Whether On Stage Or Screen, Bikiya Graham- Douglas Is Queen!
WHEN the child-friendly movie by Seyi Babatope ‘Lunch Time Heroes’ is released on August 26, one of those who will contribute in giving the movie its acting credit is the dependable actress and culture producer, Bikiya Graham-Douglas. Bikiya played the drama teacher in the well-helmed family drama and she acquitted the role.
Those who were privileged to see the preview of the movie said that they were not surprised that Bikiya, daughter of one time Minister of Culture Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, delivered on all fronts.
An actress, singer and businesswoman, Bikiya is a trained dramatist. Although the theatre spirit who is always desirous of developing herself intellectually first obtained a degree in Business Law from the University of Portsmouth, Bikiya’s passion for the performing arts was the reason she attended the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
The amiable and hardworking thespian also took a foundation course in acting at the Oxford School of Drama. Upon graduation, Bikiya who is Executive Director of a culture promotion and production outfit called Beeta Universal Arts Foundation (BUAF), joined The Bridge Theatre Training Company where she was properly groomed for a future in the performing arts.
Bikiya returned to Nigeria in 2008 and since her return, she has featured in a number of stage productions including The Vagina Monologues and had led BUAF to produce a few including Iya-Ile.
Celebrity caught up with Bikiya at the venue of the media unveiling of Lunch Time Heroes and she spoke about the movie and her career. You are on the line up of the cast of Lunch Time Heroes.
What was the whole experience like working on that set? It wasn’t always easy as you know with film making in this part of the world, things don’t work out the way they are planned but when you focus on what your trying to achieve and the sacrifices on the project, you overlook the little hitches and give it the best you can.
Seyi Babatope was a delight to work with and my co-stars and the crew made the experience worthwhile especially the energetic children. I think that generally movies by children and about children are a novelty here.
So seeing one that is professionally handled would definitely get one excited. In fact, when I read the script, I wondered why it had never been done before.
I have to give Seyi all the kudos for producing this film. I think the time for this kind of narrative is now. Flower Girl, your first big movie in Nollywood, earned you an award.
One would have thought that after that you would be in so many other movies? Well, let me use this opportunity to say that I was really happy and humbled knowing my work was appreciated. I still can’t thank God enough for the honour.
But to answer your question, well I have been approached with many scripts and a few I wanted to do but my schedule with other projects clashed and some were just no good.
Also I found that not being a regular face in Nollywood has been in the way as many people prefer to work with the popular faces they know which is not necessarily a bad thing as they have to think of their commercial viability, but I am not in any way deterred as excellence would always speak for itself.
It is only a matter of time. You have remained committed to live theatre performances. You seem to prefer the stage to the screen? This question keeps coming up.
Well, I am always going to be a theatre girl but I will be happy for any opportunity to perform be it on stage or in film. How have you managed with funding considering that live theatre is expensive to put up? It still isn’t easy but Nigeria is waking up to the potential live theatre has and things have improved.
I know some people will assume that it has been easy for me to pull through because I am the daughter of Alabo Graham Douglas. But actually I think being a Graham-Douglas has worked against me as people often look at me as a silver spoon spoilt being. Why? I don’t know! But when they meet me they understand it is just a misconception.
I have worked very hard to have achieved anything I have so far. In the arts, talent and hard work are the only way to the top regardless of the name you have.
With all this your theatre today, screen tomorrow, and workshops here and there, do you have a past time at all? What do you do as hobbies? Well, I enjoy everything I do so it doesn’t really feel like work. I like to travel and I love watching shows.
When I am not on the move, I am a home girl. I don’t go out very much. I like to cook, burn my candles and incense and listen to music and my friends and family visit.
I like to be the hostess You have taken part in some stage and screen productions and you have produced a few. Which of them would you describe as your most memorable? Hmm… It would have to be Obele and the Storyteller. It was such a challenge to produce but when it all came together, it was such a satisfying feeling.
I remember tears rolling down my face, as it was just so beautiful to see that all the effort by my cast and crew paid off. My heart was filled with Joy.
Then for me as a performer, playing Mrs. Okomile in Iya-ile was just something and I am going to get a chance to play that role again this year. Yay!!! And of course Flower Girl as it earned me my AMVCA.
How much of family support do you get? Well, before, not so much as dad initially opposed what I wanted to do but now dad is one of my biggest fans.
Mum has always been there steadfast in her support and my siblings do support me too. They are obviously your biggest fans? I don’t know if I would say that as I am sure they must find how dramatic I am annoying sometimes but they don’t let that come through.
From my first show till date, I have always had a family member there with me so I guess that says it all. They are not just fans but die-hard fans.
Is there anything that can get you off acting and being a dramatist? What if you are offered a position may be in the bank or if your future partner wants you to do something else? Hmm… I don’t think it will be possible to take me away from the arts, as that will be like taking away the oxygen I need to breathe. Bank Ke? I will play the role of a banker if I want to be in a bank.
(Laughs) I appreciate banks as I need them but I won’t give up my craft to work in one. As for a partner, I think it will be unfair for him to want me to give it all up anyway when he sees how sad I will be.
But God will touch his heart to not just allow me live my dream but be my biggest supporter. The happier I am, the happier he will be so why choose misery?
What is your career ambition and what words for new entrants? My career ambition is to have longevity in my industry and create opportunities for many coming after me. As for the new entrants, I will say, stay focused, work hard and always build your capacity.
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