Omoni Oboli's Chats with Nigerian Entertainment Today on marriage, children and career

 Omoni Oboli is a Nigerian actress and producer. In 2010 she won the award for Best Actress - Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Movie Awards, and the award for Best Actress at the Harlem International Film Festival. She was nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role award at the 2011 African Movie Academy Awards.

Oboli studied Foreign Languages at the University of Benin majoring in French. In 1996, while still at the university, she shot her first films. Shen then took a 10 year break, got married, and returned to the screen in 2009 with the movie Entanglement. 2010 saw Oboli feature in the award-winning film The Figurine, which won the Best Picture award at the 2010 African Movie Academy Awards.

Omoni Oboli She chats with Nigerian Entertainment Today on marriage, children and career.see interview below:

How would you describe your journey through Nollywood?

My journey has been similar to any other person’s journey that is aspiring to excel in whatever field of endeavour. I started from the bottom and worked my way up, and I am still working my way up to personal heights that I know is possible, and by the grace of God will be accomplished in my lifetime. I started in 1996 and had a 10 year break to finish my university education, get married, and have all my children before I came back into the game. I have had to start from the beginning twice in this industry as the new girl in town. It’s one of those things many people have to go through and I am grateful to God that I am able to rise to the occasion to be where I am today. My journey has been good, but has been saddled with all the trimmings that have served to strengthen my resolve to keep pressing towards my ultimate goal and to help others reach there faster than I did.

Tell us about your first onscreen experience?
I was a ‘waka pass’ in my first experience. I played a secretary in one movie and Liz Benson‘s maid in another movie, ‘Shame‘. For me, any role was better than no role. I was too excited to be in the movies to worry about what role I played, and I was protected then by the producers and actors who saw my talent and were all too willing to give me the chance I needed to get ahead in the industry. I remember Opa Williams always making sure that I was okay and that I wasn’t being harassed by anyone. Those early days were just fun and goofing around for me. I was just passionate about being in the movies and when Fidelis Duker gave me the lead role in two of his movies, ‘Not my Will‘ and ‘Destined to Die‘, I was elated. This opened the door for Hilda Dokubo to give me the lead in her own production, ‘Another campus tale‘. I wonder where those movies are now? I would love to have a copy myself.

You studied French Language, what prompted your becoming an actress?
I think your question should be the other way round. Many people who knew me back then are still wondering why I chose French, because what I was known for was acting and directing and writing plays in the church in school plays and in the French club where I was the head of all those clubs back then in my secondary school. Acting started even before my primary school at the age of 3. I have always known acting and wanted to do it as long as I can remember so the prompting was really to study French which I felt didn’t just come naturally with me because you had to study it to know it well or live in a French country to properly communicate in it. So I studied French with my eye fully on acting.

Do you sometimes regret the years that you took a break from movies?

Not really. Considering what I got from the years I left, I wouldn’t trade my education, husband and my children for anything. Every other thing can wait but these blessings do not wait for you. It’s the grace of God, and I’m grateful to Him for giving me the wisdom to grab them when I had the chance. No regrets for me there, but just gratefulness!

Which of your characters has been the most challenging and why?

All my characters have been challenging in the light of the fact that I choose scripts that challenge me, most of the time. They all have their challenges and are incomparable to each other.

 What do you look out for in a script while deciding to do a movie or not?

Firstly, it must be well written with good dialogue and plots. Then I look at the role I’m asked to play in the movie to see how significant it is in the story. I don’t want to play a role that seems like an afterthought and if taken out of the story wouldn’t change the entertaining value of the story. Then I like to know the mind and vision of the producer and see how far he or she wants to take the movie. If the producer has small dreams and wants to embark on a massive project without the necessary understanding of the nature of his project, I might not feature in it even if it’s a great script. If the producer wants to do a small project and addresses it as such, I may be more inclined to take the role than the one who might mess up the movie because of lack of vision. I like to add value to a production and I will give my 110% to any work I’m involved in as long as the producer and I are on the same page.

What was growing up like for you?

It was fun and carefree, because there was a lot of love in the home I grew up in with my mum and sister. I lived in the then Delta Steel Company (DSC) complex, which was a haven where I got a great education and lived a pleasant lifestyle even though we weren’t rich. The memories of growing up were mostly pleasant for me. DSC is not the same as it was then anymore.

Have you ever been judged by a fan based on a particular role you played?

I haven’t run into a fan who took my role in the movie too seriously to attack me yet, thank God, but I have had many people tell me that they watched me in the Emem Isong production, ‘Sweet Tomorrow‘, and thought I was a very wicked person until they met me in real life. After the movie, ‘Anchor Baby’, many people came out of the cinema halls and couldn’t talk to me because they were so upset, while others were too excited to see me because it gave them such relief. I won’t tell you why, so go and grab your copy and find out for yourself.

How did you meet your husband and what’s your love story?

I met him when I first started acting in Lagos in 1996, but just for about a few minutes. He later found me four years later in my final year and we started dating. He proposed to me two weeks into our relationship and the rest is history. There’s a great love story there somewhere. (Laughs) He must have rocked my world to the point of me saying yes, because I was just 21 years old! Many felt I was too young, but I thank God that their opinion didn’t sway my decision.

How are you always quick to flaunt your husband when many of your colleagues would try to remain private with their spouse that isn’t a celebrity?

I don’t see it as flaunting. My husband is also my best friend and I can’t imagine going to functions without my best friend, so we are always together. Everyone has what works for them, and my colleagues don’t have to be seen with their husbands to show that their marriages work or not. That’s their decision, but mine is what it is and we like it that way. It doesn’t make the husband who doesn’t like being seen publicly with his celebrity wife a bad husband, and it doesn’t follow that the best marriages are the ones that flaunt their husbands, but mine works for me.

You have been together for 13years, what do you always say to couples having problems in their marriages?

Change your focus from yourself to God and your spouse and communicate with each other so that things don’t get out of hand because of things unsaid. Many problems in marriage come from the selfishness of wanting to gratify only our needs without weighing the effects of those desires on the relationship. Sacrifices keep us from taking the wrong step and making the irreparable decisions that end marriages so make them when it is in your power to do so for the sake of the spouse you swore to love and cherish, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do you part.

How do you cope with motherhood and being a wife when you need to be at a movie location?

I have help! My children are big boys and my husband handles things when I’m not around. He also throws his hands in the air whenever I’m around. (Laughs) Once I step into the house, anything that’s needed to be done in the home goes to mummy. With God all things are possible, and the foundation of our home is in Christ, so we make it work for us and God gives us the grace.

What has been your proudest moment in your career?

Winning the Best Actress at two international awards that were not organised by Nigerians and Africans for the movie, ‘Anchor Baby‘, at the Harlem International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Movie Awards. I was competing with moviemakers and actors from around the world and I won. That was incredible. It shows how when we are dedicated to doing what we love to do and are diligent in doing it we get the recognition we deserve from places we least expect.

What is your average fee for a movie?

I get well paid for my roles in the movies. In this age of kidnapping, do we still answer these questions? Anyway, we are still aspiring to reach the heights our colleagues in Hollywood and Bollywood have attained.

Nollywood at 20, what is your assessment of the industry?

It has come a long way and I’m so proud of what has been achieved so far by many producers, actors, directors and marketers of the brand, Nollywood. We are still aspiring to greater heights and we will get there, but right now we are simply enjoying the journey. Great movies are slated to light up our screens this coming 2014, and I can’t wait to see the impact on the viewing public. The proper understanding of the right direction should be sort for to keep us on track towards our desired destination so that we don’t lose focus on the prize. Watch some of the old movies and compare them to the likes of ‘Figurine’, ‘Ije’, ‘Confusion Na Wa’, ‘Anchor Baby’, ‘Last Flight to Abuja’, ‘The Meeting’, ‘I’ll Take My Chances’ and many other great titles that we have seen so far and many others about to be released and you can tell there is hope for the future of Nollywood. Many beautiful actors have sprung up like Uru Eke, Beverly Naya, Alex Ekubo, Blossom, OC Ukeje and many others who have given us great performances with the hunger for more. The industry has grown in leaps and bounds and is still pushing to conquer more territories. We should thank God and also applaud the efforts that have been put in place and the persistence that has brought us thus far.

What are some of the changes you would like to see in Nollywood?

The biggest change I would like to see is the growth in the viewership, which in turn brings the desired revenue into the industry that would drive the quality of the content we produce. This cycle is what continues to expand and raise the quality of the productions to the level that the viewers want it to be. It can’t be achieved without the necessary patronage. It’s not easy to keep producing great movies without the necessary returns on investment. When the returns on investment are there the expertise to produce better productions will come because the industry will be able to pay the bills for them, but until then the best productions will be few and far between. I also pray that the audience will demand the original copies of these movies and stop the piracy of people’s works.

From acting, you have stepped up to producing and directing. How did that progression happen for you?

I’ve been producing since 2007, when I produced my first movie, ‘The Rivals‘, in partnership with Blessing Egbe. The movie went on to win the Best International Drama at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival that year. I’m currently in postproduction of my movie, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’, which promises to be very entertaining. It also features Majid Michel, AY, Lepacious Bose, Uru Eke, Chika Chukwu, Seun Akindele, Bishop and many others. It is my directorial debut. Watch out for it!

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a wife, mother, actress, producer, director and screenwriter. I’m a simple girl who keeps things simple, because life is complicated enough as it is, so why add to it. My husband says that the only drama I display is on the screen. I like to keep it that way.

Do you sometimes feel the urge to venture into stage?

No, not really. I might try it again later. I did a lot of it while in secondary school and I like it too, but my first love is for the movies.

What else are you working on that your fans should be looking out for?

I have a couple of movies coming out this year; ‘Feathered Dreams’, a Ukrainian movie production, ‘Brother’s Keeper’, produced by Oakfil and directed by Ikechukwu Onyeka, ‘Deep Inside‘, produced and directed by Lancelot Odua Imasuen, ‘Render to Caesar’, produced by Desmond Ovbiagele, ‘Blue Flames‘, produced and directed by Paul Apel (Papel). These would delight all my fans and others who want to see my movies.

Related Posts