I'LL KILL A MAN WHO BEATS ME------ELVINA IBRU
Her surname, Ibru is not strange in Nigeria. It is a household name in the nation's business community. But her name, Elvina is more popular in the nation's entertainment industry. Elvina Ibru is an unusually blunt lady. A Singer and Actress, she has featured in some movies and hope to take part in more if the roles given to her are acceptable. According to her, movie producers want her to play the role of an old woman always and she finds such roles distasteful.In this interview with FLORA ONWUDIWE, Elvina declared while responding to a question that she would kill any man that beats her.
If you are talking about men that beat their women, no man can beat me? I will kill him. Because when he is beating me, I will tell him to beat me well now because it will be the last time. She also talks about her love life, how she met her lover and father of her child as well as other crucial issues:
You were singing before, suddenly we don't hear of you again, are you still going to sing?
About six years ago, I went to do a show in Benin, it was Bright Igbinedion's 40th birthday. And I woke up the next day with no voice, I thought maybe I had strained my voice. I was rehearsing and shouting a lot, the doctor said that basically, I have torn my laryrnx, my voice box. Luckily, I got through the show, the next day, there was no voice. So, they said that the only way I could get it back is by being quiet for six months. So, that was how I lost my voice. But now, my voice is back. I have staged fright, it is affecting me because I am not used to performing anymore and I am scared that what if my voice doesn't do what I wanted it to do? And I feel like I am no longer in control of the voice. In everything that happens, God has a plan. If I hadn't lost my voice, I'm sure maybe I wouldn't have started Twice as Nice that is my company.
Some of these songs you sang then, were they your own composition or someone else's songs?
Some were mine, some were covers, we call it covers in the industry. In fact, there were special songs I wrote for Igbinedion because his wife was the one that came to me and asked me to come and sing, so, she wanted us to come and sing happy birthday and I said to her, all these happy birthday is very boring and I said, why don't we do a song that is specially for him, so, I told her to give me his profile, like the day he was born, if there were any special thing that happened, so, she gave me a comprehensive data about him, and I wrote a little song about the actual day he was born, while he was called Bright, so, it was nice.
Did you inherit this talent from your parents?
Well, my mum used to sing in the choir, she was a church person. My dad had a nice voice. But he was not a professional. There is no professional in the family. It is not as if my mum was ever a singer or my dad was a singer, but they both had nice voices. So, I guess it was from one of the two ends.
Have you produced any album as a result of your talent?
No, it was at that time that I was into it seriously, I was about to go into the studio, but the voice now went off.
Any plan of going back to singing in the near future?
No. I now work behind the scene. I am behind the camera rather than in front of it. It is always nice to help people to achieve or grow and even more fulfilling than being a performer itself. If you see people on television or on the radio and you would say, these people are there because they have something to do with me; it is a very good feeling.
Why have you not been acting, because we saw you once in one of the home videos and we never saw you again, is it because of your size?
It is because of the script. I appeared in Letters to a Stranger with Genevieve, that was last year and I really enjoyed it. When I got the script, I read the script, I loved the script and I liked the character that they wanted me to play. I looked at the production team, who was directing and producing, and I said this is a prolific set of people that I believed were serious that I can do good work with, but there are some scripts I get that are ridiculous. They are all the same old stuff, they either want me to be the President's wife or they want me to be somebody's mother. I remember when I was 30, I was highly offended, I got a script that in the film I was supposed to be Ramseh Noah's mother. Meanwhile, I think Ramseh is older than me in life, so because of my size, they were expecting me to play the mother of Ramseh Noah, why should I play the mother of Ramseh Noah? Am I an old woman, because I am big doesn't mean I am old.
You know big people have a love life, big people hang out, big people have friends, big people go to club, we go swimming, we do sports and we do everything. And you know, everything in. Nigeria once you take a role and you do it properly, they start wanting to typecast you. Yes, as an actress, I am supposed to be able to play all roles. But I knew that by mistake, I had taken such a role by now the only role people will want to give me will be to play somebody's mother. And it is not even the mother of a young child, if to say I had a baby now, after all, I have a baby, I would say alright, but to go and cast me to play a role of somebody who is older than me, that was what they did to me years ago in End time. When I was only about twenty something, they cast Emeka Ossai as my son, now I am 36, Ossai is 40. How can Emeka Ossai be my son? But it is so in the industry.
What they do is to make up to depict them as old women, so how about that?
Yes, I have no problem with that, but it needs to be more versatile, but if they say do this today and do this tomorrow, I have no problem with that, but don't say because I am fat typecast me. All the scripts I got they were the same roles until I got letters to a stranger.
What role did you play?
I was Genevieve best friend. She is a young girl of my age group. We were best friends. She is just a bubbling character a little bit like me. And I said this is a more realistic part for me. Since then I had so many scripts thrown at me, but I don't like the storyline.
Are you not going to act again?
Of course I want to act but I have not gotten the right script
We learnt that your company fell out with M-net when you produced Idols West Africa?
We never fell out with M-net until now, we are very very amicable. I think what you are referring to might be Idols West Africa issue that has nothing to do with me. Twice as Nice was in charge of production and the management for the top nine Idols. Pan African Entertainment (PAE) was a company in charge of sponsorship and the recording deal. So I think there was some kind of misunderstanding.I don't really know what happened, but I believed it was between them and Pan African Entertainment. In fact by the Grace of God we are going to work another project with M-net any time from now.
What is the project all about?
I can't say yet because we have not signed the dotted lines, but as soon as we have, I would let you know. Besides your contract with the M-net
what projects does your company deal with?
The Christmas festivals in Cross River State, we've brought in a few artistes for them. We do a lot of personal documentaries, for example, if you are a young couple that wants to get married and you want us to cover your wedding, I will never go and just cover it the same old way to go and film the wedding, film the engagement and to film the reception, which is boring. I turn it into a documentary, for instance, if we want to film you and your fianc, I will follow you around many weeks, ask you questions.
When you do that, the couples would be conscious that they are being filmed?
Yes, consciously, but you would carry out your normal daily life, asking you what you do at your leisure time, the kind of music you like listening to, how did you meet your husband, was it a love letter he wrote to you or a phone call, talk to your friends what they think about your relationship, do you like your husband, collecting information about you about your husband. The same would be happening from inside as well, I would like you to bring your baby picture, your parents and I would now join the two lines. Then I would join the two lives, I would start with you from when you were born up to when you met your husband , the same with him, then I would now join the two of you, how the relationship came to be.
This is more of a love story that is run into a documentary so when you watch the video of your wedding, it won't just be another boring wedding it would be like a small film about you and your husband and how it came to be husband and wife. It is not just wedding, we do birthday and so on. We also have a studio where people come and shoot, talk shows and do music features.
Are you a single mother or when do you hope to settle down?
Well I am a single mother but I am not a single mother, in the sense that I am not married, yes, but in the sense that being alone with my child certainly not, my boyfriend and I are very much in a relationship and we are very much looking after our son together. You might see single from the traditional point of view that I am not married but I can't really tell you that I am single. I am very much with my partner.
How did you meet your man?
It was a blind date. A friend of mine, Uyi, a mutual friend of ours, came to see me, he used to live in Benin and my partner used to live in Benin as well. So my friend Uyi came to see me and said let's go out for a drink, we went out for a drink, as we were gisting, his phone rang, he was speaking with his friend and his friend was asking him where are you? And he said oh, I am in Lagos. I am with that my friend, Elvina, I'm always telling you about, hold on to say hi to her and I said hello and he was Sam my boyfriend. That day he had malaria fever, he was not sounding too cheerful and me I like cheerful people, so when I gave the phone back to Uyi then I said who is that one feeling cold, I didn't like the way he sounded, he said he is not like that normally, it is because he is not feeling too well that is why he is sounding that way.
I forgot about the phone call and we continued our conversation. About two or three days later, my phone rang, I picked it up and he said is that Elvina? I said yes, oh I don't know if you remember me, my name is Sam, I am Uyi's friend. I was not happy to hear from him, when he said you did not like the impression that I gave the first time we spoke on phone. He said well, Uyi told me what you said, that I am not like that, I just wanted to phone to redeem myself that I am not like that , I wasn't feeling well, I am actually a nice guy. And I said no problem.
We did not meet untill A month or six weeks after we started talking on phone. But I am sure I had already fallen in love with him.
What are those qualities that got you attracted to him?
I think he is very funny. He used to make me laugh a lot. He is kind. kind person isn't somebody that is just kind to you or me or their friends, he is very humble, when he is around you might be looking for him, he is sitting with his kid, or he will stroll down to meet the suya man, he is that kind of a rare person, and those are the kind of people that I like.
When both of you met physically was he not put off by your size?
I am sure, he didn't see it, when I say see it, I am sure it wasn't an issue. We have been speaking on the phone for a long time before we met. I am sure that for him to put me off at that point, I must resemble a gorilla that I am not interested.
Do you see him pretending to love you because of your father's wealth and fame?
I don't know
How about his family?
He is from a well off family. But if you are saying that the reason is because of my family or my fame or wealth that he got together with me, well I doubt it very much because I don't know where that would have gotten him by now. Well, if that is the one he is looking for after three and half years, I'm sure he has met the wrong person.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I listen to a lot of music. I read books on African culture and history. I like to swim a lot. I think my baby is the most pleasurable past time that I have now.
What is your overall view of the Nollywood industry?
There is the positive and the negative sides. The positive side is that Nollywood has not been in business for a long time and we are doing very well. You cannot compare Nollywood to Bollywood or Hollywood as years of experience have gone considering the amount of films we are churning out; if we've been in such along time, I think we are doing very well. Technically we are improving when we compare to the time we came out newly. The general picture quality is better. At the same time the negative side is that we like to relax when we think something has reached a certain stage. Since the consumers are buying the films we don't feel that we need to improve while spending more money on a film when you can spend the same amount to produce the same nonsense and people will still buy it.
I always say that we have to educate the consumers first; you don't have to watch mediocrity. You don't have to watch below quality. You should demand for high quality product. And if you demand for high quality product, the producer would have no choice and the marketers would have no choice. Because if you produce substandard film, nobody would buy it. It is time to improve; we have stay in one place for too long.
How do we now educate the consumers?
The only way is for critics to criticise. If a movie comes out and you say it is not good, you would say it is not good. If you put standard to any movie you produce, then it would change.
Besides your assignment do you hope to produce film in the nearest future?
Why not, I have a few good scripts in my hands at the moment.
Are you a Jewelery freak?
If I am the only one maybe jewelery shop would have been closed down by now.
What do you dislike about men?
Dirty. I don't like men that are dirty. At least all the men that I know are okay. I don't like men that are not kind or generous..
Thanks for your time
You are wellcome