I’m fantasising a kiss with RMD

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After acting for two years, Ghanaian actress Haillie Sumney who studied Medicine in the United States is back to the Ghana movie industry. Eli, as she is fondly called, is, however, equally ready for the Nigerian movie industry. In this chat with OLAITAN GANIU, the fair-skinned actress speaks about her sojourn into showbiz, her first kiss on set, among other issues.

You have a great passion for acting, why did you study Medicine?

It’s because I have African parents and I believe you know what that means; they didn’t see the vision in acting. They wanted me to be a doctor, lawyer or do a professional course.

Why a nurse, why not a doctor or surgeon?

You know, sometimes life takes different turns. I was on that journey but for some reasons, I could not study to be a doctor.

Considering that nursing is lucrative in the U.S., why did you decide to come home?

My heart was never in America because my parents stay here in Africa.  So, I always wanted to come back home. At first, they weren’t supportive of my passion but now they are more encouraging. As a matter of fact, they just launched a TV station last month, and they actually want me to have my own programme on it.

How was your first acting experience? And who are the actors you have worked with?

My first time acting, I was a bit shy because I am more like a background person, but facing the camera was a nice experience. Acting movies is not what it seems. People see a movie and think it’s all glitters and gold. You have to start early in the morning and finish late. It is really a lot of work; I commend actors because it is not easy. Seeing the finished work is always beautiful but behind the scene is crazy: sleepless nights, drama on the set and all that. My first experience was acting in a TV series, ‘Heels and Sneakers’, which was produced by Yvonne Nelson. I also have a movie coming out called ‘A Way Back Home’ with Alex Ekubbo, IK Ogbonna and a couple of other stars. I also have a movie currently showing in the cinema called ‘Lagos Fake Life’, produced by Mike Ezuruonye.

You are a Ghanaian, why do you want to cross over to Nollywood?

(Laughs) Even though we have Jollof war going on, we are still brothers and sisters. Ghana and Nigeria go hand in hand when it comes to music, movies and other stuffs. Nollywood is definitely a large market and well-recognised internationally. That’s why I would I want to break into it. Also, I love Nigerians.

We have a lot of Ghanaian actors who are actually doing well in the Nigeria movie scene. What are you bringing in that will make you exceptional?

It is as simple as being myself, being unique and working hard. I have high hope that I will make it in the industry and don’t forget I also have my B plan, which is my nursing career.

Is there any Nigerian actor you would love to work with?

Yes, Geneveive Nnaji! She is a legend and classic person. Obviously, she’s a very good actress and she’s on NETFLIX now, she is breaking barriers. And I love RMD too, especially the way he carries himself. So, I would love to act with these two.

Do you have a crush on him?

(Laughs) No, I don’t have a crush. He is a very handsome man; I am not going to lie. Maybe, I have an inch crush for him (laughs) but I will confirm that when I see him in person. But, yes, he is a handsome man and a good actor.

What challenges do you go through building your brand?

Like I mentioned earlier, at first, my parents weren’t accepting my decision for acting but when they saw that I was climbing the ladder, they showed their support. I guess they just have the old school idea of my child must be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. So as a devoted Christian, they felt like entertainment is not good for me, especially when it comes to kissing and romantic aspects of acting. So people will be seeing my child kissing another man on TV. But now, they’ve embraced it and are supportive. Also, I’ve a challenge in getting payment from producers. And to be honest, I have done a couple of movies for free. So success is not built overnight.

 Does that mean your mum doesn’t have a problem with you kissing another man on TV now?

Well, she is not seeing me kissing.

Have you kissed on set?

Yes, I have. Deyemi the actor was the first person I kissed in a Ghana-Naija movie (laughing). Though, we made it quick and comfortable as possible because I was kind of shy and nervous and there were so many people around, so it was weird for me.

Delving into acting, who are you fantasising to have a kiss with?

Seriously, I never thought of any other person than RMD.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in Canada and moved to America when I was two years old to stay with my family. My mother is from Ghana and my father from France. I came to Ghana for my secondary school and moved back to America to study Medicine at Riverside University in California and came back to Africa and stayed in Nigeria for a year before moving back to Ghana.

What do you know about Nigerians?

Nigerians are very vibrant, aggressive in a good way. They are fun people and they are very accepting.

 What about Nigerian guys?

(Laughing) Nigerian men are very interesting. If they want something, they will fight for it. If they want a lady, they’ll fight for her. They are ready to do anything to get what they want.

 So, how many have fought to have you?

I can’t count ooo (Laughing)!

Make your comparison between Ghanaian men and Nigerian men.

It will depend on what I am looking for. If I want ‘wahala’, headache and no rest of mind, then I would choose a Nigerian man. However, if I want to be taken good care of, I would choose a Nigerian man. Ghanaian men are very relaxed and sometimes they could be lazy. So, it depends on what I am looking for.

In choosing your relaxation spot, where would that be between Nigeria and Ghana?

I will like to settle down in Ghana because that is where I am from.

Are you the only child?

No, I have two brothers; one of them is actually a musician. I am the only girl and the oldest.

 Seems you were born with a silver spoon?

Not at all, I was not, though I lived abroad for a long time but you see, the mentality that many people have with people living abroad is that you are rich. But you should see the way people are struggling abroad. For me to leave nursing and return to Africa, if it was so good, I probably would not have left. Even if you are making money, it is spent on paying bills. The American system is all about paying bills and that is why I tell people who want to relocate abroad that they should just go to school and return to Africa because it is  easier to make it here than there. I say that they have a ‘zombie’ system whereby you would work like a robot and keep paying bills; to me, you cannot excel that way.

How many years did you practise as a nurse?

I worked as a nurse for two and half years at Riverside Hospital. I did enjoy it; taking care of people. I just felt that nursing is not really my calling.

Any soon-to-be released project?

Yes, I have a TV programme that is about to go on air. It is called Vibes with Hallie, and it is coming soon on Mission Africa TV. It’s basically a talk show that focuses on health-related topics and I would also be giving health tips as well as entertainment.

How do you think you can influence your peers and colleagues to use protection?

This is one of the reasons why I want to have a section for health on my television show; to educate the youth in a fun and laid back way. I also hope to have seminars, rallies and school visitations, where I would talk about these issues. It is a very big issue even though we do not talk about it. We will go to hospitals; there are a lot of people dying of HIV. There are a lot of people that have HIV and do not even know that they are living with the virus because they have not tested themselves.

Does that mean you practise what you preach?

Yes, I do. I practise what I do.



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