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What it’s like being non-Hausa in Kannywood – Esther Smart

Madam Gloria is a household name in the Hausa TV drama series ‘Dadin Kowa Sabon Salo
Madam Gloria is a household name in the Hausa TV drama series ‘Dadin Kowa Sabon Salo

Madam Gloria is a household name in the Hausa TV drama series ‘Dadin Kowa Sabon Salo.’ Although Esther Smart who plays the role of Madam Gloria is not Hausa, her flexibility in playing villain roles in Hausa movies stands her out. The Osun State indigene, describes her presence in the Hausa movie industry as the symbol of a united Nigeria, given her Yoruba background.

Weekend Magazine: Who is Madam Gloria?

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Esther Smart: I was born in Kaduna and at the age of five, my parents relocated to Kano where I was brought up and had my education up to high school level before I proceeded for a training that qualified me to be a Phonics teacher. I am currently a teacher at Treasure Life International Academy Kano and I am married with three children.

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However, Madam Gloria is a stage name I adopted in my acting roles with Arewa24. So I am the one and only Madam Gloria, the mother of Stephanie, the no nonsense woman.

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WM: Is Madam Gloria on screen the same as Madam Gloria in reality?

Smart: No! Not at all, I am a direct opposite of Madam Gloria because after people watch me on screen and then meet me on the street, they are usually surprised.  Some tell me “Madam Gloria you look so cool but on screen you are always harsh.” So Madam Gloria is the opposite of Mrs. Smart.

WM: How did you get into acting?

Smart: The journey started from my secondary school days where I was not only an active member of the school’s Drama Club but a onetime president of the club. Then, I used to act in school dramas and even when I left school, I continued acting in the church drama band. While in the church drama band, a project that involved a movie production came up so I was given a role in the movie.

I later joined the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) because the person that came to direct the church movie was from AGN. I acted two movies before I joined Arewa24 for the award-winning Dadin Kowa drama series.

WM: Why did you choose Arewa24 instead of other movie industries in the country?

Smart: Actually, I was asked to come for auditioning. When I got there, I was given a script. After going through the script, I was asked to act what I read. I was not the only one invited for the auditioning but to God be the glory I scaled through and was picked. That was briefly how I got into Arewa24.

And what really inspired me about their drama series is that they deal with real and contemporary issues in our society. Their dramas are issues oriented rather than mere entertainment. They are also educative. They try to discourage discrimination in virtually all aspects of our daily endeavours as well as other social vices.

WM: How do you feel acting in a Hausa movie series?

Smart: I feel at home. Though I’m not Hausa but I feel loved with a sense of belonging. In fact, my presence in Arewa24 symbolises national integration. As diverse as the country is, I believe if we can come together in true love and harmony, devoid of our differences, and work together for a common goal, the sky will always be our limit in everything. The wisdom in integrating talents across regional borders is a symbol of what a true prosperous Nigeria should be.

In most of my films, you will see me playing the villain – trying to criticize integration. I don’t want my daughter to marry from a northern state because I am not a northerner, which is not the best. It is not the best because we are one Nigeria and I think once there is love and tolerance, Nigeria will always be an excellent country.

WM: Would you accept a role in Kannywood?

Smart: Yes, I would, depending on the role. If the role requires me to teach, I will accept it whether in Kannywood or Nollywood because I believe that most of the social vices we are experiencing in this country are issues of simple misunderstanding. I fervently believe that when we understand these things through acting, there will be less of these crises and fightings here and there.

WM: How do you combine motherhood with acting?

Smart: I plan. Whenever I am going on set, they notify me a week before. By the time I get my script, I go through the call sheet on the script to be able to plan for my family and other engagements. The call sheet shows the day and time you should be on set and so, I will be able to plan if I should assign somebody to stand in for me. Sometimes I make sure I come to school to do whatever I am supposed to do if my schedule will come after school hours.

I go for shooting once a week so whenever I am going on set, I make sure everything is ready at home. I let everybody understand that I will be going on set so that they can also plan, and they have been very supportive. On one or two occasions, I had my son follow me to the location. Their support and understanding have made things a lot easier for me.

WM: Would you allow your daughter to go into acting if she wants to?

Smart: Yes, I will allow her if she has a passion for it. She can be an actress and still be doing other jobs just as I am doing. It’s all about the passion.

WM: What is your advice to the public on the key issues you address on screen?

Smart: First, we should try to respect each other’s religion. Don’t speak bad about any religion, it is not the best. When you respect other people’s religion, they will also respect yours.

Sometimes we need to seek clarification over issues we don’t understand, especially when it concerns or involves other people.

Our youths need to be creative and innovative. If we are able to do decent things to make a living, nobody would entice or deceive us with non existing jobs overseas.

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