*says most things written about me are false
Ebube Nwagbo was our guest in Vanguard recently. The talented actress who has been deliberately absent from the movie industry for sometime now has returned with a new self-produced movie to her credit. In this exclusive interview with Showtime Celebrity, she takes on issues regarding her absence & return, career, scandals, love, and the nuances that are idiosyncratic of Nollywood.
BY ROTIMI AGBANA,IYABO AINA & ADERONKE ADEYERI
What have you been up to recently?
Well, I’ve been working, though I’ve been away for some time. I was in the United States but I’m back now, I’m working on the premier of my new movie Not Enough. So, that’s what I’ve been up to recently.
How busy have you been since your return to Nigeria?
I’ve been very busy lately, trying to cover up for the time lost. So, I’ve been working a lot, you know I said I’ve been away for sometime but I decided to come back to do what I love doing, and since I returned its been work, work and work. I’ve been recording my second movie as a producer as well as doing other producers’ work. Right now. I’m working on the release of my second movie.
Why were you away?
It wasn’t planned, but at a time I decided to take a break to think if Nollywood is what I really wanted to do. At that time, I took some personal decisions, I took time to reflect on what I really wanted to do and I had to leave the scene for a while to concentrate on some other personal things, which I’ve done and I decided to come back again to do what I love to do.
Since you’re an actress, musician and business woman, were you confused that you had to take time to figure out which you really wanted to do?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that my hairline was taking a lot of my time since it was new, I needed time to work on it because I wanted it to stand; I didn’t want it to just fade away like that. I wanted it to still be there even after I’m gone, it’s something I want to still be relevant even after I’ve left the scene, so I needed time to do that. Then, the singing aspect was something I was just trying my hands on; I wanted to try my hands on something different. Some people might be asking when I’m going to release another album, but when I get the inspiration I will. Right now, I’m concentrating on my movies. Going off the movie scene was something I needed to do to be able to sort out some very personal things, to reflect on myself and what I really wanted to do.
Having made up your mind, did you think the best way to come back to the movie industry was as a movie producer?
Not really, before I thought of producing my own movie I’ve done quite a lot of movies for other producers, but I felt it was time for me to do something for an industry that has given so much to me. I didn’t think it was the best way to come back, I just felt I should come back in a different way, I had to do something people would remember. I’m trying to play something different from what I’ve done before now, I’m trying to do more challenging and endearing jobs, better jobs than what I’ve done before. I’m trying to work on myself; I’m trying to become a better person because to whom much is given, much is expected.
By virtue of your status in the industry, why did it take so long to produce your own movie?
Because I love to do something and do it well, I’m an actress first before a producer, I believe whatever one has to do, you should have passion for it. You shouldn’t just do it because everyone is doing it, you need to be totally prepared, mentally and otherwise, it has to be a total package before you go into anything. So, I needed for the time to be right for me because I don’t do things because everyone is doing it, I go into something because I want to and I must do it very well. Yeah, everyone produces movies but I wanted to do something different and be proud of what I do. I want to do something that in ten years’ time people will sit down and watch and be happy that something like this was produced.
Having tasted acting and producing, how would you compare both?
It’s crazy, if you look at what comes with being a producer I’m sure nobody would want to become a producer. I prefer being the actor, like you just come on set, get the diva treatment, you do your thing and you go home; that is what I’m used to, but as a producer you have to do the whole job. It’s crazy, it’s hard, it’s difficult but the good part of it is when the movie comes out and you begin to reap the fruits of your hard labour, the hardwork, the sleepless nights, the stress you put into this thing, that’s when you feel happy. From my experiences in Nollywood, the success of a movie lies in the hands of the producer. At the end of the day, it’s rewarding, but as an actor you don’t have to go through all that stress.
You produced your first movie Smile Again in 2013, how would you compare it to your new movie Not Enough?
Well, first of all, I love to tell family stories and that’s what Smile Again was all about, likewise Not Again. I love to tell stories every family can sit down and watch. I love to tell stories my pastor and even the pope can sit and watch. I want to tell stories everybody can sit, watch and learn something. Smile Again was a family story, but I did that just commercially, it didn’t go to the cinemas, but with Not Enough, I tried to do better than what I did before, that shows growth. From the response I got from my first movie, which urged me on to do better than I’ve done before. People still talk about my first movie up till now; I want the same thing to happen with Not Enough, even in 10-years to come.
Aren’t we seeing any sex tease or sensual scenes in this movie?
The story is not centered around sex, if there was need for us to include sex scenes it would have been subtle so that everybody can sit and watch it and so that we won’t have issues with the Censors Board. But trust me, you’ll find other things that will blow your mind in the movie.
It’s usually said that an actor/producer doesn’t really pay his colleagues when they are featured in his/her movie, how true is this?
That’s not true. It’s not about paddy-paddy arrangement, when you get a script, you have to look for who suits into your character, so if you cast based on friendship and this friend of yours doesn’t fit into the character then you are not going to get what you want. It’s not about how much somebody is paid or how much you’re going to get out of it at the end of the day. It’s about what we love to do, who suits a character, if it’s somebody you’re close to, fine, and if it’s somebody you’re not close to, fine. You don’t cast a person because you’re close to the person, you may not achieve what you want at the day. It also depends on your bargaining power, a producer could call you up with the prior knowledge of your fee, but just ask you if you can do it for a lower fee, it now depends on you and your management, if the script is good, you might want to do it for the script even if the pay is not okay. Sometimes the pay might be okay and the script is not okay, you wouldn’t do that because at the end of the day it’s your work that speaks for you. Yes, we all work for money, but I think it should be something you want to do in the first place, then as for the paddy paddy aspect, you can call on your friends in the industry but the person has to fit into the role.
Why do writers usually refer to you as ‘the controversial Ebube’?
I’m actually hearing this for the first time. I don’t think I’m controversial, you know there are people that others usually misunderstand, and I think I’m one of them. I call myself the misunderstood one. I’m in the limelight, what we do puts us in a position where people misunderstand us from what they see on screen. I can’t begin to explain to everyone that what they read about me is different from what they see on the screen. So, I’ve learnt to ignore most times, and when you ignore, people make out what they want in their heads and assume that this is the truth or this is not the truth. But sometimes I can’t ignore, I have to give it back to them; I’m human at the end of the day.
Why are you still single?
Nothing, I’ll get married at the right time.
Rumor making the rounds is that you are terrified of marriage, how true is this?
Wow! Well, I don’t know where that story is coming out from because I’ve not granted an interview in years, about 3 or 4-years now. So, I don’t know where that rumour is coming from. I remember saying marriage is a big deal to me and if I have to do it then it has to be right. What marriages are going through right now in my industry is crazy. No one goes into marriage and thinks of getting out of it the next minute, but for some reason it doesn’t work out. It’s not me trying to blame anyone now, but it does happen. For me, if I have to do it, I’ve to do it right, marriage is a big deal for me if I’m going to do it, it’s going to be at the right time and not out of pressure because the same people who rush you into it would be the same people who would later make jest of you.
What are the worst things ever written about you?
A lot, I don’t even want to begin to think or talk about them. Talking about it would give them something to talk and write about. Most things written about me out there are not true, but I try to ignore and give my attention to what is more important. You can’t keep addressing everything that is written about you. In as much as people believe what they write, if it’s something I don’t want to talk about, I’ll rather not say.
The worst scandal I’ve heard is about you and Kcee, what’s your relationship like with him now?
When somebody writes something about you and it’s not true it’s painful, especially when it’s not true. If you actually did something and they are writing about it then you may feel remorse about it, but if you didn’t it, would be really heart-breaking.
The thing is, I’ve developed a very thick skin, I don’t care anymore. Before, It used to affect me a lot, at a time, I said I was going to quit Nollywood. But now I think I’ve learnt how to tackle these things, based on what I do everybody doesn’t have to like you. The ones who like you like you and the ones who don’t like you there is nothing you can do about it. I’ve learnt to focus on the most important things and ignore the negative things that are written about me. I’ve learnt that the older I get the wiser I also get. I started acting in Nollywood as a young girl, so I’ve grown a lot; I’ve had so many experiences, so I see such stories as the downsides of my profession.
Are you dating anyone at the moment?
Yes, why won’t I have a man in my life? I’m a young girl, so of course, why not? If I say I don’t have a man in my life people may ask if I’m possessed or something (laughs). Yes, I want to get married but at the right time, I’m not one of those people who do something out of pressure, no, I would not do that.
What’s your ideal man?
First of all, I like a man that respects me, lots of men out there don’t respect women, especially young people like us. Being in the limelight is enough stress on its own, so you have to be with someone that respects you as a person, so respect is very key for me.
What’s your biggest regret as an actress and as a woman?
I’ve learnt not to have regrets, maybe when I was younger, whatever I’ve been through up till today has added to my life, it has made me wiser, so I’ve said to myself no more regrets. If it did not turn out the way I wanted it to, I learnt from it and it pushes me to the next level, I learn from mistakes. So I’ve learnt not to have regrets.
What was it like for you the first time you fell in love
Like every girl out there, butterflies in my tummy, it’s an experience every young girl has to go through, it was good.