Daniel Etim Effiong is a Nigerian actor, scriptwriter and movie director. He has indeed come a long way in the industry and made quite an impact in Nollywood. His most notable movie is “Plan B”, alongside a dozen others made and still in the making.
Daniel has quite a pedigree, having been born to a father who was top brass in the military and made quite a stir during his active years in service. He is married to Toyosi Phillips, an accomplished actress herself. With several accolades trailing him, he was nominated for an award at the 7th AMVCA awards and has a documentary “Skin” showing Netflix very soon. For his character “Lanre” in Red TV’s The Men’s Club, Daniel has drawn quite some attention to himself in recent times.
Daniel is talented. It’s not difficult to spot talent even from a mile away. Having a total switch from a non-artsy field, he still stays on top of his game.
In this January – March issue of MC! Magazine, we chat with the Nollywood star.
MC! : It’s no easy road starting off in Nollywood. How was it for you, since inception?
Daniel: “I’ve had quite the journey, not many people imagined I would be where I am today. My background is in chemical engineering but I made the switch to Nollywood when I felt I wasn’t fulfilled in the oil and gas industry. My first lead role in the industry was on the web series “Goddamn it’s Monday” by Chioma Onyenwe and then my big break came on yet another web series, Ndani TV’s ‘Gidi Up’, from there I’ve grown in leaps and bounds.”
MC! : Growing up, your father was a part of Nigeria’s history? What were the things you faced trying to live up to certain expectations?
To be honest, growing up, I was shielded from my father’s politics. I didn’t really know the truth about my father’s story until my teenage years when I read the first manuscripts of his book and then from family members who felt I was old enough to know what really happened. By then, I was well on my way to building a career in engineering.Daniel
MC! : You’re married to a very talented lady in the same industry. Is it easy working alongside your spouse?
Daniel: “I wouldn’t say it has been easy working alongside my wife, we have been together just three years so I still have quite a lot to learn. We tend to have our unique approach to things but we compliment ourselves very well.”
MC! : Coming from an educational background totally unrelated to acting, how did you cope with the switch mentally and physically?
Daniel: “It didn’t come easy. I had been prepping myself for the switch mentally and physically for about 7 years. When I first broached the idea, I was in my second year at University and everyone thought I was crazy. It came up again but this time with stronger convictions a few years later but I didn’t have the courage to see it through. It wasn’t until I had a job and lived on my own that I was able to pull it off. I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it, I prayed and fasted and dropped off my resignation letter at HR and the rest is history.”
MC! : You must have discovered a lot of new positive things about yourself. What particularly stands out?
Daniel: “l think the most positive thing I have discovered about myself is my ability to fearlessly adapt. The entertainment space is very dynamic and to thrive in it one must continue to innovate or risk being obsolete. Since setting out to be an actor, I have also dabbled into filmmaking and the world of advertising. I travelled to South Africa for 3 years to attend Film School where I studied writing and directing and when I returned I started my own production company.”
MC! : With your talents, tell us what acting and film directing mean to you?
Acting for me is embodying the soul of a character and then interpreting this embodiment through your physical and mental states of being. Directing is embodying the soul of a story and then interpreting this embodiment through various elements of production at your disposa l such as script, camera, production design, music, editing etcDaniel
MC! : What drew you into the world of lights and theatrics?
Daniel: “I think I was drawn into this world by movies and cartoons I watched as a child.”
MC! : Can you mention a few major influences in your industry who have impacted positively on you and probably got you to where you are now?
Daniel: “Jude Idada and Sam Dede were the major influences in my life growing up. In more recent times I’ll add Jade Osiberu, Akin Omotoso and Mr. Femi Odugbemi.”
MC!: Is there a film that has stayed with you, making a profound impression?
Daniel: “The Godfather trilogy has definitely stayed with me all through film school, the Mario Puzo adaptation was a constant reference. Another film that left a profound impression on me is Steve McQueen’s ‘Hunger’ for its use of sound and edit to tell
a very compelling story.”
MCI: TMC has been quite the talk of the town, especially your character “Lanre”, how did you feel getting into character? The role may have opened your eyes to new life lessons and perspectives regarding the dynamics of romantic relationships, what are they?
Lanre has been a blessing of a character for me. I actually auditioned for a different role but the producers thought Lanre would be a perfect fit for me. Now I realise they couldn’t have been more correct. Lanre has taught me to be more open-minded and I have come to realise that it is liberating and empowering when a man is vulnerable and finds expression for his emotions.Daniel
MCI: You’re inspiring to people, what’s your advice to anyone who wants to venture into this field and tips for multitasking?
Daniel: “Learn quickly, adapt fast, be open minded and work hard. There will be tough times so be prepared and finally never take yourself too seriously. Have fun.”
Everything in between….
MC! : Describe your perfect day off when you’re not acting.
Daniel: Wake up and pray and then hit the gym. Have a light breakfast after the gym and then I’m at my home office catching up with my businesses. Spend some time with my daughter and then watch some TV in the evening especially when there’s a game.
MC!: What do you do to stay in shape and your beauty routine?
Daniel: Hahaha…I work out, drink a lot of water and mind my business.
MC! : Your Favorite food and drink?
Daniel: My favourite food is beans and dodo. I’ll wash that down with some Schweppes Mojito.
MC! : Your go-to-outfit for daytime?
Daniel: T-shirt and shorts or tracks.
MC!: Name three things on your bucket list?
Daniel: Produce a musical on Broadway, buy a house by the beach in Cape Town, and take my daughter to Disneyland.
MC!: What three songs are you listening to at the moment?
Daniel: Omnipotent by Bella Shmurda, World people by Basket Mouth, Flash & BOJ, Infinity by Olamide ft. Omah Lay.
MC!: Do you have any secret talents hidden in your goody bag?
Daniel: If I told you..it wouldn’t be a secret!
MC!: A book to read before bedtime?
Daniel: “A Fatherless People’ by Dele Ogun.”
MC!: Do you collect anything?
Daniel: “l collect all kinds of currencies (notes) from all over the world.”
MCI: How has 2020 been for you?
Daniel: “2020 has been my best year yet.”
MC!: “How do you hope to attain your own personal freedom and show yourself more self love in the new year?”
Daniel: “Relax more…travel on holiday at least twice in 2021. Delegate more and share more and laugh more.”
MCI: Everyone’s looking forward to 2021 because it seems to promise a fresh perspective and new beginnings; is it the same for you? What are your hopes and expectations for 2021?
I believe 2021 will be a much bigger year for me than 2020 and I’m so ready for this.Daniel
MC!: Final words…
Daniel: “Let love lead!”
Words: Jennifer Nwosu
Photography: Tope Adenola
Creative Direction/Styling: The Lifestyle Lagos
Styling Assistant: Muna Ella
Styling Assistant II: Chief Ozic
Yellow Print Pants: DavidBlack
Shoes: Cover Man