Anee Icha is Finding Joy in Acting & Championing Mental Wellness | #BNMeetTheStar

Anee Icha is Finding Joy in Acting & Championing Mental Wellness | #BNMeetTheStar

In this edition of “Meet the Star,” a segment dedicated to spotlighting emerging talents in Nollywood, Anee Icha talks about her role in the recent movie “Casa De Novia,”  her advocacy for mental health, and her dream directors and actors she'll love to work with. 

In our previous feature, we caught up with Paul Nnadiekwe, who talked to us about his career in the film industry, from his roles in the AMVCA-nominated movie “Afamefuna,” and the upcoming “I Do Not Come To You By Chance,” and the unique experience of being born on a leap day. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Anee Icha is an actress, writer, and producer, and is popularly known for her role in the drama series “Before 30.” For Anee, acting wasn't a preordained path for her; rather, she embraced it and poured her heart into every opportunity. Her approach to characters? Love. 

In “Casa De Novia,” Anee is Yoyo, a spirited young woman starting a journalism career in the bustling city of Lagos. In reality, Anee is Anee – passionate, emotional, fiery and a lover of people, yet, she also identifies as the founding mother of The Hermit Haven Society, the president of The Quietude Quorum and the convener of The Reclusive Introvert Alliance. You can tell Anee is introverted. 

Beyond acting, Anee champions mental health awareness. She compares the brain to a car engine, emphasising its central role in shaping our experiences. highlights the importance of self-care for this vital organ. It's no surprise neuroscience would have been her chosen field if she wasn't on our screens either as Yoyo or Dami. 

We bet you'll enjoy reading this interesting conversation we had with Anee just as much as we did. You might even want to get a chilled glass of your favourite drink to read along with.

Anee Icha is Finding Joy in Acting & Championing Mental Wellness | #BNMeetTheStar

Hey Anee! How's your day going?

Hey BellaNaija, thank you for having me. My day's going pretty good actually; I'm a sucker for rainy mornings (not nights, just mornings lol), so whenever it rains in the morning, my mood for that day is pretty much sorted.

Let's jump right into your latest film, “Casa De Novia.” What initially drew you to the character of Yoyo?

Honestly, nothing drew me to Yoyo initially. I was afraid to play her – her creators had such specific expectations, and I didn't want to disappoint. Her abilities, like speaking perfect pidgin English, were beyond my experience. When done right, pidgin English is beautiful, it's like music, it's beautiful and it carries weight in a way that English can't match. It was these little details that scared me and made me hesitate.

But there's magic in having people believe in you. Niyi Akinmolayan saw a potential I couldn't. Thanks to his faith, I approached Yoyo with less fear. And let me tell you, she's a great gal! (Lol) You'd love her, knowing what goes on in her head. You'd knock some sense into her sometimes but love her anyway. Her innocence, her harmless antics, her good heart – that's what won me over.

Taking a step back, how did your acting journey begin? Was there a specific moment you knew this was your calling?

Callings are tricky. Success can be misleading – having a “successful” acting career doesn't guarantee it's your calling. Look at me: with just 10 projects, I wouldn't call myself a huge celebrity. But each character resonated and felt real to audiences. That's what matters.

So, forget callings (unless you're Michael Jackson-level legendary). Hard work matters more. I give everything to every project and hope to keep doing it. (Maybe with a breakout role, I'll revisit the calling question! Haha)

My acting journey is a lovely story, but it's a long one. Let's just say I started with incredible filmmakers who have high standards and showed me what is possible for Nollywood. Huge thanks to the amazing team at Nemsia for the gift.

From your first role to Yoyo in Casa De Novia, how has your approach to acting evolved? What has changed?

Ama from “Before 30” was the first person given to me; she was just a happy bunny! (Do you know my big sister calls me that?) Looking back, the characters who've affected me most are the ones who are completely themselves – the happy-go-lucky, the quirky, the innocent. (Intriguing pattern, right? But I'll keep that under wraps for now!)

Now, Yoyo… here's what I think. Maybe this answers how my approach has evolved (if it has, fingers crossed!). I think it's about love – don't groan yet, stay with me and we'll land this plane safely I promise! Love, in all its messy glory, might be the key. Think about it: Ama, Ejiro, Stella, Yoyo – they're all unabashedly themselves, a beautiful mess and all. That's love, isn't it? Maybe that's the connection – we both embrace our imperfections. So I let these characters be whoever they need to be, silly or serious. Love lets me step back and let them shine.

This isn't part of the question, but I have to say that I think the greatest gift any parent can give their child is raising them to be enough, completely and utterly. It's a blessing I wouldn't trade for anything else.

Anee Icha is Finding Joy in Acting & Championing Mental Wellness | #BNMeetTheStar

In one word, how would you describe your acting career so far?

Can we skip this question? Lol! It's a wild ride. It's fulfilling, frustrating, and everything in between. I crave more, but “more” with meaning, you know? Characters I dream of playing, but it's a two-way street. Sometimes it's electric, like that mind-blowing movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (the most incredible film I've seen in a long time).

It's those things. Other times, well, it's been difficult and slow and confusing. But hey, I'm grateful. Grateful for the good times and that God has kept me when it's been good, and held me when it's been otherwise. That wasn't one word, I know, forgive me.

Just curious, if acting wasn't in the cards, what path might you have pursued?

Neuroscience. There you have your one word.

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