‘I Cannot Be Sexually Harassed’
'I Cannot Be Sexually Harassed'
Sun, 23/10/2011 - 3:17am | AJIBADE ALABI Inside NollywoodEntertainment
... Talking of one of the scandal free actress in Nigeria film industry one partiste will surely come to mind, Aisha Abimbola Musa Ibrahim popularly called “Omoge Campus” after a character she played. She is one of the few actress who have carved a niche for themselves in the Nigeria movie industry
Aishat Abimbola Musa Ibrahim, a third girl born immediately after her twin brother, the one Yoruba call “Etaoko”, is a Thoroughbred Lagosian. Born in Epe, Lagos State, the beautiful mother of two who shot into limelight via her scintillating performance in a film entitled “Omoge Campus” began her career in Nollywood in 2001. Married to Mr. Musa Ibrahim, she read Hotel Management from Lagos State Polytechnic, a certificate which she has never used to work because of her engagements in the movie industry. Aishat commands respect from both colleagues and viewers with her mastery of the craft. Omoge Campus in this exclusive interview with AJIBADE ALABI during a film location in Iba, Lagos, spoke on the other side of her career in Nollywood, her journey into world of make-believe, her marriage what gives her an edge in the industry and what she would love to turn around in Nollywood.
Your acting career must be a dream come true?
I will not really say from my childhood but from a very young age. Let me just put it this way: from my primary school days, I joined this theatre group, that dancing troupe, that cultural group and all that. I did it even before I became an actress. I d had been a compere for several occasions. When I was in school, I was doing compere jobs. I think I grew up being an entertainer because I was already a pain in the neck in my classroom. I made so much noise , disturbed the whole class, cracked one jokes so some of my friends were not actually surprised that I am into the industry.
How will you describe your growing up?
Growing up for me was tough but I thank God, I scaled through. I grew up on the Island and I spent most of my life there. I am a Lagosian. Then I spent some years in the North, changing schools which made my education very slow but I thank God.
Tell us about your family background?
My parents are both late. I lost mother in 1984 and Daddy in 2002. They are gone but God has been with me. I am from a polygamous home and I have quite a number of older and younger ones. My mother was the youngest wife until her death. I have one younger sister one younger brother, a twin brother and an elder sister.
How did you come into acting?
Actually, I had nursed the ambition of being an actress while I was growing up. As luck would have it, there was a day the crew of Wale Adenuga came to Isolo campus of our school to shoot a scene. Then, I saw Antar Laniyan who was the director of the film. I told him I wanted to act but he gave me a look that suggested that he did not take me serious. However, I told him that I meant what I said. Luckily for me somebody who was supposed to act a role of a philanthropist was not around. I was asked to fill the vacancy, and to surprise Antar Laniyan's, who was the director, I performed excellently well. Ever since, there has not been any looking back.
Who are those you may call your mentors in the movie industry?
In the industry I love my sweet daddy, Antar Laniyan, I admire Joke Silva, the late Aunty Toun Oni, I like Bimbo Bimbo Akintola, I love Genvieve Nnaji, I look I have up to all of them. But my mentors are mainly Antar Laniyan, Joke Silva, and Barbara Soky.
What are the positive things that acting has brought to you?
Acting has taken me to places I never imagined. I have met people, I have gone to places and one of the things that happens is when the whole world is on queue to get something and you get there, people would say “oh, you are welcome, it is nice to have you around” it has brought out the success in me. I ve always loved give back to the society. I have seen people who would come to me and say 'I like you; I just want to be like you'. Such things move me, I love such things.
And what about the things that fame has changed about you?
I am a perfectionist when it comes to picking my things; I want to buy my things myself. I like to go to Mile 12 market, get my fresh fruits. I love shopping myself. I would have loved to go to the remote areas, get the things I want. I still go to Idumota because I am from there. I go to Oke -Arin. The noise would be there, hoodlums here and there but I still appreciate my fans. But I cannot do it the way I want to. I really love to bargain very well in order not to waste money but I can no longer do that properly because they would not expect someone like me bargain. It is good, I still go to the market but not the way I would have to. I m not the kind of person who hides her feelings, if you have done something wrong and I want to give it to you right there, I will tell you this is wrong, but then I will just have to look around to see who is watching and when I see people around sometimes, I just fake a smile and say it is okay.
How do you handle fame?
My pastor, Chris Oyakhilome, usually says one should not let the praises of human beings get into into one. The same people who will say you are good today will put you in another place tomorrow. What I just try to do is to appreciate them. It does not need to get into your head, I don t allow it. I am still myself; I am down to earth and humble.
If it wasn't acting, what would it be?
Maybe I would have been a pastor. I would have also be a goodcompare which am doing with my acting job, or I would have been a cook because I read hotel management and catering. I would have been an hotelier or owned a restaurant. But I will still be acting.
You said you would have been a pastor, even with your Islamic background?
My parents were Muslims and even before my dad died, I had been attending church. It was a little bit painful initially but he could not just stop me. When you are some convinced within you, not that anybody has told you, nobody would stop you. That was why I went into Christianity. It is what anyone told me to do; it is what I wanted to do. I wanted to do it a long time ago and I told my dad, so he was aware before his death.
What were those personal convictions you had?
Religion is a personal thing, don't let go into that before people start criticising what I say.
Where do you think you will be in five years?
I would have won a Grammy an Oscar. I would much better than I am doing now. Anything is possible but I will be better than where I am now. Definitely I will be better.
Professional at the onset?
My first job had too many professionals. The first one was Omoge Campus and the second one was Eje Adegbenro which was written and produced by Jide Kosoko.It was a little bit intimidating, and very challenging. There were Racheal Oniga, Saheed Balogun, Opeyemi Aiyeola, Yinka Quadri, and others on set. I was wondering how I would cope alongside those people. I remember I that a point, I was rushing my line Jide Kosoko just told me,' 'you are a good actress, this show is all about you, so relax and deliver your lines' That was all I needed. The next scene that was shot got me a standing ovation and everybody was clapping and then I knew I was going to do something good with this job.
What is the biggest step up you have ever taken?
Going to school. This is because I was changing schools and then I made up my mind that I would was not get get married until I become a graduate. Do you know what it feels like for all your younger ones to have had children and nobody dares call you by your name? You know it is Yoruba tradition they would call me Big Mummy because they could not call me by name. Even when Islamic clerics come around during naming ceremonies they would say ' Allah consider this our elder sister too as you have blessed the family with a baby, It was so tough, it was crazy, but I stood my ground that I would graduate, so it was a tough experience and today I can beat chest and say I m a graduate and not just a pass, I had a good grades. When I did my youth service, I said yes, thank God I didn't drop out of school. I didn't know I was going to get married
What are those bold steps you have taken in the movie industry?
In the industry, the bold step I would say I have taken was remaining decent despite the challenges of wanting to do otherwise; It was a very bold step for me because challenges would come and men would come, you would go on dates, people who you had never even imagined you would meet in your life would come for you, but taking a bold step like I am not going to fall for this temptation in this kind of industry and this permissive world of ours. I tried (Laughs)
Does that means as an up-coming actress then, you were not sexually harassed?
I have never been sexually harassed. See this sexual harassment of a thing is everywhere. But it all depends on how you carry yourself. Those actresses who always claim of being sexually harassed are not talented. If you know your onions no producer or director can harass you, but because some of these actresses are not talented, they hide under the guise of been sexually harassed. For me, I have never been harassed. Let us examine this thing call sexual harassment very well. It is not possible for any producer or director to just start harassing any actress. He must have studied the lady and reasised that whe was not talented. If you are talented and good in your profession, there is no way you can be harassed
But what would you have done, if you were sexually harassed?
That was what I was saying, before I became an actress, I knew what I wanted, and I knew I had the talent to excel, so I did not go to the industry to embarrass myself. There is no way I would have been sexually harassed, I know what I went to do in the industry
As an actress, what do you think is your best asset? I mean what gives you edge over your colleagues?
I am blessed with a good shape and I thank God for that, but that does not make my other colleagues to be inferior to me.
Last words to your fans
Without my fans out there, there would not be anything like Omoge Campus. I thank my fans for accepting me, for loving me. I ve seen people who would say I love you, I buy your work. To every one of them I say a big thank you