She has been around for some time but through her first major supporting performance in Shirley Frimpong Manso’s ‘Potomanto’ she got her first ever African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) nomination, which catapulted her to a wider audience.
In this interview with NEWS-ONE’s Francis Addo, she speaks about herself, the AMAA nominations, Spirited Actor reality show and her great passion for acting.
Congratulations on your nomination at the last AMAA.
Thank you! It was truly an honour to be a part of it all.
How did you first receive the news of the nomination?
My father was online on the morning of the nominations announcement and decided to have a look at the nominees, and then he told me I made it.
Did you expect it?
I was completely surprised; ‘Potomanto’ is my first feature film so to be nominated at this stage is simply fantastic. I must admit I never anticipated a nomination but I work hard in everything I do, so to be recognised by my honourable peers is just the cherry on top of the cake.
How did you start acting?
I started acting when I was young. I didn’t take it seriously until I was about 18 and by then it wasn’t so much of a choice anymore, it had become a calling. Being an artiste can sometimes confuse, irritate, frustrate and depress you because you don’t choose to be an artiste, art chooses you. Many times I woke up thinking why didn’t I become a lawyer, a doctor or a banker. You need to recognize that fire within you, celebrate it and treasure it, whatever that fire is made of, love it and work extremely hard to keep it burning, never let go of the fire within you. Never stop working. Never stop dreaming.
Do you get scared for choosing acting as a career?
No, I don’t but there are a few reasons for that. I am fortunate to have my parents’ constant support. They believe in me but not just as loving parents, they also are my biggest critics, they keep me balanced and are always incredibly honest about my work or choices. If they think my performance could have been better they don’t hesitate to tell me. I love that because an artiste should always be humble about his or her work, believe in whatever you do but recognise when you don’t push yourself harder.
Even though it isn’t always easy you can never fail if you work hard. So no, I don’t get scared; I get a little depressed sometimes but not scared. Of course it is an extremely competitive field.
How would you describe your experience with Spirited Actor?
I would rather not talk about that for the simple fact that it was not good and that is why we parted ways.
How did you get a role in ‘Potomanto’?
I have been working with Shirley for a while now; I auditioned for her a year ago for the first time and was immediately casted as Vivian in the drama series ‘Adams Apples’. Once we wrapped up ‘Adams Apples’, I got a call to play Susan in ‘Potomanto’ and of course there was no way I would refuse it.
What’s the different between acting on stage and acting for the cameras?
Well, it is undeniable fact that there are differences between performing on stage and performing for the camera although the common aim is to keep the same level of intensity and truthfulness. When you perform on stage you have to be powerful with your movement, voice, expression, the audience sitting from the front to the back of the room must understand you, hear you, feel you, which is why rehearsals are key prior to any performance.
As a theatre actor, you are trained and prepared to give a compelling, rehearsed performance every night, for as long as it is required. For the camera, you need to be just as capable but you are in a different environment, you are sitting in the real world, not a controlled one made of props and décor, you have to deal with all the inconveniences such as the weather, sound, light etc, at that very moment, you basically have to be prepared for the unexpected.
The great American actress and acting teacher, Stella Adler, said that “Acting is not an abstract activity; the actor must make everything he deals with real.” She goes on to say, “We have a dilemma. We don’t want what we see to be flat and without interest. But we don’t want to overdo it so people think we’re ‘pushing’. The answer is that we must be truthful. The more details we imagine, the more honest and believable and energetic our responses will be. Nine tenth of your acting lies in the minute knowledge of what you see and what you do.” My favourite drama teacher in Paris once taught me that acting is a form of behaving. I live by these teachings and they are my ultimate achievements as an actress whether I find myself on a beautiful stage or behind a fabulous camera.
How would you rate the performance of Shirley Frimpong Manso?
It was awesome; Shirley is such a hard working, dedicated and talented person. She knows exactly what she wants and how she wants – which is admirable. As an actor, you know that if you work with Shirley, she will get the best out of you. I adore her as a director and as a person.
What did you learn from her?
To let go and stop restricting yourself, to feel free to express what you feel is right. If she doesn’t like something, she will let you know but she gives you that freedom to artistically express yourself how you see fit.
Who is Marie Humbert?
Haha Marie is Marie! I find it pretentious to answer this question (smiling) I am a woman, a dreamer, a lover of life.
Tell me about yourself.
My father is Swiss French from Geneva and my mother is Ghanaian originally from the diamond district of Akim Oda. I grew up in six countries with my family before going to university in Australia followed by professional acting school in Paris.
Did you attend different schools?
Yes but I was in the French system until I was 14 and then I switched to the English system and obtained my bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Deakin University in Melbourne Australia. I am fully bilingual, as I have always spoken both French and English.
Tell us about your childhood.
I truly feel blessed and fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel and see the world. Travelling is literally what makes me completely happy.
Can you recall some fond memories?
My brother and I are really close as there is only a year and eight months difference between us and we used to do crazy things when we were young. We still do (laughs). We used to invite all our friends and make mini movies or comedic interviews and sketches, like ‘Saturday night live’ for example. We would also go on adventures with our roller blades and bicycles, basically spend a lot of time outdoors which I treasure so much when I see the current young generation that only seem to enjoy video games, iPads and texting. There is nothing wrong in doing so in moderation but as a child you should explore and run wild, leave the computer screen for much later.
How many siblings do you have?
I have one brother. That is all.
Who is your role model?
I bow down to actors such as Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Waltz, Kevin Spacey, Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando and many more. I don’t have a favourite, just favourites.
Did you play a part in ‘African City’?
African City has just been such a wonderful experience. Working with these strong, intelligent and beautiful women has been an amazing experience that has definitely impacted my acting career. I can’t wait to shoot season two soon.
Are you married?
I am not married; that is for sure.
Do you have a crush on someone in the industry?
I do not kiss and tell as they say.
How would you describe your ideal man?
My kind of man, well let’s just say he has to be an intelligent, ambitious and kind gentleman.