News Column

How I Moved From Dancing to Acting - Portia Yamahan

August 4, 2014

To many, Portia Yamahan is a sexy and flamboyant movie star, but beyond that, she is cool, calm and collected. She studied banking and finance at the University of Abuja but says she never found satisfaction in it. Senior Correspondent,Hazeez Balogun, met the pretty actress, and she spoke about what makes her tick.

From day one in the Next Movie Star house in the 2006 edition, it was clear that Portia was a strong contender. She easily breezed past the 16 housemates with whom she shared the house. It did not come as a big surprise when she ended up as the winner.

After the reality show, the next step is usually the hardest. Millions who watched the show wanted to see what becomes of the winner. It did not take long before Portia got a role. In fact, three movies were lined up for her to take part in.

Portia is a thorough bred girl from Delta State, Nigeria. As a child, she was more into dancing and singing than acting. In fact, she thought she was going to end up a dancer. She formed a dancing group with her sister while in Abuja.

She said: "Back then, I used to have a small group called 'Da Girls,' with my younger sister. We did something back then in Abuja. We would go for shows and perform and then get sprayed with money or sometimes get paid; it was beautiful. So I was thinking that even after school, I could do something as a dancer but that would not be in Nigeria. It'd be when I travel out all because I love music."

Asked if she would still consider dancing, she said: "Of course, but I need to lose some weight because I honestly love to dance. But dancing is now secondary for me. I think I want to concentrate more on movies and the business part of the movies like producing and all that."

Portia is a stickler for perfection and her carriage, no doubt, embodies her aspirations. This pretty girl is a movie freak and interestingly, the movie world found her.

A banking and finance graduate of the University of Abuja, Portia worked briefly with Guaranty Trust Bank before proceeding to the National Assembly where she also worked briefly and had to leave because of lack of job satisfaction.

"I accompanied my friend, Eunice Phillips, to an audition one day in Abuja and then I decided to audition. It was not like I really wanted to do it but I just decided to audition. I got a one-scene role popularly known as waka pass in a film directed by Tchidi Chikere. That was my first time, in February 2003. My second movie was in the same period and the title was Fatal seduction shot by Andy Amenechi. It had in it Jim Iyke, Ini Edo and other known artistes. It was beautiful. I love the activities on set. I just love the kind of life I see on set; it was really beautiful. The second production, Fatal Seduction, was awesome."

This led her deeper into acting as according to her, "There was this joy in everything everyone was doing. There was happiness, you could see the zeal and the passion to do these things in everyone present and then they had respect for each other and that was really what got me attracted to its."

All this while she was still little known. The big change came with Next Movie Star. But it was not all that rosy for her in the house.

She said: "I was bored and I had it up to my throat, so I just wanted to go so I kept telling them that they should just let me go. I felt it would make a better headline that I evicted myself by myself rather than being evicted. But they were like, of course, that is not possible, that is not what I signed with them and all that.

"It was beautiful to work with 15 other talented people and to learn from them; to create new friendship, networking and all that. It was not all fun; It was sometimes boring, sometimes tasking and sometimes annoying.

"There were enough activities to keep you on your toes, there were activities to make you tensed up because when you have the evictions and all that, you don't know who was leaving and, of course, nobody wants to be evicted. It was boring in the sense that you were just kept in a house and I can walk round that house with my eyes closed. I know where everything was so it was really boring and it was affecting me.

"I am the outgoing type, I like to go places. Then this going upstairs and coming downstairs was really boring; especially when we had our breaks and all that. I am not the type that loves to sleep that much, most times, I just sit on my bed and come downstairs and go back upstairs and down again because I am very hyperactive in nature. So, it was really boring for me. I felt caged."

And then the fun came as well, "The fun part of it was that I did not have to recharge my phone, nobody was asking me to send credits. I was just away from all these other activities outside the house because they collected our phones. So, we did not have access to anything outside the world. The only access we had was television. We spent time watching short plays or something related. But there was no communication with the outside world. Even the cameramen in the house were close to being deaf and dumb. We never got the chance to see their teeth or even talk to them because they just kept staring at you like you didn't exist. Even sometimes, we tried making fun of them by making faces at them to see if they would say something but they just kept staring at you like you didn't exist."

The victory was the turning point in her life. It assured her of a career in what she liked to do best.

"It was great because I got all the attention from the organisers of the reality show. I was treated like a queen. 'You can't do this, you can't do that; you can't eat here, you can't go there.' It was beautiful. I knew that after that comes reality, so I did not get used to it for long because I knew it was not going to last forever. I enjoyed it (the treatment) but with a caution," she said.

As the winner, Portia starred in three movies, on contract, with the organisers of Next Movie Star. She said: "I had three movie contracts with them, which we shot all the while I was with them as the queen. The first one was The Waiter in which we had Fred Aseroma, Remi Abiola and all the names I cannot remember now. The second one was Dance hood and we had Desmond Eliot, Remi Abiola, Rachael Oniga, Omoni Oboli, Jide Kosoko and a lot of other big artistes in it. The third was a sitcom and that is currently running on our local TV stations right."

Portia today remains one of the popular names on television and in movies. She even even produces her own works and still has ties with the Next Movie Star brand.

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Source: AllAfrica

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