The EbonyLife and Times of Leonora Okine.
Ever wondered what it’d be like to be one of the fresh ladies on the block? The camera loves you and the directors can’t get enough of you? Ghanaian actress Leonora Okine has been blessed with all three. Having starred in Waltbanger’s drama thriller series Married to the Game, MTV’s Shuga, Tope Oshin Ogun’s Love and War, we don’t see this actress slowing down any time soon. Read on and find out how EbonyLife TV got the chance to get close and personal with the aspiring actress.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew before you became an actress?
I wish I had known that I’d want to make a career of acting some day. There are so many things I’d have liked to put in place before beginning… so many.
Which actor or actress would you really like to work with but have not yet had the chance to? (Hollywood/Nollywood/Ghallywood)
Ghallywood- Adjetey Annang is a consummate professional and in my opinion one of the best actors of our time, coincidentally we share the same international manager. AMVCA Award-winning Director – Shirley Frimpong-Manso, who I worked with in a series previously but would love her films; and finally legendary filmmaker Kwaw Ansah of TV Africa.
Hollywood – Viola Davis, Thandie Newton, Angela Basset, Meryl Streep etc
Nollywood – The list is endless!
You are the lead actress in Waltbanger’s thriller Married to the Game which is aired on EbonyLife TV DStv Channel 165 every Saturday at 19:00 WAT we hear there were some funny anecdotes whilst filming, please share.
Filming Married to the Game was one of the best times of my acting experience and of my life. Hahahaha. There were quite a number of sketches that a couple of us engineered. My personal favourite was the “video spanking” pranks we pulled and then posted on social media! And I think I should leave it at that. Please let your imagination run wild. Whatever spanking idea your can picture in your head, we did it. We had a regular victim, though. It was so juvenile but those harmless pranks definitely brought us closer together. I miss the crew right now.
What’s the best and worst part of being an actress?
The best part is going back home after each project to meet my smiling family. That always makes my heart swell! The worst part is when I realise a lot of the horrible experiences that the characters I play go through, actually do happen to people. It’s disheartening every time.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you as an actress?
When a woman in a shoe store verbally accused me of being a mean girl. It took me over one whole minute to realise she was referring to Stephanie, the character I played in Desperation. I initially thought she had mistaken me for someone else! That it took me that long to realise she wasn’t talking about me as a person was very embarrassing! She gave me a 40%discount on shoes I bought though so that was good. hahaha
In your own words, what is acting really about?
Acting is about being honest and truthful with the story you tell.
What are the key components of a great actress?
Being respectful to others (when you respect people, there’s a limit to the things you will do/say to and about them); Taking the art and the film industry very seriously; it’s a business (eg: punctuality) and being fully committed to one role at a time.
What do you think separates you from other actresses?
I don’t know other actresses well enough to make a fair comparison. Each one of us is very unique, and that’s the best thing that can happen to such a huge industry. I take this business very seriously, however, and that is why I have assembled a management team to take my career to the next level.
Who are your role models internationally and locally?
My mother, My father, Peter Mensah, Angela Basset,Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Idris Elba, a few politicians, a lot of Nigerian and Ghanaian authors, all the directors I’ve worked with, Azuma Nelson and a few others.
I have an endless list actually and this is because these people are all different in personality, in skill set and in business ethics.
I let myself learn from other people’s life lessons and experiences.
Aside from acting, what are some of your other talents?
Business Development, Brand Development, Marketing Strategy, Mobile Marketing, Project Management (construction) and Boxing.
How do you prepare for a crying scene?
A lot of things have to happen in a scene before tears can be expected. Most times, you’re in too much pain for tears to drop or for a sound to come from an outcry. The most important thing is when the audience feels my pain without necessarily seeing tears. So I always just go with the flow, allowing myself to feel.
Being a Ghanaian, how easy or hard was it for you getting into Nollywood and do you prefer it to Ghallywood? (if so, why? If not, why not?)
It wasn’t easy, not for a minute. I came in without knowing anyone! Fortunately, auditions have been fair to me. Thank goodness for auditions! And I’ve met and worked with amazing people so I’m hoping being in Nollywood gets easier with time.
I love and respect both the Ghanaian and Nigerian film industries very much! I work where I’m needed when I’m needed there. It is where each project takes me that matters to me not necessarily a matter of preference.
Who is your celebrity crush?
May I name 3? If I may: Idris Elba, Sir Sidney Poitier and Tom Hanks.
What’s your favourite film of all time and why?
The 2002 Adventure Film ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ set in the early 1800s.
Oooh… goose bumps all over me right now! Phew! I haven’t seen it in years and I wish I could watch it at least twice a week!
This film has everything that frightens and intrigues me about the human mind. Love, hate, betrayal, lies, murder, guilt, absence of guilt, human classification within the same group, how far people are willing to go to get what they want; especially when they know they dont deserve it etc.
And it has an array of different kinds of characters. I enjoyed the politics, too. It’s the perfect film! I have to get the book.
If I came to your house right now and looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?
Bottled water, fruits, eggs, ginger ale, malt drinks, coconut water, wheat bread, jams, milk, cereal(keeps them crispy), bowls of at least 5 kinds of soups, definitely jollof rice, cakes, ice cream, chocolate bars.
If there was more time in the day I would…(please complete sentence)
… I’d speak to my parents more, read as many history and self-help books as possible, meet decision makers on educational reforms and watch all the films I can get.
What has been the biggest transformation in your life so far?
It would be more of an amendment; I feel more humbled every passing day. I’m yet to figure out if it’s because I’m growing as a person or if it’s because of my being an actress. I’d like to think it’s because I’m growing.
As time goes by I realise…(please complete sentence)
As a human being, you tend to judge yourself by your intentions and judge other people by their actions, so you end up believing that you’re a better person (in deed) than other people. For instance you think you’re more righteous, kinder, wiser etc because you only judge the result of another person’s actions and not what their actions may have been.
What 3 things drive your life?
My faith in God, my family, the assurance that I will be of great help to a lot of people as the years go by.
If I could turn back time I would…(please complete sentence)
… not upset my parents as I did when I was a little child.
What’s next for you? Any projects you’re currently working on?
Quite a few and this is possible because of my management. I’m so lucky!
Thank you for letting us get close and personal with you Leonora Okine, we wish you the very best for all future endeavours and look forward to seeing you more on our screens.
Stay tuned for the next EbonyLife and Times edition where a good time is had by all! And remember, life is short and time is swift so don’t dull, make a difference