12-year-old Pearl Shim Mugalla, popularly known as Little Daniella of Soulmate Studios, is a fast-rising actress who has featured in more than 12 movies as a major character. Born to a Korean father by a Nigerian mother, the vivacious and intelligent damsel started acting at age nine. EBENEZER ADUROKIYA ran into Daniella in Warri recently at the instance of her mother’s burial. Excerpts:
Tell me a little about yourself
I am Pearl Shim Mugalla. I was born on the 27th day of June 2008 in Warri, Delta State. I’m 12 years old. I’m in JSS 1. My late mum, Afor Franca Mugalla is from Delta State, specifically from Udu Local Government Area, while my dad, although I haven’t met him since I was born, is from South Korea.
How long have you been in Warri and what will you say about Warri?
I came to Warri on Monday, 6th of July, so I would say I have been in Warri for four days. I actually came for my Mum’s burial. She passed last year December. The only thing I have to say about Warri is that it’s an annoying and disgusting place!
Having seen you acting with the Oguike sisters, there are speculations that you might be related to them. What really is your relationship with them?
I’m not related to the Oguike sisters. We are just friends. Not really like close friends, but we are just colleagues. But I’m very close to the youngest of the sisters – Chinenye Oguike.
How many movies have you featured in and which brought you to limelight?
I can’t really begin to recollect the number of movies I have featured in. But I know I have acted in more than 12 movies: Little Daniella, My Kids and I, All I Want for Christmas, In Bondage, Lent, Hostage and so on. But Little Daniella brought me into limelight.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I love acting. It’s a passion, but I’m not sure I will take that as a career. I have been thinking of being a medical doctor since I was a small girl, but I’m not too sure about that for now; reason being that I’m not really good at Further Mathematics, and I’m sure I would need that
When did you join SoulMate Studio?
I joined them in 2017.
Who is your role model?
My role model is Regina Daniels. I love the way she acts. And my male role model is Ik Ogbonna.
Do you feel nervous when you’re on set, being young?
No, because I’m not a shy person.
Some of your movies portray you as a witty, cunning and mischievous girl. Is that who you really are in actual life?
Though I’m a little bit of what I act, I’m a caring, calm and loving person. But I can be very annoying too. Sometimes, I’m so boring that I will say something and I will be the only person laughing! I tell bad jokes a lot, especially when I’m bored and end up laughing to them alone.
How do you handle your game at school?
(Chuckles) When I’m going to school, I usually buy things to share in my school. All the students in my school from KG1 to primary six are fond of giving me hugs to a point of being exhausted. Not praising myself, I would say I’m a very friendly person. I guess that’s the main reason people like me.
Being a celebrity that you are, especially among your age mates, how do your teachers treat you?
Forget about all these celebrity stuff. I’m not really into it. I just like being myself, easy going with everybody. (Whispers) there’s one favour I enjoy though; that is people helping me with my assignments, especially Maths and putting me through with topics I don’t understand.
To you, what is the most tiring aspect of acting?
Actually, when I started acting, I was in Lagos. But we have to move from Lagos to Enugu. Because of the stress of shooting the movie – ‘Epic’, moving from Lagos to Enugu is very hectic. Because most of our shooting is done in Enugu, we just have to move to Enugu to shoot Glamour and Epic together. Sometimes we do take a break from epic movies. To me, shooting epic movies is the most hectic part of acting because of the dirt, getting injured and scars in the process. All the injuries you see me having in all my movies, they are real o. They are not make-up.
How do you cope or manage school work and acting?
Fine, but not so perfectly well. Sometimes, I do shoot when I’m writing exams and it’s very stressful.
So, how do you handle the stress and pain of getting injuries?
(Smiles) I will cry and cry until the director pets me with soft drink and sausage roll, sometimes chicken and juice…
What do you like about people?
If it’s among my peers and I, that will be intelligence. I like intelligent, well-behaved and well mannered people. I don’t like bad companies.
How do you protect yourself from harassment of boys?
If boys in my school see me coming, they always take to their heels because I don’t take nonsense! You try to play rough with me and I warn you once, you didn’t hear, warn you a second time, you also didn’t hear, what I will do to you if you come near me the third time, you won’t like it.
What’s your say on the increase of rape cases?
I don’t know. But first things first, as a lady, you shouldn’t leave your girl child with any male. Be it an uncle or even your husband. So, I believe it is partly the fault of mothers. Mothers should be advised against leaving their female children alone with the opposite sex.
What will you do if someone tries to harass you sexually?
It has happened once. Our Yoruba teacher tried to molest me. I don’t know if he had been doing it with other classmates, but I’m not the type that hides things. Because my mum will always tell me that if something happens anywhere, you should tell somebody. During our Christmas Carol when I was in Primary Six, I went to my class to get water from the water dispenser, then I saw the teacher behind me trying to touch me amorously and I pushed him away and he fell on the floor near the staircase, hitting his head on the tiled floor! That was how I came downstairs and told my friends what happened. Immediately after doing to him what was on my mind, I ran to report him to the school proprietor and he was fired.
I would also advise mothers that before their children get to the age of 13 or 14 years, start advising the child. ‘If this man touches you here or there, tell me.’ Not the one that the parents will be beating the child. Nigerian parents like beating a lot and it’s not the best. Though my mum used to scold me while she was alive, she hardly beat me. And granny doesn’t beat me at all.
Which of the Nigeria languages can you speak?
I can speak Igbo; though I’m Urhobo, I can’t speak the language. My Urhobo name is Oghenetejiri. I really like Igbo language so much.
What do you think of the Coronavirus and how are you protecting yourself?
This Coronavirus matter, I have not even confirmed it yet. According to what I heard, they said there’s Coronavirus in Nigeria because any state that has Coronavirus, they will give that state one billion naira! So, I think it’s because of the money they are saying there’s Coronavirus in Nigeria!
After your mom’s burial, where are you going?
I’m going to Benin to live with my aunt.
Can you tell us about your happiest and saddest moments?
I don’t want to talk about them. Both are complicated. I only discuss such with my close friends.
What will you say about your late mom?
She was a very caring, nice and loving person. She is the best in the whole world. And now that she is no more, I will bear the loss with a strong heart and also bear in mind her instructions and follow them. I will never let her down. I will always make her proud.