For Halimat Aitsegame, it took her six months after winning to get her car. This comes after insinuations that organisers, Digital Interactive Media(DIM) has reneged on their promise. But two weeks ago in a low keyed event, Halimat was given a brand new Hyundai IX35 SUV. “The car is a big tell-tale. Anywhere I am people know that I am around. If I drive by, they know that it is me. It does bring a lot of attention to me,” she said.
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If she had any doubt that she would get her car after so many months, Halimat says she never for one thought she was being taken for a ride. “All the while, I have been working with the DIM so it is not as if after the show we went our separate ways. I never thought for once that I will not get the car, I know they keep to their words.”
Usually after the Next Movie Star(NMS) show, winners end up working with DIM production outfit. DIM owns two television stations, Oodua TV and excite TV. Halimat joined that train. “I went on break for just a few days and I was back at work immediately. We were on location for three months immediately after that. I am on the set of many programmes. On top of the list is that of Dormitory 8. It is a big soap opera. We were on camp to shoot enough episodes to last a year. So you could imagine how stressful that is.”
For Halimat acting is a childhood dream. She had always been the girl volunteering for the drama club in school. So it was not a difficult decision for her to get apply to study Theatre arts in school. Getting a role in a movie was however not a piece of cake. She hopped from set to set and from audition to audition with little success. That was when she stumbled upon NMS.
“For one I studied theatre arts in the university. Even when I finished service, I started going from one audition to another. I had even landed some minor roles in the process. It was a friend of mine who told me about NMS and I decided to try it out. Luckily I was picked. I did not know I would go far, but before you know it, I was chosen as one of the top 20. From there, we went straight to the house for the big competition. So really, the show was a new experience for me, but I have always known acting will be my life,” she said.
The show itself was keenly contested. Despite her talents which shone through, she had to face equally talented up and coming actors. At the end of the day, after 30 days in the NMS house, 22 years old (Now 23) Halimat came out of the house victor. She did not expect her win. “To be sincere to you, I did not see myself winning. The competition was just too tight and anybody could have easily won the show. I did not in any way see myself winning. So, it was a big shock to me when I was announced the winner. The first thing I did was to pull my earing and all my accessories for no reason. I was doing things I just didn’t understand. I guess it was all about the shock I had winning the show. I wanted to do many things at the same time,” she said.
It is common gossip that contestants of reality show such as NMS, especially the ladies, take part in sex romps with the production crew to get a better chance of winning. Halimat will not confirm if such happens in NMS but she viciously denounced ever being a part anything of such. “I did not sleep with anybody, I am sure that I was made the winner strictly by merit. Anybody out there who thinks that sleeping around can get them far, I will tell them that does not happen in Next Movie Star. I was there, I came out the winner and I did not witness anything like that. Hard work is the only way to win this competition and the grace of God,” she said.
So does she believe such things happen? “I believed that the whole thing was based on merit. I have heard about the show and I knew that it was a credible one. I knew that I had the talents and I could go far, that was why I took part. I know that there may be some shows out there that they just make whoever they like winners, but such shows do not last or stand the test of time. Next Movie Star is an International show which has created a lot of big names in the entertainment world today. So their credibility was never in question.”
Now that she is a star, Halimat has found it difficult to do things she usually does when she was up and coming. She made a mistake of indulging in one of her favourite cuisines recently and she paid for it. “I miss going to amala joints to eat. I went to a joint recently thinking that I could get away with it. as soon as I entered some people approached me and were approaching me asking if I was Halimat. Those that did not know my name were saying “Next movie star”. I was embarrassed and I don’t think I will make that mistake anymore.
Despite her seemingly smooth sail to stardom, her major challenge had nothing to do with her talent or getting roles. It was her parents. Being an actor was not what her parents envisaged for their daughter. “My parents were not really happy about it at first. When I told them I was going for theatre art in school, she did not let me rest. She pointed out that my sister was an accountant and I should look for a more professional career part to follow. But she knew that I always did what I wanted. After school and service, I was always going from one audition to another without success. My mother called me and begged me to try and do something else since the acting career was not going anywhere. Now things have changed now. They see that I am really into it and I understand what I want in life. In fact right now, they are very proud of me.”
As she looks forward to a promising career, Halimat is sure going to be around for a while. She has the talents and the looks play the part. But has she taken all into consideration? Is she really ready for stardom and the baggage that goes along with it? “I am ready for anything. I know what it takes, I know how my life will become a public one. I know that there will be journalists looking for scandals, and people trying to write negative things about me. All these I know I will face, and I am prepared,” she said.