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I once hawked oranges on the streets to survive— Mercy Macjoe

By Kehinde Ajose

Actress on the rise, Mercy Macjoe, has begun to have fame and fortune smiling at her she seems to be smiling back. But beneath those smiles are scars that cannot be seen. Like everyone who has a grass-to-grace story to tell, the nostalgia may have a bitter-sweet taste but the experience is always a different thing altogether, even if it had been lived and dumped in the memory.

In this Interview, Mercy Macjoe, an Economics graduate of University of Ibadan, studying English at National Open University relives it again – it is no make-believe

Mercy Macjoe
Mercy Macjoe

How did you get into the movie industry?
My first movie was in 2011. I was featured after being selected from a talent hunt competition. I played a very good role and I was opportune to act alongside Mike Ezuronye. After then, I decided to take acting serious. I came back to Lagos and started going from one audition to another. God has been wonderful. I was one of the first few people who played a lead role in the first movie they appeared in. I played some very strong characters and some very strong lead roles. Most people think I am from Ghana because I have featured in some Ghanaian movies too. There was a time I went to Ghana and I spent about three to four months. I had a contract with some producers. I did a lot of movies and those movies did well. Most people on my social media pages think I am Ghanaian.

What was your childhood like?
I didn’t have all the opportunities when I was growing up. I grew up with my mum. I lost my dad at a very young age so it was just my mum who took care of me and my other siblings. I am the sixth in a family of eight. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth; I had to do so many things to survive. I assisted my mum in her buying and selling business. I sold so many things with my mum. I remember selling oranges and some other things with my mum. I am proud to say it now because the story is different now. I hawked oranges and some other things, helping my mum and siblings to survive. I am always proud to say it because it was in the past and I can’t sell oranges now.

Is your mum supportive of your career?
My mum is my biggest supporter in the world. I told you I was part of a talent hunt when starting out. It was my mum who got the number for me. She was watching a movie and saw the advert in the movie for aspiring actresses; she wrote the number and kept it. Back then, when I watched a movie, I usually call the contact number I see after the movie. I tell them to give me an opportunity to showcase my acting talent. My mum kept the number and told me to call it. I called them, they sent me their website address and I saw the registration details. I did everything they required. They said they were going to get back to me. They didn’t get back to me till after a year. After a year, I got a message from them that I have been shortlisted for a film production. I have never been to Asaba and Onitsha before. My mum advised me to go. She said: ‘Take enough money in case things go messy’. I boarded a bus and I went there. When I got there, I saw so many people like me from other parts of the country. We were camped, auditioned and shortlisted in a particular place. I was so lucky to have been given a good role. That’s how it started.

What will you regard as your most challenging movie role?
I did a film called Agony of an orphan. I appeared in the movie two years ago. It is one of my most challenging movies till date. In that movie, I gave out my soul. I remember the producer telling me; ‘ I know you are talented and you need to make people see this talent. Take this movie like your life depends on it’. I sold so many things in the film and I had to shoot under the sun. I ran on the road under scorching sun. I did the movie without a single makeup on. I was a cripple in the movie and I was also raped by my uncle in the film. It was very challenging for me. I poured out my heart into the movie.

What would you say about the role you played in the movie, Sex on the beach?
Everything I did in the movie was just acting. It’s a movie, nothing more than that happened. My boobs weren’t exposed. What started the controversy was a picture someone took while we were shooting the movie at the beach. Bloggers made it go viral. I got a lot of negative comments about the movie. Some people didn’t even believe it’s a movie. How can you caption the picture: Caught making love when we were fully dressed? I didn’t engage in any sensual display in the movie.

Looking back would you have featured in that kind of movie?
I don’t think I would have featured in it. It was a low budget film. If I am given that kind of script now I will reject it. The way the script was written and the way we acted it wasn’t the way it came out. This is supposed to be a short film .When the film came out, the producer or the marketer made it longer that it was. It had several seasons and some people didn’t understand it. It was meant to be a full movie not divided into seasons.

Have you ever acted with someone who got turned on while acting?
You cannot get turned on during acting. I don’t think artistes should get turned on because they are not the only ones at the location. You can talk about chemistry. If it feels real that is different. Getting turned on means you want to make love to the person. When you are acting with someone that you have chemistry with its easier for you to kiss that person if the role says kiss. You cannot be turned on when there are a lot of people behind you.


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