I will not have a child out of wedlock again — Alex Lopez
She went in for a beauty pageant and came out an actress that thrilled fans in some of the wildest movies in Nollywood. Alex Lopez is a name to reckon with in the motion picture industry in Nigeria after starring in blockbuster movies like Piccadilly, Domitilla and Daughters of Eve. In this chat with AHAOMA KANU, Alex opens up about her life as a Nigerian, why she is more Nigerian than Brazilian as well spoke about her thrills, regrets and optimisms as a single mother.
YOU have been in the industry for quite some time now, looking back at when you set out to become actress, would you say you achieved a life expectation?
I don't think I have even reached half of what I set out to achieve in life, and if you ask me why, I would say that there are so many things to do; plenty of places to explore, I don't think everyone can achieve all their dreams in this life.
How would you describe your accomplishments so far?
Being an actress has been the most beautiful part of my life, I wouldn't call it a fairy-tale because fairy tales are things that are beyond your reach and without you knowing it you just get close to it and being a part of Nollywood will always be what I cherish most on earth.
Your emergence as a contestant in a beauty pageant exposed you to Nollywood and stardom. At what point did you decide to become an actress and not a model as many pageant contenders look towards becoming?
Well, I would put it in another way that I have always wanted do something that will see me in the public view, and as a child growing up I had ideas, imaginations and dreams about lifestyles I never grew up in and I have always wanted to do something that people would recognize me with good things that will touch peoples life and create awareness for people.
Did becoming an actress fulfil that dream?
It hasn't fulfilled it yet but I am getting close to it.
I know you have told this story over and over again, can you tell us how you came into Nollywood?
It is a part of life which I have always continued to repeat and for me the road to Nollywood started with Leo Onwordi who wanted to do a television soap opera but couldn't get the sponsorship to do so and encouraged me to go for auditions and from there big roles like Domitilla, Daughters of Eve and the likes came my way and has been like that ever since.
What was your childhood like?
For me growing up was okay, I wouldn't lie like some other people would say, for me it was okay because I come from a polygamous family , I always had my mother on my side and on the side of her children looking after her kids coupled with my mother's family, and I thank God it was okay.
How Nigerian are you, in view of your Brazilian roots?
I am a Nigerian; after all we are descendants of slaves that were taken from Africa and taken to the West Indies and later came back to Africa with everybody trying to find their roots. I am more Nigerian than my Father's side because I grew up with my mother and her family even though my father is from Brazil.
So what is the relation between you and your father?
May his soul rest in peace; he is dead; passed two tears ago. We had a good relationship.
Why did you decide to settle in Nigeria and not in Brazil?
Why would I want to settle in Brazil when I grew up here in Nigeria all my life, the only family I have come to know has been my mother's family; my father's family really are not here in Nigeria, apart from my half siblings, so there is nothing wrong in me growing up in Nigeria and laying claim to a country where my mother is from.
You kind of portray a picture of a wild girl, how do you react to some people that may see you in that light?
That's where you say looks are deceptive; look beyond what you see, a personality is not shallow, you shouldn't judge by how the package is, rather judge by what is inside.
What challenges have you faced over the years as an actress?
Well people would say, nothing good comes easy and at the same time nothing is meant to last forever, so when the opportunity comes just grab and make the best use of it. So I would say that I have been able to use my chance when I came and I have been challenged by the roles that has come my way all these years as an actress, and also starting from the scratch proving myself to be one who has finally found a place for herself in the industry, and for me as an actress, the day an artiste begins to feel that he or she has arrived, is the day when such a person will begin to decline in the industry and I have seen that happen over time. There has been times when you were cast for a particular role, only for such a role to be taken away from you and given to someone else, and with the emergence of the marketers, most people feel am not Ibo because in the industry, there is this believe that you must belong to an Igbo click or a cabal, and it not just in the industry that it happens , but in most all facet of life, and sometimes some people say no Alex cannot do it she is not a good actress, and this makes me push myself the extra mile to prove myself, and the challenges are no less what other people are facing in their own field in life or career.
Can you share some moments in your career when you felt downcast?
Some of those down that I mentioned earlier on is the same down that most people experience in their everyday life as working class people, their challenges and difficulties are the downs am talking about or maybe one steps on a marketer or directors feet and because of some personal reasons they just blacklist you, so such are some of the down's again.
You are more than thirty and still single, are you not thinking of settling down?
Please tell me if there is a law that states a woman must get married before she is thirty. I am single because I choose to be single, and I feel that I can do what I want to do with my time and freedom being single. It is not like I would not like to get married or have more children, maybe fears of commitment might be the best answer to it all, I really like my freedom, am very independent, am a single mother, who is raising a 17 year old son in Nigeria, who just finished his secondary school education, and I don't think that am really lacking anything presently.
So how experienced and ready would you say you are as it concerns matrimony?
I wouldn't say am less experience or more mature in the whole thing because in know that there are so many types of problems in marriages and same thing in relationships, so I want to believe that when it comes, I will call on the grace of God to see me through.
How would you define the average Nigerian man as regards to fidelity when married?
When you say Nigerian men, I don't think that is a nice thing to say; men are men the world all over be you white, yellow or green they are all men and I look at this gender thing as a vicious circle. The experience they have gathered in a previous one would be taken into another union same thing with women too, it takes one to bring out the faithfulness in another person, they have to ask themselves what they both want in the union and they work towards it. When you talk of men being unfaithful, you must also talk about women being unfaithful too and the ratio we are having these days I really high.
Would that contribute to the reason why people are not getting married these days?
Well I wouldn't know about why people are not getting married in their numbers nowadays because I can only talk about Alex, we all have different experiences but everybody would want to get married someday and then bear children and it all depends on the type of arrangement people come into and there is nobody who would not want to get married.
Why do most single mothers in Nollywood always find it difficult to get married or is it because they already have children so what is the need rushing into a man's house when they can survive on their own ?
I don't think so, I will use myself as an example, I am a single mother, have been like this in the last 17 years now and it is not because I will not want to settle down because Oh I don born pickin so wetin I dey go find for man house, there is so much involved in getting married. There is plenty of things we can give each other as man and wife, I am here and would want to have another child but I already have a child outside wedlock and will not have another one till I get married again, even if I later decide to have another one outside wedlock, it is going to be my own decision, because then I was so young and didn't know how to cope but it is going to be my own decision if such should happen again and of course yes, nobody wants to settle down with a wrong person; nothing comes easy so we would want to settle with someone with like mind like us and not because I want to settle down I go pick the next man on the street, things like bitterness, anger and untold suffering will follow such a union till the very end for life and am not going to rush into marriage because I am not going to rush into marriage because it is something that demands patience , I can rush into a relationship but marriage I will never do that because it has its own mental, psychological effects on a couple so it all depends on what you are looking for.
So what would be the criteria for your kind of man if you were asked to make a choice?
First of all, he has to be God fearing, and I have to accept him with all his faults because no body is perfect, I have to find out if the other side of him is what I can live with the rest of my life, and since I have a son, he must appreciate the fact that my son is part of me and if we must get married then my son must come with me.
If given a chance would you get married to the father of your son?
I don't know because in all honesty I will not be able to answer that question.
You once owned a farm where you were into some very serious business of agriculture?
Like I would always say, look beyond the wrapping and see what is inside the package, so as about the farming aspect. I have always farmed even as a girl growing up in the village in Obosi, Anambra State where we raised chickens, made Garri from cassava, reared goats and others. With the experience, I went into chicken farming when the movie industry went into a recess; when the marketers and producers going on strike, so I went on and discovered myself in the area poultry farming because I had asked myself a question one day that ten years from now Alex where would you want to be and that was when I believed I could make it in farming.
How challenging was it running a poultry farm as a top rate Nollywood actress?
It was stressful with all problems associated with running a poultry farm, customers coming to buy, while also trying to meet up with the big time companies like UAC who were my major customers then.
Are you in any serious relationship presently?
No, I am not, I think my life is at peace at the moment, I am not running away from any body, it just that I want to be alone for the time being till when I feel that I am ready for love again.
When do you hope to quit smoking?
I knew you were coming to that, every smoker will one day hope to give up smoking, am trying to quit and I just pray that I drop the habit fast enough so that it becomes a thing of the past in my life