•My father almost disowned me because I went into acting
•People criticizing Odumeje don’t know him
By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Her name is not as popular as the movies she has starred in, but beautiful actress, Ify Eze is a sight to behold. She’s down to earth, loving and as harmless as a snail. When Showtime Celebrity ran into her in Asaba, last weekend, the light-skinned actress was full of life, and ready to share her story. Aside being a talented actress, Ify Eze is one of the trusted confidants of popular Onitsha-based pastor, Prophet ‘Ndaboski’ Odumeje. In this encounter, the actress shares the story of her journey into Nollywood, her relationship with Odumeje and why it’s important that she must look glamorous at all times among others.
Many actors have different stories of their venturing into the movie industry. So, what’s your own story?
It has always been my dream to go into acting. I started my acting career in 2003, when I visited my uncle in Onitsha. One of my cousins who was into movie production took me to an audition that happened in Onitsha then. I was advised to register with the Actors Guild of Nigeria,AGN, before I could be allowed to partake in the audition. There and then, I got registered with the guild, and they allowed me to partake in the audition.
At the end of it all, I was given my first movie role as a gossiper, though I was auditioned for the lead character. Unfortunately, I didn’t feature in that movie because of my studies. However, after some time, I returned to Onitsha again and was also lucky to attend another audition. The movie was titled ‘Spanner Goes to Jail’ and I starred alongside Chinedu Ikedieze and Nkem Owoh. I was happy and fulfilled starring alongside these great actors. After starring in the movie, I didn’t look back again as I featured in not less than 10 movies within an interval of three years. Thereafter I returned to the classroom to complete my studies. I graduated as an Economist from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. After my youth service, I secured a job with ULO, in Asaba, but I was transferred to Abuja. I worked with the company for five years but I was never fulfilled working within the office environment.
I have always wanted to fulfill my dream of becoming an actress. So, one day, I decided to resign from my job and go for what makes me happy, which is acting. I returned to Nollywood in 2015. It was not easy to start all over again. However, I believed in consistency and that’s what keeps me where I am today. I thank God that I obeyed my spirit to stage a comeback to Nollywood. Acting for me, is a passion. It’s something I love so much, and it gives me fulfillment.
Having featured in many movies, it seems your name does not ring a bell in Nollywood?
I have featured in many movies as you said, yet I am not as popular as most of my movies. But I believe there’s time for everything and I’m hoping that that time is now for me to be announced. Some of my movies include,
‘Billionaire Gnag’, ‘Disco Dancer’, ‘Adanne’ , ‘Royal Crime’, ‘Agbomma’ which earned me the nickname, ‘Akponawu’ among others.
Would you say it’s intentional that you decided to keep a low profile in the industry?
It’s not intentional, but the truth about me is that I am a quiet person. I am not noisy, not the loud type. I like my things cool and I just follow them cool as well. I don’t need to make noise in the industry for people to know that I exist. I believe that my work should make the noise, not me.
What was the reaction of your parents when you told them about your decision to go into acting?
I remember when the movie, ‘Spanner Goes to Jail” hit the market, it was my late brother who was then residing in America that saw the movie and alerted my father. He was furious with me, lamenting that I have gone into prostitution. It’s the belief of my parents that if you are into acting, you are definitely out there to prostitute. My father insisted that I must quit acting if I still wanted to be his daughter. But what will be will be. Yes, my parents tried to oppose my decision to go into acting. But at the end of the day, they realized this is what makes their daughter happy and there was little they could do to stop me. At that point, they allowed me to follow my dream.
Being a beautiful woman, have you ever had any nasty experience with the producers or directors in the industry?
My being a beautiful woman has nothing to do with the movie producers or directors. Like I always tell people, before I joined the industry, I was already an adult. If any producer is making advances to me, it’s still left for me to decide whether I want the person or not. If I don’t want you, I don’t want you. If I don’t feature in a particular movie, it doesn’t mean that I will not feature in another movie. It’s not an issue to me at all.
What was it like starring alongside Nkem Owoh and Chinedu Ikedieze in that movie, “Spanner Goes to Jail?
It was horrible, I felt intimidated and frightened. But they all encouraged me to be at my best, which I did. At the end of the day, I scaled through.
Did you really set out to become an actress?
Like I said earlier, acting has always been my dream. As a growing child, whenever I saw a movie,while sleeping, I would see myself alongside those actors that I starred in that movie. I was talented. I had good voice and I was participating in almost all the dramas staged in my church then as well as my school. So, I am fulfilled and I am happy that I am here today. You know when you are doing what you have passion for, you do it with ease, you don’t feel stressed.
Many celebrities avoid keeping many friends, is it the same story with you?
For the fact that I hail from a polygamous family, I like to see people around me. I love keeping friends around me, and I also love being with someone. But at a point in my life, I found out that it does not favour me. The more I gather them, the more they betray me. They get jealous of me when good things are coming my way. The kind of heart I accept them with, is not the kind of heart they accept me with. So, I made a decision myself to have few friends.
What sets you apart from other actresses around you?
I am unique, beautiful and I am always happy. I interpret my character excellently and I also act from my innermost heart as if it’s happening live. I make sure I digest whatever role that’s given to me and put myself in that role
But why is it important that you must look glamorous all the time?
Looking good is my business. Looking good puts food no my table and as an actor, people want to see you looking sweet, glowing and happy at all time.
As born again actress, how are you coping with the temptations that abound in the world of make believe?
Being a born again christian has nothing to do with my acting career. It is a decision I made with God and asked Him for grace to overcome any temptation that may come my way in the course of pursuing my career. Like I said earlier, I am an adult. Whatever I decide to do today is my decision. If I have decided to give myself to Christ , all I need to do is to ask Him for grace to live a blameless life. And I know that his grace is sufficient and He has been my helper and will continue to be my helper because He knows I love him from my innermost heart.
How did you give your life to Christ?
I gave my life to Christ, while I was a youth corper. I went for a friend’s thanksgiving service at the House on the Rock church. After the sermon, the pastor made an altar call, and I made a decision to give my life to Christ that day. I accepted Christ as my Lord and personal saviour. And since then, I have not looked back.
You are very close to prophet Odumeje, how has he affected your life spiritually?
Yes, I am very close to Prophet Odumeje. I came in contact with him in 2019. I saw a powerful prophet, I saw what I have never seen in any prophet all my life. The first day he counselled me, he told me something about myself that no pastor or prophet has ever mentioned to me and I knew inside of me that it was the truth. He took my battle as his battle. He became my spiritual father from that moment. Odumeje is down to earth. He does not discriminate, he has pure heart . Odumeje is spiritually powerful. Whenever I look at him, I see what is in Prophet Elisha in the Bible. There was a particular way I was growing then, but he called me back and gave me peace. There was so many things that were really troubling me, but when I met him he spoke to me like a prophet, he spoke to me like a father, a brother and a spiritual mentor and from that moment, I found peace. I told myself that this is where I belong. I am proud to be called a daughter of the Lion. I don’t care about whatever anybody says. He has made a lot of positive impact on my life.
Do you think, Odumeje is being misunderstood as a prophet of God following the criticisms trailing his ministry?
Yes, people always misunderstand Odumeje probably because he doesn’t run his ministry the way other pastors do. Odumeje is just unique on his own. Whenever I look at that man of God, I see prophet Elisha of the old. God is really using him but people don’t know. So, many people misunderstand Odumeje. When you are close to him, I think you will know better. And until you are out there to make up your mind to understand this man, you will keep wagging your mouth without knowing what you are saying. Like he said, you cannot stop a moving train.
Do you think it’s safe to stay off social media completely because of nasty experience you have with trollers or to be active on social media and continue to take all the attacks that come with the trend?
Staying off social media is as well as staying off this world. The way the world is going today, we cannot do without social media. Social media can lift you up, it can as well bring you down. The truths remains that people must talk. Sometimes, if people do not talk about you, it means that you are nobody. It is better to talk about you and you are lifted to your higher heights. Social media is the major means of communication both in business , career and so on. Everything now revolves around social media. So, we can’t do without it.
How is your love life?
Do I have a love life? Love is sweet. Who does not want to be loved and who does not love?