Popularly known as ‘I am Shai’ or ‘Eja nla’, Seyi Edun is a fast-rising Nollywood actress and movie producer. She features mainly in the Yoruba movies and has grown to be reckoned with as an actress to watchout for. Seyi got married to Toyin Abraham’s ex-husband, Adeniyi Johnson, and this generated quite a ripple on social media last year. In this interview with VANESSA OKWARA, this beautiful actress bares it all and her journey to stardom
How has life been for you as an actress?
To me, being an actress is an awesome feeling because it enhances me to express my creative side at any available levels. Being an actress is also a beautiful thing. I can then say life has indeed been awesome. Though there are down moments too, but they have made me stronger to face the challenges of life.
What would you say being an actress has done for you?
Being an actress had done a lot for me, I must be sincere. It has opened doors for me. It has taken me to places I only imagined as a kid. Being an actress had made me see more to life. It has opened my mind towards the essentials of humanity that we must live to make life better for others. Being an actress had made me meet top people, kings and influential people in the society. And of course, being an actress made me meet the love of my life.
Would you drop making movies or acting for 1 million dollars?
Well, this is a dicey one. But truthfully, I can’t even though the money looks convincing. I believe in my craft, and I have a dream that someday I shall make movies that will bring record breaking income for me.
That is what they call passion. I’m so passionate about my craft. Being an actress for me is not all about money, but also about the impact of my art on the society; about my contribution to social discussions surrounding rape, girl-child education, politics, good governance and more.
I just introduced a back to school project called Shaiworld Initiatives, whereby we send children to school with the help of sponsors. Presently we have about four children in school.
What has fame changed about you?
Fame has a way of shaping and reshaping one’s normal life, honestly. Looking at social media particularly, one would wish to respond to some trolls or some statements. But because of fame or celebrity status, I will restrain from doing so. But in the real world, fame has got nothing on my true personality. I am true, open and welcoming; nothing so different other than we appear on screen.
Growing up as a young girl, did you ever imagine being an actress?
Yes, I have always looked forward to being a famous personality, a popular entertainer. It has been a part of me for a long time. I am highly grateful to God that I am doing what I love doing, and it is putting food on my table.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on some projects actually. I have three movies at post production stage, ‘Oko mi Ota Mi’, ‘Asewo’, ‘Case Closed’, while I’m also coordinating a production for an individual investor. On the other hand, I am working on a big collaboration between my NGO and some top philanthropists, in order to take things to higher level.
How do you fund your self-produced movies? And the challenges you faced in your first production?
Overtime, funding has been a major challenge in Nollywood. Most of the actors and producers have different ways of funding their productions. Irrespective of the ways, it is never an easy thing to achieve. I funded my productions mostly by myself.
But in recent times, I am working on collaboration with private investors in Nollywood.
Are you satisfied with the current level of production/Marketing plan in the Yoruba movie sector?
Well, I will frankly say that marketers are really trying to make things as smooth as possible, but there is always room for development. We must not forget that they are combating piracy, as it deeply affects the prospects of business. I give kudos to them for being strong all the way. While some marketers are finding it difficult to survive, we still have some like, Corporate Pictures, Olasquare Movies, Olasco Films, Isolak Films, Hibee Pictures and Timolak Films, among others, using the digital marketing effectively as an alternative.
In what way would you advice the government to come into the movie industry to improve it?
Over the years, we have heard of government intervention programmes in Nollywood several times. But the major problem is that, the intervention programmes are not usually felt by the least artisan in the industry. It doesn’t go round. Access to government intervention fund is highly complicated. Also, government needs to monitor strictly the flow of funds or Grant meant for production support. Monitoring goes a long way in ensuring sincere spending and honest execution of projects as stated in respective proposals.
How is your hubby, Adeniyi Johnson?
We thank God. He is fine and doing great. Thank you.
What is it you both like and don’t like about him?
Well, I think this is a part of my family I will rather not wish to discuss here. Hope you understand.
What is that one thing about your hubby that drives you crazy?
It is for me only, I can’t sell out my ‘personal secret’, sorry.
What was the first thing he said to you the first day you met?
That’s a personal secret as well.
How have you been handling internet trolls?
You see, Internet trolls are something else entirely. I do reply them o! But my management has really worked on me now. Trolls don’t deserve any of my attention anymore. I don’t listen or pay attention to them anymore. I think that’s just the best way to deal with them.
How do you keep fit?
To me fitness isn’t just a mere thing; it is a lifestyle, a tradition. I take fitness seriously. It keeps me fit mentally, psychologically and physically.
You have a fashion line. Tell us more about it?
My fashion line was named Shai designs before, we rebirth to a new name, Shaiworld Luxury. It will be opening soon, its fast evolving. We are growing gradually. God has been awesome all the way.
Describe your style?
My fashion style is basically simple and comfortable. Once I am comfortable in it, I rock it. Public opinion of what I wear has never bothered me.
What are your favourite fashion accessories?
I wear Sherrygold accessories. I like it simple except on big occasions.
Your favourite make up accessories?
I hardly wear makeup; my makeup is occasional.
What can you never be caught doing in a movie?
I can never be caught flirting excessively in a movie. It is not my thing. I can never appear naked in a movie.
What is your advice to people, especially ladies/ women who are presently going through some of the things you have been through in life?
My sincere advice to them is to stay strong. Never give up on life. Never give up on yourself. Never give up on God. Whatever negativity that has been thrown at you, use them to build a formidable force for yourself. Above all, never downgrade anyone in life. Every person matters.
Words to your fans as 2019 enter its last quarter?
I appreciate my fans over the years for standing by me, for believing in my brand unconditionally. I love you all. Let’s keep being together
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