Actress Nadia Buari is one of the trail-blazing faces taking the emerging video movie industry in Ghana to the next level. She is featured in titles like Beyonce, The President’s Daughter, Mummy’s Daughter and Darkness of Sorrow. She spoke with Sola Osofisan in New York.
SOLA OSOFISAN: I have not come across any interview granted by you online or in print. Do you grant interviews?
NADIA BUARI: Yeah, I do, but rarely. I have probably granted two or three interviews back home (Ghana), but its rarely. It’s not like I don’t grant interviews, but people don’t find me that approachable, I guess.
SOLA OSOFISAN: What do you mean by people don’t find you “approachable”?
NADIA BUARI: A lot of people have their own perceptions about me, like I’m very stuck up, so full of myself, you know. But it’s not true. I guess because… (SHE BURSTS INTO LAUGHTER) I’m sorry.
SOLA OSOFISAN: That’s alright. You’re allowed to laugh.
NADIA BUARI: I guess it’s because …For me it’s all about work, family, and that’s just about it. And school. You don’t really see me out there. That’s how come they feel like I’m not sociable. I mean that’s what I hear.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Okay, what makes people approachable? I see a bunch of photos online, you go to functions, you interact with fans… I’ve seen photos.
NADIA BUARI: You’ve seen photos of me?
SOLA OSOFISAN: Yes, of you.
NADIA BUARI: Really?
SOLA OSOFISAN: Yes. On Ghanasentertainment, Ghana music…
NADIA BUARI: Yeah, I do attend these events, but at the end of the day, I just have a good time and go back home. That’s why I’m really surprised that you see me hanging out with people. I do attend these events but I don’t get to be interviewed. It’s just something that they perceive of me… that I’m not approachable.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Is it that they try and don’t get the interviews?
NADIA BUARI: They don’t try. They just probably assume. I guess its just assumption. But the few that have tried, I have granted them interviews.
SOLA OSOFISAN: You have probably done a few TV interviews…
NADIA BUARI: Yeah, I have. When my first movie, Mummy’s Daughter, was out, I spoke about that movie. And the other (TV) interview I granted was about this other movie I shot in Nigeria. There’s just two TV interviews that I’ve done.
SOLA OSOFISAN: I bet you don’t know the title of the movie you shot in Nigeria.
NADIA BUARI: I do know, but I can’t really say now because we always work with a “working title” and then they change it, so that I would probably say that I shot this movie called “Envy” but it would not be “Envy”.
SOLA OSOFISAN: I said that because I know the way they work in Nigeria. You never have a permanent title until the thing comes out.
NADIA BUARI: Its not just in Nigeria. It happens in Ghana as well. Like “Beyonce” the working title was something else… I can’t remember. But at the end of the day, because I was called Beyonce in that movie, they just wanted to use that name as the title, but initially it wasn’t Beyonce.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Mummy’s Daughter and Beyonce, The President’s Daughter are two different movies?
NADIA BUARI: Yeah, they’re two different movies.
SOLA OSOFISAN: I thought Beyonce was your first movie…
NADIA BUARI: No, Mummy’s Daughter was my first. Beyonce was my second.
SOLA OSOFISAN: I got my facts screwed up. What year did you shoot Mummy’s Daughter?
NADIA BUARI: I think in 2006… no, 2005.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Beyonce shot you up, right? Are you telling me you picked up all this fame between 2005 and now (December 2007)?
NADIA BUARI: I know. I guess I’m blessed. That’s all I can say. I’m priviledged. I’m very lucky. A lot of people don’t have it like that. I know a lot of people that have probably done so many (movies) and they’re still not recognized. I’m fortunate. I thank God.
SOLA OSOFISAN: How did you get into Mummy’s Daughter?
NADIA BUARI: I actually studied Theatre Arts. When they were auditioning for that role, a friend called me to come and audition. I went for the audition and I landed the role. That’s pretty much it. I was in school at the time.
SOLA OSOFISAN: You studied Theatre Arts, not Fine Arts.
NADIA BUARI: Theatre Arts.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Where do people come up with all these things?
NADIA BUARI: It is Performing Arts. Its Theatre Arts, Music and Dance.
SOLA OSOFISAN: You danced and acted in school. You want to tell us about that?
NADIA BUARI: When I was in Secondary (High) School, I was a very prolific member of the entertainment body. I used to perform. I used to like dance… You know I’m very shy. I get very nervous when I get on stage. Sometimes, I would be holding a microphone and just be shaking… I was really really nervous. But I always had a passion for it, so every time I went backstage, I told myself “this is what you love to do, so just go out there and do it”.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Let’s explore where the shyness comes from. Your dad is a very public person. Your mum, by virtue of her profession, mixes with a lot of people. So, where did you get the shyness from?
NADIA BUARI: I don’t know. I guess its just me. Its just personality. I don’t know where it actually comes from. I know I have no reason to be shy. Yes, I am a public person, but I guess naturally, this is the kind of person I am. When I’m working, I know I have to take that away, but when I’m just Nadia, I’m feeling shy. It’s just me. I don’t know where it comes from. (TITTERS).
SOLA OSOFISAN: I mentioned your dad a moment ago. Considering his stature in the entertainment industry in Ghana, was it natural that you were going into the arts?
NADIA BUARI: Well, yeah, he was part of the people that kind of influenced my profession now. I always looked up to him. I always wanted to do half of the things that he did, but its not just him. There’s still a lot of people.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Who else has influenced you?
NADIA BUARI: I watch a lot of movies. I remember ever since I was little, I’ve always watched movies of Madonna, movies of Sharon Stone, movies of Julia Roberts… And every time I watched their movies, I always said to myself that I want to be like these people one day. At the end of the day, after watching all these movies, I would probably go to my bedroom or bathroom and try to act like them. I would use my teddy bear as the characters. I would pick up a character like Julia Roberts and try to act like…I was probably age 8 or 10.
So, right from then, I knew that I had a passion for this. This is my dream. I really want to do this.
SOLA OSOFISAN: What was it about Julia Roberts and Madonna…Was it the glamour or the acting prowess? What was it exactly that attracted you to them?
NADIA BUARI: I couldn’t just imagine how people can be other people on screen and make it look so real. I couldn’t imagine how I would watch a Julia Roberts movie and know that “Oh my goodness, I’m actually feeling for her. I’m actually in tears”. This is not Julia Roberts. This is Julia trying to play somebody. That’s the beauty (of) the whole thing. These stars trying to portray other characters and doing it so well. It’s the whole idea. I always say to myself, if they can do it, I can do it too.
SOLA OSOFISAN: How did having a beautician as your mom influence your sense of style?
NADIA BUARI: First of all, I want to say I’m very blessed to have a woman like my mother. My mom always wants me to look my best. Some of these things I probably want to wear or how I want to look, she probably will not be in agreement with it. And then, I would… My mom, I always listen to her, if she says not to wear this or not to look like that, I would listen to her because I know that she wants the best for me. Like I said, I’m really really blessed because there are so many things… I cannot go anywhere without having my mom approve what I’m wearing. That’s how serious it is. If I would fix my hair myself and not show it to my mom or not tell her about it, I would not be happy. I would go out there thinking “Oh my goodness, I probably look ridiculous”. Just to have my mom say you look fine is enough. Yes, she has really influenced my sense of style in so many ways because I feel like she knows what’s best (for me). She like me, watches a lot of movies, reads a lot of magazines as a beautician, so, ordinarily, I would say that she knows what’s best.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Beyond style now, your mom and your dad, who has influenced you most?
NADIA BUARI: My appearance and everything is – yes, my mom. They have both influenced me in their own way. My dad is a musician and as a producer, has got a lot of movies to his credit. For a person to have all of that and be a businessman as well is a triple threat and I’ve always wanted to do all of that. And my mom has been an influence in another side – about the whole glamour and everything. She wants the sky to be my limit. She would push me to wherever… So, I guess they both have influenced me in their own way.
SOLA OSOFISAN: There’s a burden of responsibility that comes with being a first child. Tell me about your experience.
NADIA BUARI: It’s difficult because I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. And you really want to do your best so your siblings would follow cos you’re like an example, they look up to you and everything. And its difficult in another way because your parents want you to set the right example, so they know that okay, she’s taking this step. You all have to follow… The first and the last usually get the concentration and attention. I must say my siblings kind of envy me. (JOCULAR LAUGH) because I probably have that. That’s probably the only difficulty I have to face. Apart from that; I couldn’t have asked for a better position. (LAUGHING)
SOLA OSOFISAN: How many younger ones do you?
NADIA BUARI: Four of them. We’re five.
SOLA OSOFISAN: And the youngest one is how old?
NADIA BUARI: Sixteen.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Oh, they’re all big.
NADIA BUARI: Yeah.
SOLA OSOFISAN: You’re a big girl. You want to tell me your age?
NADIA BUARI: No. (GENERAL LAUGHTER) My age is not a secret cos if you Google me, you’ll probably see my biography. I guess my date of birth is out there. I don’t know who put it there, but it’s there.
SOLA OSOFISAN: You’re still single?
NADIA BUARI: (HESITATING) Em…
SOLA OSOFISAN: I mean you’re not married?
NADIA BUARI: No, I’m not married.
SOLA OSOFISAN: I have to ask some questions so that some guy out there in need of the information-
NADIA BUARI: I’m not married, but I’m not single. I’m engaged.
SOLA OSOFISAN: Aw, you just totally derailed the train.
NADIA BUARI: I know. I know. I’m so sorry. (LAUGHTER)
SOLA OSOFISAN: You have a lot of female fans, I know. But let’s talk about your male fans…
NADIA BUARI: Wow, its crazy cos there are so many guys out there who have “imaginarily” fallen in love with me. I would have like calls from guys telling me how they’re so crazy about me and they have pictures of me all over their room and they think I’m so beautiful and all of that and they want to be with me… But the thing about it is that I’m a very nice person and I try to be rude, but when you’re too nice, they take advantage. And that’s where the problem is. I get a lot of pressure from guys. That’s a fact. I won’t deny that. I think guys love me more… (GIGGLING). I mean its only natural, I understand. (GIGGLING).