Ghanaian actress Leonora Okine has described her first experience on the set of M-net series 'Tinsel' as “amazing”.
“It was more comfortable than I expected it to be. Everyone was so nice and encouraging. It wasn't intimidating at all. The team is amazing,” she told NEWS-ONE in exclusive interview on Wedn
Leonora replaced Nigeria's Matilda Obaseki, who has played the role of Angela Dede since the inception of the series viewed by thousands of Africans. Leonora made her debut in season five, episode 776 of the series.
Currently, all eyes are on her, with many thinking that it will be a big challenge for her to play the role that has been played by another person for the last five years.
Below is an interview Leonora Okine (LO) granted NEWS-ONE (NO) via phone:
NO: So Who Is Leonora Okine?
LO: I'm open-minded and feel everyone has a reason for doing what they do so I tend not to judge people. I provide mobile content solutions as a consultant in addition to acting. I'm Presbyterian. I studied Operations and Project Management at GIMPA.
NO: How Did You Enter Into Acting?
LO: I went to Sparrow Productions to discuss the public's involvement in selecting Miss Ghana via SMS and voice calls. Shirley hinted that I could play a part in her first TV series she was about to film, 'Different Shades Of Blue'. I decided to get her girls instead but that didn't pan out. I was worried I wouldn't be taken seriously if I combined work with acting as I was bent on becoming successful in the mobile content provision industry. She still auditioned me and cast me for the part in 2006 which I accepted. So yeah, I'm grateful for that.
NO: Would You Have Still Entered Into Acting If You Didn't Audition For The Series?
LO: Truthfully, no, but the thing is God does work in mysterious ways. If it were left to me, I wouldn't have bothered but Shirley made a lot of sense and she had a vision I respected a lot.
NO: What Then Was Your Career Ambition When Growing Up?
LO: (Laughs) I wanted to be a neurosurgeon but then changed my mind because I felt the journey was going to be too long! Again, I'm sure God had His own plans for making me lose interest. If you can't enjoy the journey, then it's not for you, I guess.
NO: So After 'Different Shades Of Blue' What Happened?
LO: I just went back to concentrating on my career in the content provision, and then went back to school just basically not feeling ready to take acting seriously.
Then while in school, late 2009, I got called to play Stephanie in 'Desperation'. I accepted it because I felt I could combine school and work... which I was able to manage somehow! I couldn't have done it alone because it was truly hectic! After season one, came the movie 'Enemy of My Soul'.
In 2009, I played Tamara in 'Secrets' (Eagle Productions). It was fun. Then in 2010 came 'Insurgents', 'Beautiful Monster' (movies). So at this point I began to wonder if acting shouldn't be a road to take. Finally, I decided in 2011 that I will take acting seriously so I felt ready to go through the whole nine yards; auditions and all. I'm actually glad I took my time to come to a decision to willingly entertain TV and film lovers for as long as I can.
NO: You Have Done A Lot In Your Six-Year Career But Its Sounds And Looks As If You Are A New Face In The Industry. Were You Maintaining A Low Profile And Why?
LO: I was maintaining a very low profile and mainly because I am a very private person. Another reason is because I hadn't come to a firm decision until last year. This is actually the first interview I'm willing to give.
NO: How True Is The Report That You Have Joined 'Tinsel'?
LO: It is true.
NO: How Did It Happen?
LO: I was called to go for auditions a few months ago but prior to that, I had auditioned for a different role last year in Lagos.
NO: That Does Not Make 'Tinsel' Your First Production In Nigeria?
LO: Oh no. It is my second. First was 'Echoes'.
NO: Your Role In 'Tinsel', I Understand, Is Angela Dede?
LO: Yes. Angela is a 30-year-old movie executive who has abandonment issues. She's intelligent, distrustful, self-reliant, closed, unforgiving and confused with issues around her. She feels she is misunderstood.
She has been diagnosed with a psycho-neurosis which requires her to be on constant medication she doesn't like. She has brief periods of insanity at which point irrational thoughts seem very rational to her; all normal traits become heightened. So she becomes sensitive, defensive and paranoid when she's having an episode or is not taking her drugs.
NO: How Would You Describe Your Experience On Set For The First Day?
LO: It was more comfortable than I expected it to be. Everyone was so nice and encouraging. It wasn't intimidating at all. The team is amazing!
NO: You have made new friends I guess?
LO: Oh that I have. And in all departments as well! It's been a very fortunate experience.
NO: There Are Talks About The Actress You Replaced, Have You Had The Opportunity To Meet Her?
LO: Yes I have. We met on set. What talks? Her name is Matilda.
NO: The Normal Talks That You Are Replacing Her. But Have You Heard Anything Different From That?
LO: No, not yet.
NO: Was She Nice To You?
LO: She was welcoming. We shook hands. I have been asked how it feels to play a role that has been established by someone else for five years.
NO: So How Does It Feel To Play That Role As You Said? And Why Did You Accept It, Considering The Fact That Somebody Played It For Five Years?
LO: It feels like every other part. All I need to do is to tell the story how I understand it and to the best of my ability. The thing is, we are from very different backgrounds and so our interpretation would be similar but not the same. She told it the way she could with guidance of the directors. I'm telling it best as I can with the help of the same directors. I know no one is expecting us to be the same in every instance.
NO: Would This Be Your Biggest Challenge As An Actress?
LO: Every character I get to play is a challenge, simply put. This is yet another story I have to tell. Replacing someone isn't a challenge. Fans' expectations might be considered a challenge but I don't believe they expect me to be same as a previous player.
I'll do what the script requires. The directors will do their best to help me bring the character to life. If they like the delivery, they will use it.
NO: Your Family, Background And School?
LO: I have five brothers and two sisters. I'm the fourth of us eight. I read science at St. Mary's Secondary School then did a bit of Biological Science at the University of Ghana, Legon, then Operations and Project Management at GIMPA.
NO: Where Do You Come From?
LO: My dad is from Dawu Akwapim in the Eastern Region and my mum is from Nungua in the Greater Accra Region. Dawu is on the Akwapim Ridge.
NO: Your Last Words
LO: Don't criticise, condemn or complain. If you do get criticised, remember there's a difference between just and unjust criticism. Ignore unjust criticism. So long as you know in your heart that you're right, don't think twice about unjust criticism.