I’m not a Prostitute
People say you are a prostitute. Are you?
But how many of these people have slept with me? “Oh, Shan George is a hot pant!” The pant that they have never seen. Let us grow up in this country. This is not just about me, but about all other actors and actresses who have had to play the devil. I have done over fifty films altogether, but because I played a prostitute in a couple of them, they suddenly forget that I have played other good roles: a widow, a good wife, a good student and so on. It hurts really bad when you talk about Shan George and the next thing that comes to mind is, “That prostitute!” It feels really bad. I should not be judged by movie scripts or roles that I played in movies.
How did you meet your husband?
I met him in England. Boy meets girl, boy toasts girl, girl accepts, and here we are (laughs). Every other thing is history; we have a home both in England and Nigeria.
What do you do at your spare time?
I don't have much of it. I run a boutique. I write movie scripts. I produce and act. I have a husband and two children to be a wife and a mother to. At my spare time. I love to watch movies. I am an indoor person; I hardly go out, especially at night.”
What was growing up like?
Much fun. I grew up in a small village called Ediba in Cross River State, my mother's village. We are virtually famers and we live by the riverbank where we farm, fish, and as a kid, climbing mango trees and chasing after rabbits, lizards, life was fun. I had my primary and secondary education in the village, I came to Lagos a few years ago.”
What did you read in school, Theatre?
“I trained as a journalist at the University of Lagos. I practiced Journalism. I'm worried also that so many children have to be on the street. I am worried about hunger and starvation in a rich country.”
How did you come to join the industry?
I was introduced to the movie industry by someone I choose to call my sister. Her name is Blessing Erene. She used to play Nwanga in the defunct NTA soap, Fortunes. My first movie was Thorns of Rose produced by late Jeniffer Ossai, this was followed by Wind of Destiny, After the storm, both soaps on NTA Network. But what shot me up was a commercial for medic 5-5, which gave me the name “Shaky-Shaky Mummy” and then a pathetic story titled Who Killed my Husband, where I cried almost from the beginning to the end of the movie, I guess that touched a lot of people. And then other films like Generals Wife, Apoplogy,Out Cast and so on.
Can you say that the industry is growing?
The industry is growing only through personal efforts of practitioners. Government has not provided an enabling environment for us. Apart from the huge charges we pay to shoot at the airport for example, there is also a lot of constraint and bottlenecks. When I was going to produce my first film, I needed to know the exact colour of the police uniform in the seventeen, and had to spend five days going round police stations. Information is difficult to get in this industry.”
What was your Sierra Leone experience like?
In shooting Blood Diamond, for example, the Sierra Leonean Government gave us access to all that we needed; Helicopter, Military vans, Military uniforms and it was a completely well shot movie. This is a people who have never themselves shot films in their country before, they don't have an existing movie industry, yet they were able to provide us with facilities that could compete with films of international standard. But here in our own country, we've been trying to build the industry for over ten years, yet access to ordinary information is difficult. Tell me, how is government contributing?
How did you start to act in Yoruba films?
Saidi Balogun called me on behalf of Wemimo, a producer. I'd thought it was going to be an English film, so when Wemimo called and I told him my fee, he lamented, saying it was on a high side, arguing that Yoruba films don't pay as much. It was only then that I knew I was being called to partake in a Yoruba film and I argued that I could not speak Yoruba, but he insisted that they would give me some tutorials and I ended up in the camp in Ibadan where it lasted a week. I became challenged and took it. They wrote my script separately. Each time I had to shoot they had to do my own recording over and over again. When I made a mistake, they'd laugh at me and I'd laugh at myself. I used to laugh at myself more and since then I have been able to shoot others - KKK, Kosorogun, Ago Meje, Timba Taye Wa and Larin Lodu. Accent was a little problem I had, and here we don't have much time, it's only natural that after doing these movies I desired to learn to speak Yoruba language better and made more Yoruba friends, and got a lot of fans and now, I can communicate.
How does it feel playing along with Baba Suwe?
In Kosorogun, that was my first time of meeting the comedian, and I tell you Baba Suwe is not just a comedian in the movie, he is a comedian to the core. On locations he would make us laugh and even the camera man would laugh and leave his camera, and it could take us a lot of time to shoot because we'll all laugh and laugh and would have to start all over again. The funny thing is that this guy that is making everybody laugh is just so serious, looking at us like, what is happening, what is making you people laugh? It was so much fun. He is a wonderful actor. I haven't seen him for a while, because of the nature of this job, and it would be very nice to work with him again, honestly.
What are your latest efforts?
Right now, I am just trying to finish a script. The last film I did was A second time, towards the end of last year. I'm also doing a movie for Chico Ejiro right now, and I am also very open to other things, running my boutique as usual. You know, acting is more periodic. Let's say you finished shooting and you are out of location for about 2-3-4 weeks, all that time; if you don't look for some thing to do, you'll be bored it you are my kind of person. That was what brought me into writing and producing, especially to fill the boredom of those intervals.
How far do you want to go in the industry?
To get to the big picture, like Hollywood, that is the finishing point.