I Have Been Sexually Harassed
Cynthia Agholor, star of First Love, Daily Toaster, and In The Closet, is a big name on the Nigerian movie circuit. In this interview with Bayo Adetu, she spoke of sexual harassment and many other issues.
Q: Most people know you as an actress, is there anything they are yet to know about you?
A: Well, some people don't know I'm also a business woman. I do business too and I am an international model.
Q: Tell us some of the modelling jobs you've done?
A: I have done a lot of runway modelling; a couple of it in South Africa. I'm also into buying and selling. I bring in things from the US to sell. Sometimes I was selling DV Cam tapes, clothing, shoes, bags and so on.
Q: But why do actors like doing things on the sides?
A: We don't have to depend solely on our movies. For instance, I don't have a movie job this week and I can't just put all my eggs in one basket. Besides, the way our movie industry is going now, one cannot depend on it. Our marketers keep complaining that the movies are not selling and that the revenue is going down. So, if you want to progress in life, you need to do other things.
Q: What were the dues you paid when you came into the industry?
A: I really paid heavily. I was harassed and laughed. People looked down on me and some did not want me to join their clique, while others thought I couldn't do the job. But I thank God.
Q: So you are a victim of producer/director sexual harassments?
A: That happened to me once and that was all. It happened while I was still coming up. You know I started acting while I was still very young.
Q: At what age?
A: While I was still a teenager. Generally, I started acting at the age of seventeen.
Q: Tell us some of the challenging movies you've done?
A: A lot of them. Like My Sister, My Child, First Love, Incarnate, Daily Toaster and In The Closet among others.
Q: What makes you different?
A: I try to create my own style in everything I do. I try not to imitate someone else. I want others to look up to me too, so that's why I've always tried to create my own style. Well, God has been giving me the inspiration right from the outset, and I realised my talent at a very tender age.
Q: Why is it that most actresses attain stardom by playing romantic roles?
A: It is not by design. It's the producers that do that. They don't give us the chance to select our roles, they just see you and say this role will fit you, probably because of the way you dress or look. So, they feel you are sexy and can do the sexy thing. For instance, Daily Toaster was a sexy film and the poster was everywhere showing the sexy attire I wore.
Q: But you like those raunchy roles?
A: It's not as if I like them; I play any role given to me.
Q: Even to act nude?
A: No. That's what I can't do. Not in this country or Africa.
Q: Even if the remuneration is huge?
A: I won't do it because I know where I am coming from.
Q: What if you're invited by a Hollywood producer?
A: Well, I won't because I know the movie will be sold here in Nigeria.
I will do it only if I won't come back to this country.
Q: What's the craziest thing you can do on set?
A: I can hug, kiss, pretend as if I'm making love. I can expose some parts of my body. Like my stomach and some parts of my body, but not to the extent of being nude.
Q: But is exposing your stomach not crazy enough?
A: I have done a movie where I was wearing a bikini. The farthest I can go is to wear a bikini.
Q: Have you or a male actor, playing opposite you, been tempted to make your romance real on a set?
A: I have not experienced that. We are all acting. If you're meant to kiss somebody, you don't have to go too far. You should act the character you're playing. Let's assume I'm playing Sandra, I will put myself in Sandra's shoes and if the person that is playing the other role is Desmond, I will only kiss the character in him.
Q: But you can later meet and make it real?
A: That's for some people. I don't know if it happens, but some people are bound to love each other. You can as well see a female journalist that you like and date her. So it happens everywhere.
Q: Do you have a soulmate now?
A: Yes. He's a nice person; he's just too good to me.
Q: Doesn't he complain about the romantic roles you play?
A: No, he doesn't. He likes me for whom I am. He likes whatever I do and doesn't complain. That's why I like him the most.
Q: Who's your kind of man?
A: God-fearing, intelligent, very handsome, very caring and nice.
Q: Are you romantic?
A: Yes of course. You should know from my look. My look will show you that I am, even though you don't know me well.
Q: Do you have any role model in the industry?
A: Yes. Joke Silva and Liz Benson. I really like their style and look up to them.
Q: As a member of the Actor's Guild of Nigeria (AGN), what can you say, about the crisis currently rocking the guild?
A: I really don't know how to present that issue, but I know that. Everybody wants to be the leader. Some people will just come up there and treat others shabbily. I don't want to mention names, but the struggle is really about positions.
Q: What should we expect from you next?
A: I know that by the grace of God, I'm going to become a very good actress in the world. I want to take my acting to every part of the world and go into charity causes. We've not heard of an actor that is so much involved in charity work, so that's what I intend doing.