So sad! My parents are not witnesses to my success story - Rita Dominic
Born 34 years ago in Mbaise, Imo State, Rita Dominic is no doubt one of the most celebrated Nollywood actresses. Her consummate love for the... arts, especially music, dates back to her childhood years and this had prompted her to enter and win several dance competitions with vocal expressions in the art of traditional music. In this interview with http://nollywoodgists.com, alluring Rita tells her story to Funmi Salome Johnson. Excerpts:
How is life with you?
Life is very well, thank you. I am taking one day at a time.
What has been happening to you movie wise?
Movie wise, I have been very selective with the kind of work that I do in the last two years. If you notice, you will find that I have not been jumping from one set to another because I think I have done my fair share of doing very typical commercial movies. Now I do jobs that will stretch me more as an actress, work that will challenge me more because I feel at a point in your career, in this industry, you have to set certain standards for yourself, which is what I have been doing in the last two years. This is my eleventh year in the industry, so I feel if at this point in my career I am still being seen in some movies that does not make sense or movies that are not good, then it only means that I am not trying to go further with my career or that I have not learnt anything.
Now that you are more selective with the movies you do, what are those type of movies will meet up with the standard you are talking about?
I have to read the script, the story has to be good, the character has to be challenging and it has to stretch me as an actress.
Can you mention some of such movies you have done in recent times?
Yes, there is a film I did about two years ago but it is just coming out now. It has just been released in Nigeria and it has also been released in other countries like Ghana, America and some other foreign countries.
What is the title of the film?
The title of the film is 'Distance between' and it was directed by Izu Ojukwu and Mercy Johnson was in it, Kalu Ikeagu and Yemi Black. It has a fantastic story, a kind of story that I hope will impact knowledge in people when they watch it. It is a very deep story. There is also 'White Waters' and then there is another one I did with Izu as well, we just finished it about a month ago, I think it is undergoing editing right now. Movie is like that and unfortunately we don't have too many good scripts around. That is just the truth. Most scripts that people send to me are scripts that I have done the type over and over again, and right now that is not what I am looking for. I am looking for a more challenging work.
Of all the works that you have done in recent times that has met up with your standard, which of them has been the most challenging for you?
I cannot really say. The issue is that every role is challenging because you are going to play what you are not, so they are all challenging. The thing is that they are good stories; they were shot well and directed well. They are not the typical commercial films. I have been working on a lot of things with my management and hopefully, they will be coming out before the end of this year.
How soon are we expecting to see a movie produced and directed by you?
It is part of what my management and I are working on.
So can you let us into it?
No I'm sorry, it is still cooking or rather it is about to cook.
Your being selective on the type of movie you do, don't you think it will affect your purse in terms of income?
I understand where you are coming from but before I took this decision, I have thought about that. But you see in life, when there are no pains, there will not be gains. If you are trying to set a certain standard for yourself, you know you are going to lose out for a short while at this stage. But you also know what you are looking for and you know that you are going to reap the reward in future. So that is what it is. But I am very fine.
Has that not changed your personal schedule in a way, giving you more time for other things?
You're right because with that time now, I get to rest, I get to work out and I get to do things that I want to do. Besides all of that, I have other works that I do and there are also social events and appearances. Inasmuch as I am not doing so many movies, I am still doing some work in other areas that are related to the kind of job that I do. Also, there is a new website; www.tansali.com. They approached me so I get to blog on that website like every other day. It is a social website where I get to reach out to my fans.
Learnt you are going to represent Nollywood in Malawi very soon. What about it?
Well, African Magic is celebrating its fifth anniversary in Malawi and the indigenes of Malawi felt that they will like to see a Nollywood act or a Nollywood star. I don't know how it happened but my name came up and they contacted my management and I am going to Malawi to represent Nollywood next month.
What do you think was instrumental to your being the choice?
I don't really know why. It just happened.
What runs through you each time you watch yourself on set?
I always feel something like: this stupid girl, why do you have to act like that? This is not the right thing to do. I am myself's greatest critique. I like to criticize myself a lot. I don't like watching my films when there are people there. I like to watch it alone because I feel stupid and I just feel funny. When I watch my movies alone, I see my mistakes. People might not see them but I see the mistakes and I tell myself that I can work better on them next time.
Looking back over the years when you first started out as a child acting in school and how you have made it this far, how does your parents feel about the success you have become now?
My parents are late and that is one thing that I regret in life that my parents are not here today to see me become what I am today. All my life, this is what I have always done and my parents actually supported me and that, at that time, was a bit strange for a medical family… because my dad was a medical doctor and my mom was a nursing officer. So, it was actually strange that coming from such a background, you will get all the support from them to be an actress to do my act and luckily for me, I had all the support from my siblings and from my parents and it is just so sad today that they are not alive to see me become what I am today.
As a person, how have you used your position as an actress to impact positively on the society that has given you so much?
Yes, I am doing something in that line and I am still working on some other things which are part of those things I said I was not going to talk about previously. Last year I did some charity work with Desmond Eliot in Liberia and the Malawi trip I'm about to make, I already told my manager that I will like to use the opportunity to do some charity work while I am there. So they added that to my schedule. I am going to be visiting the less privileged. I like to put that in my schedule anytime I am going for things like that.
If you have the opportunity, what are those things you will like to change about the movies being churned out in Nigeria?
The stories and professionalism in the way we work. I think at this stage, we should transcend to certain kind of movies and pull the audience along with us. I think we should just raise up the quality of our movies a bit. I don't know why people think it is all about money. You hear people say, if we don't have money, we can't do Hollywood standard… nobody is saying we should do Hollywood standard but at least let the shooting be up the quality just a bit and you will be surprised and amazed at what will happen because I think for Nollywood to go forward, there is a certain class of Nigerians we should try and reach out to with the nature of our movies and we have not done that. It is only when we start shooting certain kinds of films that we will reach out to those qualities or class of Nigerians who will get interested in Nollywood and who will help Nollywood go further.
How well do you get along with your colleagues or are there some that you can not actually work with?
I am an artist first and foremost and I should be able to work with everybody but the truth is that there are some people that I will prefer to work with than others…
In terms of chemistry?
(Laughs) So you really think I am going to start mentioning names eh? You must be joking!
Not long ago, in an interview with Uche Nancy, a costumer, she mentioned that some artistes are stubborn to work with. What do you have to say about that because she spoke about the film, Girls Hostel, which you featured in?
My argument on that set was that the girls in the story of that set, 'Girls Cot,' do runs which in the literary sense means that the girls have sugar daddies or Aristos as they call them on campus. If you have Aristos, you will look good; at least you should be able to afford some certain things like buying good clothes and looking good. I know that when you go to universities, there are some girls who do these things and they look good and that was my argument. If you say that these girls are doing runs, they should be able to afford some certain things or are you trying to say that even with the runs they are doing, they will still wear rags? No. The only thing is that when the President's daughter now came, she now introduced them to a higher level of men and they started wearing designer clothes and that was how I interpreted my role, I don't know about any other person.
In many of your movies, you smoke. Do you smoke in real life?
No, I don't smoke.
So how is it possible or is it a film trick?
If the character has to smoke in film, then I just smoke.
Do you have any regret being an actress?
None particularly. Just that the only thing I am not so comfortable about which I have learnt to live with is that fact that you don't have any privacy. You live your life for the public.
Thinking back over the years, is there any experience you find very memorable or remarkable that you will like to share?
The very first AMAA edition in Bayelsa State: this girl just walked up to me and started crying and she was crying and crying and everybody gathered around her and she was asked what her problem is. She said that there was a film I did called 'All my life' and the film touched her because she could relate to my character that she had been through a lot. That is one thing I can never forget. It was like an eye opener for me because that showed me how much these movies we do touch lives and impact knowledge on people. That was one experience I can never forget because it was such an emotional one.
When are we expecting the wedding bells to ring?
When the time is right, I will let you know.
So who is that special man making you happy at the moment?
I don't discuss my personal life in issues like this.
So who is your kind of man?
It is still personal…
Well, but it is a generalised one?
I like a man who respects the family values, a man who respects women and is God fearing and hardworking. I like a man who knows when to play and when to work.
What do you do to relax?
I watch a lot of movies, I am a movie addict, foreign and Nigerian. I also work out a lot. I have been doing this exercise routine called Taibo, which is a mixture of Taikwando and boxing created by an American and it is really good. Once in a while, I hang out and most times, I am on the Facebook and then the new website I told you about, I blog on it.
What special things do you do to take care of your skin to give it that youthful look?
I do body treatment so I go to the spa for massages, steams, raps. I don't joke with that because of how harsh our weather is and the light we shoot with. We shoot under very harsh condition so I don't joke with taking care of myself by going to the spa to pamper myself. I also drink a lot of water.