By Sylvester Asoya
Regina Askia-Williams is a strong woman of many parts.
She is an actress, writer, public speaker, model, television personality, nurse and activist. The actress, who is independent-minded and capable of doing many things, made her mark in Nollywood, Nigeria’s movie industry back in the day. And her fans and lovers of Nollywood easily remember her for her flexibility, carriage and perfect portrayal of roles associated with romance, emotion, courage, unlawful adventures and more.
Within the movie industry and the entertainment world, Regina is also a producer and a good example for young women who are hungry for success. Though beautiful, creative and talented in an uncanny way, this well known actress and model is also purposeful and down to earth; this is where the lesson and the case in point for young women, resonate the most.
A born actor and entertainer, Askia-Williams started acting and engaging audiences in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital of show business long before her teenage years. As a secondary school girl, she took active part in many creative endeavors, including playing big roles in theatrical productions that eventually shaped her life and career.
The actress, who was born in Lagos, attended the University of Lagos where she obtained a degree in Biology. But she eventually dumped biology and the study of living organisms temporarily because she knew early that she had an inevitable appointment with show business. So, a few years after graduation, she conquered the acting and modeling worlds with her notable laurels that many believed were a reward for her hard work. For instance, in 1989, she defeated other equally beautiful and talented girls to win the Most Beautiful Girl competition in Nigeria, regarded as one of the biggest pageant events in Africa, organized annually by Silverbird Group. The following year, she represented Nigeria in Russia at Miss Charm International and emerged the First Runner-up in an event that drew massive attention to her confidence and skills as a remarkable runway model to watch.
Luckily for her, she did not disappoint during those decisive years. With more movie roles, endorsements, television appearances and visibility in social circles, her standing soared. She even went ahead to become Nigeria’s first model to set foot on Miss International in Japan, a no mean feat.
However, everyone who remembers her career trajectory knows that it would have been difficult for Regina to make it big in the industry without Fortunes, a television soap that energized her acting career. Her dazzling performance on the set of Fortunes remains memorable. Eventually, she followed her acting calling and wrote her name very strongly in many movies of high quality within and outside Nigeria before relocating to the United States of America where she currently lives with her family.
But not many people know that activism is also an important part of Regina’s exciting and glamorous life. She takes seriously, issues that promote participation and positive change in the society in the US where she currently lives and back home in Nigeria. And she has always spoken out courageously against injustice and oppression of people without voices.
Recently, she added her voice to Nigeria’s leadership failure and the accompanying crisis threatening the country’s wellbeing and collective existence. Usually, her patriotic letters to Nigeria’s president centre on the graceless threats from Abuja, the scandalous state pardon for terrorists and the government’s inability to engage and bring about the change it promised in 2015. And her interventions come with accolades and even written compliments from many people.
Everyone commends her for her sense of duty and patriotism, a move many believe, would encourage other celebrities like her to take more interest in Nigeria’s social, political, economic and even environmental issues.
For an actress, this is remarkable. And her act of patriotism and sense of duty will be remembered for a very long time.
(This article was first published in alice, the in-flight magazine of Air Peace.)
• Asoya is a senior journalist and prolific art writer.