Zainab Yusuf is one of the few Hausa entertainment practitioners that combines singing and acting. Zee Fulani, as she is popularly known, is currently making waves in the industry and in this interview, she talks about life as a singer and an actress, among other issues.
Who is Zee Fulani?
My name is Zainab Yusuf and I am popularly known in the Hausa film industry as Zee Fulani. I was born and raised in Minna, Niger State. I am a Fulani girl who has found her way into the entertainment industry. Currently, I am a singer and an actress.
I have a diploma in Public Administration and I’m planning to continue with my education.
While growing up, I used to hawk milk like any normal Fulani girl. However, with the support of my parents, I was able to attend school despite hawking milk. They were able to schedule my hawking for the weekend while I attended school during the weekdays. People always asked me how I got educated being a Fulani girl who grew up in Fulani Ruga. I am proud to be what I am today and all thanks to God.
Why did you choose Kannywood?
My being in Kannywood is a destiny plan if I may refer to it as such. I started with writing and singing Islamic songs. Gradually, my voice became recognised and I started writing and singing for politicians; that was how I started. Interestingly, I wrote and sang my songs. I became so unique that within a short period of time, producers began to contact me to sing for them.
My contact with acting started when I began shooting videos for my songs, I am an individual that likes visualising expressions and through that, my acting talent became visible in the industry and without soliciting for it, I started getting invitations. In a nutshell, that was how I was able to mix both acting and singing at the same time.
How many songs have you done so far?
Honestly, I have over 300 songs to my credit. As I said earlier, I used to sing sound tracks for films and for politicians as well. That is why I have such huge collection of songs. I have acted in a lot of Hausa films as well.
Can you tell us how many films you have acted in so far?
My first film was ‘Matar Aure’ and I have also acted in Hausa films like ‘Jagoran Mata’, ‘Sanda’, ‘Dan Jarida’, ‘Gidan Mijina’, ‘Gidan Mutuwana’, ‘Amaryar TikTok’, among others. I have also played a lead role in couple of others as well. However, most of these films are TV series currently running on TV stations across the country.
Can you share some of the challenges you’ve faced as a Fulani girl who found herself in Kannywood?
The first challenge I faced was with my parents at home; they really opposed my decision in the first place, but they finally saw reasons with my decision and gave me their consent and blessings. Another challenge was my Fulfulde accent as a Fulani girl from the Ruga. However, I was able to overcome it with time, these are some of the challenges I faced as an actress and a singer in Kannywood.
Do you have any regret being in the entertainment industry?
I don’t have any. The entertainment industry has done a lot for me as a female artiste. I have been to places I have never thought of being before. I have acquired a lot of things that I have not thought of acquiring.
Most importantly is the fact that, those relatives of mine who opposed my chosen career before are now very proud of me. They sing my praises everywhere they go. They have given me their consent and advice which up till today, are my guiding principles.
What was their advice to you?
They told me not to forget where I come from and where I am going. They asked me to always remember that I have a reputation to protect and a religion to adhere to, they told me to be a good ambassador of my people and to avoid any act that will spoil my family name.
What would you say is the happiest moment in your life as an artist?
As an artiste, I can say the happiest moment in my life was the day I completed my house. That was one moment I will always cherish in my life.
I built a house with my hard-earned money from acting and singing, the thought of it always gladdens my heart and I thank God for all the blessings.
How would you describe your relationship with colleagues?
Honestly, I have a very cordial relationship with all my colleagues. They are so supportive and encouraging, but you can’t rule out a little misunderstanding here and there.
What is your view on the stereotyping of Kannywood artistes as miscreants?
It is unfortunate that some people have chosen to believe that nothing good comes from Kannywood. This is indeed unfair to the industry. People jump into conclusion without really understanding the industry.
I am not saying we are all saints, but just like there are quack doctors, fake security personnels, bad teachers and many more; there are also people with questionable character in the industry, so it is not right for one to apply blanket assumptions on all practitioners.
The industry is an entity with a lot of good things to offer; it is an entity just like any other entity and one has to know us first before jumping into conclusion.
Is Zainab married?
Presently, I am not. But I was once married. You know how it is with the Fulani tradition; I was married off at a very tender age, but it did not work out and I got divorced, the marriage produced no child.
Are you into any relationship now?
To be honest, I can’t say precisely. However, that does not rule out the possibility of getting married again.