Celebrity, the graduate of Estate Management debunks the insinuation that she is divorced. She also talks about her long lasting feud with another Yoruba actress, Lizyy Anjorin, which she recently resolved with her amongst other issues.
By AYO ONIKOYI
How has life been with you as an actress and a single mother?
Initially, when I joined the industry it wasn’t easy because my children were young then, and they needed my attention. It was hard trying to cope with the job and bringing up the children but in life, you always learn to cope.
Now it is much easier because they have grown up, already in secondary schools and can do pretty much by themselves and to even make things all the more easier, my mum now stays with me. It was not easy at all in the beginning but we thank God we have come this far.
Would you say acting as a career has been rewarding to you?
Yes, acting has been rewarding to me. Financially, morally and it has opened many doors for me. It has afforded me the opportunity to meet a lot of people in life, especially, very important personalities. It has created a platform for me to launch myself and has made me famous. Being famous means you are always in the eyes of the public.
Though that has also restricted my private life greatly and people get to say a lot of things they don’t even know about you but apart from that, acting has really been good.
So are you saying you regret being a celebrity?
When you are successful at what you do, then you don’t have a regret. It is when you are not successful that you entertain the thoughts of regrets. The fame as you said is simply the price you pay for being in this line of work.
Initially, as a starter you might want to back out, saying oh my God what is this I am doing to myself but with time you get used to it , it now becomes like an everyday thing to you. Just like people who work in the bank; they have to wake up very early in the morning and get back very late in the night. It is the price that comes with the job. So, one way or another, everybody has got a price to pay.
Can you still remember the actual film that launched you into stardom?
I must say that my rise to stardom was a gradual process. But the movies that brought me to the limelight were two movies that were released the same day. One is “Ogaa” and the other is “Ife Odale.” When they came out, they created so much awareness for me.
If you are going to take up a script ,what is the first thing you consider and what will make you accept or reject a script?
The first thing that would make me accept a script is the story and the first thing that would make me reject it is also the story. If I don’t jell with the story, I may not go for the movie.
I also have to look at who is directing it, and who and who are starring in the movie. The producer might be a refresher, it doesn’t matter to me as long as he has got a good story and a good hand directing it and packed together some professionals to feature in the film.
Have ever had to reject a script before?
Oh I reject scripts all the time. I reject especially when I don’t understand the reason for the story. I am one of those that believe every story must have a message. If I am not convinced about the message of the story, I reject the script.
At times, I might not be comfortable with who is directing the movie and sometimes I might not be comfortable with people featuring in the movie. All these sometimes make me reject a script. And sometimes, when I have worked too much, I always seek a break out to rest and when I get a script between the time I need to rest and the time to spend time with my children, I would either ask them to postpone or have to reject all together.
You started acting when?
I started acting in 1998. My first movie was Satanic. It was directed by Basorge and it had people like Keppy Ekpeyong, Bimbo Akintola and others. That was when I was acting in English-speaking films. I started fully in Yoruba in 2002. My first Yoruba film was Baba Darijinwon produced by Alhaji Yinka Quadri.
What has been your most challenging role up to date?
Like I tell people, I haven’t done my most challenging movie yet. But I do have some favourite movies I talk about all the time. Oro Lanre peseje is a Yoruba movie I really hold dear to my heart. It was produced by Muka Ray but my own produced movie that I really hold dear to my heart is Arinzo. It is fresh and it is going to hit the cinemas very soon.
No doubt you are up there now, a celebrity, probably very comfortable but which movie has made most money for you?
All my movies produced by me have made me good money. In every movie I produced, I made money from but I can’t say precisely how much I have made from them.
Like this your new movie, how much have you put into it and how much are you looking to make from it?
We have pumped millions into it and we expect to make millions. The movie was not produced only by me. It was co-produced by my marketer. We raised money to do it. It was the first time me and my marketer, Corporate Pictures, are co-producing a movie.
When you pumped a lot of millions into a movie, you should expect to make a lot of millions especially when the movie was well shot and well edited. Everything being equal with God on our side ,we should make good money from it.
But sometimes when you pump money into something, you might end up not making money as expected
In our world, when you have a name it helps. The more money you spend when you have a name, the more money you get. The first thing is to have a name.
Baba Sala and Moses Olaiya had all the name anyone could have in the movie industry and still lost out with producing Orun Mooru?
You know it depends on strategy. We cannot just release Arinzo in Idunmota market for now. The trick is to take it around cinemas first to make money. My marketer alone has the name to sell the movie on his own. Iyabo Ojo has not disappointed her fans before so they will pay good money to come and watch it in the cinemas and when it comes out in the market, I believe they will still spend their money to buy it. I know the way I do my own things. I don’t know how it works for other people. The more money you put into a project, the more money you should make if you get your plans right.
You once said you wanted to get a divorce to properly dissolve your marriage to your ex-husband, have you gotten the divorce?
No, I am not divorced yet. I am still legally married to Deroju Ojo but it cannot stop me from living my life anyway. I am not in a rush to remarry. Even if I get the divorce, I don’t think I am going to drop the Ojo because Ojo has become a brand name on its own. So, I am still going to make use of the Ojo and it is a sign of respect to my kids.
But don’t you think the Ojo family is going to kick against your using their name when you are not legally married to their son any longer?
Anybody can be Ojo. There are so many families who are Ojo who are not related to me. Besides, me and the Ojos have a very cordial relationship and they don’t have any problem with my using their name at all. They respect the fact that I am even using the name.
Are you in any relationship now?
Oh yeah, I am in a relationship. I am in a beautiful relationship.
Can we know the person?
No. I don’t talk about my intimate affairs. When the time comes for the relationship to go public, you will definitely know about it especially when it gets to the altar.
Is the person from the industry?
No. He’s far from it.
Why is it that most of you actors and actresses prefer to marry outside of the industry?
I think it is the best thing to do. When you remain in the same industry with your spouse, there is no respect, there is no freedom and there is lack of understanding. When you marry someone outside of the industry, it is a beautiful thing because it is like this; when you are quiet and you marry someone who is quiet, your life becomes boring and same goes for when both of you are noisy; your life becomes a noisy affair. When you are celebrity, you have a lot of fans and many things to deal with and the person who is married to you needs to understand that fact and you need to blend that, but when you are indoors, in the quiet of your house with your spouse you are in another world. There is a sort of balance in your life. But when you are married to someone who is in the same limelight with you, your life is always out there in the open on the pages of newspapers because you both are celebrities. There would be too much distraction from both of you. So the balance that needs to be in your life is never there.
In your own opinion, what is still lacking in Yoruba films?
We have a lot of things still lacking. One, we don’t have the support of the government. We need them so badly. Secondly, we need to deal with piracy.
It is really killing us. We want ANTP to come together as one strong and better body like they used to be in those days. We really need to control and cut down the amount of films being released into the market everyday.
I believe if we have a body controlling the number and quality of jobs being released into the market, we will go better places than we have already. You know if you have twenty films out there and only about five that are good, it gives the audience an impression we are not producing good films.
Liz Anjorin on….
(cuts in) oh, I don’t want to talk about that.
Sincerely, I don’t want to start the fire again, I just want to bring out a point from what she said sometime ago. She said you were only jealous of her because she is versatile and you are not.
Me and Liz Anjorin have made up. We have settled. Whatever you heard must have come on before we settled. Whatever she said is a thing of the past. It has no effect on me. It is what she says now that matters to me. We don’t have any issue any more. And I wish her the best of everything in life and I am sure she will wish me well too.
So what you are saying now is that you people are on talking terms. Like you call each on phone and one first name basis?
Me and Lizzy were never friends even before we had an issue. Obviously we are on good terms, we do greet each other but not as you have put it. If opportunity comes, we can work together. We are colleagues and we have put our differences behind us. We may not be close friends but we are not enemies, we are colleagues. People should let sleeping dogs lie.
So who is Iyabo Ojo
I am me. I love hanging out with my friends. I love spending time with my kids all the time.
Surely, you are a very pretty woman but to you, what is really sexy about you?
That is a secret with my man (laughs). It is for my man to say. We all have different views about different things. What is sexy to A may not be sexy to B. So, I wouldn’t really know though my friends call IY Sexy. Maybe, my figure looks sexy, I don’t know, maybe my eyes, I swear I don’t know. But I think what I like most in my body are my legs. That’s why I wear shorts a lot. Sometimes I flaunt it (laughing)
So who do you really love working with in the industry?
A lot of people. But first of all my crew. Muka Ray, the whole Muka Ray family, they are my crew, we love working together. I love working also with the Adebayos.
Would you encourage your kids to go into acting like you?
Oh, they are already into acting. My daughter, Priscilla, just did a lead role in a movie with Toyin Aimakhu in a new film called Mr and Mrs Jeje. I am from a family who allows you to do anything you want to do so long you are happy with yourself.
Whatever they choose to do they have got my backing. For as long as whatever they choose is legal, good and makes them happy they have got my backing and blessing.