Anee Icha in Uyoyou Adia's 'Casa de Novia' © Anthill Studios - Nollywire.jpg-5

‘Casa de Novia:’ Anee Icha Fears Becoming Typecast For Playing Her Role Too Well

Niyi Akimolayan’s Anthill Studios is known for consistently pushing the boundaries of storytelling with visual effects (VFX) and computer-generated imagery (CGI) techniques, and ‘Casa de Novia’ is no exception.

Produced by Victoria Akunjubi and directed by Uyoyou Adia, the movie, which was recently released for streaming on Prime Video, has been described as the studio’s most ambitious project yet.

Adopting CGI to distort reality, the horror-comedy-fantasy tale follows Yoyo, an investigative journalist, who finds a perfect, affordable mansion to solve her woes with her commute and stay closer to work. However, the new house comes with a haunting twist—the ghost of Efosa, a businessman tied to the Igbinovia empire, portrayed by Taye Arimoro. Their unusual friendship leads to a world of mystery, love, rivalry, and murder. 

Anee Icha, actress, writer, and producer popularly known for her role in the drama series ‘Before 30,’ portrays Yoyo. In an exclusive interview with Nollywire, she discusses her role, her experiences working with Anthill Studios, and more. 

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

You worked with Anthill on House of Secrets in a supporting role. How does collaborating with them in a leading capacity for Casa de Novia feel?

Firstly, my understanding of the arts and anything within the creative field is that collaboration is king. No part of the job is more or less important than the others. The fact that we have the actors we see on screen doesn’t make our job more important than those behind the camera.

There isn’t any moving part that is less significant than the other; that is the mindset I have when it comes to this work that we do, and I also apply that mindset to acting. There isn’t a more important role or a less important role.

Try to take out maybe a ‘wakapass’ or someone who had just one line, but that one line linked two major plots in the story, and see if the story will make any sense. The person with one line is as important as those with 1000 lines in that film.

I am just grateful for every opportunity I get to work in any capacity, whether as the lead, supporting character, or cameo, and I’ve done a few of those in my career.

One instance was a film we did. I think it was called ‘The Wait,’ and as far as I’m concerned, I was a ‘wakapass’ in that film. I had one scene where my character had to draw the audience into the struggles of women dealing with infertility, and that one scene was so powerful. It was so emotional.

On the day we shot it, there was hardly a dry eye in the house when we shot that scene. It may have accounted for about two to three minutes of the entire film. So, I don’t feel differently about doing a lead role or a supporting role. I feel the same way—grateful.

I take it with the utmost responsibility because it is a responsibility that we have to carry. It’s our job to portray these characters as believable as possible because that’s what the audience signed up for.

Anthill has described Casa de Novia as their most ambitious project. How did you feel about landing such a significant project?

The nature of our job as actors or entertainers can be quite erratic. In other words, you’re not constantly working because there are not many projects; even if they were, you cannot be on all of them. The flow of work is not very consistent.

It’s always a good thing when an actor can practice and express their craft. I am always trying to do certain jobs that will elevate our industry and be projected in as progressive titles as possible. Those projects are few and far between, so it was thrilling to be contacted for this project and for it to fall into my lap, literally.

It presented me with a blend of happiness, joy, contentment, satisfaction, and nervousness. With great rewards come great responsibilities, and I embraced the challenge with enthusiasm

Casa de Novia has numerous VFX scenes. What was your experience like shooting in the green room? How did you feel seeing the final result on screen?

I was ecstatic. I felt proud to see the VFX work, which is not an easy part of filmmaking. Working with VFX demands precision, technical expertise, and intuition. It takes good instincts because when trying to create something that doesn’t exist, you need your instincts to get the timing, proportions and pacing right.

VFX is supposed to look real; it’s supposed to create things that are almost impossible to create in real life but make them look real, and that is a skill and a world on its own. I doff my hat to the VFX team. Working with the green screen was fun but a little difficult.

There is a scene where Taye Arimoro and I had to play across one another. I was looking at him, but I wasn’t looking at him. I was looking in a mirror, but there was no one there. He wasn’t even standing in front of the mirror like I was, so I could at least look at him through the mirror. I was looking at a dot in the mirror. He was in a different part of the room, so we had to merge eye lines.

We had to remember who was looking where and for how long and take note of when he was moving so that the eyes could move as he was moving. It was a lot of technical work, but I am glad it paid off. 

How do you see your experience with playing Yoyo influencing your future work?

When you play a character that people like or find memorable, there is always the likelihood that you can be typecast. Typecasting is one of the things that we deal with a little bit in our industry, and it’s a risk that actors run from.

But you want to ensure you do your job to the best of your ability because it’s not about you. It’s about that character being brought to life. So, if you do your job well, that character should be memorable and impactful to the story and the audience. The downside is that people can decide to give you only those roles.

We have to remember that filmmaking is creative and artistic, but it is also a business, and with business, people are trying to make money. So, when people see something that works, we usually try to die on that line, which is not good.

It is the actors’ job to be able to transform. It’s the actor’s job to be a chameleon and be able to change themselves into any character. So, I hope I don’t get many offers to play Yoyo with a different name and title.

However, I know myself. I pick jobs that are meaningful to me and hopefully impact the industry, both locally and internationally. Will I get many offers to play Yoyo with a different name and in a different film? I think so. Will I accept them? That’s a completely different conversation. But I hope how I played this character shows more of my range as an actor. I hope it showed how far I’m willing to go as an actor because she is nothing like me. We are worlds apart.

I was actually scared when I was told that I was going to play Yoyo. Thankfully, I had Mr. Niyi solidly behind me, and he’s someone who believes in me a lot. He was certain I could play her, which helped me quite a bit. So I hope the character did something to show how excited I am to be given complicated, complex, and difficult, even if silly, characters to bring to life. 

‘Casa de Novia’ is currently streaming on Prime Video .

Watch Anee Icha in ‘Casa de Novia’ Trailer

>>> Watch trailer and see more details about titles from this story: Casa de Novia
>>> Learn more about the people mentioned in this story: Anthill Studios, Anee Icha
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