No romance without finance—Omotola Jalade Ekehinde

Omotola Jalade Ekehinde
Omotola Jalade Ekehinde
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Omosexy was more than handful when SAMUEL OLATUNJI spent hours with her last week. They spoke about acting, marriage and of course sex.

What's your stand on Charles Novia's outburst last Sunday?
After my response to him directly, let me put things in prospective. As a leader in this industry that I am now, I'll like to set things straight and make them more understandable. There is nothing he has said that is new. This is something that is common knowledge to all of us that are in the industry and we are all trying to seek it out. It is very annoying because, instead of him to think of what he can do to enhance the industry, he will rather be blabbing on it on the pages of newspapers and be pointing fingers to people who have no fault in this particular issue. It's a decade in the industry and we all know that production has gone bad from what they were.

There is a lot of quantity and there is little quality in the production that are coming out this days and we all know that some of these same artistes that he is pointing fingers at were the same ones that did the quality jobs when Nollywood started. Artistes cannot be blamed for the quality of jobs that come out, because, they will only act in movies that you present to them. Now, the question will be: Do you have to act in these movies? If you don't, you will become irrelevant, you will fade out, and you cannot fight a battle from outside.

When you become irrelevant or redundant in an industry, that industry will forget you and when its time to make changes in that industry, you will not be asked, your opinion will not be needed because you are no more relevant. The solution to the problem is not to become scarce or irrelevant in an industry that you started. It is to fight it out and try the best you could to make it better. We have good producers that are coming out with good stuffs, but the problem is we just don't have enough. If someone like Charles Novia goes back and does his home work and decides to join the league that are adding value by doing their own job well, then people like us will be in a better position to have more jobs to choose from and we'll be able to comfortably depend and make a living and enjoy a career with our chosen producers.

Are you saying he is not faulty?
He is faulty for blabbing in a silly manner, that's what I fault him about. But about the things he said, they are not necessarily peculiar to his brains. He is not the mastermind or the solution speaker of the industry. He was talking about new talents and when he was asked where these new talents are, he said in the mall. That is idle talk and not a very intelligent talk. How can you say the new actors are in the malls, in the streets? This is not a job that everybody must do. I totally agree that it will be nice for everybody to go for training, but it is not necessarily just the artiste. Everybody should go for recurrence training, that is my suggestion. From the distributor to the last assistant production manager, everybody should go for recurrence training from time to time. Talking about artistes going for training is nothing.

I learnt that jobs are no longer forthcoming to some of you?
The jobs are too much. They are too much that we even turn off some. Even during the ban, independent producers from outside the country kept calling us for jobs. It was just that we couldn't work for them because people were blackmailing them. They kept threatening to ban their jobs in Nigeria if we were featured. It was like a political stuff. So, saying that jobs don't come is an illusion.

So, you'll soon go to training?
Yes, I will, but that's not an issue. I will, at my own convenient time. I'm not going to leave my children for acting school to justify anybody's curiosity. I'm a learned person and I know what I want.

Will your star actually fade out like they said?
Well, nobody is God and nobody knows when anybody's star is going to fade out because you don't know how it came in the first place. Only God knows how stars get to the sky. You're not the creator and you can't be an ender. So, I've got bad news for him: He has no power over that, he should look for the next victim. Having said that, I really wish that some Nigerians should not have this pull him down syndrome. We should always wish ourselves well and support ourselves. Its not a hard thing to do. This is a new industry, some of us that are here are the people God used to make this industry what it is today.

At least, through hardwork, I can boldly say that if five best artistes are being called in this country, my name would be there. If five best producers or directors are called in this country, Charles Novia's name cannot be there. So, he lacks every credibility to judge me. Moreover, I work everyday to sustain my image. We have to realize that Nigeria is still growing. There are some things that we have now that we never had before, there are still some things that we don't have yet that still affects our production. Some people should not judge us as if we live in America where everything is so easy. I mean, I can tell you stories about times when I am on location and I have barely five minutes to change costume because the owner of the house wants us out of the house and there's so much pressure on me. There are times when we are shooting in school and you have to change inside your car in broad daylight because there's no place to change. What do you say about that? Every job has its hassles, so there's no point whinning about my job. But what I am trying to say is that it's irritating when people that should know about these things blab about it and make you look like they are the heroes. Because Charles Novia is not an hero, he's not.

But you've worked with him in the past?
Of course, I've once worked with him. I've been in this industry since 1995. I've worked with a whole lot of people.

Has acting been worth the while?
It worth the while, it's been good. More that everything else is the fact that it has exposed me to a lot of things, different kinds of people from different walks of life that ordinarily I wouldn't meet if I were doing another job. Some of these people I don't even have to go to, they come to me because they appreciate me, and money can't buy that. There are times that you walk into a place and you get first-class reception, I am talking about really special places. You don't even have to wait for things that people wait and pay for, all stuffs like that. It is an honour to be treated that way with pure love, not that you have two heads. I think if there's anything I cherish the most, it is that people love and appreciate you, its priceless.

Tell me five memorable films you've done
I'll start from way back as much as I can remember. I can remember Abused, Mortal Inheritance, Daybreak, Oyato, No Rival, The Prostitute which is a classic anyday. There's a nice Ibo movie I did with KOK. Even coming closer, you have Eva, which I did with Izochukwu Movie. Now, these are directors that do classic movies with creative media touch, and when they want to do movies, they know whom to contact. Movies like; I belong, Blood Sisters, My Story, Sisters Love and a lot of them.

How come you seem to become the target of everybody? The upcoming actresses seems to want to get you down.
Excuse me, not the upcoming actresses, but a few idiots. There are so many upcoming actresses who sat down to watch my movies in school and are in this industry today because of people like me. So, please don't generalise one nuisance with a billion and one other people. I also understand that when people are coming to the industry, they would naturally have targets to want to take the place of a particular person. When some of them come up and try to disrespect the people they met there or that inspired them, then they'll also get theirs.

How come acting hasn't cost you your marriage?
It is because I know when to draw the line. I try as much as possible to draw the line because I don't want to mix my marriage with acting. I try my possible best to still remain the Omotola that he married, the fun girl that he married. My house is so big that I have almost everything I want in there and I could lock up myself and do creative works. I live on my own with my family and don't have to go out everytime. When I want to go out, I cruise in style and you see Omosexy going out in my Lincoln Navigator. I don't mix up unnecessarily and I'm not demystified, I keep to myself. When I get to the gate of my home, I drop Omosexy at the gate and in goes Mummy and Omotola.

Don't your husband complain once in a while?
I don't want to start talking o, because it will look like she likes praising her guy. He knows that I have a job to do and we're married for 13 years. He's also a busy person too. When you're busy, you have very little time to think about the other person's rity-gritty life. As I'm talking to you, now he's in Abuja, that's where he called me now. I dated him for two years and we've been married for 13 years. I've never had any brush with any girl since the 13 years that we've been together, either with him or with someone else.

Is it that you don't suspect or you just choose to look the other way?
No, my eyes are everywhere (general laughter), I just don't see anything. Point is, I don't see or suspect anything, I don't even have the time to sniff. What am I looking for?

Is he also looking other way or he's not seeing anything?
He's not seeing anything. We understand that we are both individual people, I have a life and he has a life. We didn't give birth to each other, that's the truth. We came together to make a life, not to make it miserable or frustrate each other's life. In other words, I came to strengthen him, he came to strengthen me. I'll be my own person, all he needs to do is support me. He'll be his own person, all I need is to be there for him and support him. We respect each other. That is our bedrock.

You once said in an interview that to remain in marriage, you have to either be the fool or play the fool, so which one have you been doing?
I don't know if I necessarily said that particular statement. But if I did, I will try and correct that right now. I think that could be misunderstood. So, as I grow older, I'm learning to choose some words carefully. I will not say you have to be a fool, you only have to be tolerant and see your spouse like you partner, not my 'wife' or 'husband'. You know, those things are so traditional that it makes you derail. Instead of seeing your spouse as your friend and partner, you start seeing responsibilities and chores.

You once told me it never crossed your mind that you're going to leave your husband.
Yes, that's the truth, because, he dosen't inconvenient my life. I don't think there's anytime I want to do anything and he says I can't do it. He might advise me about it, and you know, he's 10 years older than I am. Even though, you might think it's just two years. He's ten years older than me and that's not a joke, that's a whole lot of wisdom right there. To add to that, he is a very wise man, that's an advantage for me and I discuss everything with him. If a guy is coming strong on me, I'm going to tell him.

So you've told him that before?
Oh yeah, why not?

And he's never blew his top?
What would he blow his top over, If I didn't tell him will he know? I told him because I wanted him to watch my back because I don't want to do it. He's not a clingy or jealous person, his advices really helps and it makes me calmer and safer.

With this much knowledge about marriage, why do you think marriages break up?
I think because some couples are not friends. But mostly, I think because of the situation of the economy. I think romance without money is not sweet romance (laughs). The poorer you are as a guy, the nicer you better become. It is not necessarily how much you have around, but the fact that you really care about whatever you buy for your girl, no matter how much. Some guys really think until you roll out in some Escalade. Girls who love you for that, do not love you for real, that's the truth. Because if, after a while, anything changes in your economy you're in mess. Then, all the scars in your face will fall in place. But then, as much as you can, once in a while, give her a good treat. Buy her some gifts you can afford, just show that you care, show that you're interested in her life. And most of all, be the man, girls don't like when you're too nice.

Some people will have the impression that your husband is a yes man.
My husband is a man, when you see him, you'll know that he's a man. He's cute. My husband has two extremes, you don't want to see his other side, though they don't come very often. But he's a cool guy. I don't know anybody who has met him and don't get along with him.
I think another thing that has been responsible for marriage break-ups is GSM

When you start seeing some text massages and all that.
When you have a pretty wife, she's going to get text messages. I don't go looking for his text messages anyway.

Have you been tempted to go out with another man?
There's nobody on this earth who doesn't get tempted. It is not about being tempted, its about falling. I can say very confidently that I stand tall with my head up high.

You once told me that you and your husband are two randy adults, what do you mean by that?
Sex is a vital thing in any relationship. But it is more vital in marriage because it's the only legal institution for it. It's not just for having children, but what God made it for.

For how long have you been away from your husband that you couldn't hide your emotions?
I've never been away from home except when I or my husband travel. But we are not far apart because still talk on phone. We are happy. When a woman is loosing interest in a relationship, it's because she's not finding peace in that relationship anymore. What I mean by women are more emotional is that their falling in and out of love is dependent on the feeling of care, warmth and romance, unlike men who are more physical. Basically, be nice to a lady.

Four children and still looking charming, what's the secret?
It's the grace of God to sustain my career and my reputation. I think I'm the only one in Nollywood who has had four children in the eye of viewers.

Why didn't you have more?
We decided that before marriage what we wanted. Two boys, two girls, and that was what God gave us. Before they were born, we had prepared their rooms.

What else should we expect since there's nothing else to explore in Nollywood?
I think Nollywood is going to rise up to be a super power in Africa and among the black race. Amen to that. I see that, I hope that, that's my dream. I hope that Nollywood will be that Black substitute to Hollywood. We are hoping that Nollywood will become the answer to all of Hollywood's question.

Since you guys get bad scripts why can't you come up with fantastic scripts or become a producers?
That is what a lot of people are doing right now. Even though, we don't have to, but we are forced to. It is good for everyone to do their own jobs. I have never wanted to be a producer, I always wanted to be an actress. And I was like, maybe when I grow up I would love to be a director. But I know I won't be a director until I go to a film school to study film making, and that's why I wanted to go to film school. I wasn't going to study acting but to study film making and then to be a film maker. That's my initial dream.

But now, a lot of us are so frustrated that we are now thinking maybe we need to start doing our own stuffs. I don't know how that's going to help, but there's going to be a lot of trials and error, but we are going to do all we can to keep our viewers entertained. A lot of us do not like the way we are being presented in movies and some of us are so frustrated because at the end of the day, we are like the ambassadors of the movie industry.

So, no matter what goes on in the movie industry, the first person they remember is Omotola or Ramsey Noah. I don't understand. If we are taking all the knocks for whatever is going on in the industry, I'm taking it with maturity, I'm not letting it get to me in a way that I'm so upset. I have nothing but love for Charles Novia if he respects himself and shut up. But if he dosen't, I'm available for my comment. I understand his frustration, but he should divert his energy towards helping the industry. He can also start a film school where all the small small children he's talking about will be properly trained before they get into the industry so that they won't become worse like the ones he's afraid of already. I said earlier that it's an emerging industry and it's good that everybody is worried about it and trying to make it good. I know by God's grace, we'll get there. What I want to tell the viewers is that we will make them proud. They should just be patient with us.

Thirteen years in Nollywood and twelve years in marriage, how come you still share new things?
Technology is improving everyday, that's an assignment.