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Marcel Adig / Wednesday, 16 January 2013 04:44

profileIt’s so easy to think that 23 is a tender age to make things happen, especially in an area as delicate, technically challenging and financially heavy as film production. It is even more unimaginable to believe that at that age, a woman can load her shoulders with a huge responsibility of undertaking a project which seeks to provoke an overhaul of a prevailing social situation that affects the life of an entire nation. Then, it becomes amazing to imagine that a youth’s vision is able to shuttle them from continent to continent, amidst challenging economic times. Yet, at that age Sahndra Fon Dufe has not only ventured, but is making great in-roads into the seventh art, one of the world’s most spectacular sectors. The young but hyper talented Cameroonian who lives in Los Angeles, USA dreams big, acts big and is achieving big-time results in her big endeavours. Easily called Yefon the movie (perhaps because of a gigantic up-coming movie projet she is engaging), Sanhdra has already has her names printed in the various chapters of the Cameroonian history pamphlet – actress par excellence, visionary producer and above all development-oriented film maker. Perhaps, what makes the non-negotiable lover of acting who speaks several languages (including English, French, Lamnso, pidgin) phenomenally stand out is her humanitarian approach in the art she knows best. She has thus destined her proceeds to the promotion of girl-child education, said to still be a problem in some parts of Cameroon and Africa. To her, educating a girl child is educating the entire nation, reason why Sahndra wants to be part of building process. Though a reserved person, who would spend much of her time away from a movie set reading or researching, the hope-rising film maker would not reject a press interview. TIPTOPSTARS was one of the publications that had the privilege to have Sahndra talk about her works and life. From Los Angeles, she spoke with TIPTOPSTARS’ Marcel Adig. Among other things, she revealed her plans of either building an all girls’ school or helping to rehabilitate some. Excerpts!

Marcel Adig (MA): Sahndra, you’re welcome to TIPTOPSTARS, we have waited for this great moment to have you speak to us. Now tell us, when did it dawn on you that you were meant to be an actress?
Sahndra Fon Dufe (SFD): I have always known that I was into arts.I  fell in love with acting when I watched the famous Sarafina. It was the first time I saw an African girl in a lead role and I just knew that I wanted to do that.But the final decision came later,at  20, and ye I went for it.

MA

How did your parents react to your decision of pursuing a career in film after studying law at the University of Buea.sandar2

SFDThis question na tori for mbuhouse…hahaha!. It was such a dramatic reaction.They were like two thousand per cent against it. To them it was not a ladies’ thing. Sure, they’d heard scary stories about acting and thought it wasn’t the best thing to go for. I was able to convince them that I really stood a great chance of making it and would never be happy doing otherwise. It took time;my dad honestly thought it was a phase I will grow out of, until he started seeing my works. Now they are fully supportive and I really appreciate that. Thank God too sayman na toca…hahahaha!

MAYour aspiration is to be recognized as one of the best black actresses from Africa or betterstill putting Cameroonon the film map. What are you doing to fan the flames of such dreams?

SFDI’m doing quite much in that direction. A good examples is the Yefon film project on which I’ve spent sleepless nights. You’ll have to check out on the quality of the movie, techinically and artistically – you’ll watch the acting, the locations and of course how we display the Cameroonian culture. I’m doing everything to ensure that this film is distributed worldwide. To say I want to be recognized as the best black actress…hahahaha – those dreams might have changed. I’m more concerned about helping humanity through my art. All the same, I train a lot, read widely, do much research, all in a bid to improve on my work.

MA

Which are some of the films you’ve featured in so far?

SFD Lost in Abroad,directed by Kelechi Eke, Black November directed by JetaAmata, Tarmun directed by Jubilee Gamaniel, Bad Accent directed by Jubilee Gamaniel, The Successor of Katunga directed by JasonMohan, Standing Tall directed by Funmilayo
Orakoya and Yefon, currently undergoing production and directed by Kevin Natera. I also did a documentary called Role Play in which I played myself-  It is directed by Adam Smith. I also worked on the PSA VOW directedby Chineze Xandria, not forgetting two Cameroonian films, Standing  the R ain and Two Princes directed by EnahJ ohnscott and Mako Namme respectively

MA

Who was your favorite character played to date,in either film or on stage?

SFDI want to say Yefon,but we haven’t really gone deep into it,so I’ll wait until that experience is over. But for rightnow, I’ll go with Tarmun for my favorite role play in a movie. This was because for a moment, I felt like something took over me when I was acting. I totally got lost in my character. There is this scene where I was cutting a woman’s hair and I remember just feeling evil and having this terrible overcasto f danger. The rest of the story is told in the movie which I encourage you to watch.

MA
How do you feel about watching yourself on screen months,and sometimes even years, after you performed infront of the camera? Do you ever think that you could have done better, or are you mostly contented with your work?

SFD Ugh!, I’m always thinking of two million things I would have done better.Its just artistically frustrating, but I must say I have now had the heart to watch myself when I’m alone,to learn more about my body movements on camera. It’s the only way.

MAWhat have you learned from the directors and actors you’ve worked with so far?


SFDA lot! The biggest lesson so far is from a Cameroonian actress Constance Ejuma. From her, I learnt the lesson of being focused and discipline. It’s the best thing that any one ever taught me and I will always thank her for it. I have also learnt a lot from people like Alvarro Navarro, a DP and director Jubilee Gamaniel

MANow to your huge project Yefon the movie- what inspired you to embark on such a giant project?

SFD Many things. First of all, I wanted to tell the African story at an International level from a new point of view. Secondly, I wanted to tell this womens’ story in an attempt to create an awareness on the problem of women education. Thirdly, I was gonna be show casing Cameroon, and thats really a bog deal for me. Lastly, and very importantly, I wanted to show case my acting skills in a film that means a lot to me.

MAYefon is based on a true live happening– while on set, how have you been personally impacted from the story that it’s portraying.

SFDThe film itself has not yet been shot. How ever, we have shot a lot of stuff for promotional reasons. I must say that, I have already been personally impacted because I honestly became more empathetic to people and their problems. When I read stories of what people go through, I cry for them and I remember them all the time. Pretty emotional I must say.

MAAs a lead character in the movie - How do you connect to this character? What part of you do you tap into for the emotions of this character?

SFDMy connection to Yefon comes from our heart. I have done so much research on this life and on what it really means to be denied a basic right. From personal experience, I know what it feels like to be looked at as stupid or illogical because you have a dream. I know what it feels like when you make progress in your dream. I know what its like to love some one but not be with them for reasons beyond your control. I really feel Yefon. I am ready to be her.

MA Yefon is based on a gender issue , especially the education of girl child –has there been a change over the years/decade? What message are passing across to the continent in this film ? Do you see yourself as an advocate for some form of change in the education of women?

SFD: There has been improvement in the education system over the years. More women are now in school more than ever and some countries are doing a great job to maintain that situation, how ever there is still alot of work to be done. You hear all kinds of bizarre stories that women worldwide are going through and you ask yourself, what am I doing about it? I mean I plan on having a daughter, and I feel like what am I doing to better her future life? So yes, I am definitely an advocate for women’s rights. Not necessarily in a feminist way, but more so in a I care about mankind way. To be specific, I think women need more positive role models in the media and I strive to be one that some younger ones can choose to follow. YEFON wants young girls to know its okay to say No to bad practices. Lets be educated, make our own money, be safe, healthy, make right choices, be beautiful inside and out and more so, the young African girls, I want them to know they are beautiful, more importantly to know that when you have a dream, you must follow it. It will be difficult but always look at the end. I may not be able to change every one of them but I really hope that where I stop, some one else maybe inspired to continue.

MAYefon the movie is an ensemble of the finest cast of Hollywood actors. How did you come about bringing these actors and actresses together? What does it feel like working with such an expereinced cast? Any challenges?

SFDFunny thing. It all happened a long time ago in my mind. I was so focused on my goal that I would not let anyone dissuade me. The first Hollywood actor I met was Hakeem Kae Kazim and I had literally watched several videos of him on Youtube the day before. Then I told myself, I want this guy to act in Yefon. I met him the next day. Funny but true! From there, the list started growing. Yes there are challenges. It definitely keeps you on your toes. You are playing with the big boys that means more money to be spent, more quality expectations to be met, and little room for lousiness.

MAYou will soon be shooting on location in Cameroon , what is the criteria to get such location and audition for potential actors and actresses in cameroion?

SFDMost of the locations for Yefon are literally how they are described in the script. We just found locations based on what our production designer had designed. There are no other criteria than that it fits what we want. We already held auditions in Cameroon. I actually had the chance to meet with some of the actors. The casting process is not yet complete so we may end up holding more auditions depending on what we need and what we find, but that will be for smaller roles, extras and so on. They will be held very close to the actual shooting of the movie.

MAProceeds from the movie will be used to start a Girl school – what is your vision for such a school?


SFD The film is being financed by interested investors. The vision of the producers is to use some of the proceeds from the sales of the film to either build or renovate an all girls school, depending on what will be more beneficial to the kids. We are currently scouting the area now, and will let you know when those plans are fully in place.

MAYou also organized a workshop dubbed Know your Craft in Cameroon – what was the goal of such a workshop. How do you think such a workshop will impact the Cameroon film industry?


SFDIt was a workshop created to train artists on their craft. I already think it has impacted the Cameroonian film industry. Those who were there will spread the seed. It was really a great experience.

MAWhat is an ordinary week-day of yours like?

SFDIt’s hard to tell. But here’s what I can say., running my production company African Pictures International, working on Yefon , taking classes and researching. Some days during the week, I am on set or in the audition room

sandra1

MA:  Any influence or anyone you look up to when it comes to the film and Entertainment Industry

SFD Yes! Oprah Winfrey, Viola Davis and many others.

MA: Do you have any one special you would like to thank for making your dreams come true as an artist?
SFD: God first! He is the source of my inspiration. My parents, brothers,some and friends here in the US, back home in Cameroon and in Nigeria. My colleagues and crew members have been so great, I say kudos to them.

MA :  What’s the side of you that the public never sees?
SFD : Well, In my PERSONAL life, I keep it quiet and simple. I’m mostly indoors. I don’t really party too much. I really care about my loved ones and my family and I make all of them laugh so that everyone feels comfortable.

MA : You always look so great how do you stay in shape? What is your secret?
SFD: My answer will surprise you but here it is anyways. I study a lot about life and put a lot of emphasis on bettering my surroundings and myself. The more I feel spiritually good, the more I feel good over all, and it comes through to all of my being, because I don’t really work out that much. Planning to start soon and I eat a lot but I eat healthy stuff. I guess that’s my secret.

MA: Everyone loves celebrity, so what is your advice to the youths of today especially the Cameroonian youths who are aspiring to be actors and actresses like you? what are those tips to being a successful actor/actress
SFD : Know your craft.Know yourself. Be confident.Stay focused and respectful. Good luck!

MA: How can you access your fans and how have they contributed to your success so far’?
SFD: I want to thank my fans so much. They really play a big role in my career by always keeping me inspired.

MA: Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?
SFD:I don’t know if you already know, but I’m good writer. I’m also a fast writer, and reader. I can scan a page and read through every line in less than two minutes. I’m a good MC. I always have a creative solution to everything. Hey, I’m good at make up too. I’m also a very quick learner.

MA: How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from the film set?
SFD: By reading, cooking and sleeping.

MA: Thanks for talking to us.
It’s my pleasure, big up to TIPTOPSTARS and to the audience, thanks for reading. Enjoy your day and follow your dreams.

sahndra fondufeKnow more about SFD
Nicknames: Sku/Sandiri/ Sandy I love
Languages: English, French, Lamnso, Pidgin and learning Spanish
Favourite TV show: Game of Thrones
Favourite music genre: Soul
Slogan: Follow your dream
Favourite holiday: All holidays
Favourite colour: All bright colours
Favourite Cameroonian delicacies: Fufu and njama njama, eru, dj, hot pot, ndole crevette and miondo, dodo and anything, roasted fish, pepper soup


Last Updated on Friday, 18 January 2013 12:53

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