigeria], I would have to learn a whole new set of rules. The rule books are most definitely not the same. I am in awe of those who do it day in, day out…God bless them but I am not ready for that particular diet of stress and aggravation.
LADYBRILLE.com: Share with us your highs and lows in the film/entertainment industry?
Ebbe: The high point has been how well Siri Oko Fo (Mending Fences) has been received so far; overcoming so much to finally arrive at what I now have, a completed film that is a product that educates and entertains. I did not sit back and grouse about how there is no work. I got up and did something about my situation. Another high point has been having the opportunity to work on some of America’s top shows like NYPD Blues and Law & Order: SVU. There have been some low points but I don’t focus on the past, I have so much more to accomplish to waste time looking back on what I cannot change. There is a reason why the rear view mirror in a car is much, much smaller than the windshield.
LADYBRILLE.com: Times have been extremely difficult in the business of film, especially in the States. So where did the funding come for you to produce and direct a short film that made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival?!
Ebbe: I funded the project myself with my rainy day stash. Most people in film do it using OPM (other people’s money) but I have a fear of OPM because when people give you money for a project, they want to have an opinion. Is that realistic, of certainly not but for my first project, I wanted to go solo because if it turned out to be a dud, I didn’t want anyone calling the po-po [police] or worse a lawyer on me. No offense, Uduak. [smiles]
LADYBRILLE.com: [None taken] What next for Ebbe?
Ebbe: I have just finished work on another short film, The End of Winter. I am polishing up two different scripts that I’ve written while making the rounds of film festivals to promote my film ‘Siri Oko Fo (Mending Fences)’.
LADYBRILLE.com: Favorite African Fashion Designers?
Ebbe: Deola Sagoe, for the Euro sexy me, Moshood-for the big afro, bohemian chic, afro centric me and the up and coming Estella Couture-for the modern Efik woman me.
LADYBRILLE.com: What is the first thing you did this morning?
Ebbe: Pray. I must begin my day with thanks and gratitude to God for keeping me.
LADYBRILLE.com: Describe your style sense?
Ebbe: I would describe my style sense as mostly elegant, classic, cool and chic. I don’t always jump on the latest fads because those come and go. I stick to what works for me and my body type whether it conforms to “what’s in” or not…I am not concerned. I need to feel comfortable, confident which in turns brings my sexy out and that’s for no one but myself. I will give you an example, I don’t own Skinny Jeans. I don’t because once you get up to a size 10/12 which I am, I don’t think you can call those Skinny Jeans anymore, those are just big old jeans with very tapered legs.
LADYBRILLE.com: Congrats so far and keep on keeping on with your strong work.
Ebbe: Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me this opportunity.
Photo: Mary Lee Photography