“You Won’t get Anywhere if you Allow the Negativity Drain your Energy”

Our guest today, Niyat Afewerki, 32, is an actress who has been captivating audiences through her talents. After recovering from a serious health problem, she has been relentlessly evolving against all odds in her career.

You started this journey a bit later than most people. Why was that?

After I finished school and went to Sawa as a member of the 24th round, I started working at the Crop and Livestock Corporation. Then my life took an unexpected turn when I became sick. I had a disease that infects the legs and I was unable to leave home and didn’t have a job for around seven years. I had to get back on my feet again and start my journey. The one thing that I wanted to do was get into art. So, immediately after my recovery, I took a course in art.

 How has the journey been so far?

I started my journey in art in 2019 as an actress after I had taken a course given by Efrem Kahsay (wedi Quada) in 2018. The course covered acting, writing, and directing. I was planning to take more courses when I got an offer to work in the film series Machelo that was aired on EriTV. The series is still very popular and opened a lot of opportunities for me in my acting career. It has enabled me to know what art and an artist are. Machelo was aired for two years on EriTV, and as my first experience, it taught me a lot about the art industry. I have so far acted in around ten film series and around 30 short and feature films.

Was there any specific inspiration that ignited the fire for art within you?

Well, my sister is a writer and a painter. I enjoyed watching her works of art. I was also hooked on movies and music when I was having health problems for seven years. I remember dancing or singing alone in my room. The fact that I was confined to my home because of my health problems also allowed me to pay more attention to art, especially films. I think that’s how the fire was lit within me.

 What would you say is your secret to holding on to your journey even when the getting got tough?

I believe it has a lot to do with how you view things and how you handle yourself. Being an artist helps you make connections with many but you must really be careful on how to use those connections. The way you are raised affects your life in any field of work. If you’re disciplined enough, for instance, you’ll know how to handle yourself when you become famous or draw the attention of people. Of course, there were hardships and struggles that I went through, and there were times when I felt weak and defeated. But I have always wanted to be a self-made independent female. So, I chose to stay strong for my goals. I have always said that I wouldn’t participate in works that may compromise my principles. I have experienced some betrayals and had some people try to jeopardize my work. That made me feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Some people don’t like a confident female who speaks her mind. All of those things used to cause me stress and drain my energy. However, I have learned that I don’t have to be involved with people who intervene in my work and are not good for my mental health. A strong mind and discipline are the secrets for me to get going even when the going gets tough.

What’s your advice for those who are struggling to realize a dream against all odds?

It all starts with being disciplined no matter what. My health problems came back when I was in the middle of my journey as an artist. It was really difficult to go through it all over again. But as they say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. It gave me the biggest push in my life; I used it to my advantage. So, young people in any profession should learn to use negativity to their advantage. Of course, not everyone is going to be happy or proud of you. Some will encourage you while others will discourage you. Use the encouragement as a shield and the discouragement as an impetus to do more. Don’t give up when people stab you in the back and learn to get back on your feet when you fall. You just need strong willpower and consistency to make your dreams come true.

 How do the works of art today compare with those of yesteryears?

The works done in the past were extraordinary and unforgettable. I believe that it’s because the artists were very devoted to their work. They gave it their undivided attention despite the challenges they were facing. The older generation actors spent a lot of time training and used to rehearse a lot.

Unlike the old times, there are a lot of young artists, and mistakes are bound to pop up. But we’re trying to make something from what we’ve already got. I believe that we, the younger generation, haven’t shown our full potential yet.

If the works we produce are measured only in terms of financial benefits, it’s difficult to come up with works that can leave a lasting impression on the audience. The works done in the past had amazing storylines and film producers were so talented in effectively using the cameras and other equipment that were of poor quality. Today, we have more advanced equipment for shooting and editing, but we’re not doing as well as we should. I think that’s our weakness. But we still have a society that supports us to do more and keep on producing better work. As artists, we must feel responsible for doing more and better despite the financial problems or the social problems that we might face as we are models for our society.

 Anything you’d like to add…

I’m grateful for my family’s support and encouragement to do more and better and to keep evolving. They are the reason I am where I am right now. The best is yet to come, and I hope to make everyone proud through my acting career.

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