Former Big Brother Naija housemate Venita Akpofure is one of the lead actresses on ‘Unmarried’, a show currently streaming on Showmax. ‘Unmarried’ explores the relationship between three females and the challenges they face in their respective love lives.
We recently had a chat with the actress, who plays Nengi on the show: a working-class woman whose seemingly perfect world is suddenly turned upside down. The mother of two shared what attracted her to the script and spoke about building a support system, life after Big Brother Naija and other issues.
What made you accept the script?
I’m a firm believer in connecting with women and this kind of script is very relatable and a lot more common than society likes to present. It’s always been my prerogative to be part of that voice that speaks to them, so when Uche called me to come and try out for the script I was really excited about it.
The ladies on the show have a solid friendship. What’s your take on the notion that women are their own worst enemy, and how does one go about building a solid support system?
As women we’re criticised on so many fronts more than our pale counterparts. I don’t think I agree with the notion that women are our worst enemies because I’ve had both good and bad experiences with women in and out of the workplace. Women need to trust each other more because that way it’s easier to create what can be a foundation for a solid support system, be it an organisation or a personal relationship. It’s difficult to trust another woman in an environment where society puts so many restraints on you as a woman but by and large we’re adapting and girls are coming through.
Any similarities between Venita and Nengi?
With most roles that I’m given to play, there has to be an element of something I can connect to otherwise I’m not able to translate that role properly so there definitely are some elements I connect with but I’d like to keep that private. But I can say that every girl gets her heart broken and every girl has a fairy tale dream that didn’t quite work out.
In the show, one of your co-stars puts up with a lot of disappointments from her husband. What would you say is a relationship deal breaker for you?
If a man has no drive and I mean no drive, no battery. So if he’s no more willing to try, that’s a deal breaker for me. I think the worst character trait a man can exhibit in a relationship is not to have any drive. You need to be able to captain your ship as a man; your wife needs to be able to trust and believe in your vision, decision-making and problem solving. The minute a woman that you love stops believing in any of that, it’s a miss.
What has been the best and worst thing about being a Big Brother ex-housemate for you?
For me personally, and I know some people still struggle to understand this, but I was on my own personal journey of rediscovering myself and that was the best thing for me. You can’t put any money on that. Also the option of having more opportunities in terms of business, especially in my line of work, is one of the good things that has come from my time in the house. On the flip side, the worst thing about being an ex-housemate is having to deal with thousands of opinions on what you should be doing, what you should look like, especially with being a single mother of two. It’s not fun. They like to take my matter to town but I’ve been in the industry for quite some time so I’ve developed a certain layer, I would like to think. But once in a while, I’m a troll too. I like to troll people who come for me. I’m as human as any of those behind the keyboards so it is what it is.
Do you keep in touch with your fellow ex-housemates?
We’re still in touch. We still fight and tear each other’s pants. The irony of it all. We’re just grateful to God that we have not disgraced ourselves as a collective but most of us are in touch. I have people that are in my life very regularly like Enkay. For me my stuff was consistent because I was who I said I was. For those people who were not being who they were, their life’s a lot more complicated. I don’t have those problems; I don’t worry about them.
Any projects in the pipeline with your fellow ex-housemates that your fans can look forward to?
We’ve actually spoken about it briefly but there’s nothing concrete yet. We need to sit down and plan but I’d love to do something with Queen of the North (Diane). I’m going to leave it at that for now but that’s probably something that is going to happen because we’re in the same field. I do have other things I’d like to do with other people but it’s based on timing so I can’t speak too much on that.
How about from Venita solely, any projects fans should look forward to?
Since coming out, I launched my beauty line, Ivie Lux. I also auditioned for something pretty big and I’m waiting on feedback for that. On the whole I just want to progress and expand and the best way is to remain consistent.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over, and how have you been passing time?
Getting back to work! I think most of us have been spending a lot. I’m so idle. I need to get back to set work because that’s the one I’m very passionate about. The other work I enjoy but set work is where my heart is. Sadly and ironically content creating is what has been taking up most of my time. I would have thought I’d spend the time doing something more holistic or whichever but with the isolation online activity has exploded so brands and influencers are taking the opportunity. I’m also taking a healthy amount of time reconnecting and reaffirming some bonds I haven’t been keeping in my life but content creating is all the buzz now.
Any tips on how parents can keep their children engaged this period?
As a parent, I’m appreciating the value of a teacher. What they do is huge so first of all kudos to anyone in education but I don’t want any parents to put too much pressure on themselves. It’s okay not to understand; it’s okay to be tired sometimes; it’s okay to stress – you’re human too but just try and engage your child in an activity when you’re in a good place. The last thing you want to do is traumatise the child because you don’t know how to deal with the situation. So if it’s a situation you don’t know how to deal with, take it slow or just keep quiet till you figure it out for now. You’re not going to get this time back so value your time and be thankful.