Meet Zainab Balogun
Categories: Shuzia Magazine,
SHUZIA INTERVIEW - Gift Adieze
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and give them a brief overview of your journey in the entertainment industry?
My name is Zainab Balogun and I am an actor. I was scouted by a modelling agency at 16. This moment pretty much expanded my creative interests.
I worked as a fashion & editorial model for a few years before getting the chance to audition as a featured extra in a BBC One series. This was my first experience on a film set. I was blown away by all the different components that created TV magic. I admired how a vision was put on paper and manifested on screen. From that moment, I knew this was where I wanted to be.
What's a cherished memory from your childhood that brings a smile to your face whenever you think about it?
A childhood memory that puts a smile on my face is one where I was sitting at the bus stop with my mum in central London and she asked “What do you want to be?” I was about 11 or 12 when this happened. I remember looking up at the tall high-rise, glass buildings and telling her “ I want to work in one of those big buildings”. In my mind, I was going to be this hotshot lawyer who commanded attention and changed the world from inside one of those offices.
I went on to get a Law degree and although it was a hard journey, I love that I followed through. The law goes everywhere with me and is a part of my work today. What’s beautiful about that memory is that I am doing all of those things that I set out to do. It’s a beautiful memory but I don’t get to talk about it enough.
Could you share a brief glimpse into how your spiritual journey began and how it has evolved over time?
I was born a Muslim and raised a Christian. My parents were Muslims however, I grew up with my aunt and uncle in a Christian household. Doing this meant that I spent a lot of time in church as my uncle was an Evangelist. My conversion to Christianity was not in the traditional sense nor my personal choice at the age of 8. I was simply a product of my environment.
As I got older and acquired more autonomy over my faith, Christian values made more and more sense. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. It influenced every fibre of my personality, morality, and drive. As an adult, I believe, my spiritual life graduated into a different realm, where I understood the importance of relationship over religion with God.
What have been some of the most memorable projects you've worked on so far?
Some of my most memorable projects include those that have pushed me beyond my limits. These are the projects that spoke to me spiritually and ended up, taking my career into a whole new dimension. These include the likes of God Calling, Sylvia and The Wedding Party. I enjoyed playing these characters because they showed me that there are unknown depths to my talent just waiting to burst through.
As a Christian creative, how does your faith impact the roles you choose and the projects you engage in within the entertainment industry?
My faith plays a huge role in my career decisions. I can’t separate myself from who I belong to as I’m an instrument of God’s love and purpose. I possess the talent I have because He has blessed me with it and the way I show my appreciation is in how I use it to glorify His name. This means sometimes declining certain projects because they don’t align with me spiritually or taking on things that may not be financially or commercially viable for a greater purpose.
Your role in the movie "God Calling" was widely praised. Could you share your experience working on this project and how your faith influenced your portrayal of the character?
I will say that God's calling has been the most impactful project of my entire career. I didn’t realise what I was signing myself up for when I agreed to take the role. I don’t believe any team member did. We had a team of atheists, Muslims and other religions who simply believed in the message. That had to be God in the works! Although it may not have made millions at the box office, it most certainly has touched lives in ways that money cannot.
I remember my audition clearly. It was a very emotional scene and I couldn’t stop crying after the scene was done. I couldn’t get up and dug so deep that there was stillness in the room. I still don’t know where that came from, but it was such a strong connection and a defining moment.
"God Calling" carries a powerful spiritual message. How do you think this message can encourage individuals facing challenges, regardless of their background?
The message of the movie is about trusting God without limits.
We all have experiences where we feel alone and abandoned by God which affects the output of our faith. The movie teaches that we are to hold on to Christ at all times even if it’s with one finger. Hold on through the fire, when drowning or being blown away because your anchor is always there!
Being in the spotlight while maintaining your Christian identity can be somewhat challenging. What are some of the rewards and challenges you've experienced as a Christian creative in the industry?
I never think about the challenges of my Christian identity because it is just that; my identity. It’s who I am, my thoughts, my clothes and more. My citizenship in Christ is a badge of honour. I am sure that it would have affected my ability to take on certain jobs or find favour with particular organisations. However, what is mine, will always be.
Are there any Christian creatives or figures who have inspired you in your journey and influenced the way you approach your career?
What’s more important for me is the faith tribe that I’m blessed with. This tribe consists of my spiritual family members, loved ones, brothers and sisters in Christ who help me navigate this journey.
They hold me accountable in prayer and worship. They are the people who stand in the gap for me when I can’t do so myself.
Is there a book or a movie that has significantly impacted you or that you find yourself returning to time and again?
The weirdest thing is that I don’t have a favourite movie. When I watch films, I do so as a form of escapism and to enjoy stories. I love watching movies from the 80s/90s era. It would be really hard to select one.
How do you strike a balance between pursuing your career goals and staying aligned with your Christian values and beliefs?
Balancing faith and career choices can be extremely hard however, I ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. I don’t always make the right decision, but I am reminded that there is enough grace to go around.
How do you handle situations where creative choices may seem to conflict with your personal beliefs?
I hardly find myself in circumstances where creative conflicts intervene with my faith. I carry my faith at the forefront of the decision-making process.
For example, if I’m privy to seeing a script early and have any reservations, I would open discussions immediately so expectations can be aligned. I fully respect each creative’s decision to decline.
On a day off, what activities or things do you enjoy doing the most to relax and recharge?
The best way for me to relax is to be at home with some good food and great TV. It sounds quite boring but I fully enjoy my own company.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or no longer with us, who would it be and why?
Okay, I’m gonna cheat a little bit with the question. I need 2 dinners. The first would be with Viola Davis to soak in her creative knowledge. The second would be with Eve to ask her the question on all our lips which is “Whyyyy?”
You are known for both your vast accomplishments within the entertainment industry and also for your strength as an Endo survivor. How has your personal journey as an Endo survivor shaped your outlook on life?
My journey as an Endo survivor has increased my faith in ways that I don’t think I was ever prepared for.
I had to recklessly abandon everything I thought I knew. I would liken it to the woman who had the issue of blood as I found myself holding on to the hem of Christ for dear life. It has made me more spiritually sensitive and appreciative of my purpose. It has given me clarity as to how I’m supposed to use my story to help other women.
What advice would you offer to young Christian creatives who are navigating the entertainment industry while staying true to their faith?
My advice to young Christian creatives would be to practice discernment with the Holy Spirit. This is because you will be faced with gold and silver at many turns yet knowing that which is for you can only change your life for the better. With God, there is no position that he can’t put you in or create for you. Practice connecting with the Holy Spirit every day from what you should wear or which bus to take. Make building this connection a norm in your life.
Browse by Category
- Bible Study
- Colour of Love
- Emotional Health
- Mental Health
- New Beginnings Poetry Contest
- New Nigeria Contest
- Original Art
- Petals In The Wind Prose Competition
- Prose Competition
- Redemption Poetry Competition
- Short Story
- Shuzia Magazine
- The Scarlet Thread Contest
- Well being