THERE IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN NOLLYWOOD – RITA DOMINIC
Pretty, sexy and multi-talented. Rita Dominic Waturuocha needs no introduction in the Nigerian movie industry. She is one star actress whose profile has been on the rise since she was lured into Nollywood by top actor-comedian, Basorge Tariah in 1998. And since then, Rita, as she is fondly called by her fans, has been an indomitable figure in Nollywwod with her explosive performances in Nigerian home movies. Born in Abiah Mbaise Local Government of Imo State, the 31 year-old Theatre Arts graduate of University of Port Hacourt is blessed with stunning and attractive look.
Reserved and shy, it was in the news early last year that she was about getting married to the younger brother of Lanre Shittu, a prominent business man and car dealer. When asked to comment on it, Rita would rather keep mum; “I don't want to talk about my private life. And for the marriage rumour, “there was nothing of such". Though she has acted in over 70 home movies, she is nonetheless excited about her role in the on going stage play - Vagina Monologues being sponsored by Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), a non-governmental organisation.
In a 30-minute chat, Rita Dominic eventually revealed to FUNKE OLAODE her alleged romance with the Shittus, her perceived arrogant attitude, her view about body enhancement and whether she would pose nude for a million dollars.
You have been away from acting. How did you manage during the one year ban?
I wasn't banned actually and I wasn't in any way connected to it. I didn't do too much work last year because I wasn't around.
There have been complains that there is a decline in the performance of those banned. Do you agree to that?
I don't think so. They are still well sought after. Nobody can take your place especially when you have gotten to a particular stage in Nollywood. So, Nollywood is big for everybody. And those that were unbanned are doing well and waxing stronger.
You have become prominent since you came into the movie industry nine years ago. How did you get into acting?
I started acting when I was six. And I continued when I was in secondary school. Being a professional actress is not accidental because I studied theatre Arts at the University of Port Harcourt and after that I came into Nollywood to act.
Did you ever think that you would one day rise to stardom?
Well, there is nothing wrong with getting a pat on your back for good work. But at the same time acting is something I have always had a passion for. So, if people are giving me accolades that I am doing well it shows that hardwork has paid off. I never came out that I wanted to be a star because it is not something that you come and say. Have a passion for acting first and put your best in it and whatever happens from there you take it.
How has it been in the last nine years?
Fantastic. I thank God. I left the industry at one point and relocated to London. I came back in 2003 for a brief holiday and started acting again.
Apart from acting what else do you do?
Acting. I am an actor and an actor will always be an actor.
Can you remember the role that shot you into limelight?
I don't know. But I have featured in a couple of movies that gave me accolades.
Then how many movies have you starred in?
I have starred in between 65 to 70 movies.
Nine years down the line is a long journey, have you attained the goals you set out for yourself in acting?
I don't think an actor attains the goal. All you have to do is keep doing your best in terms of acting and improve on what you have on ground.
What has been the challenges?
I don't have any privacy. And secondly, being hindered creatively in terms that we were a bit shorthanded with resources and piracy.
How have you been able to overcome these challenges to establish yourself?
You find out that it gets to a point that you tell yourself this is serious business and ignore whatever people are writing about you. You have to find a way to get it out of your mind and be focused. That is what I have done over the past years. At the end of the day you realize people are talking about you because you are popular. People don't talk about you when nothing is happening in your life. When my privacy is invaded I snap out of it, forge on with my work and remain focused. And in terms of resources, the industry is gradually changing because a lot of people are getting interested in Nollywood. Hopefully, in a year or two we are going to witness great transformation. So, we are waiting patiently.
You have been talking about your privacy being invaded because of your popularity. There was this rumour that you were getting married to Lanre Shittu's younger brother. What happened?
No. I am not going to talk about my private life.
You mean everything was a rumour?
There was no marriage or whatever.
Then are you in a relationship now?
I can't talk about it but when the time comes, THISDAY would be the first to know.
How soon do you plan to settle down?
Do you want to know the truth, marriage is not in my dictionary right now for personal reasons. It is not that I won't get married but I want to be an old bride.
Is there something holding you back because you are already comfortable?
Why is it that when somebody seems to be doing well, have a good job the next thing is that you have to get married. It doesn't have to be like that. No matter your age what if you are not mentally and psychologically ready. Funny enough everybody in my family is married. My parents were happily married until my mother died six years ago. For me, marriage is good but I am not psychologically ready now.
Don't you think you are sending a wrong impression to people out there?
I don't care about what people think. I know myself. And I want people to know that whatever we are acting on television is make-believe. And we are trying to educate people about the society they are. If I am getting married I am getting married for myself and not for what people say. I am doing it to make myself happy.
What is your ideal man?
He will have to be like me. A man that shares views about life, a hardworking man, a man who appreciates strong family values, a Christian. I am a very deep thinker and I need someone who can challenge me in terms of depth and discussion.
Is it true that you bought a house in Victoria Garden City?
That is not true. I am just comfortable and okay. I thank and bless God for each day that comes and goes. At least I don't beg for food in the streets.
How rich are you?
I am just comfortable.
Public figures most especially in entertainment industry are prone to temptation. How do you cope with pressures from men?
It is about conditioning your mind in whatever position you find yourself in life. Of course, anywhere I go men tend to say hello. I am a very friendly person and I am very polite as well. But immediately I notice that you are going beyond being a fan, then I become strict.
There is this talk about lesbianism in Nollywood. What is your view about it?
I don't know if there is lesbianism in Nollywood because nobody has ever approached me for such a thing and neither have I shown interest in such. So, I can't really come out and say such thing exists.
There is this belief that Rita Dominic is arrogant and proud. How would you describe your attitude?
I am not arrogant or proud. I am not a snub. I think I have a certain aura that when people see me they believe even without saying anything to me that I am already a snub. I am a polite person because I was brought up properly from a proper family. I was brought up to respect my elders and exchange greetings with people. If you show me an attitude I will show you back.
Since acting is make believe, which movie role have you played that is close to portraying your real self?
I don't believe I have played any role that is really me. What I have acted is a total deviation from my day-to-day life.
Looking at acting, anybody can do anything depending on your choice. Would you pose or act nude for one million dollars?
It is not about the money. I believe an actor should be concerned about the content of a movie. If it is going to be shot well. Yes. And if it's a very good story and is going to be shot well. Oh yes. I am not saying that I will. I might think about it but probably not in this country because of our society.
Has sex for roles in Nollywood ever happened to you?
I have never had such passes but I know it is there. I know such things do occur. But the truth of the matter is whoever demands for that before giving you a role, you have to ask yourself 'do I have the talent? If you don't have the talent and you have sex from now till tomorrow, you are just wasting your time because they won't give you a job. Yes. Sexual harassment does happen and I think it is there because I have heard one or two complaints from girls. But another thing is that you can't really come out and criticize them because they are adults.
Going personal. You have maintained your sparkling looks over the years. What has been the secret?
It is God. I am also young at heart. Apart from that , I wash my face before I go to bed. I also do my body treatment once in two weeks.
You talk about body treatment, what is your view about body enhancement?
There is nothing wrong with anything as long as it is not too much. So, I don't see anything wrong with it. If you want to touch any part of your body to make you have self confidence or to feel gorgeous about yourself, you can go ahead. I only have problem with such thing if it is too much.
Your face was once synonymous with afro style. Why the sudden switch into human hair?
I haven't worn afro in two and half years. But I want my fans to see me in something different and new. I have stuck to human hair this while because my hair has broken over the years due to pressure. It is coming back. And because of the job I do I have to do different hair styles.
How do you feel taking part in the on going stage play "The Vagina Monologues?
I feel good because my first love is stage. Remember I studied theater arts. I am so passionate about the play because I haven't done stage in the last nine years. I like the issues we are dealing with. I find women issues very interesting. If you listen to it, it is not vulgar. It is a very deep play. It is also a charity for women and I am happy to be part of it.
What is your impression about Nollywood?
Nollywwod is about to explode. Lets leave it like that.
There is serious problem now between the marketers and censors boards over the proposed distribution network. What is your own contribution taking into consideration that the outcome would have negative or positive effect on you actors/actresses?
I am not going to go into that. You know I have not been around and I can't really say what is going on.
Can we have an insight into your background?
I am Rita Dominic. I am from Imo State. I studied Theater arts from University of Port Harcourt. I am from a small close knit family of four, three girls and a boy and I am the last child. My family lives in London.
What is your family's attitude to your profession?
They have been supportive. My father is a medical Doctor but I didn't have any objection from him because I have always acted since I was young.
How does your father feel when you are acting a romantic role like kissing, caressing etc?
He understands that I am acting. They know I am acting. My family is exposed and liberal having lived in England for years.
You have come a long way. Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Doing my job and doing it better. Engaging in something bigger than Bollywood and Hollywood.
And what advise do you have for the upcoming ones and your fans out there?
I want to thank you all for being there for me. I love you all. I am going to try to keep the flag flying. And secondly, whatever you want to do in life, work hard and be determined. If you want to be an actor, don't come up with the idea of wanting to be a star. If you place priority on that, you lose focus because acting is a process. And if you concentrate on acting you will do well. Don't put stardom first but passion. Be passionate about your work and it will take you to greater heights.