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Kocabelle Guemini is a Cameroonian born actress who resides in Nigeria and has been working her way to get to the top. She has worked on several high profile productions. St. Hilary’s crew sought her out as she was also able to find time to take this interview. Below is the interview we had with her.
SH: What was growing up like?
Kocabelle: Growing up in Douala is a blessing. Those kinds of blessings that you know as an adult you appreciate. My parents didn’t have much but we were satisfied. I went to a public primary school, Ecole Publique de Nylon where I spent six years. My secondary school years were tough because my parents were going through difficult times. I was staying with relatives. So, I went to seven different schools. These had both good and bad effects on me. As a child, no one should go through such. You leave the comfort of your home to somewhere else, they say things to you. So, it wasn’t pleasant. Many who went through such are living miserable lives today. They are prostitutes, robbers, drunkards and all what not. I know what children living with others go through because I have been there. I advice if you can’t handle taking care of a child in your house, don’t do it. The child mustn’t stay with you for you to help. The good part is today, I know better.
SH: As a young lady, how was it starting up in this field?
Kocabelle: You mean in Nollywood?
Kocabelle: well, it was tough. But I was kind of ready for it. I expected it because I knew that moving from my country to another to start a career wouldn’t be easy. I came knowing what I wanted. I had my principles and that helped me. I know it takes one film to make it. Julia Roberts is what she is today because of “Pretty Woman”. Kenny Reeves because of “Matrix”. And so, I said to myself that audition is the only way. Just like you want to work in a bank, you go for an interview. If I go for fifty auditions in a month, and I don’t get called, I don’t mind, because what is right is always right. It pays.
SH: What lessons have you learnt from these experiences?
Kocabelle: That what is right is always right. No matter how long it takes. The word is righteousness. Before I just say it, but today, I can back it up with stories, my experiences.
SH: Would you say these experiences are helpful?
Kocabelle: They are very helpful. They make you stronger and better prepared for what lies ahead. Some big names come and they want to give you a job and give you unrealistic conditions. With these experiences, I know what is right. As a Christian, I follow God’s instructions. And if He (God) says you should go somewhere, he has made arrangements for you there. So, with this, I stand my ground and do the right thing. I have the thoughts of doing the right things. That’s what God says and I do it.
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SH: Hotel Majestic?
Kocabelle: Being part of Hotel Majestic was like going to film school. I don’t know if it had to do with the South Africans that were involved. The Director and Director of Photography are South Africans. The producer is from Kenya. Being on that set was something and it was really of a very high production standard. When I left that set to another, I realized the huge difference. It was really shocking to see the low standard. Every movie I watch, I read about it, how it was made. When you read and compare with Hotel Majestic you see the standard there. Okay, for instance, Ivie Okunjaiye travelled for a shoot in America and met the same standard.
SH: Tell us about Ese
Kocabelle: Ese to me, seemed like the most difficult character. When I read the character bible, I was wondering how the producer could think I could carry that part. I had to meet a director friend of mine who helped me. During the pilot, the Director, Alex Mouth, was so impressed and that made me very confident. His comments boosted my self confidence.
SH: You are on the set of Johnsons
Kocabelle: The way they operate is different from that of Hotel Majestic. They’ve been together for years. There is that bonding. The way they operate is totally different.
SH: Your role in Johnsons
Kocabelle: I play Drip. She is a Cameroonian refugee who wants to be a medical doctor and needed to struggle to pay her bills and eventually met the Johnsons. Mr. Lucky, the father of the house likes her for her hard work and her interest in becoming a medical doctor unlike his own children.
SH: I’m sure you know you have fans. What do they think as regards your roles?
Kocabelle: I get positive and encouraging comments from my fans. They commend my performances. This is really encouraging and I thank them all. To all my fans I say thank you for your support.
SH: Your partner in Hotel Majestic is Jeffiong. Outside the Hotel Majestic set, how is your relationship?
Kocabelle: we’re very good friends. That’s all. Actually on the Hotel Majestic set, we were very united. We were always going out together. We really bonded. And even till now, we are still in touch.
SH: Where do you see the TV industry in five years time?
Kocabelle: In the next five years… TV is taking over. If those in the business of making movies are not careful, TV would take over completely. Today, TV looks like films with action, sound and camera movements. TV uses several cameras while movie uses one. These days, TV is doing all you find in films. Take a look at Scandal, Game of Thrones, How to get away with Murder et.c. I want to believe in Nigeria, we are gradually getting there. Now in the US, the TV episodes show once a week unlike before of five days a week viewing which is what we are doing in Nigeria and Africa today.
SH: Would you say TV is more profitable?
Kocabelle: Yes and it gives you the opportunity to expand your story. Now, we are having plenty of stories like The Governor. What I’m saying is that we’re doing TV in movie standard and so in five years time, we should be there.
SH: You spent Christmas in Cameroon last year, do you plan on doing same this year?
Kocabelle: I’m going home. If not that Arik keeps postponing the flight I should be home by now.
SH: How do your parents feel knowing you are on television as an actress?
Kocabelle: My mum is not happy about it. Like every mum would want her daughter to get an office job, get married and start giving her grand children.
SH: Do you have a boyfriend?
Kocabelle: Yes. So, there’s no vacancy.
SH: Your plans on settling down?
Kocabelle: God’s time is the best.
SH: Your advice for those trying to enter the industry.
Kocabelle: Well, like I usually say, there’s no such thing as help. Precisely to girls, if you want to get there the easy way, you would be ready to do all the stupid things to get there. But know that no one will give you a big role without you being good. No producer would feature you if you’re not good. After a producer has budgeted huge sums of money for the project he would never give a mediocre a big role. So, my advice is that you go for auditions. It’s the best way, the only right way. Go for as many as possible and be ready to take rejection. If you are really talented, one day, it would pay.
SH: Online reading or traditional paperback reading?
SH: Facebook or Instagram?
SH: Chat or calls?
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