Up and coming actress, Diana Yekinni is a Nigerian-
British native, who emerged as the winner of the 1st Annual GIAMA Screen Icon Search (SIS) Competition. Since winning, she has gone on to star in several Nollywood films and stage plays in Nigeria. She speaks to Oluwayomi Olushola about her journey so far.
Did you always want to act?
I have always known what I wanted to do and that was to act. Since I was 5 years old I knew entertaining and performing would be my life.
What did you do personally to make that dream come true?
Well the dream is still in progress. I thank God for all His blessings. I believe it’s important to fully equip yourself with the tools needed to succeed in your chosen profession. I started training to be an actress very early on in my life; my mum put my siblings and I in all sorts of classes. I studied at the Brit school for Performing Arts in London and The American Academy Of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.
When you were returning to Nigeria, did you have it all figured out or did you take a chance?
I am naturally a planner yet my final move to Nigeria was not planned at all. I initially wanted to move back after I shot the movie Ije but I had work obligations. I finally decided to come for two months in 2013 and I never left. I had also recently won the GIAMA Screen Icon Search competition in 2012 in Houston, this was also a catalyst for moving.
Your time back in Nollywood and Nigeria, has it been rewarding?
In the short time I have been back I have been extremely blessed to be a part of amazing projects such as Lagos Cougars, Saro the Musical, For Colored Girls and many more.
How have you been able to navigate the industry?
Like any industry, one must buckle down hard and focus on their goals. I have had my fair share of ups and downs but I am not a quitter. Life is a journey not a destination.
Have you ever lost roles because of your accent or has that been more of a blessing?
My accent is what is called Mid-Atlantic, a British person who lived in America enough to pick up the twang. My accent has both limited and increased my chances of work but ultimately my talent speaks for me.
Tell us about your early days as an actress, how did you manage the ups and the downs?
Early days, what can I say besides thank God through it all? Prayer, patience, persistence and passion are what I practise.
Which kind of acting jobs would you like to get in the future?
I have a flair for comedy. I enjoy it and I am good at it, but I would like to start playing dramatic roles. I want to leave my audience thinking and affected; story lines that have substance and content is what I am interested in.
What will you say is your USP as an actress?
It’s funny I had to ask someone what USP meant (laughs). Don’t worry, I know now. Well I would say my unique selling point would be my talent.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF DIANA YEKINNI
Read the full interview in December 2014/January 2015 edition of Nolly Silver Screen(Issue 11) here or click on the download button to download the magazine.