Africa Movie Academy Award winner Kate Henshaw is one of Nigeria’s best-known politicians and actresses, starring in The Meeting, Games Men Play and Above Death. ELLE meets the actress and talks politics, film and starring in My Nigeria
ELLE: What sparked your passion and interest in politics?
I did not necessarily want to be a politician, but I’ve always been outspoken about various injustices in my country. I came to the realisation that those in government make decisions that affect our lives and I knew I could make a difference, and so I gave it a shot. I believe every citizen in Nigeria should be involved in politics or at least show interest. The policies and laws made affect us all be it positively or negatively.
ELLE: How did the My Nigeria project come about?
I was asked to be a part of the project and felt it would be interesting to do since I am very passionate about my country and its people. The documentary showcases my hometown in Southern Nigeria and its people even though it was at the height of ongoing elections. I believe it will showcase hard-working, happy and very tidy people as my state, Cross River, is the cleanest in Nigeria.
ELLE:What is your specific role in this documentary?
My life as an actress, a fitness enthusiast, and one who took the plunge into the murky waters of politics especially in Nigeria.
ELLE: As a politician, what are some of the gender challenges that you’ve had to deal with?
Once, while meeting some elders during consultations, I was viewed as too young to attempt politics, and one of the men wondered aloud if they would be able to sit with me in the evenings and jaw-jaw (like when men go to the pub and talk about different things). I was also viewed as just an actress, with no real understandings of politics. Sadly, we’re still living in a patriarchal society.
ELLE: In what way do you hope the documentary will speak to women?
I am hoping it will inspire women to believe in themselves, and support each other, no matter the obstacles. I believe that if you never try, you will never know. I am hoping it will give at least one woman the courage to dare to dream.
ELLE:What other projects are you involved in?
Iquo’s Journal is on circuit now and tells the story of a woman living with HIV. Despite her chequered past, she is using her story to help other women not to follow that same path. And DoGood has just premiered on DStv on channel 153.
ELLE:What does #BeingFemaleInNigeria mean to you?
It means having principles and values, and speaking out against all forms of gender discrimination, domestic violence, and child abuse. It also means when women are given an opportunity to serve, to lead, they should stand out from the norm.
About My Nigeria:
My Nigeria is a series of six half-hour documentaries that pulse with the energy of Africa’s most complex and populous country.
The six half-hour films will go out in a prime time documentary slot to Al Jazeera’s global audience of over 250 million households across 130 countries.
For more info, visit Aljazeera.com