She grabs listeners with her sweet voice anytime she sings but Paulina Oduro also has a passion for acting and that has led her to feature in over 20 films since deciding to relocate permanently to Ghana from her London base about three years ago.
Ardent movie fans here are likely to have seen her in films like Faithful Liar, Red Label, Millions, Mission for Justice, 1 Sin, Blackmail, No Apologies, Ties That Bind and Adams Apple 8. In all of them, she tried to express the inner yearning to act in front of the camera which she says had been with her since childhood in England.
Paulina is in her early 50s. Her diplomat father took her away as a little girl to live and school in England. It was there that she got into the performing arts and came out strong as a singer.
Though highly applauded now for her lovely renditions of highlife, the woman originally from Takoradi was the toast of zouk, jazz and reggae bands when she lived and worked in England.
“I schooled completely in England and singing, dancing and acting formed part of regular school activities. As a young girl I was in Caribbean plays in school and I remember playing a lot of bad girl roles,” Paulina recounted.
She has been taking on far different roles here since making her debut appearance as a mother in a movie by Eric Asante called Faithful Liar. It was made in 2007 when Paulina was then on a visit here and was a judge on TV3’s Mentor music talent hunt programme.
“Asante approached me after seeing me on television. He said he liked my attitude to the young people and wanted me to play a role in a film he was about to produce. I played the role of a mother whose daughter was going through some crises with her drug addict husband. The late Kwame Owusu Ansah was my husband in the film.”
She has since played many other mother roles. Paulina says she has not been too excited about being typecast in that kind of role though she often has a distinct personality to project in each movie.
“I may be a mother and a wife a lot of the time but I still have a personality that differs each time. I could be a lawyer, housewife or doctor who is kind or wicked. Since I came late into movies, I know many of the roles are going to be like that. Naturally at my age, Ghanaians expect me to be a mother and married.”
The roles she has found to be challenging so far are the ones in which she plays a character completely different from her real self. Anything in her life that she doesn’t do and have to play in a film, she takes it on with real seriousness and says her role in Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s Addams Apple 8 , though brief, is about her favourite so far.
“I play a real bitchy woman. Joselyn Dumas’ boyfriend is my son in the film and I find her lifestyle a bit too loose for my liking so I give her a hard time when I first meet her. I was not a nice person at all but that’s not what I’m known to be though I loved playing that role.”
The woman says she is extremely enjoying herself working in movies and getting to meet some of the known screen faces here like John Dumelo, Prince David Osei, Kalsoume Sinare, Yvonne Okoro, David Dontoh, Ama Abebrese and Kofi Adjorlolo whom she describes as “a jolly, funny man.”
Music having been so much part of her life for a long time and with her current love for the movies, Paulina states emphatically that music will still be the most important thing to her. She does not see herself ditching it for a full-time job in movies. She has composed music for some of the films she has been in.
“Music is my life. It is important to me and I don’t think I would put acting before it. I eventually want to direct, though. I see film directing as a beautiful process of taking a script and making it come alive. There’s storytelling in the music-making process too so films and music have things in common and I’m enjoying walking both paths.
Paulina confidently says that film-making in Ghana is on the rise and admires some of the hard-working producers, writers, directors and other personnel doing their bit for a more sound industry. He, however, is not pleased with producers who chose people I to be in films solely for their looks. She regards casting as an important element that is not being handled seriously enough by some producers.
“They just go to Accra Mall, the beach and other places where mostly young people gather and select people with the promise of turning them into stars. Some of those folks have no clue whatsoever about what happens on a film set. The producers like them because they do not need to pay anything much to get them working.
Despite the reference to money, Paulina says she is not into acting for that. She is looking forward to doing a variety of things in the film business and regards this period as the time to pay her dues to the industry.
“I’m passionate about it and I love the experience I’m gathering. It’s a vital learning process for me.”
She has been helping young people learn on television programmes like Mentor, Talented Kidz and Voice Factory where she has been a judge to select music talents. She is looking forward to hosting a chat show where young people can freely air their sentiments and concerns without being unduely judged by adults.
She is working on new music material all the time but has been so caught up so much in the romance with movies that she believes that area would be part of her for the rest of her life.
Paulina is married to London-based Ghanaian guitarist, Kari Bannerman.
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