Many admit that Meg Otanwa has been a silent powerhouse in Nollywood, as industry colleagues and fans come out to heap well-deserved praises on the actress who recently starred in Damilola Orimogunje’s feature debut—For Maria Ebun Pataki— leading to critical success and ranking at the top of Netflix’s chart days after its debut on the streamer.
Starring as Derin, a nursing mother who undergoes postpartum depression, Meg Otanwa once again—as known and celebrated—silently leads the drama which is not short of other believable performances, found in her on-screen husband, played by Gabriel Afolayan and her impatient mother-in-law, played by Tina Mba.
With the success of Otanwa’s brilliant character translation playing a crucial role in the film’s believability, she discusses how she settled into the role after reading the script penned by Femi Tunray and Damilola Orimogunje, reuniting with the director in another upcoming “health-related” project and teases some other future projects.
Welcome to our first issue of “6 Questions with…”, inspired by the Hollywood Reporter’s similar series.
One very dangerous thing about depression is how easy it is to stay in it. You sink into it so comfortably that you are unable or unwilling to do the work to come out of it. I guess that’s why it is called DEPRESSION, right? As an actor, coming out of intense characters is something I’m still learning and working on.
1. What was your reaction when you first read the script of For Maria Ebun Pataki?
After I read the script of For Maria, of course, I was a bit nervous at the sheer amount of work it would require. But I love a good challenge any day so I was happy to jump on it. The story is a very important one and I was definitely going to give it my all.
2. You certainly brought some natural attributes with you for the role, as Damilola Orimogunje mentioned that he was intentional with casting people who would be natural in their roles. Beyond Meg Otanwa as a person, how did you have to prepare for the role of Derin?
Oh, there were different levels to the preparations. There was the physical preparedness, and emotional and psychological preparedness. I also did a lot of research. I spoke with a number of women who had experienced childbirth. Now, this was where it got tricky. I found it interesting that most women weren’t willing to open up. This meant I had to speak to so many of them to gather any meaningful data. In addition to that, The director ‘Dami’ had given me some reference movies for the style of acting he wanted so we were totally in sync before we went on set.
3. What was the most challenging scene to shoot and how were you able to leave this character behind after the project?
Honestly, it’s practically impossible to single out any one scene. I was in a lot of pain for the entire duration of the shoot. Getting into such a character is one thing and coming out of it is yet another. I completely underestimated how difficult it was going to be to come out of this particular character. One very dangerous thing about depression is how easy it is to stay in it. You sink into it so comfortably that you are unable or unwilling to do the work to come out of it. I guess that’s why it is called DEPRESSION, right? As an actor, coming out of intense characters is something I’m still learning and working on. To answer your question, it took me a pretty while to leave Derin behind but I’m glad I finally did.
4. What can you share about The Stone Drew Ripples, your next movie with Damilola Orimogunje and the role you’ll be playing?
I’m not quite sure how much I’m allowed to share regarding The Stone Drew Ripples just yet. So, I’ll just say it’s another health-related family drama with an incredible cast.
5. Which other movies are we going to see you in 2022 that you can share?
I do have some fun and light-hearted movies coming out soon. Top on the list is In Another Life, a romantic drama produced by Sutoritera and Zivaworks and directed by Belinda Yanga (Juju Stories).
There’s Dirim’s Man, another romcom produced by Gatefield Media. There’s also a movie after my heart titled Gwoza, a story about insurgency and the kidnappings in the North. It’s one that has been in the works for four years and will finally be released this year.
So yeah with these and a few others that I’m not at liberty to disclose yet, it promises to be an exciting year.
6. What’s currently keeping you up? Any movies, tv shows, or books?
Oh yes, For Maria Ebun Pataki. I’m up responding to the heartwarming show of love for our movie. We are receiving so many messages and experiences on postpartum depression. We are happy to do this, as that was what we had hoped as an outcome of the movie.
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For Maria Ebun Pataki is currently streaming on Netflix.