By AYO ONIKOYI, Entertainment Editor
MERCY Macjoe hasn’t been around for more than three years but her profile is so rich, many stand agape wondering how she managed it. Her first appearance in a movie turned out to be a lead role and that’s a record that cannot be found laying around in Nollywood.
Her story has a bit of a maverick about it. According to her, she saw an advert on the television for an audition and decided to try out her luck and it came out unstuck. Since that 2011, it has been a shuttle from one location to another for the Akwa Ibom State-born beauty who has featured in not less than 20 movies. She shares the story of her journey into acting with Showtime Celebrity.
How did you find your way into Nollywood?
I started acting in 2011. My first movie was produced by Great Movies Production. I played a lead role in the movie. My mum was watching a movie and saw an advert that says if you want to become an actress, you should call a particular number.
She got the number and gave it to me because she’s aware of the efforts I have been making to join the industry. I called the number and indicated my interest in becoming an actress. Later, I filled an online form after obtaining their email address. A year later, I got a message from Abuja that they were shooting a movie in Asaba and they would want me to be part of the movie.
Immediately, I left Lagos for Asaba. There were lots of wannabes like myself who came from far and near places for the audition. It was actually a talent hunt for aspiring actresses. By the grace of God, I did well, as I was given a lead role in my first ever movie.
What do you think made them give you the lead role?
It’s really surprising because I’m not an Igbo girl. When I arrived Asaba, virtually all the people who were invited for the talent hunt were mainly Igbos. Even the producers and organisers were also Igbos. As a result, I had a little chance of making my dream come true. But I tried my best to stand out. I know I am talented and also sure we were selected based on merit.
What was the experience like playing the role?
There is this scriptwriter who liked me immediately he set his eyes on me. Perhaps, he saw the nervousness in me, and tried to put me through after I got the lead role because I was supposed to act alongside Mike Ezuruonye. Sensing that I was naive and inexperienced, the scriptwriter stood by me and encouraged me. It wasn’t easy at first, but thank God, I made it. Immediately after featuring in the film, we shot another film as I played the lead character again. The same stars that featured in the previous movie were also used in the new movie. It was a back-to-back kind of movie and I played the lead in both movies.
After those first two movies, the subsequent jobs you got, did you also play lead roles in them?
I’ve never played a lesser role, it was still sub-lead, and good roles. I’m not a lead role kind of person, I believe that whatever role it is, I should be able to do it well. The roles kept coming, most times I play lead. That was then, anyway, now I play lead , because I’ve gotten to a stage in the industry. So, the jobs kept coming, though it wasn’t easy and that was when I went into acting professionally. This is because I realised I have a brighter future in the industry.
Have you ever had to bend the rules or strike a deal to get a role?
No. Most of those girls that do give money, sleep around with men in order to get movie roles lack talent. They have to buy it, but the truth remains that talent cannot be bought.
What has really changed about you since you came into Nollywood?
So many things have changed about me. Even without being in the industry, it’s normal for humans to change. I have grown, I’m living well, I go out, I’m meeting a lot of people. I can’t be pompous because I’ve not gotten to where I want to be. I need the help of everyone to get there. You can have a lot of actresses,musicians out there, but the difference is the talent they have. I’m not saying I’m the best or that I’m too good, but I know that I’m doing very well. And if a producer works with me for the first time, he’ll want to work with me again.
Which has been the most challenging role you’ve played in recent times?
I have done three movies that are very challenging. I did Sugar Sisi; it was the first time I worked with that particular producer, and I wanted to impress him. In that movie, I was raped and I was left with my bra and a very short pair of boxers. It was challenging because I had to use that costume and most of the scenes were not hidden. I was almost going naked on the road. Anyway, it’s my profession and I was paid for it, but I was like ‘God, what am I doing?’.
That’s one and there’s another movie I did with the same producer. It’s a very touching movie, Agony of an Orphan;I suffered a lot, I had to sell things in the traffic. I sold so many things, I was under the sun for three days shooting that scene and to make it real, I was running after vehicles. After the production, I broke down because I don’t think I’ve ever stressed myself that much in my life. They are other nice movies that I can proudly tell anyone to go and watch them.
There’s an online report that you’re so desperate you’ll do anything to get a movie role?
Don’t mind them. I did a movie in December, last year that was shot in the beach. In that movie, I went to the beach with my boyfriend. We had a love scene because he wanted to marry me. We had some love scenes and I don’t know how the pictures got into the hands of journalists. The next thing I knew was, people started calling me to say negative things.That was the same way I acted like a mad woman in a movie and they said, I’ve gone mad.
Don’t you confuse journalists with bloggers?
Bloggers are fuckers.
Can you have sex in a movie?
No, I can’t do it. For what price?
But you almost did it while shooting a scene at the beach?
It looks like a normal sex scene in a movie. Everybody was there, the guy just climbed on me and that was it. The picture speaks for itself.
Even the ‘White’ people who act sex scenes, do it with people present, – the cast and crew, what you did was almost close to it?
Nothing happened. He just climbed on me and the movie cut. We didn’t do anything.
How far can you go to interpret a role in a romantic scene?
Like I said earlier, the guy I did that love scene with him just proposed to me. We were supposed to do a quickie at the beach. With the happiness that this is my husband -to -be, I had to deliver the role properly. Most times, it depends. But, one thing I’m sure of is, I can’t go naked in a movie and I can’t have real sex in a movie too. I can try as much as I can to make it look real. I can kiss you very well if you are my boyfriend in a movie. If we are required to have sex, we’ll try as much as possible to make it look real, without really having sex.
If you are offered five million dollars to act nude in a Hollywood movie, would you take the offer?
I can’t, I’m sorry.
I spoke with an up and coming actress sometime ago and she said, there is no actress that will go through Nollywood without encountering one form of sexual harassment or the other. What’s your story?
To be sincere with you, I don’t know why people say this. Presently, it’s even the girls that harass the producers. I don’t understand why a girl will ask a producer to play the lead role for a movie and promise to give him whatever he asks for. An actress without talent will ask a producer, ‘Give me that role and I’ll give you anything you want, if it’s on bed, with money and so on. Talking about harassment, everyone is an adult, if a producer wants to sleep with you, it’s your choice. It’s either you say yes or no. It’s not like anybody rapes or forces you to do it. Presently, it’s the up and coming actresses that are making it worse, they’ll ask you, ‘Is it bank or bed you want’?
I was on a location recently and a certain girl came there uninvited, saying she is an actress and that she heard that they were shooting a movie, and that whatever it’s going to cost, she’s going to be in the movie. When you see a situation like that, you begin to wonder who is asking who for what?
What’s your selling point?
I have all the selling points in the world. I have talent and I have God. I also know I’m beautiful and shapely.
Have you ever had a crush on any actor in the industry?
I appreciate good actors. I like people who know what they are doing. It’s sad that most of our actors don’t know what they are doing, they are just there. I respect most of our actors that are good, I don’t have a crush on anyone.
Have you ever been turned on, on set?
I can’t be turned on because, first of all, I don’t like you and secondly, there are lots of people out there watching. I can’t be turned on because we are acting.
Do you enjoy kissing on set?
If I kiss on set, it’s because the script says I should. I don’t enjoy anything. After the kiss, we go our different ways.
What’s your opinion on the recently signed anti-gay bill?
It’s cool. I don’t see why two women or two guys should have something. But on a second thought, it’s a matter of choice. I feel there is everything wrong about it. It’s bad.