Mrs Esther Smart, popularly known as Madam Gloria in the famous Dadi-Kowa TV series, won the best actress award in the West African Music and Movie Award (WAMMA). In this interview, she talks about her role in the TV series as well as other issues affecting the movie industry.
Weekend Magazine: Who is Esther Smart?
Mrs Esther Smart: I am an actress with Arewa TV drama series Dadin-kowa. I was born in Kaduna. My father was an air force officer and from Kaduna we moved to Kano when I was in Primary 3, so I did my primary and secondary schools here.
WM: How did you get into movie industry?
Smart: I had the interest and passion for it. Whenever I see actresses on TV, I always admire them, so when I had the opportunity to go for an auditioning, I was so glad that I’ve finally found myself in the movie industry.
WM: What auditioning are you talking about?
Smart: The auditioning for the casts of Dadin-kowa. After the first season, there was an audition to recruit new casts for the second season.
WM: Was that your first time on camera?
Smart: It was my first appearance in the TV series. In fact, I’ve been on camera but not in TV series. I had acted twice or thrice when I was in AGN before being invited for auditioning for Dadin-kowa.
WM: How do you cope with the language since you are not a native Hausa speaker?
Smart: I told you I was raised in the north; I’ve spent most of my life here in Kano. I attended GGSS Kura and most of the terms I use in the drama are what we normally use in school, so when I’m going through the script, I just remember something it is related to it and then I add it. At times, some words are difficult to pronounce but because I am a phonetics teacher, I use the sound to pronounce the word and I am able to get it.
WM: Can you tell us a little about your role as Madam Gloria?
Smart: Madam Gloria is a tough woman who’s involved in human trafficking. She is a no-nonsense woman who likes things done the way she wants, and if you don’t comply, then there won’t be peace.
WM: With this tough role, how do people relate with you in reality?
Smart: Anytime I go out, people keep asking me ‘are you Madam Gloria’? There was a day I went to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital to see someone and I noticed that people would stare at me but find it difficult to talk to me, probably because of my role in Dadin-kowa. However, when I notice such looks, I put up a smile so that they can feel free. On one of such encounters, a man asked me ‘please are you Madam Gloria’? My friend quickly said yes then I interjected ‘ya akayi’, he said ‘don allah ke ce’? I said ‘ni ce mana’. And we all burst into laughter. Then he said ‘I used to see you as a very tough woman but here you look so calm and friendly’. So, that’s how these roles make us look in the society.
WM: If given a chance will you consider acting in Kannywood?
Smart: Yes, hopefully, if I have the chance I will.
WM: Will you accept singing and dancing roles in movies?
Smart: I don’t think so, I think that will be a major challenge because, maybe for my age, they may not like to assign that kind of role to me. I’d like to come out as an aunt or a mother.
WM: What would you say is your major achievement in your acting career?
Smart: I would say that acting has really exposed me. I am more of an in-door person. I always want to be on my own but now I have been exposed. I relate better with people now, and when I go out, I like the things that I see, the way people wave at me and so on. I think I like that.
WM: When you decided to go into acting was there any resistance from your family?
Smart: No, they rather encouraged me.
WM: Is Madam Gloria married?
Smart: Yes, I am married with three kids, okay let me say three adults because they are all grown up.
WM: Is Madam Gloria on screen the same as Mrs. Smart at home?
Smart: They are two different people. But there are times when I am talking to my son, especially the oldest, and he would say ‘you’ve started oh, this Dadin-Kowa has gotten into you’. When I ask him won’t you do this, he would say ‘you see, you have started acting as Madam Gloria’. So, I must say it is fun because it takes me back to the character but I don’t have issues with them. They are two different characters entirely. When I am at home, I am Esther but when I am at Dadin-Kowa set, I am Madam Gloria.
WM: You recently received an award for best actress of the year 2019. Can you tell us the effort you put in that earned you the award?
Smart: First of all, I must say I am very delighted. When I went into the movie industry initially, I never knew of AMA which is now WAMMA. When I got to know about it, I nursed the hope of becoming a winner someday. So, when it was time to send in entries for the award, I registered and was asked to bring three of my movies but they only picked one which is episode nine. The other two episodes were randomly selected. I guess after reviewing the films, they decided that I was good enough to win the award and I was honoured as the best actress in the TV series.
WM: What does it mean to be the best actress?
Smart: It means a lot to me because whenever I go out, people keep saying ‘Madam Gloria we really like your acting, we like what you are doing, you are one of the best actresses in Dadin-Kowa. Although there are other good actresses but when this came, I was very excited about it.
WM: What plans do you have for 2020?
Smart: There is a project I am working on right now – Kitchen project, Madam G-Kitchen, which involves inviting people from outside like artistes, actresses, politicians etc. I will bring them into the kitchen to come and talk about the meal they will cook and also talk about other issues that concern the society.
WM: What are these other issues?
Smart: Things happening around us, for instance, we may decide to talk about child education today, the way our education system is going and how it is affecting kids and what we can do to regulate it.
WM: You are a teacher, mother, wife and actress. How do you blend these roles to achieve the best?
Smart: Timing and planning, I plan well so that no area is lagging behind.
WM: Sexual harassment has been one of the major issues in the entertainment industry, what would you say is responsible for it and how do you think the issue could be addressed?
Smart: It’s unfortunate that some people in our society today still see the actress as a wayward person. So, I urge actresses to know how to coordinate themselves, they shouldn’t be too loose around the male folk. They should mind their manner of dressing and the way they talk and joke with male colleagues. The way they talk to them can lead to so many things and also the reply they give will determine whether the men will go forward or not.
At times, I think the dressing contributes a lot. So, women in general should mind the way we dress. Exposing some parts of your body, in the name of fashion, is one of the reasons, not only in the movie industry but generally.
WM: What advice do you have for your fellow actresses?
Smart: We should be ourselves and be of good conduct, focused and progressive. We should not be enemies of one another. As far as I am concerned, everybody is a star.
Lastly, I wish to dedicate this award to certain people. There are certain people who are always there for me, they always encourage me. Whenever they watch the programme, they call me. They point out my mistakes and give me suggestions. They are my supporters and I want to say thank you to them. I dedicate this award to all of them.