BY OLUSHOLA RICKETTS
HER voice floated quietly, but confidently. She was emotional as she spoke; and even with wide grin that spotlighted her elegant face, you’ll notice little tears dripping from her eyes.
As a growing child, the Nollywood actress and model battled with asthma. The experience was not palatable. Now, she is determined to create more awareness about the ailment, which has killed many young people. “My experience, coupled with that of my father, a diabetic patient, made me think of setting up a foundation to cater for the less-privileged,” she says.
SUSAN Peters, the Benue State-born diva says she will officially launch her non-governmental organisation (NGO), 'Susan Peters Foundation: Benue Pikin' on May 30, her birthday. “I hope to use the organisation to enlighten more people, as well as, create awareness on childhood asthma and diabetes,” Susan says.
“Childhood asthma is something most people don’t know about. So, I intend to create awareness about these two killer diseases — asthma and diabetes,” she pauses, as if to muster enough strength to say what is coming next.
“I love charity and I hope to use the medium provided by the Foundation to contribute my quota to societal growth,” Susan says, in a voice that carries not only her dream, but also the spirit behind it.
Reflecting back Susan says, before now, she’d always celebrated her birthday with inmates in orphanages,; using such occasion as an avenue to enlighten them on how to handle such cases.
Since it is an NGO, the Foundation will source for fund both within and outside the country. Says Susan, “we are, however, looking up to kind-hearted Nigerians, corporate organisations and government for support to make the mission work.”
SUSAN’s break into Nollywood started with an excursion to Lagos in 2002 after a course in TV and Film in Kaduna. The actress, however, had her first shot at limelight, when she did a modelling job around 2004.
Since then, she has graced so many billboards including those of BAT (British America Tobacco), Fidelity Bank, Keystone Bank, Golden Penny Pasta, U.H.F Long life Milk, Haemeron blood tonic, Airport Branding and others.
However, modeling has not stopped her involvement in acting. In only a few years on the turf, she has featured in over 50 movies including Sound of poverty, Wicked Intensions, Stone face, Spiritual War, God Mother, Nollywood Hustlers, Bursting out, 30 days, Mortal attraction, Moment of Truth, Young Masters, Getto Language, The Begotten, Wasted Effort, My Diary, Squad 23, War Front 2, State of Emergency 2, Stolen Bible, The Hammer, Save the Crown, God Mother, The boy is mine and others.
Is she comfortable with the way movies are flooding the Nigerian market?
“Our videos now go through the cinemas before they are finally released into the market. You have to go see them at cinemas or have to wait for it to be on DVD,” she discloses.
Susan believes there is no industry without challenges, even in politics. In the UK, she says they have their own lapses and “we have our own as well but we pray to God every day that it gets better."
She continues, “Nigeria is a big country, and there is no way you can compare the way video films are shot here with that of UK.”
Then again, she pauses. “The way we work here is tense. We do back to back movies like there is no tomorrow. An executive producer won't just sit down and expect you to use a month to shoot a video that could take him some days. People in the UK don’t work like us; they work with ease.”
How does she choose whom she works with and the work to be done?
She says, commitment to the job and project determine that.
As to the seeming stiff competition among actresses -- which often lead to conflicts or what is popularly called beefing; she tacitly admits such exists, but points out that men don’t really go through the same challenges and difficulties.
“If a particular role is meant for this man, it is for the man. But in our case, we have lots of new faces that are equally doing well. Gone are the days that they use to beg a lady or woman to act,” she explains.
But does this make her happy? “Maybe not,” she says. “The lesser the politics in Nollywood, the better.”
She also puts a caveat: “There is need for more investment in the movie industry. If there are more investors, there will be more jobs for the youths. The industry is very large to accommodate everybody.”
To what extent has her appearance fees influenced her life on the acting turf?
While advising up-coming actresses and models to seek God’s love and favour, says, “if you have to be Susan Peters, you must have to forget about the money at present. When you are fresh in the industry or just coming in, the take-home is small. If you really have passion for the job, you must not think too much of money for now and make sure that you are relevant and get roles based on merit. The money will always come later.”
Few months after the premiere, the movie earned her the Best Actress Award for (Supporting Role) at the Nollywood and African Film Critics' Awards (NAFCA) held in North Carolina, USA.
Though the category had other strong contenders such as Ini Edo, Nadia Buari and Roseline Ngissah; Susan’s troublesome character as Ibiere in the movie sure won the hearts of the judges and viewers, who voted massively for her in the competition.
The NFACA recognizes work of professionals in the African film industry, including directors, actors, writers and humanitarian workers.
Apart from two international awards — Afro Hollywood Award, United Kingdom and Best Supporting Actress in America (NFACA), she has won two awards from City People magazine: Outstanding Performance in the movie industry (2012) and The Most Stylish Actress of the Year (2010) and Best of Nollywood (BON) last year. “I cherish all my awards because they are very importance to me," she relishes.
Till date, she remains the only and first Nigerian Actress to feature in the International Afro American Magazine, Black Beauty And Hair.
Is she lonely at the top? “No,” Susan says. She is in fact surprised at the negative perception the society attach to single ladies.
“Marital issue is so serious in our society. Any little thing, people will insult you to go marry as if marriage is the end of the world,” she laments.
She adds that force has nothing to do with getting the right person. “Marriage will come at the right time. The reason many people experience-failed marriages is because of pressure either from family or their peers.”
Susan advises women not to rush into marriage. “Take your time and get to know the person even though it takes forever to know someone.”
If she finally marries, breaking up in the future won’t be an option. “I want a marriage that describes everything to do with 'for better for worst'.”
HER fashion sense?
The award-winning actress says, “ I am a fashionista and good dress sense influences me.”The lady, whose most expensive fashion pieces are her Swarovski and diamond sets, says, she does not really have favourite designers. “I go for what fits me. My style is classy, edgy, trendy, sexy and sassy.”
Susan says her beauty routine is simple — regular facial wash, use of moisturisers and a lot of water. She eats well, too. She uses any kind of shower gel and ‘clean and clear’ products for her face.