It is not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives; it is what we do consistently, every day without fail. Award-winning actress, Kate Henshaw’s claim to fame today is not merely acting and churning out great movies, she is also known for being a fitness buff. Many even refer to her as a fitness coach; that is how much her personal discipline and consistency has paid off and helped shape her into the beautiful woman that she is. With a career that spans almost three decades, the Cross-River born superstar, known for her charming smile is not a new name, but each time she steps out, there is a spring in her steps that many young talents cannot copy or boast of. Energetic, vivacious and engaging, Kate is a Nollywood pillar. In this Interview with Saturday INDEPENDENT’s Tomi Falade, ‘Aunty Kate’ as some fondly call her, talks about her love for fitness, her reasons for staying fit and her new movie, ‘New Money’
When exactly did you start being a fitness lover, how did your journey to fitness start?
Ah! I have always been athletic, even in school. I played basketball, I played volleyball, I played hockey, back then when it was still played properly in school. I ran 100meter race, I did long jump, high jump, and I dance too. So yes, I was an all-round sports person. Anybody that went to the schools that I attended will tell you that I was an all-round sports person. But then, as it always is, life happened. But then I started again and I started in the gym, and it was a struggle. But I learnt that being consistent for the past five, six years really is something that has changed my whole outlook to life. I have found that a fit lifestyle is really the best lifestyle.
It sounds easy when you say it like that, but most people stop along the way on the journey to being fit. So what keeps you going when most people end up stopping halfway there?
I know, people say it is aesthetics, but when you walk into a shop, and instead of buying size 33 waist, you are buying a size 27 or a size 28, the money would come out of your pocket easily. You would just be proud to say, “give me five pairs.” And then, of course, I found out that in the past five to six years, really, to God who made me, I have not been to the hospital for anything or any reason. Before I started working out actively, I used to have typhoid or malaria every month like clockwork; it was like taking diaprim every Sunday, it was like a routine. I would have a fever and all sorts. Now, I don’t have any of those issues. And my energy level is just something else and I have found out that being fit is the best thing ever.
Judging by the fact that a lot of people drop out of the fitness club because of the time-consuming nature, how do you balance keeping fit with your career and other daily activities?
Ha, I balance it o. I find the time. I’ll find time to exercise. I mean I just finished a job for Temple Productions, which took the whole of January. We were camped somewhere, and any day I was off, I would drive down to the Island and run. Oh yeah. I would drive down, run, do my fitness bit and then go back. I have to, I must. It is addictive if you are really into fitness. There are two ways to it, it is either you are into it fully, or you are not. You can’t be half and half when it comes to fitness or you will not see the gains. If you put in the work, you will see the gains. And it starts with the mind. Your body will not go if your mind is not ready, trust me.
What about when you are on set?
If I don’t have time to exercise at the weekend, I must have time within the week. That’s why I wake up early in the morning. By five I’m up, and I will do like 30 minutes to an hour, shower and go to set.
What kind of impact has fitness brought to your career, has it helped grow your career or affected it in any way?
It has affected my career in a very positive way. See me na. How many years ago did I start? Babe still dey! In short, now, everybody calls me “Kate fitness”. Before this, they were like “she is just an actress.” But now I have managed to switch things up. Anyone that talks about branding fitness with a celebrity, it is me they first talk about. And that is because I have shown consistency. It’s not easy to wake up every other day, consistently, for years, to work out. Your mind has to be totally locked in for it to work.
Is that how you got on board with the So Fresh brand?
I remember when So Fresh first started, they approached me to sample some of their products and then get people to buy into it. I tried them and it was good, and I did some promotion for them. They sent me some meals over a couple of weeks, and after that, we sort of built a relationship. And anytime I am around any of their outlets, I always patronise them. I had my event, ‘Kate Fit For Life’ on the 2nd of December and they partnered with me, and they also gave out a lot of stuff. So when they asked me to be part of the Lekki grand opening, of course, I immediately obliged. One good turn deserves another. I am all for healthy living and fresh life, so that’s why I decided to partner with them.
What’s a regular day in the life of Kate Henshaw?
On a regular day, I wake up at 5:30 AM; brush my teeth – it is very important to brush your teeth first, get dressed and go to the gym. I’m totally an addict, so I am in the gym for two to three hours. My time is my own, so I am not going to work for anybody. And if I’m on location, I will check the time and then work out. Then I have my protein shake, have a light breakfast and then I’m ready to start my day. I eat three times a day, and I eat what I want when I want. Look at me well. I eat pizza, I eat anything because I work out so much. I don’t just eat and sit down. You have to work out more than you eat. If you aim for 2000 calories in a day, you need to burn more than that so that you cancel out any excess.
What next for you?
Wow, fitness forever, for as long as God will have it. I also have a movie in the cinemas from March 23 called ‘New Money’. ‘New Money’ is the story of a young girl who suddenly finds herself in a lot of wealth from her dad whom her mum had told her was dead all because they have an estranged relationship. So she comes into all this money and is in charge of all the money. This is somebody that used to work in a supermarket and suddenly she is a billionaire, so how does she handle it? That’s why it is called ‘New Money’.
The film, New Money, who are those who starred in it?
Oh! We have Jemima Osunde, she is the lead character, we have Blossom Chukwujekwu, we have Dakore, Wale Ojo, Femi Branch, Osas Ighodaro, Deolu Adefarasin, Falz the Bahd guy, and the movie is directed by Tope Oshin. It’s a lovely film and everyone should see it.
What’s the first thing you look out for in a script before you accept it and work with it?
Oh the script first, the whole entirety of the script. That is what I look at before I ask other questions like who else is in it, who is directing it, and before we talk money. But very importantly, the script must be interesting. You can’t pay me enough for a bad script. Not anymore.
Have you ever turned down a role?
Oh! I have turned down many. When you get to a certain stage in your career, you have to be very picky about the kind of scripts you take, if not people will abuse you. You know Nigerians, they don’t waste time. They will just say, “ha Kate, how far? Na wa o. For this level? Na wa o, this kain film? So you have to be very picky.”
You appeared on stage in a production a few years ago with a very energetic dance. Many wondered how you could still move that way, like a trained dancer?
I can because I am fit. TGIF (thank God I’m fit). I love dancing, everybody knows I can dance, and they know that I love dancing. If it is dance, I can do it for 12 hours. You see dancers; they are very lively, very light on their feet and just very active.
If you had not picked acting as a career, what else would you have done?
I would have been an air hostess. I want to serve people, I like to serve.