Don’t marry because you have to – Lydia Forson
What do you get when you spend an entire evening with AMAA Actress of the Year (2010), Lydia Forson, at her Accra Home in Ghana just chatting? SAMUEL OLATUNJI got an exclusive interview and a hug that left him grinning from ear-to-ear. The 'Three Virgins' star spoke on everything…
I told your aunty some minutes ago that I would like to marry you; do you get to hear that everyday?
Yes, of course. Every woman gets that; it's part of being a woman.
Okay, what will make you say yes?
Whoa! I'm kind of adventurous. I will need someone that can be a fun to be with. I don't really take things seriously and if I could find someone who wouldn't like to cage me that can live with me the way I am it would be fine with me. I am still waiting for the right man anyway. The kind of African man I know will say that marriage is all about a woman under a man who wants to be the boss.
Well, I said a lot but I don't believe in that. I come from a family where I was allowed to sing and do things my own way and my mother always tell me that I can choose to be whoever I want. It should not be a do-or-die affair. I can decide whether to marry or not. Nobody is going to harass me for not doing so. You should not marry because you have to; it should be something you really want. I am not all that a domestic woman or your normal traditional wife; and I don't apologize for that. That is just me. If I get a man who understands me, good. But unfortunately, a lot of them don't.
A lot of men will commit suicide if you decide not marry.
Oh! I am not saying I will not marry but. I am just going to take my time. Of course, I want to see a man I can marry but it is just hard because of the way I think. I have seen a lot of bad marriages and I don't want something like that. I want someone I can have fun with; that I can still be a kid around him. Most times, when people get married things change. They change and can't do a lot of stuff they are used to any more. I don't want that for myself. I really want to enjoy the person am going to spend the rest of my life with.
What marriage have you seen that is making you have a rethink?
Several. I have friends who have married and are not enjoying it. I live through one myself. My parents were divorced. My father is a nice person and my mother is one; it just didn't work out. For years, they were together because of the children and because they didn't really know each other very well. They are from an era where you just have to get married. As much as they tried it was not just working because they wanted different things in life. And I just vowed never to have that for myself.
Let me pry a little. What did your father want from the marriage?
I don't know. I am not my father.
What of your mum?
I don't know. It's not my own and I have never said this before on any platform that my parents are divorced; it's a private thing.
But do you think most couples want the same thing?
To some extent yes. We all have our destiny and we can't force it on each other. But the whole point of coming together is to help each other fulfill all these things. It is not about wanting the same thing; it is about helping the others achieve what they want. I might like something and it doesn't mean he should like it. We disagree to agree and when that compromise is not there, the marriage is doomed to fail.
I like your open mindedness, but what effect does your parent's marriage have on you?
The truth is I am not going to blame anybody for anything that happens to me. If I met a guy and he duped me, the truth is he did that because I allowed him into my life. I think it would make me a better person and of course, I am not happy about it. The society expects you to do all these but the truth is if you are not happy with it, why do it? I believe some people are not just born to get married; some don't want a child. But some people force themselves to do it and that is not what they want and it becomes a problem. I watched them suffer and it is not good.
My brothers are happily married and they have come to know that what you want should supercede what the society wants for you. I go to bed with a smile on my face because I am not trying to please everyone. I do what pleases me. It is not because I like doing things my way; I am just a person that is strong willed. You can't push me and it takes a lot to deal with a woman like me because I have an independent mind but I am still open-minded. It is all about how you take life. I can take the positive side and dwell on it or take the negative side and dwell on it; it is all about what I want.
Why don't you have a strong relationship with your father?
I don't want to get into that. My father is a wonderful man and I know he loves me from the bottom of his heart and I love him too. But I think sometimes you should reach a level where you have been healed. So, I think until I get to the level where I can deal with all that happened, I wouldn't want to talk about that.
But I think you are taking sides with your mother?
Children tend to take sides you know. The funniest thing is that my brothers will tell you that I am the most diplomatic person. If I had taken sides with my mother, I would have said many bad things about my father. My mother is my best friend; we do everything together from childhood. She is the one who lives with me every day.
She has been through everything with me. My father missed that part of my life, but it is not about taking sides. But sometimes you have to let your parents be. It is their relationship and I am the product of that relationship. I will like to just sit down and watch. My not having a relationship with my father has very little to do with what happened. We will get together again but it will take time.
What struggle are you talking about? You are a star. People all over the world know you and you are still young?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's funny. But if you interview my real friends they will tell you that I have come a long way. Nobody will interview you when you do the waka-pass role. I have been there before. Nobody interviewed me then, but I have been there before. I have gone through a lot of struggles in my personal life. In 2007, my parents separated.
I did a reality show and when I came back, I was being thrown out of the university because I wanted to be an actress. I was in the (music) department, a very conservative department, where they believe everybody there should be loyal and I branched out to go and do showbiz. I think at a point, they felt I had let them down so I was out of school for a whole semester. I had to go back and I had the option of just going back to write the exam, but I went back to sit in class with my juniors.
In fact, they were making fun of me that I went to every single class. So, these are the things I keep to myself because I want to tell people someday so that they will see that with determination you will get there. But my script is still ongoing so when I get to that point where I think my script is ready, I will tell people my story and they will be surprised. Sometimes, it is not fun to let it out right now. You know, it is still on going but when I think I am ready, I will let it out.
Have you ever suffered?
I have suffered. People see me and they call me Ajebota(giggles). I find it hilarious because I had a sweet upbringing. I have travelled to London, gone shopping and all that. I had a great childhood, one of the best. Many things happened later that didn't make it the Ghanaian dream anymore. Eventually, you have to wake up. There was a time to work hard and I had to do that. It was not about the money. The struggle was in terms of my career. I have come a long way from the time that if I go for auditions they would tell me I couldn't go far in the industry because the English I speak is too American. The struggle doesn't really mean you are living on the streets.
Tell me, how did you start as an actress?
I am not one of those people that will tell you that I just heard it from someone, no. I have always known what I wanted to be. I am a very strong-minded person. I can still remember being a kid and I was dancing in front of my father's car and he was asking, “what are you doing? What do you want be?” You know, I have always known that I was going to be in the limelight.
I still have a video of me standing in front of a …(TV) saying “this is CNN, what we are reporting today is” and my mates will tell you that even from secondary school, I will turn on the TV, because I went to a very strict Catholic secondary school, St. Lois Catholic School, in Kumasi; then we had a convention, so I have always known what I wanted to do. But it was not easy. My first experience on television was in a show called…(Hotel). I remember that very well because it was supposed to be a blend of local language and English; then my mother had to break it down for me. I was so confused.
What year was that?
I think it was in 2005. So, I did that for a couple of months. I think close to a year. Then, I went for another audition. I was there for one waka-pass and that was Shirley and she said I was a good actress that she loved me and wanted me to act in something else. I think I have just been really lucky, that is it. So, she wrote a script for me. I did that for a couple of months and I was in school really trying to balance everything. Those are the first early stuff I did.
Which were those that put you out there?
I think it was 'Scorned'.
Which year was that?
It was shot in 2008. I did a movie before that. People noticed me because I did something very daring. There was a sex scene and the director told me about it and I told him I will never go nude, but if he can do it without making it tacky, and it was with a very ace actor, very acclaimed actor called, Koffi Bucknor. So, he asked me if I could do it and I told him I could do it that I don't care about sex in a movie. What I am very particular about in a movie is if it is necessary to the story.
I am not a porn star and he said you can do this; and I remember that we were lying on the bed and people were standing at the back and shaking the bed and it made it look like we were making love. He said I should come and watch the film and I did and decided that it was not tacky.
People started asking: who is this girl? They knew me from 'Hotel St James' (a popular soap opera in Ghana). I had worked with Shirley Frimpong. So I met her again and she said she was going to do a project and she would call me. Then she called me into her office and gave me a script. I read the script in 30 minutes and she asked if I was sure I'd read it. She even asked my opinion about the lead actress.
Who is the man in your life now?
I am not dating any man.
Are you kidding me?
I am very serious. I am single and I don't think I am ready to date any man. I think I am waiting for the right man.
Who was the person you dated in Nigeria?
I dated someone.
What is his name?
You don't know him. We maintain our friendship. He is the one person that can tell me : Lydia that dress is not nice and I won't be offended, because I know he is not saying it out of malice but because he loves me. He will tell me the truth no matter what.
He is someone who is very special to me but we broke up. We are still very good friends.
Why would you break up with your friend?
Because he is a friend, he has known me before I was Lydia Fordson. I call him when I am in trouble.
Has love been fair to you?
I think the word love has greatly been misunderstood. For some people love is money. For some women, if a man has money they will love him but if does not have money, they can't love him. For some people love is sex, for others it is just someone to talk to. You need to discover what made you fall in love with somebody. So, it is a very complicated, confusing word. I think love is a lot of emotion.
Have you genuinely fallen in love before?
I think so.
You are not sure?
I think it was more of you looking for something and you thought you finally found it and not believing that anybody in this world looking could get that thing you had.
Have you dated anybody in entertainment industry in Ghana?
But they said lots of girls have dated Bernard?
Who is Bernard, me, (laughs)? No, I've not dated anybody in the industry, ever.
So when should we watch out for the wedding bells?
Whenever I think I meet the right person and God says it is time, I will get married.
Tell me about school?
I attended Elementary school in America.
I went to Akukomo International School and University of Ghana.
Can we look forward to seeing more of you in Nollywood?
Yes, I am really looking forward to doing more of Nigerian production.
After AMAA, you and the other girls went fighting, what went wrong?
I don't think we fought, till today, I have not spoken to Jackie about the award. When we won AMAA best actress of the year award, I think there was confusion because three people won, the important thing to me is that at least I got an award. There was only one plaque and I had it, I think they sent the rest to the other two and Naa is my very good friend, in fact during the AMAA, I called Naa and I told her we won.
At a point when she hadn't gotten her own plaque, she used mine to take pictures because we have that relationship, I was in Nigeria and I started hearing stories that Jackie won the award; was I bothered? Not really because at the end of the day I had the award but the breaking point was when my brother called from America and asked are you sure that you won because on all the websites they said Jackie won best actress and Ramsey best actor? I was like I don't know. When I got to Ghana, it was on Thursday and most showbiz papers come up on Wednesday, on every single paper, Jackie was on the front page as winning best actress.
My name wasn't mentioned, the other girl's name wasn't mentioned. My manager called me and said can you see what is going on? And in all honesty, I wasn't bothered because probably if they ask her who won the award she will say she won, if they ask me or the other girl, we will say we won because the three of us won but I think it was misinformation and miscommunication, I can't blame Jackie and I can't exonerate her too because I was not there when she told people that she won, I don't know what she told people but clearly the information people got was that she was the only one who had won.
So no one interviewed me after the AMAA, no newspaper, no radio station, and I said okay whatever, for me, the important thing is that I have the award, so I think two weeks later that a newspaper came out with the proper story , so one of the newspapers apologised for not mentioning our names.
The question now came out that who said it was only Jackie? I don't know if it was Jackie that said it, I don't know if it was her management, I don't know, so I am not in the position to say Jackie did this or that. So people tried to create confusion, my manager came out with a statement that we are not bothered with what is going on, the truth always come out so let us just leave it at that and it is true because I can't go to every station and say, “I also won, please put my name”, so it was misinformation. It is between Jackie and the newspapers, I don't know who made the mistake, but you know, it already happened, and the important is for that one or two months, I was the only one who had the plaque.
What is you r relationship with Jackie?
I don't think we have a relationship, she is a colleague, if I want to work with her today, I will work with her, but we are not friends.
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