One of Nigeria’s Nollywood superstars, Adesua Etomi-Wellington has just made it big internationally as she as she joined the league of world class superstars. She has been featured on the cover of American Vogue magazine as one of the 14 people highlighted for impacting the world with their craft as TV stars.
“The Nigerian actress Adesua Etomi-Wellington can’t walk down the street in Lagos without getting mobbed, and if she’s with her husband, the actor Banky Wellington, forget it, a trip to the grocery store launches a thousand selfies. But unlike some of her cohorts on the shoot, she’s more of a third-culture kid, born in Nigeria and raised mainly in England. (She speaks in two fluent accents—Lagos and the British Midlands.)”
“She went to school in Coventry, studied drama at University of Wolverhampton, and then got a nine-to-five job with the fashion arm of a large supermarket chain. It was then that, as she puts it, “I can’t explain it—I felt I had to go back to Nigeria. That was toward the end of 2012, and in the past six years or so she has become one of the biggest stars in Nollywood, Nigeria’s relatively young film industry.”
“The Wedding Party (2016), a colorful and witty romantic comedy in which she plays the lead opposite Wellington, was the highest-grossing film in the history of Nigerian cinema, until it was eclipsed by its sequel, which also starred Etomi-Wellington. In fact, she points out, of the four films that have done best for the relatively young industry, she is in three. “I love, love, love Nollywood,” Etomi-Wellington says brightly over tea and biscuits at the shoot. “I feel like she’s my baby, and it’s my responsibility, along with a lot of other performers, to grow her.”
Furthermore, she shared an exclusive interview with Bella Naija. Read below:
How was it when you were contacted?
In the interview, the actress was asked how it was for her when she was contacted and she had this to say:
“I was shell shocked. I received an email out of the blue and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I sent it to my husband and was like ‘MY ACTUAL CHESTTT’ (laughs). We responded and when I went to New York for the Annual Goalkeepers event, I was able to visit the Vogue office and I met everyone. They were all so lovely. They didn’t know much about Nollywood so I gave them a lot of information and told them about our movies on Netflix like The wedding party etc. The entertainment director at the time Jill Demling (who is now with British Vogue) watched it and loved it.”
Speaking on the shoot experience, she said:
“It was amazing. I had a lot of fun. They’re very organized, incredibly thorough and so easy to work with. There were so many talented people on set. Everyone worked very hard, and it was beautiful to witness the camaraderie. I had a great time and it’s an experience I won’t ever forget. I was able to take my make up artist along with me – T.alamode (Tito Ibeleme) and she had a great time too.”
She was also asked why she chose to be featured and she replied:
“I didn’t choose, they chose me…but I agreed to be featured because It’s monumental. It’s imprinted in my history for all time and I think that’s really special. I also love Nollywood and I love Nigeria and I will do anything that puts us in a positive light. I always say that no matter where I go, I’m taking Nigeria with me.”
When asked to give one word to describe how she felt, she said, “I have two. ‘Incredibly Grateful’.”
Adesua Etomi was born in Owerri, South Eastern Nigeria to a Soldier father and Civil Engineer mother. The youngest of three children, she quickly learned to express herself through performance. Her first encounter with acting was at the age of 7, when she joined the drama club at her primary school, Corona School Victoria Island. She moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 13. Her hobbies include singing, dancing, playing the guitar and swimming.
Adesua Etomi made her big screen acting debut in April 14, 2014 when Knocking On Heaven’s Door was released in Nigerian cinemas. Her riveting performance as the abused Debbie announced Adesua Etomi as one to watch. With stellar performances first as Layo in Brave and as Sharon in Gidi Up Season 2, Adesua Etomi proved to critics that she had the requisite acting chops. In August 2015, she joined the cast of MTV’s HIV/AIDS edutainment series Shuga 4 as Sheila and in October 2015, Adesua Etomi was unveiled as a cast member of a Crime and Investigative drama series titled Special Crimes Unit: Las Gidi Cops which debuts in February 2016.
On the big screen, Adesua Etomi would deliver another emotionally gripping performance, this time as Muna in the feature film; Falling, which was released theatrically in September 2015. This earned her the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Best Actress In A Drama Award. Her 2015 cinema run was followed by nationwide releases for A Soldier’s Story in October 2015, Inkblot’s Out Of Luck in December 4, 2015. In February 2016 Adesua Etomi would return to Nigerian cinemas with Tolu Tanner’s Couple Of Days. Which currently holds the Nigerian box office record for the most tickets sold in one day (February 14, 2016).
With primary training in theatre Adesua Etomi, straddles the screen and stage worlds expertly. Her foray into theatre began in 2004 with The Crucible, while she studied for Diplomas in Performing Arts, Musical & Physical Theatre at The City College in Coventry, United Kingdom. In 2008 & 2009 she would star in three plays for the Arena Theatre, while studying for a Bachelors’ in Drama and Performance at The University of Wolverhampton. Upon completion of her studies in 2009, Adesua Etomi bagged a First Class Honors’ degree and a Foursight Theatre Award for the Best Performance in A Devised Piece Of Work.
With the initial goal to work for a year to enable her diversify her world experience; Adesua Etomi strayed from the world of acting for a little under three years, until the yearning to do what she loved most won over. In 2012 she got back on stage in The Miller’s Tale which showed at the Saga Tiata-Edinburg Fringe Festival. In 2013, Adesua Etomi made a trip back to Lagos, Nigeria to visit family and met a vibrant film and theatre scene which she decided to venture into. This led to several appearances in stage plays all over Nigeria including Shattered, Anatomy of a Woman, Crystal Slipper, London Life Lagos Living, Saro 1 & 2, Les Miserables, Band Aid and The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives.by
Later that year, Adesua landed the lead role in her first movie – Knocking On Heaven’s Door, produced by Emem Isong. Adesua Etomi would again team up with Emem Isong in a big budget period piece, tentatively titled “Ayamma – Music In The Forest”, which is primed for a late 2016 theatrical release. With each new performance on screen and stage, Adesua Etomi has steadfastly won over industry watchers and critics. In November 2015 leading Journalist, Film Critic, Festival Aficionado and Film Awards Jury Panelist – Shuaib Husseni dubbed her “The New Princess Of The Silver Screen”.