PIRACY IS KILLING CREATIVITY OF MOVIE MAKERS
Mercy Aigbe is a sultry actress and always a delight to watch having honed her acting skills and featured in over fifty films mostly in Yoruba which has made her as one of the most sought after actress in Nollywood. Her comedy flick, Osas has received rave reviews and increased her fame. Her marriage to a hotelier, Lanre Gentry has made her the subject of discussions among fans and movie buffs alike. SAMUEL ABULUDE caught up with her at a gig organised by City People Magazine and she spoke on what she has been up to recently, her marriage and the entertainment industry.
You are looking gorgeous and beautiful…
Thank you. It feels nice. We just came to celebrate City People at 16. This is our own way of saying that we appreciate what the organisation is doing. They have been supportive of the entertainment industry. A lot of times, they have gone out of their own way to celebrate actors and actresses in the movie industry and others who are worth celebrating.
An actor does not have to die until he is celebrated, that is an attribute I have seen City People do, make sure that those in the entertainment world and others doing great things for the country are celebrated while they are alive.
How is your comedy flick Osas, doing in the market?
(She smiles)Yeah, Osas is doing very well in the market and my fans love it so much that they are already demanding for Osas Part 2.
What is the movie about?
Osas is full of fun and great characters. A lot of people from my place believe that 'Warri no they carry last', they always have a way of outsmarting others and coming tops in their chores through hard work. The movie is actually about a young lady who went about wooing a guy she fell in love with. We are already working on the Osas Part 2.
Some of your colleagues have also produced comedy flicks, what prompted doing Osas?
Producing Osas was motivated by my being part of Papa Ajasco and family series, a hilarious comedy. I played the role of Papa Ajasco's wife and it was always fun being on that set. The idea of doing a comedy drama and make people laugh like the comedy series and of course with a lesson to learn from the story came up.
I was faced with what kind of comedy I should do and I decided to bring in my own language. I am not Yoruba, I am Edo not a Yoruba woman. So, I decided to shoot a comedy that would take me back to my roots in Benin. I wanted a comedy where I could actually speak my language'.
How do you keep looking radiant?
I take good care of myself. Take a lot of water. Get my massage from time to time, do my facials from time to time. I like to wear what I am very comfortable in.
As a married woman, how have you been able to balance the home front with your career as an actress?
It hasn't been easy to really strike a balance between the two. As a married woman and a fulltime career woman, it is challenging because you are keeping different roles and you don't want any to suffer. But it comes easy when you have understanding people around you. I have a domestic staff that helps me when I go for locations. And again, I have my mum around me to support me.
Are you expecting to win an award with your movie?
Yes oh! But really, it has already won an award. It was received on my behalf in Nigeria while I was in UK. I can't remember the organisation now but we have an award for Osas already and we are expecting more. Definitely I am not resting on my oars but to give my fans more as they support us.
What is your take on the entertainment industry?
Sincerely, the entertainment industry is not doing badly because we have really improved. Our story lines are now better; the technical part of the industry is better equipped than before. I know we can do better and get better stories and improved picture quality. The major problem we are still faced with is piracy. Piracy kills creativity. As a producer you want to produce a good movie and get your money that you have invested in the movie back.
But if there is no conducive environment, you are not going to get your money back and that means you won't want to invest in what will not profit you. For example, if you want to use ten million naira to produce, and with piracy in mind, you would want to cut costs and reduce your funds invested in the project knowing fully that you may not make your money back because of piracy. This at the end of the day is killing creativity.
A situation arises that you are not giving your all. We really need the government to help us curtail the menace of piracy because it is killing our business. For me, the entertainment industry has been growing steadily and has created jobs for people like us and the upcoming actors. With time, I believe that we will get there.
What solutions do you proffer as a stakeholder in the industry?
If we the practitioners come together and we lobby the lawmakers to pass a law that makes it impossible for people to pirate movies, a law that punishes these faceless set of people, it will go a long way in moving the industry forward.
As an actress, how do you cope with your numerous male fans?
I appreciate my fans both male and female. I always know where to draw the line for the male fans when I know you are going beyond just being a fan, I kindly reject there love advances towards me. As a woman, we always know how to do these.
So what is next for Mercy Aigbe?
Yeah, I want to do more movies and bigger works and let my fans see more of me in great movies. As regards my brand, I actually have a foundation that I am launching very soon. I am passionate about children and their plight. So, I am concerned about orphans and the uncared for and I want to give back to society through my proposed foundation.
I have been doing this in my own little way but I want to take it to a bigger level so that I can reach more orphans. What we plan to do is that we visit orphanage homes and find out what their needs are and we try to meet them. Aside the Mercy Aigbe foundation, there is something else I am planning but am not going to let it out now.
With the growing trend of divorce in Nollywood, how do you intend to keep your marriage?
The only thing I have done and am doing is to take my marriage to God. Apart from being in the lime light and a celebrity, it is not by your own power alone to make your marriage work. You have to make God the head of the family. A woman can only love and submit to her husband and allow God to keep the home. The bible says a woman builds her home. I have decided to take my marriage to God. I am going to try my best and trust God to keep my marriage.
Can you describe your personality?
Mercy Aigbe is very friendly and jovial person. I make friends easily. I am hardworking and I respect people's opinions.