No regrets having a baby @ 17------Ireti Doyle
She should have been one of those people to live with baggage of regrets because she had a baby at 17, but Ireti Doyle is not one of those that look back and regret. She told SAMUEL OLATUNJI that instead of looking back she looks forward.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
In my journey so far, the two lessons I have learnt so far is, one, not to look down on anybody, take anybody or any opportunity for granted and secondly not to take one's self too seriously.
Do you have regret(s) on some of your past actions?
I don't know. Anyone who submits himself to true analysis will look back and see where he or she could have done better. So, I think I will say I don't look back anymore. What is done is done, the important thing is that the lessons have been learnt and knowledge applied.
Are there times that you took yourself too seriously?
Yeah, it's a natural phase in life. You know when you are in your late 20s and early 30s, when you think you have finally arrived, you assume that certain things are yours because you think you have life all figured out and life will basically teach you something differently. The older you become, the clearer you see the bigger picture of life in general and all those little things that used to be so important will turn out to be less important. Those battles you used to fight back in the days, no longer seem important anymore.
If you have to define life, what will you say life is?
I can't define life, I don't know. For me life is my existence. I wake up every morning to my family, I go to work, I interact with people, I run business, and I try to live a good life, try and be a good person. I can't tell you what life is and what life is not. It's too much of euphemism for me.
To some people you are a model, to some you are an actor, a presenter to others you are a businesswoman, which of these role are you more comfortable in?
I am a performer. The other thing I do outside performing is writing. I write and I produce. In the process of producing a TV show, you are performing many duties. So whether I am presenting a show on TV, or acting a character in a television series or on stage, I am performing a role. Everybody in Nigeria is an entrepreneur, you are either employed by the government or you are a contractor, or you run your own business, so I run my own business.
So, should we stop seeing the modeling side of you?
I never was a model. That was a specialized shot. You are talking about the maternity shot. We had always talked about doing that maternity shot. It was done for a very good friend of mine. She had the dream of creating her maternity shot and I promised to be the model of the maternity shot. So, when I was nice and right, we just did what we have always talked about and it was nice. She needed a known face for that shot.
How come you are not too big in Nollywood?
Nothing is wrong. I would rather say it's all good because I am synonymous with quality rather than quantity and you know, an industry that has thousands of players, you need something to set you apart, so nothing is wrong. It's just that two different careers got built side by side. I was busy pursing an acting career, then I was lucky to get into broadcasting thinking I was doing it on the side not realizing I was building a secondary career for myself. I have had a very interesting journey in making movies. I won't say Nollywood, because you really can't call me a Nollywood actress. I have a wonderful time out; with a maximum of I think 20 films and three nominations. I like the way things are.
Have you ever felt bad that producers don't call you with scripts often?
Back in the days, yes, when I didn't have this level of understanding, that was the battle I talked about earlier on and it is not a bad thing. It is only when you see yourself in a particular light that you can now position yourself in a particular way. And yes, if you think you are entitled to more, eventually you will get more. That just means you will do stuffs that will make you entitle to more. What is bad is one's manner of approach at those times. The older you become, hopefully, the graceful you become. You become a better person handling situations. But looking back from exactly where I am now, I couldn't have arranged things better myself.
Let's talk about the Circle of Three.
The actor's ability to portray any character is either the character exists on the inside of you, probably you have gone through at one time or the other or you understudied or spent time with someone who's gone through those experiences in life before. In the Circle of Three, we were telling the story of women, in their early 40s and late 30s and that is my generation. I understood the issue perfectly, if it did not happen to me directly, I must have known someone who it happened to. So it's a story of my generation.
What is so special about being in one's 30s and 40s?
It's not too much of peculiarity. Every decade comes with its own peculiarity. For instance, as an adolescent, you're inquisitive, curious. In your 20s you want to experiment because you had some answers and God has been so good to you, you didn't get into trouble. In the 30s, you begin to ask big questions: who am I, why am I here, blah blah blah. So people hate those milestones at different times in life and that basically defines every decade. In your 40s, it has its own peculiarity. The peculiarity of my 30s and 40s is that, having finally discovered who you are, where you are, you have the courage and the confidence to be that person regardless of what anybody else thinks or say.
Do women have to play the role of a fool to make a marriage work?
In any human relationship, marriage, friendship, business at some point in time one person is going to be the more ignorant of the two. Whether it is the man or not, the truth is that one person will have to lay low for that relationship to work. It is relative to the couple, relative to any relationship. To me, I will say it is not playing the fool; I will rather say it is stooping to conquer.
What are the sacrifices one needs to make to make a marriage work?
I don't know the realistic of the relationship that exist between other people, but as for me I will say respect, loyalty and compromise. Those are the three elements.
Don't you think the thirst for independence among women is increasing divorce rates in recent times?
No, I don't think so. Maybe people are getting married too young, maybe they don't understand themselves, maybe they are not picking their partners wisely, maybe they are not being tolerant enough, maybe they are getting married for the wrong reasons. I don't know. It is only someone that has confidence in him or herself that will find a free spirited and independent woman or man.
What do you think young people should look for before getting married?
They should discover who they are first.
Don't you think that could take eternity?
At least, know yourself. If you don't know yourself and you don't know what you want for yourself how do you go about picking a partner for yourself? It's about common sense. Understand yourself, understand what you want and then go get what you want.
What is the relationship between you and TV?
Nothing much, just that I have been trained really well.
Some people say training is not that important…
That must be a very ignorant and very inadequate personnel talking. Experience and trying is needed in every sphere of life. I think that it is very arrogant of anybody to think that they could just come and stare at the television and talk. You think it is that easy? I challenge you to go on the street, gather a crowd and give a 10-minute speech.
What has been the most challenging or rather annoying presentation you have ever had?
It was with one of these political types. Rather than answering the question, he took the opposition to the cleaners and because of broadcasting ethics; I couldn't do anything about it. The only way to have double-crossed him would have been very insulting but I had to keep quiet and let the man do the talking. It was very annoying.
How did you get into broadcasting in the first place?
I was trained. I needed a job, I was a budding actress at that time and you know how it is to be new on the block. So, to keep body and soul together, I started working with a production company as a production assistant. We were producing a soap opera. I was an actress and also a writer as well as a production officer.
I was pursuing acting as a career, but television was a thing I did to pay the bills. But it is ironic how life turns sometimes. You are focused on doing one thing where your passion lies and on the other hand, you are doing one thing, not so much mechanical but you are doing it as a secondary assignment. You are doing it till something shows up on your primary assignment. It comes without realising it. The secondary career turns to be the primary; the one that everybody knows you for is bringing in all the money. I love every bit of it, I love talking to people.
Are you happier as a broadcaster?
Yes, I am very happy, I love my job. You have to love what you do to wake up at 4:30am and be on the road by 5:30. I look forward to doing more of TV.
How did you get on Silverbird TV?
A show was conceived and they needed a presenter. Someone asked me to come, I did it and they liked what I did, and they decided to keep me.
That baby you had as teenager, why did you decide to keep the pregnancy?
I don't know why. It was something to share; something other people could learn from and besides, it was my story to tell. It was never a secret story. It happened in a town where people lived, the people who witnessed it are still alive. It was never a secret. It just didn't happen here, and it wasn't the past that I was running away from, it was not that I was hiding, ashamed of, but I don't know what goes on, on the inside of somebody else, I only know how I react to some of the situations. The fruit of that pregnancy is in my house. She is a 22-year-old girl. So what would I have been saying? This is my sister? No, it didn't make any sense. I knew that at some point in time, that this story would be told that the next generation and next generation of young girls can learn from it.
What do you think the next generation will learn?
Making the right choices. Knowing who you are, having the confidence to be who you are regardless of what's going on around you, what everybody is saying or thinking and making the right choice.
Do you think in this sex generation of ours, that the teenagers' are learning anything?
Of course they are learning, that is why they say that the whole world is made up of corrupt people. For every pre-teenager or teenager having any form of indiscriminate sex, there are some who are trying to very hard to keep it together and living a different kind of life. So it is not condemnation for the world.
What other business do you run?
I run a production company, I produce shows. We do fashion-related events, television production and broadcasting.
How is it being a mother and at the same time a career person?
There are days when it's hard when we have work commitment and you can't get home on time. But fortunately for me, I work for myself. My house is flexible. When I am at home, I am at home. I might not necessarily do the cooking and stuffs like that though I can cook. When I have my job worked out for the day, I try to get home before my kids because when you are there, you are involved in what they are doing. So I try to balance everything. But I will say I am surrounded by a group of good people from my husband to my daughter to my house keeper and some other ladies that come sometimes during the day to help me do stuffs. So I guess am just lucky.
How do you handle the friction, getting to work early, running around for various businesses, does this friction affect your home?
No. I just told you that I have a network of people who come in at different times to help me get my work done. I have a lady that resumes when I leave for work. She makes sure that the kids get prepared for school, and their big sister is at home because of the strike. So I don't have anything to worry about. At every point in time, there will be somebody around. If it's an evening event, I have to be out. If my husband is not coming with me, he'll be home with the children and altogether there is always someone at home. It's all about managing your time and having wonderful people that you can trust to help when you need help..
Have you ever experienced failure?
Yes, but I can't remember all of those. One that often comes to mind which was actually a big lesson for me was when was I was given an extra year in school. It hurt so much because I was known for good grades. At the beginning of the final year section, I was assured that all I had to do was to put in little or no effort to make it into the 2.1 category. So, it was like a visa for me. But when the result came out, I found out that I didn't only fail the course, but I had another year extra. That brought me down a little bit and it made me to readjust. It was a humbling experience for me. You know when you are somebody who is known in school, you will start feeling like, how do I go back. But it was all right and good all the way. There was no shame. Rather, I kept the shame on the inside of me.
As a broadcaster, how did you survive in the days when money was not coming in?
Our needs were always meet. His grace has always been sufficient even till date. We have never lacked. We have never had to go begging. All the bills that needed to be paid were paid right on time even when things weren't as good as it is now. Maybe there was a time that I could not afford to buy a brand new car, but I can't look back and say that there was a time that we could not provide food on the table or we couldn't pay bills. The grace of the Almighty God has always been sufficient for us.
Would you say you are a success story?
I don't know, I can't answer that. That will depend on whoever is asking and that person's definition of success. Of course, I do feel successful to some extent and I am grateful to God for what I am right now. And finally, I look forward to having more.