I’m not a home breaker – Mercy Aigbe
Actress Mercy Aigbe in this interview, bares her mind, especially on the issue of her alleged snatching of someone else's husband.
Hear her own story…
How do you feel when people meet you and gush that they are so happy to meet you?
I feel really loved because that means they appreciate what I do. For people to want to talk to you when they see you, for them to wave at you and all that is a blessed feeling.
In the same vein, do area boys accost you for money?
Of course they do. I think that is their own way of showing that they are your fans. And anytime they see you, they are like 'Ah! E fun wa lowo' which means you should give them money.
And when they request, what do you do?
At times, I give them and at times I don't. It depends on my mood actually. And it depends on the way they talk to me.
What is the highest amount you've ever given them?
I can't say an amount in particular. I just give them as my mood dictates.
It's very difficult to become a truly successful actress. What did you do to make it?
I won't say it's my own making. I will say it's the grace of God Almighty because the Bible says that your talent shall make a way for you. And I believe that acting is the talent God gave me, so I stood upon that Word and put God first in everything I do. Also, there's hard work, professionalism and discipline.
I can say they are the things I did to get to where I'm going to. But as for what actually brought me to this point, I can say categorically that it is the grace of God Almighty.
Apart from the grace of God which is on everyone, we've heard tales of actresses who paid producers to feature them in movies and others slept with producers. What extras did you put in to support the grace?
Sincerely, I didn't have to do any of those things. That's why I said once you're favoured, you're favoured. When you're favoured, doors open. Things you don't expect start to work together for your good because the Lord has distinguished you from everybody else.
So I didn't have to do those things. Some people might do all those things and still not get where they are going to. I just believe it's the grace of God and your hard work. At times you are favoured, but you don't work hard enough towards your goal and objectives.
You have to put in your best to be among the best in what you're doing, so hard work is very important. Also, discipline. If people see that you're a professional to the core, you don't come late to locations, you don't have unnecessary airs, you take your job seriously then they'll always want to work with you. In my view, I think these are the things that one really needs to get on top there.
Have you helped anybody into the industry?
Yeah, I've helped a couple of people.
Who are they? Are they doing well?
I've helped Abimbola Ogunnowo, Olanrewaju Feyisetan and some others; and to God be the glory, they are doing well. But I know things will get better for them.
Have you produced your own movie yet?
Yes I have. I've produced two. The first one is Abimbola. The second is Afe Aye.
How long ago was that?
I produced Abimbola about two years ago. Afe Aye came out just a few months ago.
What was the cost of producing Afe Aye?
It was a big budget movie. We had lots of crowd scenes and we had to build shrines, sets and all that so it cost me close to N5m to produce.
Were you able to recoup that investment?
Yes I did.
Then why do other producers complain that they seldom recoup a quarter of what they invest into movies?
We don't make a lot. It's not that you won't get anything, but we really don't get a lot. What you make is just like peanuts compared to the hard work you put in to have a good production.
Did your movies show at the cinemas or did you recoup your money back through CD sales?
I've not taken any of my movies to the cinemas yet, but I plan to do so with my third movie that I'm shooting very soon. As for the two I've produced, I made my money back by selling outrightly to marketers.
When you were pregnant, you had to quit acting for some time, right?
How did that decision affect you and your career?
It didn't really affect me much because I worked till I was like six months gone. Then I just stayed at home for a few months. So most of the jobs I did came out while I was at home, keeping my face on the scene. Most of my fans don't even know I have a baby. Those that know got to know by reading about it through the print media.
And they were like 'Oh, really?' because I wasn't exactly missing on the scene. When I was at home, I enjoyed myself because I had a human being growing in me. I was bringing forth life, you know, and nothing can be compared to that feeling.
What are your achievements as an actress?
What I want to achieve, I've not achieved. I'm not where I'm going yet.
OK, tell us what you want to achieve.
Let me keep it under wraps for now. Where I'm really going to is close to my heart and it's my God I always tell it to, so don't let me tell you my dreams, aspirations and where I hope to get to in this industry. The only thing I can tell you for certain is that I've not gotten where I'm going. At the same time, I give God the glory for how far He has taken me. Mercy Aigbe has come to stay.
We know you're Mercy Aigbe from Benin, but we don't know your traditional name. What is it and what does it mean?
My traditional name is 'Itohan' and it means Mercy. Both my names are Mercy, Mercy.
This is a bit awkward, don't you think? Are you saying you were named Mercy at birth and not that you adopted it as a career name?
Maybe you should ask my father that because that's what's written on my birth certificate Aigbe Itohan Mercy. Maybe my father had a reason for translating Itohan. Maybe he felt that people who can't pronounce it will be able to pronounce Mercy.
Tell us about your parents and siblings.
I have a great family. My father has a poultry and it's doing well. It's in Badagry where he has a huge farm. He always said when he retired, he'll be a farmer. He has a piggery and fish ponds. My mother is a businesswoman. My sisters are all doing well.
Do you think your background has played a huge factor in your success. Considering that you could afford not to be desperate while other girls who can barely survive would do nearly anything to get roles.
I can't really say if it (my background) was a factor in my success. The only thing I can say helped me was the training my father gave me. I can't say it's his money or anything like that. It's the morals instilled in me so anytime I'm faced with any kind of challenge, I'm like 'Mercy, what would you do that your father won't like?' or 'Mercy, what would your father say to you in this situation?' because my father is a very strict man.
He's a disciplinarian to the core. You know all those kind of Benin men that believe they just have to train their kids well. So it's his training that helped me not to be desperate. I also knew deep down that I would make it and that nobody could stop me. The thing is that I'm very spiritual. I believe in God, that whatever happens to you is God.
What's your most expensive fashion accessory?
It's a piece of jewellery – a wristwatch given to me by my husband for Valentine's Day in 2009.
Is it gold, diamond or what?
It's gold and has studs.
What's its value in Dollars, Naira, Pounds or Euros?
I won't tell you that. Please, don't let me tell you.
Are you legally married to your husband?
For now, we've not done the legal wedding – if you mean to sign papers and all that. But we've done the traditionals. We did it in Benin.
But we hear rumours that your husband is already married.
It's not a rumour. He's already married.
We also hear that his wife came to beat you up.
That's a big lie. It's just a figment of some people's imagination who believe that if you're going to marry a man who's already married, the first wife must give you problems, so they just make up stories. My iyale (senior wife) is a very nice woman. She was even at my son's naming ceremony. She's like a big sister to me.
Her kids are fantastic with me. They are my kids. We love each other very much. I just have a very happy family because my husband is a man who decided to take a second wife because he knows he's capable of handling two women. And anytime I'm abroad, I stay with her in Dublin. Her kids are there so she shuttles.
She has never had any cause to give me problems.
There's also a rumour that the child you had last year isn't your first.
It's not a rumour. My son is definitely my second child. I have a daughter. She is nine now. Her name is Michelle.
What do you think of yourself? Why do people perceive you as irresponsible and a home breaker?
The thing is that with the kind of job I do, people say loads of things about you. And there's this thing my father always tells me that 'you cannot satisfy everybody'. So, I have that thing in me that whatever I do with a clear conscience is right with my God.
I really don't need to please anybody. I just believe that once my ways are right with God, I'm okay. Some people are like 'Oh! She's had a daughter before and all that' but the thing is that those people saying those things, do they know what fate has in store for them? Do they know what tomorrow will bring for them?
Because most of the time, things happen to you that are not by your own making, you understand? I, Mercy, know it wasn't my own making, but they don't understand and I don't have to make them understand.
I believe that my God understands and that is why he brought me to where I am today which is better than where I was before. So he has actually turned my disappointment into a blessing.
For people who say I'm irresponsible, if I was, I wouldn't want to settle down; I wouldn't want to get married. Lots of my colleagues don't think of things like that. I just believe that I met this man and he's the sort of person I want to spend the rest of my life. He makes me happy and he's wonderful. Unfortunately he's married.
If his wife was giving me problems, maybe I wouldn't be happy. But she accepted me from the start like her own sister; I'm great with her kids, so I just felt maybe this is where I'm actually supposed to be. So I decided to get into it.