Cheating is irresistible in relationships – Caroline Ekanem
To many, she has been in the industry for so long but ironically she's just barely two years. Half-Caste actress Caroline Ekanem in this chat with Chibueze Okereke speaks on what makes her tick and her percieved snobbish attitude.
How did you spend the holidays?
I spent my Xmas and New Year in Owerri with my boyfriend. It was fun and so exciting. I enjoyed it and I thank God that he gave me the grace to see another year.
You came back quite early because I believe so many people are still in the holiday mood. Why is that?
I know that some people are still there, he (boyfriend) had to travel and I had to arrange some things because I will soon start working.
For someone like me the name Ekanem could mean that you are either from Akwa Ibom or Cross River, but for the readers can you please give a clearer picture of where you are from?
Well I will say that I am a Nigerian. I love to be a Nigerian anytime, any day. Though my father is British and my mom is a Nigerian, but I claim Nigerian. I guess I have the right to dual citizenship. So whenever, anytime any day, I believe I am a Nigerian.
Here you are claiming to be a Nigerian even when you could easily have been in England where the conditions of living is said to be rosy and every Nigerian dreaming of relocating. Why the love for Nigeria?
You can make your life better anywhere any day, anytime. You don't have to really run out of Nigeria to make your life better. You can build your mansion here, you can make (create)? You can build your mansion here; people out there are not really making it, it's not easy with them. I can say this is the place that you make the fastest cash. It is not easy over there; I am serious. So I prefer Nigeria. Everything is easy here; no trouble, only just the hustle and bustle, but aside from that, everything is easy. Here we don't have all those natural disasters, like the typhoon, earthquake and all that. You can do whatever you want to do here and get away with.
Even kill people and get away with?
(Laughs) I don't know about that, but Nigeria is a very fruitful country where you can build your paradise if you want to.
When I called you up for this chat you said you hoped this is not one of those interviews. Why did you say that?
Because I have come to realise that most Paparazzi (journalist) in Nigeria don't help each time I've been interviewed. I don't know why some of them behave like that. They interview you and they turn the whole interview upside down and write it in the paper that when you see it, you will be wondering if you were the one that granted them that interview. A lot of times they have done that to me and I have many explanation, to make to people because I got calls but I hope that won't happen this year.
And which newspaper and magazine are the culprit?
I will not mention their names (Laughs) so that they come and attack me again?
What are those things that you have set your mind to achieve or get done before this year runs out?
The greatest thing I really want to achieve this year is to be closer to God; that is the greatest thing. I have been running away for so long, but this year I want to be closer to him more that ever and even now I want to achieve that.
And what steps have you been taken towards achieving that?
(Laughs) Well abiding by the ten commandments, going to church, pay my tithes because last year I could count how many times I paid my tithe, I ….
You mean you devoured your tithe very well last year?
I swear, so I am trying to adjust this year.
One other baffling thing is that sometimes I ask an artist that I might have seen one of her movies that really made an impression on me how she felt when she was playing the role because the acting was good, but I get a shocking reply that she can't even remember doing that movie, because she has not even seen it. Why is that?
The reason is that it is not like Hollywood that you shoot a movie for six month and you can still remember the movie you shot. In Nigeria, most people are still happy to do about four movies in one month and sometimes more than four. So most times they forget.
So, imagine your child comes from school one day and having boasted to his friends about your movie career, he quizzes you, saying, “Mummy, by the way, how many movies did you do before you gave birth to me”. What will be your reply?
Quite a lot my dear (Laughs)
You starred is a movie titled The Twist with your ex-boyfriend, Tuface Idibia. What was it like acting along side him on the set? Was it just professional or sometimes emotion runs in?
Hm, it was just professional. Even when I was acting with him I didn't really see him as somebody I could go out with and even as at then, we were not even dating. He was like a normal nice guy on set, okay? There was nothing like emotions. Although the part we acted was emotional, it was just a professional thing. It's a normal thing, like acting with Ramsey Nouah or Jim Iyke.
When you are contacted for a movie and the script is given to you, what are those things you consider before accepting the script?
First, the story. It has to be captivating. The English Language in the script has to be good. You have to look for a dictionary to look for the meaning of some of the words. It also has to be emotional and make a lot of meaning because there are some scripts that have a good beginning but which ending has no meaning. So the beginning and the end of the story must have a meaning, a very good one. Doing a good movie actually helps an actress.
When did your sojourn into the movie world begin?
That was in March 2004 with the help of Rita Dominic. I did my first movie with Chico Ejiro, which was Deadly Kiss. Later on Nancy, which I did alongside Eucharia Anunobi, Jim Iyke and Peter Bunor.
And within that short space you've done so much so that some people will think that you've been in the game for long. How were you able to achieve this?
Well, it's God. Actually, some people do carry the rumour that I sleep around. I do this and that. But I am telling you that my producers and I are just on cordial professional relationship, based on business and nothing attached. My directors and producers are not wayward to the extent of asking me to sleep with them for scripts. So, I don't sell my body, neither do I go to a Jazzman to do anything for me; its just God. I have faith in God and I have tried to work hard.
You've had you share of the pains and gains of relationships. What will you say is your idea of a good relationship?
I've learnt a lot, but in those times I didn't look at the biblical word for a relationship. Sorry, if I am being religious, but I think I am more enlightened now. I guess I've realised my mistakes. Fine, a relationship is meant to be fifty-fifty, though a woman is supposed to be submissive to her man, but I think we are all animals but of the higher grade and we can't resist cheating on ourselves, we can't. It's a temptation, except you have the fear of God, unless you determine to resist it. Its not like you can't resist it but it's something that lives with us, no matter what. Even if we die today another person is still going to do the same thing tomorrow, that is relationship for you. So, all you need to do is have the fear of God in you and just be faithful and submissive. Actually if you can abstain from the sex thing, the better.
If you can you mean, are you saying it's not possible?
Yes if you can, but it's not easy. It's part of the temptation
You said we couldn't resist cheating, have you ever cheated on your guy, be truthful, and remember you are trying to get closer to God?
I will be very truthful; I am a one-man person. I am not saying this to impress anybody. I am just saying this from my own mind. I don't cheat on my man. The thing is that when I want to go out with somebody else and I know that you are f**king up, I tell you that I am sorry, I don't think this can work anymore and I move on. So, if I want to cheat on anyone, it then means that I don't have a boyfriend.
What is that thing that attracts you to a man that will make you want to date him?
Patience. Many men are not patient. I love it when a man is patient, a patient dog they say eats the fattest bone. Some men are not patient because they are after something else. When a man is patient just know that he is a good man.
So you mean, if after six months you are yet to say yes, the man should still be patient?
Before nko? If I am worth it, you have to be patient.
But, what if you are not giving any sign that you will yield, do you still expect him to keep asking?
If you guys have a discussion one on one, fine, that is another thing entirely, I see no reason why you should keep waiting for her. But the problem is, some men, when they start dating you, they want to touch you and all sorts of things. They just think about themselves. Like my present relationship, my man was patient with me.
He must have been asking you out for the past three years, I guess?
He didn't pursue me for years. He was patient in the sense that he didn't rush me. He gave me time. There was time for me to know what was right and what was wrong, until I made up my mind to say, “yes, I think I want to go on”. When there is understanding, there is love but where there is none, it will just be like a cat and dog relationship.
How are you coping with distant relationship since your man is not in the country?
Well, that is one thing about him, he is so nice, and he knows how a woman feels. Whenever he knows he has stayed away for long, he comes around even if it is for four days just to see me, so I am fine by that. Actually I never use to like men before. It's not like I am a lesbian, so I can cope with that. Though, it hurts sometimes when I see a guy and a girl having fun, it hurts. I can't cheat on him. I am not trying to sound so faithful. I'd rather let go than cheat and since I can't do that I'd rather wait for him.
For how long have you guys been dating?
We've been dating for almost a year now.
How often do you travel out to see your dad or something? It's like you love Nigeria so much?
In short love is an understatement, I am crazy, I am telling you. And the thing is that my grandparents are the only ones here so I just can't leave like that.
Can you give us a peep into your educational background?
I attended Taikenny Nursery and Primary School, Opebi, and later Federal Government College, Oyo, before I moved to African Model College, Ifako. Actually I am in my third year at the University of Calabar studying Environmental Protection Management under Geography and Regional Planning.
With your pronunciation of Oyo do I take it that you speak Yoruba fluently? I do understand Yoruba.
So it's not like you speak it?
I use to speak but you know, English and Ibibio haven't really helped much.
So you speak Ibibio very well?
Yes, I do.
And how did you learn the language?
My grandmother taught me.
And how is it studying something different from your present career?
Oh, my God, it's been wonderful, studying two things at the same time; it's nice, it's fun, and it's good to learn two things at the same time.
What was growing up like? Did you grow up here in Nigeria or Britain?
I came back when I was young. I grew up here, actually.
Where are your parents now?
My Mum is in the U.S and she will be back this year, thank God. My dad is in France while my Granddad and Grand mum are both here in Nigeria, Lagos, to be specific.
If anyone had told me that Caroline could be arrogant, believe me I won't doubt it. What will you say makes people want to believe that you are or can be arrogant, sometimes?
I am a Cancerian and every Cancerian will testify that, at times, they do have mood swings. I am not arrogant but could be very snobbish at times. That is it. I will not deny that. I can be snobbish.
But you've ignored me once even after I greeted you?
On the set of a movie that Adim Williams was directing?
(Smiles) There are times that I will be in a place and be absent minded. I am sorry to say that. I can just walk into a place and probably my mood that morning is so bad that I just don't feel like talking to anybody and I'll be so quiet and moody but you might not know and when you walk up to me, I might not hear you. And I will be like, I am sorry, I don't want to talk and you know how people can be at times; they still will want you to talk and that is when I flare up.
Some directors have said that you can be so uncooperative and arrogant on set.
I have come to notice that in this industry, probably they don't know that we are humans that at times, we need to be treated with love. At times, they overwork you and when you complain they think you are doing so for the sake of it. We are human beings, even government workers work from morning and close by five but we work round the clock sometimes. Another thing is that, some of them don't even treat us with respect. We are human beings and we have feelings. Most of us are married and we leave our homes to come and work, not because we are so much in love with the money, but because we love what we do. We like to work and make people around us happy. I could work without being paid for a month. I am not being boastful neither am I crazy about the money. I just love the job. Some even shout at you. You don't shout at an artiste. When you do that, you demoralise the artiste to the extent that the character he or she is portraying might not come out well. Some directors love shouting at people. I love working with Mr Adim Williams or Mr Ikechukwu Onyeka. They would pet you. You need to follow your artiste with love and even when you are tired, just because of the love they've shown you, you will like to work till the next day.
What is your word to your fans?
The road to success is not easy. You have to be determined, confident and don't give up trying. Have faith in God and there will always be a way.