Daddy said, ‘You must be a police woman!’ I said, ‘No, I’ll be an actress’
Similar stories have been told about how Okonkwo's son, Nwoye, abandoned his father's faith to join the white man's religion in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Georgina Onuoha's case is similar. She turned down a career in the Police Force for the glamour and make believe business called acting. Her father, a retired Army Officer, wanted her to live up to her military upbringing by joining, at least, the police, but she chose to be an actress. Her parents, today, she said cannot help but appreciate her job which fetches her millions of naira. “If Iwas in a salaried employment, I couldn't earn up to what I am earning now.”
The beginning was not particularly smooth and although she began acting in 1997 she didn't attain public recognition until 2001 when she acted in the film Valentino. Even then, one movie she would not forget is Egg of Life produced by O.J Productions Ltd. Now, what makes Egg of Life different? She said that apart from the fact that it was a traditional setting and had great costumes, it was on the same set that she exhibited her military upbringing and ended up breaking her leg on location. “We had to do all the shoot in the bush, jumping and running and then, I had a broken leg, my skin had scratches and a whole lot. I had a broken ankle and had to limp for about a month plus.”
How much attention did she get from her director over that accident? She said, “Well, my director was so amazed, that was Andy Amenechi, when rather than letting production take a break for about a week or two as expected he was shocked when I said that my injury should be a part of the film, which is an adventure in which anything could happen. And I told him, “Let's shoot on.”
They were all surprised. But I think it was difficult because I had to run hundred metres. At a point they had to carry me. The director had to carried me. It was really challenging”.
A student of the Lagos State University, Georgina, who is a final year student of International Relations and History, still finds time to do other things, such as anchoring event programmes as master of ceremonies and modelling. She alongside Stella Aboderin, Ramsey Nouah and Genevieve Nnaji recently shot the commercial for the kick polio out of Africa campaign.
Her love for arts dates back to her school days as a member of the literary and debating society. She became a professional when her dad chose for her the Nigeria Police Force. “I came into this professionally when my dad wanted me to join the police force and I said, 'No.' I was going to go into the university. I had to run away to stay with my brother at Yaba, Lagos. My brother, who was a movie person, was into continuity and editing and he asked me to go with him to locations instead of staying indoors. I got there and it happened that they wanted people to cry on the set of Teco Benson, for the film Curse From Beyond and he said, “You look every bit like someone who can cry very well, and I said, “Yes.” I cried well. I was encouraged and from there, I started off and here I am today.”
What does her father think now? “Then, when I said, 'No' to him at first, he said, “You have gone against my will. You don't want to do anything I say, you want to be free. The only problem is that if you bring disgrace to me, my dear, you aint going to find it funny with me. But, to me, my father made me what I am today because without those decisions, I would not have taken my own decisions that brought me this far. Today, my father looks at me and says, you said, 'No' to me, but you were focused.” I ventured into the Nigerian movie industry and I didn't allow the other part of my life to suffer, which is my education. When I entered, I got in for my Diploma, made a 2-1 and immediately filled in for my B.A. I am in my fourth year now. So he is a proud father, I would say.”
Georgina, who may find it difficult to say one particular person discovered her however, has Andy Amenechi to thank for his supportive and fatherly role.
She also speaks fondly of Teco Benson and O.J. Productions. She has advice for ladies in the industry: “If you comport yourself and make them know what your likes and dislikes are, I don't think anybody would want to play funny with you by pestering you for whatever.”