She has a little of Naomi Campbell in her looks. But that’s not all. Habi Touré who took her first steps in modelling is also an actress. This young woman of Central African origin was visiting Ivory Coast recently for the filming of Les Sauvages. Actress and producer, Habi spoke to Top Visages.
• Good to see you … But who are you, for those who are just knowing you today?
– I’m a Central African by origin, but I have a French nationality. For it is there in France that I live. I am an actress, producer and member of a production house called HD Production with my partner Didier Ndenga. We’ve shot quite a number of films including Les Sauvages, which justifies my presence in Ivory Coast. I am very happy to be here. It is a feature film, an action film that is being shot here in Abidjan. It is the story of three girls, hired killers. I prefer to let you discover the film. Because if I say everything now, there will be no more surprises (laughs).
• Why the choice of the Ivory Coast for the shooting of the film, Les Sauvages?
– We try to talk about Africa differently. That is to say, the Africa that wins, the positive Africa. We have always seen this continent from an angle which does not value us. But there are only famine, misery here. A reason why we shot in Central Africa, Cameroon, Congo … We want to present every aspect of Africa through countries where we shoot.
• Where the diversity of actors?
– Yes, that’s the spirit of HD production. In this film, there is a white American. In “Aimé malgré lui” you will find Chinese, and actors representing each African country. This is also to say that an actor is not defined in relation to his skin colour, his country, he remains an actor. Eebra Toore and Emma Lohoues playing in Les Sauvages is also to show that there are good actors, even if they do not necessarily all live here.
• As an actress and producer, how do you judge the progress of African cinema in recent years?
– It’s starting to really move forward with long strides, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire. I really wanted to congratulate those who work in that environment, and the government, because I think they do a lot for culture. Especially in film, why we are here today. One feels that it is moving, there are good things to do here. And in Ivory Coast, there’s so much beautiful scenery to show. If you want to show a popular neighborhood, there is one. If we want to show a calm and chic neighbourhood, there is one. We can do a multitude of things in the Ivory Coast.
• You have a beautiful plastic art … That’s what made you decide to make movies?
– Initially, I was doing pictures, I was a model. I did a lot of advertisements for everything cosmetics, perfumes, clothing. And later, I stumbled into cinema by chance. I was spotted in a magazine. And was asked to feature in a short film and that’s where it started. Since then, it’s been 15 years. That’s where it all started, because I had really loved. I trained in acting, because I love this environment. You know in Europe, roles are hard to find for black actors. That’s when I started to reflect on our profile. I knew it was not right. Thus I wrote the series ” Aimé malgré lui” (on Canal + and TV5 Monde Africa: note). Thereafter, production company was founded in 2009. It has many other current productions.
• Is it weird to watch yourself on the screen when you’re an actor?
– We have many surprises when we play a role that is not really us. But we are in the skin of another character. But particularly, I am quite surprised to see myself every time on the screen. I sometimes feel that I’m a bit like that, when it’s not the case. I’m quite a nice girl. (She laughs).
• Off camera, what kind of woman are you?
– I’m rather reserved, discreet …
• That leads me to ask you how the family atmosphere in which you grew up was?
– My father had many children. We are 23 in all. His children were born several women. Because my father is Senegalese, he is a Muslim. He has three wives. It is a very large family. We lived in Central Africa, in the same courtyard. We all get along very well. I, particularly, I have two brothers and I am the only daughter of my mother.
• Today, polygamy, for you?
– I would not share my husband with another, or be the second, third assistant wife. Not at all ! No. Yet I experienced seeing my parents live in. It has always worked. But nowadays, it’s more difficult, because things change. The mentality is no longer the same. Before the family was more united, people were more relaxed. I think it’s the environment that makes such that this polygamy story cannot work today.
• Your child went well anyway despite everything?
– Very good. We were many at the same time we did not see the time passing, it is fun. As we had a Muslim culture, I went to the French school and after I went to Koranic school. So, we had no time. I was born in Central Africa and it was at the age of 15 I left France.
• Once there, how was life?
– There, it was a bit complicated. Because everything had to be rebuilt for me. We had to adapt to the new environment, try to live differently. So after school, I found myself alone in an apartment, I was eating alone, so I was used to living in a big family, in a cozy atmosphere. We ate together as a family. I struggled to adapt initially. But then I got used to it.
• OK. As an actress what kind of movies do you like to watch?
– I am romantic, so I like romantic comedies. Hence the fact that my first writing of a film was based on love, family. For now, anyway, I’m good at that kind of writing. (She laughs).