The story of how Camerounian-born Kannywood actress, Amina Muhammad, became a shinning star in the Kano-based movie industry would make a good movie story. Amina’s story is that of a resilient young lady who had a dream and was determined to pursue and achieve the dream. Her story started in Cameroun years ago, where she was born and raised. While there, Amina, whose native language is Fulfulde, became a huge fan of Kannywood movies.
Amina, who is now popular as Amina Amal, revealled that she would even skip a meal to watch her favourite Kannywood movies or series, particularly movies that featured her acting mentors, such as Adam. A. Zango and role models, including Hadiza Gabon and Fati Muhammed. The more she watched Kannywood movies, the more she was inspired to try ‘acting out as a career.’ But the real push came after she watched a Hausa film, Hubbi, which starred Adam in lead roles.
As she watched, Amina said she started imagining herself playing the female lead role: “I was playing the role in my head as I watched the movie and once the movie was over, I told myself that I was going to become an actress and must do everything humanly possible to become one.”
But there was going to be an obstacle, as nothing much was happening in the Camerounian movie industry. The only vibrant industry she could point to was the Hausa film industry, otherwise called Kannywood. And to join Kannywood, she would have to travel to Nigeria, a decision she could not take without approval from her parents.
“I started thinking of how I will get my parents to support my plans. I first mentioned it to my mother and she said no and when I told my dad, he also said no. I was lost and didn’t know what to do. I think the problem was with the many negative things they heard about actors and actresses. They felt it was for wayward people. But I was able to convince them that it was a noble profession and that I was not going to do anything that will tarnish their image.
“Seeing that it was the only thing that will make me happy, they gave me their approval,” she said. With the parental consent granted, the next big obstacle, but which Amina later surmounted, was her inability to speak English and Hausa. Movies in Kannywood are majorly in Hausa language and so to feature in them, one has to be able to speak the language.
“I don’t speak Hausa. Even after I met Adam in Kaduna through someone who knows him, the first reservation he expressed was the fact that I don’t speak Hausa, but I speak my native Fulfulde. “He told me that I have what it takes to be an actress, but my not being able to speak Hausa will be the snag. So, I promised him I was going to learn to speak Hausa and to encourage me, Adam, who was impressed by the fact that I left Cameroun to Nigeria just to start a career in acting, promised to get me a role in a movie once I am able to express myself in Hausa language,” she recalled.
Trust Amina not to allow anything to stand in the way. Just like she did when she made up her mind to travel to Nigeria, where she enrolled in a linguistic centre to perfect her spoken English, she took up a language course in Hausa and within months, she could converse in the language. She said of that experience: “I asked Adam for about five months to learn Hausa, but I found that I could communicate within a few months of my learning the language. When I later met him, he was impressed and like he promised, he gave me my first role in a movie.
“That day was one of the happiest days in my life.” Amina’s first movie appearance was in the urban telling, Amal, starring Adam, which was received. “I got the script almost six months before I was called on set. I can never forget the feeling the day I received the script. I read it over and over again, rehearsed at home and was excited and just couldn’t sleep. “Eventually, we shot the movie and it came out well, because after that, people started calling me by the movie title, Amina Awal,” she enthused.
Described by close friends and colleagues as humble, respectful and hardworking, Amina has ridden on the back of the success of her debut movie appearance to feature in a number of critically-acclaimed Kannywood movies, including Ramlat, Basaja Gidan Yari, Matan Aure, Hisabi and Amal, which she named as her most memorable movie outing. According to her: “It will naturally be my most memorable, because it was my first as an actress and in the industry. It gave me my nickname and made a lot of other filmmakers know about me.
‘I am grateful to Adam and Abu Sarki, who I describe as my godfathers in the industry and treat me like their biological sisters. They don’t fail me each time I go to them for help. They have my back anytime and I pray Allah to keep blessing them.” Star of the hit movie, Abu Hassan, Amina’s career ambition is to continue to play a raised game in Kannywood. “I want to be the best in what I do. I want to improve with every new job. I just want to be the best and with Allah and good people like Adam and Abu that he has sent on my path, I know I won’t miss the mark,” she surmised.