Up and coming actress cum model, Queeneth Hilbert, is definitely one to look out for. Though her foray into the entertainment industry is relatively short, this actress who has been tipped to be the next big ‘thing’ in Nollywood is taking the bull by the horn. In this interview with MERCY MICHAEL, the half-Lebanese, half-Nigerian, opens up on controversies, relationship as well as her take on nudity roles. Excerpts:
THERE are you from? I am from Nigeria.
What part of Nigeria are you from?
I think the fact that I said I’m from Nigeria is okay. Anyway my father is Lebanese while my mother is from Ebonyi State.
Barely two years into Nigerian movie industry, your profile, has been on a steady rise. What is it that has made you become the toast of every producer?
I would say my personality. It’s God’s favour upon me. Some say my
complexion. Some say my height. Some say because I’m real. Others say I’m blunt. All I know is that I have been a very lucky girl, right from birth.
How many years of modeling career have you had?
I have been into modeling for six years now.
Will you be dumping modeling for acting?
I’m still into modeling. The fact that I’m into acting now doesn’t mean if I get a modeling job I wouldn’t do it. Although I got a lot of modeling jobs last year, I was just so preoccupied with a lot of things. I will get back into modeling as from next year.
You once said in an interview that Tonto Dikeh is the reason you started acting. How true is it?
No, it’s not true. I didn’t say so. I granted and interview and all of a sudden, I started seeing on Google that I said Tonto is the reason I started acting. Tonto Dikeh didn’t inspire me to act. I’ve always loved Nollywood movies and I love some of the A-list actresses, but seriously, the person that inspired me, doesn’t come from Nollywood.
Who is that person?
Angelina Jolie first and foremost, followed by Jessica Alba.
In the same interview you said some nice things about Tonto but you didn’t mince words to say that you are not friends with Mercy Johnson…
Why should I be afraid to say that? For Tonto yes, she’s real.
But it’s not news that Tonto and Mercy are not friends. Is that the reason you don’t like Mercy Johnson?
I like all my colleagues. They are my friends. I don’t have anything against any of them. I just said I am not that close to Mercy Johnson because we don’t match. Not like we are enemies, we are not. We are colleagues. When we are on set, we do our work and we go away. That there is just nothing to discuss about doesn’t mean I have anything against her.
What is it exactly you don’t like about her?
Oh my God! Who says I don’t like Mercy Johnson. Why is everybody saying I don’t like Mercy Johnson? I like Mercy Johnson. I don’t have anything against her, okay! Everybody has his or her character, you understand me. Maybe she doesn’t even like me too, I don’t care. The same way people are feeling I don’t like her is the same way other people might feel about me but I don’t care. Everybody mustn’t like you. So I don’t have anything against Mercy Johnson. I like Mercy Johnson the same way I like Tonto Dikeh. And I told you they are my colleagues.
Something must have endeared you to Tonto. What could it be?
She’s real and then we share similar traits. I don’t give a damn and she doesn’t give a damn.
Talking about being controversial, is it something you picked from Tonto or you have always been like that too?
I’ve always been like that all my life. Everything about me has always been different. People do things, nobody talks about them but when Queeneth does it, everybody talks about it.
Would you mind acting seminude, or being specific, on pant and bra?
I don’t mind, if the money is right, why not? The problem with Nigerians is that most of us are hypocrites. This same pant and bra is the reason some of them buy or rent Hollywood movies. What is wrong in someone being free, doing his or her job? Some actresses would want to act a role but they will be like, I don’t want to be criticized. I don’t believe in all that. I get a script and if it involves acting seminude, as long as it’s an integral part of the story, why not? If I decide to take up a seminude role tomorrow I know some people will not like it. I am not doing it for anybody to like it. I am doing my job. I am building my own profile. I don’t see anything wrong in acting in pants and bra.
Are you not bothered that that might scare the guys away from asking your hand in marriage?
Are you kidding me? Oh my God! A man that was meant for me by God will look away because of the controversies. Most of the time, 70 percent of the fame we have, comes with controversies. If there is no controversy then there is no fame. That is how it has been, whether Bollywood, Hollywood or Nollywood. If you want to be a celebrity, people must talk about you, good or bad, they are all controversies. If a man doesn’t want to ask my hand in marriage because of my controversial nature, he can take a walk. There are many guys out there so he can just take the door and create space for other people to come in. It is as simple as that.
I have seen Angelina Jolie act nude…
If I were in Hollywood I would do same. And God knows in the next two, three years, I am going to shoot in Hollywood.
Has anyone approached you yet?
Yeah, I have gotten one proposal. It is supposed to be in Paris. A friend of mine wants to produce a movie but we are still discussing about the actors to be used because it actually has a lot to do about a guy and a girl.
We have a lot of hunky actors in Nollywood, if you were to pick from OC Ukeje, Blossom Chukwu, Joseph Benjamin and IK Ogbonna to act nude with who will that be?
Blossom, I don’t know, OC Ukeje, no, not my type. Joseph Benjamin no, he’s not my type. IK Ogbonna no, he’s too fair and he acts like everybody is all up on him. I don’t like dragging my man. You know Gbenro of Tinsel. I would go with Gbenro of Tinsel. I wouldn’t mind playing that kind of role with Gbenro.
Tell us about your kind of man?
My kind of man has to be gentle, God fearing, understanding, loving and caring. He mustn’t be selfish. My kind of man doesn’t have anything to do with complexion, or height. It doesn’t have anything to do with looks basically. It doesn’t matter as far as we click.
Your complexion definitely puts you on the spot. How do you handle male attention?
I have received so many friend requests on Facebook and Twitter; so many. Someone said asked me how much will he have to pay me to have his baby and I was like what? I told him he is crazy and he said “Yes, I am crazy but I am damn serious. So reply me when you are done thinking about it?” I’ve learnt to cope with it. I know how to handle them.
So who is the lucky guy in your life?
No comment. I don’t want to talk about that for now. I would talk about it, but not now.
With your look you are not likely to be cast for a ‘dirty role’. Have you ever done such role before?
Of course I have. The movie is titled My daughter, My Jewel. People say certain people can’t do epic movies, but the fact is that it is far from the truth. It’s not about your complexion. I have done My Daughter, My Jewel. There is another movie. It’s actually in Igbo language it’s coming out very soon. It’s called Ukegbe Oyinbo 1&2. I have also done Adaeze 3 & 4. I know everybody will be surprised that I speak Igbo. But that is one thing about me, I can interpret any role. That is how to be a consummate actor.
We all know that cinema is the new Nollywood. Any plans to debut into the cinema soon?
I did a movie that was supposed to go into cinema but something happened. I am not going to talk about it. My colleague might get offended but something happened. One of our colleagues left the set, we couldn’t finish the job. The producer is trying to patch it up somehow. It will soon enter the cinema. I did it earlier this year. That should be around March. And for next year, I’ve gotten like five cinema scripts.
What was it like growing up without a father?
I never said I grew up without a father. That is one of the problems I have with granting interviews. They interview you, you say something and they say something else. I never said I grew up without a father. I am cool with my father and mother I only said I spent most of my growing up years with my mom and there is a reason for that. But I am cool with my father. In fact we have a father-daughter relationship.
When did you realise you had it in you to act?
I’ve always knew I had it in me because sometimes, I just talk to the mirror. And I am so in love with movies. I love watching movies. And when I watch them I learn from them.
What was the last movie you saw?
Bad Teacher, acted by Cameron Daiz. She’s is one of my favourite actresses.
Considering that you are not earning so much right now from acting, what other thing do you do to earn a living?
Actually, one thing about me is, I’m this kind of person who is contended with whatever I have. I don’t mind doing one job in a year as long as the story is good and believe me; I don’t earn little like you think. When a producer calls me on the phone, I give him my price. We talk about it. If it doesn’t work out, fine. If it’s works out, I go do the job. I’m not saying I am that expensive, although I have a feeling that next year, the fee might be higher. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed. And also some of my friends import jewelries and wrist watches for me. Most times is just my friend’s that comes around to buy them. Most times, they can’t even wait for them to land.
Between modeling and acting which would you say has been more rewarding for you?
The truth is, both of them are. I will say more of modeling but acting, from next year, believe me, it will be very rewarding for me and fulfilling. I have so many plans.
Tell us about growing up?
Growing up, I was very quiet, I kept to myself. I avoid trouble a lot but that doesn’t mean if trouble comes I wouldn’t know how to handle it.
Being an actress must have striped your of some of your freedom. How have you been coping?
Well, I’m coping. I have always known it will be like this. I think I am cool with it. But recently, I threw caution to the wind, precisely two weeks ago. I was so hungry; I needed to eat chicken and chips. We were passing around Ikeja because I came from VI to Ikeja. So I told my friend, I was going to walk into an eatery and get it but she was said I was joking. She said I should wait in the car that she will go and get it for me but I insisted that I would get it myself. I went in, got it myself, sat there and ate everything. People came around and I took pictures with them. Most of the children there were like, “Mummy, see Aunty Selina”.
Who gave you your first kiss in a movie?
I think it was either John Dumelo or Yul Edochie. I can’t remember.
Off screen, who would you kiss between those two?
What was the best gift you ever got on your birthday?
I think the best gift I have ever got, was a friend giving me a surprise treat. At a time I had lost hope that I wasn’t going to have a very good birthday. He called me and was like where are you, come and meet me up. We flew to Ghana, we had fun. And then he got me a wonderful, sweet ride. Oh my God, you need to see the ride.
How old were you celebrating?
I was celebrating 19.