I have always liked the actress Doris Simeon and admired how as one of the few Nollywood actresses she could meander her way from Yoruba to English films effortlessly, by virtue of being fluent in both languages. The actress (who recently added another year) has added producing and directing to her resume now having produced & directed several productions. I caught up with her recently and she had quite a lot to say about Nollywood at present as well as the future of the industry in Diaspora. Enjoy!
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NWA: Hello Doris. Its been quite awhile. How are you? So are you still producing and acting in movies? Tell us about your recent jobs.
DS: Hi Bola. Yes ofcourse, I am still acting and producing films. Before I left for America in 2017, I had produced four films; two Yoruba movies; ‘Lori Ere’ and ‘Asheju’, and two English movies; ‘Alone in the Dark’ and ‘Betrayal’. Three of them are on different platforms at the moment. They can be seen on Africa Magic and Ibaka TV..
NWA: You just finished shooting a film in Indiana, USA. Can you tell us a bit about it.?
DS: Yes. Sure. The film currently being shot is titled ‘ Entangled Web’. It’s directed by Bayo Alawiye and produced by Taiwo Amosa (Omo T) in Indianapolis. It stars myself, Bayo, BigVai Jokotoye, Dammy Paul and Omo T.
NWA: What is it about?
DS: It’s a family story that is very interesting. It explores relationships, entanglements within the relationships (lol) and families, it shows betrayal and the usual family palaver… I don’t want to go into more details for obvious reasons but its very interesting. This is my first time I’m working with Omo T, It was fun being on set again after the lock down and all. It was really great
NWA: The African Filmmakers Forum.. tell us about it briefly and how are you involved in it.
DS: The idea was conceived by Bayo Alawiye and I bought into it, because I like what it stands for. Like a lot of actors, I was a bit disillusioned with what was happening with our entertainment associations back home, where we had no true representation with all that was going on. We did not really have structures and I felt sad that we call ourselves brands that people look up to and yet we had no true representation and we could not belong to bodies that really truly represented us. When Bayo mentioned setting up this association, about two years ago I applauded the idea because I felt it would be different from the norm… it just made a lot of sense. I felt we needed to practice what we preached instead of us complaining all the time about what we didn’t like, I felt like, why didn’t we just do what we wanted to see in the associations? So that’s where we are now.
DS: Then we are in a new era now.
Everything is going online now. Movies included. So we can just push our jobs there without restrictions and unnecessary rules and let the people have the opportunity to choose what they want. The AFF is about thinking outside the box; doing something different from what others have been doing in the past. We are not saying we are the first but we are an association of practitioners of like minds. Instead of shooting films for marketers .. As brands we can do our own thing… have our own platform instead of putting it in some structures that we are not okay with we can put it directly on platforms and get value back from the work we put in. Then in the past, people did not like shooting in the U.S because there was a difference… films were not always well done as we did not have that many professionals here then but now a lot has changed. Now lots of Nollywood practitioners are here now and are doing great stuff. The forum is about making sure the what we are doing benefits both the actors, the producer and the general public. What we are shooting here now can be shown on platforms like Netflix, Amazon prime, Hulu etc. It’s still a work in progress but it’s the continuation of a dream, and we will get there (by God’s grace).
NWA: So what’s next for Doris? What should we look forward to, from you?
DS: Well, I’ve been shooting…. I’m always working on one thing or the other. I shot and directed a short film earlier this year, though its in post production at the moment.. For future projects, Im looking forward to producing a stage-play that will be mind blowing with which that I can travel round with. It’s not easy but I’m a patient person as I like to plan so hopefully before the end of 2020, you’ll be seeing something on that from me. I’ll keep you posted in any case.
NWA: Its been great talking to you, Doris. Thank you so much. I wish you the best in your endeavors.
DS: And you too.
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