There is a palpable air of confidence that accompanies people who know they are here to be game changers. This was immediately apparent starting my conversation with Zainab Sherrif, a young Sierra Leonean actress, and movie producer.
The youngest of 14 kids, Zainab is a beautiful lady, who thankfully did not rely solely on her looks, but built up grit and confidence, entering every life’s transaction by doing her homework and working very hard to command respect of her peers. To date, she just finished producing the highest budget movie ever filmed in Sierra Leone. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
DEEWOLE: What is the singular most life transforming event of your life?
ZAINAB: Winning Miss Paddy’s Beauty Contest, It remains a high point and a moment I can look back and say gave me the highest boost to my confidence.
DEEWOLE: What’s your favorite word?
DEEWOLE: Least favorite word?
DEEWOLE: Do you regard your beauty as a double edged sword, helping to open doors but yet demanding you prove you are not just a pretty face?
ZAINAB: Being smart, beautiful, young and ambitious is the best identity a girl can have. Yes beauty might open doors, but I get to choose what door to enter. I find that people do take me seriously, because I come in prepared and impress my peers with my creativity and my business chops. Being the first female producer and working on the biggest budget movie yet in Sierra Leone has been the most taxing, financially and mentally. I remain grateful to Allah and fellow Sierra Leoneans for all their support, the best is yet to come.
DEEWOLE: Who within the industry are your greatest influence, and what’s your primary passion, acting or producing?
ZAINAB: John Dumelo, James Gardiner, Mary Kekurah and Daniel Moseray are the actors whose work I find most influential. Meg Ryan stands out as my favorite international Actor; I find her acting style effortless. As far my preference, working behind the scene provides the most challenge and reward, because I live to overcome challenges, producing movies with all its complexities has to be what I am most passionate about.
DEEWOLE: Tell me about your movie Ghetto Queen.
ZAINAB: It’s a story about a young and talented singer’s struggle in the music industry. It explores her relationship with her mentor who eventually became her husband and all the explosive passion and turmoil it invited. It stars me as the female lead alongside John Dumelo, James Gardiner, Daniel Moseray and Marian Kekurah.
Clearly Zainab is a force to be reckoned with and she believes Sierra Leone’s traumatic past, while a dark chapter, provides fertile ground for creativity and some amazing and inspiring stories. She is sure the industry will provide job opportunities for writers, actors and movie makers all over the country, and she has nothing but praise for other creative people in the country and in the not so distant future hopes to collaborate and put the nation at par with other nations in Africa.
Look for Ghetto Queen on DVD.