The Nigerian film industry has become one of the most exciting places to work in the last 5 years. Major partnerships with international streaming platforms have brought a much needed infusion of funding and opened Nollywood to the world. Nkem Andrea Marche has benefitted from this increased visibility with credits in the 2022 Netflix original Man Of God, a game changing feature in an 8 year career that spans indie short films, mainstream block busters and much beloved television and film streaming projects. We sat with her for #MCNWorkLife to talk Nollywood and her plans for her career as an actress and filmmaker.
Imagine this an audition, and the casting director asked you to introduce yourself, what would you say?
My name is Nkem Andrea Marchie. I’m an actor, producer and political activist. I am 30 years old and hail from Anambra state, Nigeria. I am the second child of three. I studied International Relations and Diplomacy at one of the most renowned institutions, Covenant University, Ogun state, Nigeria.
What did you want to be growing up?
I always wanted to be an ambassador, you know; a foreign minister. I still am working my way and connecting my dots to this dream day by day. My grandad would always call me his “Ambassador” lol I never really knew why. Come to think about it, but I found his support very encouraging, especially as I ended up studying International Relations and Diplomacy.
What career path are in you now?
How long have you working in the film industry?
9 years and counting.
I know this is a question you probably get a lot, but we have to ask, how did you go from International Relations and Diplomacy to filmmaking?
Its the kind of serendipitous story that I wouldn’t believe if it didn’t happen to me.
I worked in an e-commerce company after I graduated from university. I can be very animated especially when “gisting” with friends, especially how I describe things to people.
One of my colleagues back then had just started writing screenplays and wanted to produce her first collaborative film with her partners (today Inkblot Productions) and she said “Nkem please come and play a role for us in our film this weekend. It won’t take anytime. It’s just Saturday and Sunday.”
It took my weekend and then some more, but it also got my foot in the door in Nollywood. That was how I began my film journey.
What’s a typical day in your work life like?
Wake up at 5/5:30 depends on the call time. Call time is the agreed time the cast and crew need to show up at a location to shoot a film or any other project. I say a prayer when I wake up, make a smoothie, take vitamins and start my day.
From there I have breakfast, usually on set when I’m working, get my hair and make up done by the on-set stylists, visit the costume department for costume changes. From there I get on set proper and start working. That usually consists of doing different takes of different scenes with guidance from the director, green room rests in between scenes, costume, hair and make-up changes where necessary, then back to set.
How long I spend on set is determined by how well the team is able to work, but eventually, we close set for the day, head home , rinse and repeat the next day until the project wraps shooting.
What’s the culture like for women in your field?
Haha! Crazy culture. I guess we are not always viewed as the best of women because we are very exposed to stories of real-life people and that really shifts the narrative in our real lives.
What is the thing you like the most about what you do?
The ability to change my personality in such a way I can authentically portray the most private parts of the audience. Telling different stories in different beings. Almost like a split-personality thing. Embodying different people and their happiness, pain, anger, kindness, rage, calmness… amongst other human traits that we exhibit, either good or bad.
It is wild I must say. You have to have the courage if you want to be an actor. Big bravery.
What is your least favourite part of being a filmmaker?
I’ve never said this in an interview but as an actor, these characters and roles we play especially passionately almost stick to you for some time. It takes some time to wear off. So yeah, that’s it.
What is the one challenge women in the film industry face in the course of doing their work?
Genuine support from their fellow women in the industry and from our audience.
Is there any way being a woman in your field gives you an advantage over your co-workers?
No. Everyone is entitled or not in one way or another, no matter what level of life they are in. Being a woman comes with her own and so as being a man.
Do you believe in work buddies?
Not necessarily. But I do have a few.
Can you give us a tip you swear by for successfully managing a work/life balance?
Every chance you get, relax, rest, recuperate, and then go again. Health is wealth.
Do you have any advice for younger women who want to do what you do?
Understand your path and set goals beyond your expectations, because God is there to push you through. Never give up.