If we put it into context, Kate Henshaw is an art phenomenon! influential, talented and powerful being. A paradigm for the image-centric presentation of an artist. She is distinguished for turning the marketing technique of revamping her image into a screen goddess and an icon – one that has been copied by many other artists – is also esteemed for her highly energetic performances whether on TV or on stage. Who can forget her as Omono in the movie When the Sun Sets (1993), that was when our crush on her began. If Kate is in the movie, we want to watch it, if she is cooking with it, (like when she became the Face of Onga seasoning), we want to eat it.
She’s acted in over 50 Nollywood movies, most of them sending forth positive messages to influence public’s thinking for which she’s won so many awards including Best Actress in a Leading Role, she’s a judge on Nigeria’s Got Talent, not leaving out the social campaigns and civil protests she supported becoming a voice of reason in her society for us we can definitely live in a world where Kate is President. But before then, we sit with the gorgeous legend for an interview where she talks being grounded, hardwork and about her latest project, “Do Good”:
We can’t believe how diverse you are as an actor .What is the secret behind such talent?
I have always wanted to play different characters. I tried very hard to resist being stereotyped as I felt it would limit me and I am glad it has paid off. With each role/character that I play comes challenges which gives me the drive to do more.
Did you always want to be on screen?
I did not always want to be on screen. I wanted to be a medical doctor.
So far, you’ve featured in so many successful movies and commercials – what’s your most memorable?
I have a few memorable commercials. One would be the one for SHIELD DEODORANT many years back, also the commercial I shot for Promasidor Nig Ltd makers of ONGA SEASONING. For films it would be my very first outing in WHEN THE SUN SETS playing the role of OMONO, STRONGER THAN PAIN which won me the award of Best Actress in the AMAAs, and DOMITILLA.
How much memory do you have of your humble beginning as an actor?
My memory of the beginning of my career is intact.. The late J.T Tom West took me to my very first audition for the movie “When The Sun Sets”. I was inquisitive about the whole process but I had to wait hours to be called in..at the end of the day I walked out to get something to eat and was ready to go home after waiting almost the whole day but Reginald Ebere who was one of the people in charge of the audition persuaded me to return to the room where the audition process was being held. I was later told that my face would not sell the movie if I was put on the cover of the poster because I was a green horn but at the end of the day, the director, Ifeanyi Anyafulu gave me the Lead role of OMONO and the rest is -as they say, history.
I don’t keep a bucket list. I take life as it comes. Whatever comes my way, I deal with it
You are also a fitness activist, can you take us through your fitness régime?
I am an early riser so as early as 5am, I am up and get dressed for the gym. I start of with the Treadmill and then I use the Cross Trainer, I do some weight training to tone and firm up and then I proceed to do Taebo class for an hour and then Zumba for another hour. So I can be in the gym for about 2 to 3hrs a day and on the days I do not go to the gym, I jog on the road.
Wow that’s commitment, and you are so successful, we cant believe there could still be more. Do you keep bucket lists?
I don’t keep a bucket list. I take life as it comes. Whatever comes my way, I deal with it.
That’s brave! Over the year years there has been some rumours & scandalous tales surrounding your personal life and career- How did you handle them?
In the beginning, it was a lot to take in and handle when tabloids splash your face on their cover with spurious stories but over time I have taken it as the bane of my profession. I am strong in the knowledge that those who know me, truly know me are not moved by these rumours. I am better able to manage them too.
How have directors influenced your acting career?
With each Director I have worked with, it has been a different experience. They have helped me bring out the best in portraying different characters.
What would you say your strengths as an actress are?
I am always on time for work, a team player and I give my best to bring my character to life.
Whats your take on “couch casting”? Ever fell victim?
I have never been a victim of ‘couch casting’. My view is that once you give in to one person, you do the same to all. Also the manner of dressing and approach of some of those who go for auditions, sends the wrong signal. It is not something I support at all.
How have you been able to handle fame, celebrity mobs, and all that comes with your present social status?
I remember my upbringing and the home I come from and I would not want to bring shame to my family. I also have a young daughter so I have to set a good example for her. It’s also a matter of priority. Family is important to me. I believe that humility is very important in shaping who you are regardless of celebrity status.
What can you say is your greatest achievement so far in the industry?I would say being able to use my status to bring focus to various causes I am passionate about like Domestic Violence and child abuse.
What is the hardest part of being a celebrity and living your life under public scrutiny?
The hardest part of being a celebrity is that everyone wants a piece of you and your privacy is basically non existent. People have preconceived ideas about you without even knowing you. I try very hard to guard my privacy and that of my family.
Would you trade your present social status as a celebrity for a fulfilled rich quiet housewifery status somewhere else on planet earth?
I don’t think I would. It’s not about my social status as a celebrity though, I love my job as an Actor but then again, never say never.
Who in your own opinion strikes you as an amazing actor/actress?
Taiwo Ajai Lycette, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva.
How many awards so far?
Wow. I don’t think I can mention them all but memorable are The Movie Awards Best Upcoming Actress in 1996 and African Movie Academy Awards Best Actress in 2008.
Which roles do you prefer or do you just go with whatever role you get as long as the pay is good?
I love roles that will send a positive message to my audience.
The hardest part of being a celebrity is that everyone wants a piece of you and your privacy is basically non existent. People have preconceived ideas about you without even knowing you. I try very hard to guard my privacy and that of my family
Did you change your personality in order to fit in perfectly in your industry?
I prefer to be myself and have remained so in my industry.
You have been acting for the past two decades or more, how do you still manage to be relevant?
A lot of hard work, dedication to my craft, professionalism, fans appreciation and I leave it to God to do the rest.
Who and what do you understand by being a MADE Man?
A MADE Man is one who believes in his dream, worked hard to achieve them and basically did not depend on others to make it in life.
Talk to us about your latest project “DO GOOD”.
DO GOOD is a comedy series remake of a 90’s soap opera which starred Basorge Tariah and I. It is the first of its kind Pidgin English sitcom and promises to be a hit with audiences. I reprise the character of EMEM in the series.
Oh yea, we remember that, “CandleLight” was so funny and we miss the show. How is the new team and the cast on set?
The cast and crew on set are really professional and there are lots of new talented faces whose characters people will come to love. We are like a big family.
What’s the funniest part of the whole show so far?
The different ethnicities portrayed in the comedy series will have audiences in stitches.
When does it go live?
It will air on the 6th of July, 2015 on DSTV.
We can’t wait and we wish you the best of luck with it. Before we let you go, do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
Thank you! My advice for young aspiring actors is to be hardworking, dedicated to the job and remain humble. Fame will find you.