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Lotanna – The Movie, Lessons And The Casts

By Yemisi Suleiman
Currently enjoying great reviews on and off  social Media and the cinemas, is the recently premiered movie, ‘Lotanna’. Produced by celebrity Stylist, Ifan Ifeanyi Michael, the feature movie,  depicts the pursuit of freedom as expressed by Ifan Ifeanyi Michael. It chronicles the story of a young boy from an indigent home, aided by a sonorous voice and an unbreakable zeal to succeed, being confronted with a huge debt owed by his father,  he must offset.
Set in the ancient city of Abeokuta; Lotanna is an exceptional movie with electrifying performances from seasoned veterans including Liz Benson, Jide Kosoko, Bimbo Manual, alongside young prolific actors: Chris Okagbue, Ama K, Chris Atoh, Keturah King  amongst others.

My Encounter In Life Is Dubbed In 90Mins  –  Ifan Ifeanyi Michael

Ifan Ifeanyi Michael
Ifan Ifeanyi Michael

Celebrity stylist and most recently, an actor and film maker, Ifan Michael is definitely one to watch in the industry. The distinctive stylist who made a big bang into film making as producer of Lotanna, is proof positive that in the film making business, talent can ultimately win out. It may take a little time, and the path may not be an easy one, but with a good idea and perseverance, you could bring your vision to fruition.

Congratulations on Lotanna. What inspired it?
I would be lying if I say the story does not have an excerpt from what I have been through in life, even as a teenager. Lotanna explains life in another dimension. I assume, even without primary facts that Nigerian youths are going through difficult times, the struggle, hustle and wholesome level of failing and trying all over again. My encounter in life is dubbed in 90mins and you can only find that in Lotanna.

What was it like working behind and in front of the camera?
I am not a stranger to lenses. I love arts and that also contains acting, singing, dancing and all. Working on a story I produced, has correlates so much with eating food I prepared. It is an excellent feeling, one you can hardly find working under someone else’s story.

You started out as a stylist, how did film making begin for you?
This has been an immense effort of my childhood days. I have always been an artistic child and for me, it never got boring doing anything alone in the room, especially acting and singing. As a stylist, I was not contented because that was not the only creative exploration my fertile mind could produce. I love singing too. All of these, are folded mountains into one.

How was the movie financed?
It was actually a self financed project, but some of my friends and colleagues did not hold back their resources, materially and financially. I appreciate everyone who contributed to the success of the movie.

You did the casting yourself, what did you look out for in the actors?
Professionalism, this is the foundation of any serious business person. I understand the creative aspect of my story, I knew what I wanted, I went for it. I didn’t hit my head on a rock before I could select my A-list actors. It was a great selection for me. And they did wonderfully well.

What would you like people to take away from watching Lotanna?
The moral strength, don’t look at the thrilling aspects. There is a message woven in the movie. Extract it and make use of it all.

Tell us a bit about your growing up years and fun memories as a child?
I was born in Port-Harcourt, grew up there, but came to Lagos as a teenager. The journey started as a music artiste, celebrity stylist and now, a movie producer. All these I didn’t fantasize about, I always knew I was made for creative art. Growing up as a child, I loved playing under the rain, just like every other child. I loved outdoor a lot, and I am obsessed with magazines, catalogs and I am almost fascinated by every picture my eyes behold.

Who is your role model on the industry?
Richard Mofe Damijo.

What were the challenges you had while shooting the Lotanna?
A lot, we had to deal with time factor, logistics and some other things that showed up uninvited.

If you had to make the film all over again, what would you do differently?
I would bring it to the urban era. There will be a different twist to it.

What was the most important thing you have learnt in life?
I learnt that vain pursuits are the height of whole madness. They don’t even outlive the next moments at times. Be real, be positive and stay active.

There Is Another Level Of Truism In The Story –  Chris Attoh

Chris Attoh
Chris Attoh

Ghanaian actor, Christopher Attoh, became popular for his role as “Kwame Mensah” in Nigeria’s famous soap opera, Tinsel.  Since then, it has been a roller coaster ride for the actor, on-air personality and producer, who had gone on to win several awards for his brilliant performances in various film projects.
Chris gave a short but remarkable performance with his role as Kojo, the primary school Village headmaster in Lotanna.

What was it like playing the village headmaster in the movie, Lotanna?
There was a different feeling, a new horizon for me to explore. I’m glad I did act in Lotanna. There was another level of truism in the story. Nearly all men could relate with it.

At what point in life did you discover your love for the creative Arts?
At a tender age, but fledged as a teenager. I knew I would act, it was something I could never cage, and it came up bumping into other ambitions.

You have done quite a number of movies, with a number of awards to your credit. How did the journey begin for you and which movie would you say gave you your first big break?
The journey has been a wonderful experience. With the number of years I have spent acting, and the recognition avail to it, I am grateful to God and for everyone out there that believed in me.

Which has been your most challenging role yet?
No role is too weak to act; acting requires 100% level of professionalism. But if you are starred as a major character, you have the ship in your hand, heads turn, movies turn too.

Who or what informed your choice of career as a teenager?
I always watch Hollywood movies and Denzel Washington made me feel everything happened truly. There is life to every scene he acted. I fell in love with acting by watching him act.

By the roles you have played, have you had any embarrassing moments with fans?
Yes, but it was part of the experience. A twist also here and there is applicable to every professional. You can’t win the love of everyone.

What inspires you in life?
God, then my positive nature, I am driven by another significant level to work on.
What would you like people to take away from watching Lotanna?
The moral lesson logged in it; it will always skip the mind if you see the movie without studying the structure.

What is the next big thing in line for Chris Attoh?
That would be suspense, big things are not enough, and bigger things are the biggest of them all.

Learn To Follow Your Dreams And Chase Your Passion  – Keturah King

Keturah King
Keturah King

Keturah King is a well-versed presenter, who has presented a wide variety of programmes including news, entertainment and lifestyle issues while working for Arise TV and CNN. Armed with the fluidity that she possesses with her work as presenter, Keturah also ventured into acting, with brief appearances in some international movies and presently, in Lotanna where she plays the role of Bestie.

What was it like playing ‘Bestie’?
Playing Bestie was such a great experience as she’s such a fun character. I would say she provides the comic relief in the movie, as she’s so ostentatious. Being able to step out of myself into a character like hers was good fun.

Was it a character you enjoyed?
Absolutely! I would play that role over and over again if I could.

At what point in life did you discover your love for the creative Arts?
Since birth, I am an incredibly creative person and have always felt at home under bright lights or on stage. When I was a kid, I was in pampers commercials. Throughout primary and secondary school, I was always the lead in various plays. After high school, I toured east and Southern Africa with the Kenyan National Troupe, performing in The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera. After that, I went to the London Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), that was prior to going to university where I undertook a double major in Journalism and Japanese. After that, I had minor roles in some big name movies like James Bond – Skyfall and The Fast and the Furious 6 and now, Lotanna, my first African movie.

Which has been your most challenging role yet?
My most challenging role to date has been the secret project I am working on. All will be revealed in the middle of April. You might even spot me on a few billboards!

Tell us a bit about your growing up years?
My parents work with the United Nations, so I grew up around the world which I believe, gave me the cultural appreciation and chameleon-like ability to easily pick up languages and accents that I currently possess.

Who or what informed your choice of career as a teenager?
I have always said that I wanted to do everything on earth and I believe acting, enables you do that.
My main dream is not to become an ‘actress’, who is relegated to only playing a woman, but an ‘actor’, who can play anything and anyone.

What does style mean to you?
Style is innate. I’m not a trend follower, as I dress according to how I feel and not “what’s hot”. I have my mother to thank for my in-built style.  Don’t they say French women have the best style? (Laughs)

What inspires you in life?
My inspiration comes from everywhere. As you grow older, you realise that time is limited and you really start to take stock of what’s important and what’s not. You learn to follow your dreams and chase your passions instead of playing it safe. I engage with some very interesting people on a daily basis, included but not limited to my family and friends and, they consistently, inspire me.

What would you like people to take away from watching Lotanna?
Follow your dreams and never give up. If you believe it, you can achieve it.

Lotanna Is To Inspire People To Stay Steadfast –  Chris Okagbue

Chris Okagbue
Chris Okagbue

While Chris Okagbue may have launched himself into the public consciousness by his win at the now rested Gulder Ultimate Search in 2011, the years that followed, has taken him from reality shows to proving his mettle in the movie industry as an actor and most recently, a producer
Chris who played the lead character, Lotanna in the movie, also launched himself into the world of production as associate producer, on the Lotanna movie project. He tells us more about his character amongst other things.

What was it like playing the lead role Lotanna?
It was a lot of work. Knowing I had that much responsibility, kept me on my toes all the time. But, I had the support and help of my co-actors, the crew and of course, my director.

Tell us about your character?
Lotanna is a deep, intense character. He has very little moments of genuine happiness while growing up and even till his adulthood. His few happy moments are very short-lived because of the circumstances surrounding him and, his struggle to make something good out of his life, and also, take care of his unstable mother.

Was it a role you enjoyed playing?
Yes, I certainly enjoyed playing that role because I personally learnt so much from it. I wouldn’t have given up that role for the world.

What was it like working with a veteran like Liz Benson as your mother?
It was phenomenal. Having the rare opportunity to be on set with an actress I watched and admired while growing up, there are really no words to explain it. It felt surreal. She is a living legend and it was an honour working with her.

You have done quite a bit of movies, how did the journey begin for you and which movie would you say gave you your first big break?
I started acting in 2007. I worked on a number of series and soap operas; nothing major at the time because, I never wanted to be an actor. So, I was not really taking it seriously. It happened by chance. I think my big break was getting on Tinsel in 2012 shortly after the Gulder Ultimate Search. After that, it all went uphill for me. Now, I really enjoy acting.

Which has been your most challenging role yet?
Lotanna has been my most challenging role so far, because of the nature of the character I needed to portray. The difference between me and Lotanna is that I am a happy person in real life. I smile and laugh a lot. I always have a reason to be happy. This is in pure contrast with Lotanna’s personality who could not afford to be happy because he’s always caught up with his life’s problems. So, I had to constantly keep myself in that head space where I could not be my regular happy self.

Who or what informed your choice of career as a teenager?
I guess I had always wanted to be famous. I used to look at billboards on my way to school as a kid and wondered what it would feel like to be on one. I wanted that. So, that was my drive at the time. Once I started modeling, I achieved that. Every other thing, from the reality show to acting, was never part of my plan in the beginning. Those happened by chance.

What inspires you in life?
Without trying to sound conceited, I like to think that I inspire myself. The reason is because, my life hasn’t always been rosy. It still isn’t. But when I think about my life, all I have been through and all that I have been able to achieve through hard work, passion, perseverance, dedication and most importantly, with God’s grace and favour, I’m inspired to believe that there is nothing I can’t achieve.

How do you take time off to relax?
I like music a lot. If I wasn’t an actor, I’d probably be a musician full time. I still might delve into that in the future. I listen to music a lot. I like to go out with friends and just hang out at karaoke bars, have a few drinks and sing for fun. When I am not doing that, I play my guitar and write songs. I do a little bit of screenplay writing as well. I don’t watch a lot of movies but, I enjoy watching TV series a lot. I also spend as much time as I can with my siblings. My family means the world to me.

What would you like people to take away from watching Lotanna?
I would really like for people to understand and appreciate the importance of hard work and resilience. Our primary objective with Lotanna, is to inspire people to stay steadfast to their dreams and aspirations because, with the right tools and the right attitude, success may be delayed but never denied.

Working Opposite Talented Actors In Lotanna Was A Plus  – Ama K Abebrese

Ama K Abebrese
Ama K Abebrese

British- Ghanaian actress, Ama K. Abebrese is an award-winning actor, television presenter and producer who won the 2011 Best Actress in a Leading Role at the AMAA Awards for her stellar performance in Sinking Sands.  Abebrese who has featured  in a number of movies with a good number of  awards to her credit, is also listed among Africa’s Top 20 Actors and Actresses by FilmContacts.com. She plays the role of Zara, Lotanna’s potential love interest in this feature-film.

What is the character Zara all about?
I played the character of Zara, a determined young woman who after meeting Lotanna in a very unconventional way decides to pursue him and set up her own record label and make him into a star. She is a strong character yet vulnerable at the same time.

How were you able to fit in perfectly into your character, any challenges?
As an actor, taking on a role usually comes with its own unique set of challenges. I had the script for a long time before filming so I took time in developing her character. Also, working opposite talented actors in Lotanna was a plus, as we get to bounce off each other perfectly.

What lessons would you say should be learnt from the movie?
A few lessons, but one main lesson for me is that you can make it, it’s possible to achieve your dreams and goals. It’s not easy, challenges will come and go but, you can succeed.

As an actress what would you say your biggest challenge is?
I can’t pin point one. There are different challenges that each project offers.

When you are not acting, what other activities do you engage in, any hobbies?
I recently took up swimming and I try to swim as often as I can. My other favourite pastime is sleeping; but I’m not sure if that can be considered a hobby or not.

What motivates you?
God, knowing that I have the grace of God keeps me motivated.

Any role models?
My grandmother and my mother, these are very strong, hardworking and loving women.

Where do you see yourself in the nearest future?
Doing what I love, more films and TV shows. I will also be producing more films and TV projects.

Any word of advice to aspiring actors?
No matter how good you are, always be willing to learn more about the craft. Also try not to be scammed by dodgy people who charge you to audition or take advantage of young people. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t get involved.

Any word for your fans out there?
I thank them for their support. God bless them.

 

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