Why I reject roles that require deep kissing— Lillian Amah Aluko
Lillian Amah-Aluko has been around for a long time, and has featured in Nollywood blockbusters like Out of Bounds, Hit and Run, Sweet Revenge and Rough Edges, including the popular Mnet series, Doctors' Quarters.
A former banker and member of Nigerian Institute of Management, Lillian, who has a Master's degree in English from the University of Lagos, is not only an author of a book, Echoes of the Heartbeat, but has another book in the pipeline.
In this chat with Vanguard Showtime, she speaks on the reasons she does not feature more in the home videos and why she rejects sexy roles in movies. She also bares her mind on her childhood dreams of being an actress, an air hostess and a doctor, two of which she has fulfilled. Will she be able to still be a doctor? Read on.
How do you combine marriage with your tasking career as an actress and a writer?
I just take each day as it comes and I try to do the best I can each day. I also have a pace at which I work.
How did you get into acting?
When I was in secondary school, we had an active drama group and they also used to have annual drama competition and all the classes always have beautiful plays to present. We had on board, the Zulu Sofolas and the Eelechi Amadis and they all caught my attention, that was where the fascination started.
When I also got into the University of Lagos, I always used to go and watch the theatre artists whenever they are rehearsing, although I never really joined them. Also during the days of the NIB plays, I always made sure I attended. The love just kept on growing and I always said to myself 'I want to do this.'
So when did you start acting professionally?
The first thing I did professionally was Out of Bounds which we started in 1996 and finished in 1997. I saw the interview that RMD granted in a newspaper talking about his film and he mentioned the date and venue of the auditioning in the interview and it was close to my house because his office was on Toyin Street and I was living on Opebi, so I decided to go and I went and I got lucky.
How challenging was it acting for the first time alongside star actors and actresses?
It was very, very challenging because we had RMD, Rachael Oniga, Uncle Steve Rhodes, now late, Bimbo Akintola and these were people I have watched and admired. It was directed by the legendary Tade Ogidan. I felt seriously intimidated but they were all very nice. They were very nice to work with.
The director knew what he wanted and he made sure that all of us were at ease and relaxed. He rehearsed us enough, I must say that RMD was a delight to work with. At the end of the day, although I was afraid, it was a challenging but a lovely experience.
How much were you paid for your first professional job?
I think I was very lucky to have worked with RMD. On my first professional job, he paid me N40,000.
Why have you not been featuring more in home videos?
I have never really featured in home videos.
But Out of Bounds was a home video.Out of bounds was a good work and still is and it is still selling till today. Twelve years down the line, I have only featured in a total of may be ten films.
Is it deliberate?
It is partly deliberate because I was working full time in the bank so I didn't have time. Another thing is that I didn't get too many offers because I was not a regular face.
The marketers have the faces that they like to use and I was not one of those faces, so I did not get so many offers. I also had to reject some of the offers that I felt
I have no business featuring in because some of them are badly scripted while others are with stories that do not make sense; that when you act in it, you will have yourself to blame for the rest of your life.
When I see those kinds of movies, I run away from them. I would rather not act than do something I will possibly regret in future.
What about sexy roles that involve being smooched and kissed, do you also reject such?
If you watch the films I have done, I have had occasions to peck here and there with the character that is supposed to be my husband or boyfriend but I have never played any role that requires me to start deep-kissing anybody or have anybody running his hands all over my body.
I am personally not comfortable with such roles and whatever I am not comfortable with, I will not do. I am not saying that it is wrong. After all, somebody has to play such roles, those who are comfortable with it can go ahead, it is a free world.
How do you handle advances from men because I know they come in droves?
People would stop me everyday demanding for my phone number, saying they'll like to be my friend. I always tell them 'yes, why not, we can be friends'. But when they want to go further, I'll say 'oh, sorry, I'm married, I can't go further than this'.
In fact, there was a day I was driving somewhere and a car was driving on the other lane. A man in the car was asking me to stop. I looked out but I couldn't recognise him as someone I knew. He followed me all the way from Maryland to Ikeja.
At a point, I got worried because there were two guys in the car. But they were smiling so I believed they were not armed robbers. Eventually, I parked and the guys also parked and came out of the car, walked up to me and said 'oh, sorry, we just had to stop you'. I asked them if there was any problem.
And one said there was no problem, he just wanted to know me and that he also wanted to befriend me. I said, 'well, we are friends already'. After the guy introduced himself, he now asked me for a date but I told him I'm married.
He said he did not know but still wouldn't mind to befriend me. I said okay, if it is just friendship. We exchanged cards and I drove off. So that's it. Some people know that you're married and let go of you. But some would know that you're married and still want to date you. It's for you to say, 'oh, I'm married, I can't do that'.Yes I will say so.
Do you have any regret being an actress?
None whatsoever, I am fulfilled, you know when you are doing something you love, you will be fulfilled, so I am fulfilled.
What is your view on sexual harassment being more rampant in Nollywood?
Sexual harassment is in every facet of any career. I do not think it is more in Nollywood than in other industries. It is just that the practitioners in Nollywood are in the public eye, therefore, anything about them is news.
But if a banker or a doctor does something out of the normal, it will not be news because they are not in the public eye like the actors and actresses.
How do you find time to write amidst your busy schedule?
I believe that one always finds time for what one enjoys to do. For me, writing is a career but at the same time, it's a hobby, it's fun. No matter how challenging the job is, no matter how tasking, I don't get tired. Writing, on the other hand, is a part of me.
I read a lot, that I got from my father. Anybody who knows me knows that you cannot see Lilian without a book or a magazine. I am always reading. I assume writing is an extension of reading. So it's easy to combine the two.