French actress Clotilde Delavennat, is paving the way to successfully navigate two mega movie industries, Nollywood and Hollywood. In an interview with The Immigrant Magazine, Tilly as she is fondly called by many shares her passion for acting and how as a European immigrant she is able to bring these two seemingly opposite entertainment giants together.
What got you into acting?
I would say that “wanting to be an actress” has always been part of me, for as long as I can remember, so it is kind of hard for me to think of something that triggered that desire or “got me into acting”. I think that the idea of being able to “be” someone else in each film, in each play, is something exciting, different, fascinating to me (Maybe a little bit of an escape too sometimes), it’s like an opportunity to live several lives in one.
I remember growing up, I would always write “ACTRESS” in all caps whenever teachers at schools would ask us to write down what we wanted to do. Then they would always tell me the same thing: “no but as a real job”, that would always tickle me because I knew one day I would show them all who knew better the whole time! The thing is I was lucky to have very supportive parents who not only never interfered with my dreams but also always believed in me. I think it’s important and healthy in any society that parents be more supportive of their children, who they are as individuals and their aspirations in life.
Why do you think films are important?
They can change things; Art can change the world and people. Films affect people, sometimes deeply. They can educate, inspire, be therapeutic, cathartic, and entertain.
Which film would you say affected you deeply?
Many have, and in very different ways too, but I would say I have a particularly strong memory of how I felt after watching Blood Diamond… That film definitely moved and disturbed me to the core and made me want to do something about the atrocities going on in Sierra Leone and everywhere in the world. I felt helpless and traumatized for these children and families living in hell on a daily basis.
What kinds of roles would you like to play/ what’s your dream role?
I honestly would like to play any kinds of parts, I am just as much interested in drama as I am in comedy, but I must admit I particularly like to play parts that are very different from who I am, I like the challenge that it creates, it’s exciting. I would say my dream role though would be to play a fairy or an elf in a fantasy epic movie such as “Lord of the Rings”!
How is it like working with Odera Ozoka?
First of all Odera is an amazing filmmaker whose vision is beyond belief, I firmly believe he will not only go down in History for changing the face of the Nollywood industry, but also the face of the independent scene worldwide. He is someone who knows what he wants and who is extremely focused, which can be good AND bad! (laugh), no seriously he knows how to get his actors to where he needs them to go and is very good at anticipating, so that whenever something goes wrong on set / if anything goes wrong on set, he already has 3 other ideas of how to make things work in the end. He sees the movie in his head as he shoots. He is a very inspiring person to be around and great creative driving force.
Who would you like to work with in Hollywood?
There are plenty of amazingly talented people I would like to work with in and outside of Hollywood, I guess to name a few I would say Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Jacques Audiard, Kathryn Bigelow, Tim Burton, Lee Daniels, Park Chan Wok, Guillaume Canet…
Would you like to tell people as an artist and as a person; what are your hopes for the world?
Listen to each other more (Trust me, it’s a skill I had to learn to develop!), Not be so harsh in judging other people solely because they are different from us.
What is a role you wish you could have played?
The role of Clementine in “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind“, by Michel Gondry. I absolutely loved that character, I thought Kate Winslet did a fabulous job, yet I was thinking the whole time “Damn I wish I could have played that role!”
Who is your favorite actress?
It’s very hard to only pick one! I would say Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, and Viola Davis to name a few.
Whose footsteps would you like to follow as an actor?
Well I feel that different actresses have had different careers from one another that I just as equally look up to and get inspired by. Again the three names I mentioned earlier would definitely be part of this list, but I would add Marion Cotillard on the French side, and also, in a more independent note: Michelle Williams and Juno Temple…
I heard you speak several languages, which are they?
Well I speak French, English, Spanish, a rough German, and soon Italian!
Can you speak any Nigerian or other African languages?
Naso! I fit speak Pidgin… (to a degree!)
What do you think of the Nollywood industry? Would you like to work there?
First of all, I would say that Nollywood is extremely important, and relevant in the world stage, I feel like it is crucial for each country, continent, culture, to have a way/ venue to express themselves artistically in their own way and in their own words. The West for example has told too many African stories, even though there are countless incredible minds and talents from these African countries who can and are willing to tell their own; I think we’re getting there, slowly (too slowly I would say) but we are getting there. Venues like AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards) founded by Peace Anyam are fundamental to the promotion of the new wave of not only Nollywood but also African cinema as a whole.
I was actually lucky to have worked with Omotola Jalade and Genevieve Nnaji on Ije, and have met and worked with a lot of other members of the Nollywood industry. I would definitely love to work with great Nigerian directors such as Lancelot and Ali Balogun (among many others).
Goodluck in all you do and we look forward to seeing more of your work in the nearest future!