I was a drug addict and alcoholic
The story of Ada Ameh, a star actress in Zeb Ejiro’s chart buster, Domitila, is an inspirational one. At 14, she became a mother. Undeterred by the pains of single parenthood at that tender age, Ada never gave up hope despite the fact that she was not privileged to have formal education.
Interestingly today, all that is history for the Idoma, Benue State- born actress.
Having picked the bits and pieces of her life, today, Ada not only prides herself as the youngest mother in Nollywood but a good ambassador of her state.
Ada recalled with nostalgia how she broke into the Nigerian home video sector, her rough past, new-found faith, what is missing in Nollywood and the need for government to tighten the noose around the necks of pirates:
Coming into movie making
I was born into the world of entertainment. As a growing child, I dreamt of becoming a musician because I love singing. I also loved to be a medical doctor. I wanted to be a doctor because I love caring for people. Somehow, I met Zeb Ejiro. There was something in me that he saw so that after he had completed scripting Domitilla, he invited me and gave me a role. And that was it. I think I rehearsed that role for just one day.
Domitilla gave me the break
The passion I have for Domitilla can be likened to the attraction a mother has for her first child. My acting career will be incomplete without a mention of Domitilla.
After Domitilla, I have done other movies. But one film I like so much because the director, Ernest Obi, gave me the opportunity to express myself in my native tongue, Idoma, is entitled Chop Money. In that film, I was married to an Igbo man played by John Okafor. Another film that I like is entitled Child of Destiny just because, it reflects the situations of people. I also love Daybreak; The Prostitutes and Civil War, which speaks against polygamy. It’s more of a comedy but inherent in it is a lesson.
I was in Domitilla II. I like the movie because of the repentant aspect of it. Morally, when human beings make mistakes and they make amends people begin to look forward to something better. That is what the movie is all about. Meanwhile, some people still expressed their reservations for it, because they expected to see romance. Personally, I hate movies that play on sex with a passion because my faith is against it.
I am a born-again, spirit-filled believer in the gospel of Christ. I was baptised by immersion in Winners Chapel. Whenever I am in Benue, I worship in Jesus Glory Chapel. It is not the church that really matters, but what the word of God says.
Reconciling faith with acting
As a matter of fact, I see Jesus Christ as a very good actor. And if you ask me, I will say that he is the most handsome. He is a good painter and he gives me a picture of what I would not cry about. Jesus believes that what you were yesterday no longer matters, but what He wants to do with you today. That is one of the things that excites me about Christ. He (God) gave me the talent to act, and if by tomorrow, He feels I should stop acting, I know that He will give me something better to do.
Well, I would say yes. I know that I am very young at heart, even in age. I am 30 years old and I had a baby at 14. This makes me the youngest mother Nollywoood would ever produce. My child was 16 years old on December 11, 2004. I am on the big side and I am very proud of it. I have wonderful shoulders, I know what fits me and I go for them. I still wear trousers and I put on shorts. So, my size has got nothing to do with me but my heart.
Size and Casting
Sometimes, my size influences my roles. Sometimes, I could be called upon to play the role of a mother, to those who are even old enough to be my father. And I fit into these roles wonderfully well.
I am still single and searching, because I know that my husband is somewhere.
Remunerations in Nollywood
Nigerian home video industry is one industry that has come to stay and it is for good. The industry has to pay everybody well; both the cast and crew. Movie-making is lucrative all over the world and that is why we are encouraging the Federal Government to invest in it. One thing I appreciate about the home video industry is its ability to provide jobs for millions of people. For example, the people the society rejected have been made somebody through acting. Someone like myself who had a baby at 14, that is to tell you that I have faced difficulties in life. But, the movie world has given me a different perspective to life. Nollywood has treated me nicely and I thank God for that.
Suspension of actors from Nollywood
I am not happy about it. I smell a dead rat somewhere. If you cannot afford my fee, don’t call me. that is what the business is all about. Why I cannot comment on this issue competently is because for some time, I have not been around in the secular world. I have been engaged by other things. I’ve not been able to find out from the right quarters how the problem came about.
If the producers-marketer say that the ban was due to breach of contracts and so on, fine. but my attitude to this business is that, if you cannot afford my fee, don’t call me. The rumour making the rounds is that the artistes were banned because they were demanding high fees, I am happy for those asking for a million or N1.5 million. I am happy for the marketers too because of their ability to pay. But all those who were banned were artistes who know their onions. I feel bad about the whole thing.
If the Federal Government can come-in to fight this menance, we will be very much encouraged. The anti-piracy law should be strengthened and the Nigerian Copyright Commission empowered. Ultimately, the penalty for people who violate artistes’ copyrights should also be made harsher.
In Hollywood, I love Woopy Golberge, but In Nollywood, I love Edith Jane-Azu. She does it real good, she is very natural. I love Joke Silva greatly. However, my screen mama among them all is Ngozi Ezeonu. She is not just an actress but a mother and a sister.
I did not attend any formal school. That is why I said that acting for me is natural talent. I attended primary school, but I didn’t complete my secondary school. All what I can say that I had in terms of formal education was the knowledge I received in the primary school. I had good teachers and I owe my father a profound gratitude for teaching me spoken English. I also had Ghanaians teachers who always laid emphasis on good spoken English. In addition to that, I had a friend in the US who taught me like a baby. But I have not given up, I have started some programmes lately.
One of the things that gives me great challenge is when I cannot give a helping hand to someone else.
My life yesterday and today
I won’t lie to you, today my life is better. My life is a thousand and one times better than what I was. At a time in life, I was into drugs and cigarette. Honestly speaking, I was into alcohol. I am not saying this… because by the special grace of God I have dropped those habits, it was just by the mercy of God. Today, I am happy I am comfortable.
What is missing in Nollywood
What is missing in Nigerian movie industry right now include the need for practitioners to go back to drawing board. We need the rehearsals. We need the time to rehearse. I can recall with nostalgia, the time we would sit back to chat; the dry runs. I remember the time when we were rehearsing Daybreak by Chico Ejiro. There were a lot of people in that production I held in high esteem. And I saw it as a lifetime opportunity to be on the same set with them. Such an experience fosters warm interaction between the old and the young . Movie practitioners should go back to the drawing board. We are missing the rehearsals. What obtains these days is for people to rehearse on set. At the end of the day, a lot of things are still missing. Despite the fact that we work under harsh conditions, Nigerian actors are so gifted that they catch up fast. If Hollywood stars are subjected to the same condition we work under, I am very sure they will collapse.
Producing own film
One day, I will do that, but I don’t know how soon.