I know how to handle men—Omoni
Before Omoni Oboli, one of Nollywood's newest acting divas, embarked on compulsory sabbatical after childbirth, she had featured in more than seven movies.
With a stunning face and body that make men whine with desire and envy, Omoni is set and Omonidetermined to make good all the months she spent nourishing her new born baby.
In this interview with Fred Iwenjora, she explains how she copes in an industry where many allege that sexual harassment rules. Excerpts.
How does it feel to be back after several years of being out of the system?
It feels really nice. As for me, it's a return with a bang and I thank God for every opportunity I've had in the industry. I'm happy that the race is on as I want to play catch-up.
Before I went on maternity leave, I had featured in several movies, most of which are yet to be released. And in most of these movies, you'd see me playing lead roles. I know that when these movies are released, I would become a household name once again.
I have also seen myself playing lead role in movies featuring people like Desmond Elliot, Mercy Johnson and a whole lot of others. A good production, I was tasked to no end with several scenes to do.
Again, I have just finished another production by OJ and it featured Nadia Buari, Jim Iyke and others. I was also one of the lead stars and I strongly believe that when that one is released, it would also put me there in the skies.
What fond memories of the film do you have?
I was falling off a wheel chair. It was challenging enough given the fact that we do not have stunt people in Nollywood. I was really hurt and had to go to the hospital. But in all, the movie was believable, looked real.
I also had the greatest time with the several stars that featured in the movie. I don't even know what the title would be when it's released.
Do you feel bad when you watch movies and see the people who started with you racing to the top?
I do feel bad sometimes but I know it's because I was away.
Now that I'm back, I'm going all out to cover lost ground. Emem Isong has been one of the producers who believe in my ability and so far, she's been very useful to my return.
How do you cope with motherhood as well as acting in all these movies?
Well, I cope fine. My husband is a very big source of support for me. He is the pillar who made it very possible that I achieve all I set for myself. He understands that I must be where I love to be and in fact, he has been very supportive especially when I go on location.
And what about the children?
They are all okay. I have been blessed with three boys and they are a handful.
Are you praying for a daughter?
It is natural that you want equal distribution of children, but I am not God.
How did you join the industry in the first place?
It was long ago when the industry was about to blossom. My first movie was Not my will by Fidelis Duker, I followed it up with Bitter Encounter also by Fidelis Duker. I was also in Another Campus Tale by Hilda Dokubo.
What about the other titles you've starred in since your return?
I have starred in Unfinished business, The Rivals, Caught in the Middle, Bachelors, Fatal Imagination and War against women. Aside from these, I was in Games Men Play, Reloaded and Where The Heart Lies.
Did you study theatre in the university?
No. I started acting at the age of five in the Church and in school. I had so much passion which has been burning inside of me even before I grew up to embrace it. I went further to the University of Benin to study Foreign languages.
What happened in the Rivals?
It was a great movie which I co- produced with my friend, Blessing Effiom Egbe and it had to do with a certain Prince who needed to take a wife and there were three women longing for him. The Rivals was just another simple tale which many people identified with. It then went further to be screened at the New York International Film and Video Festival.
It is a one part movie which starts and finishes without leaving any sour taste in your mouth. It also features Kate Henshaw, Desmond Elliot and Patricia Leone.
It is the first movie for me to be part of its production and even though I have not reaped bountifully, we have reaped so much. We actually had a slight problem with the duplication of that movie as the CD replicator, Ecomax, messed up with the movie.
They actually mistakenly jammed The Rivals with another Yoruba film and we actually ended up collecting the Yoruba movie thinking it was
The Rivals and it was really a big mess as the marketers who agreed to market the movie were disappointed in us saying that it was a scam. We tried to do a repackaging but it has not really worked the way we wanted.
We are actually in court with Ecomax for that because they do not have to mess up some people's life's dreams without saying sorry.
What's this bond between you and Emem and Desmond Elliot?
Well, we are all in the movie industry and you find out that we all relate well so whatever any one of us is doing, we try to support. If for instance there is something any one of us is doing, we all call each other first before anybody else. It is first of all friendship before the jobs.
Apart from movies, what else would you love to do?
I would love to set up a foundation for the kids because I hate to see little children suffer. I intend to have this foundation which is to reach out to children. I'd one day set up a place where they will gather to feel at home with themselves.
How did you cope with the break in Nollywood?
Well, I coped very well. Nigerians may have become fed up with what they were seeing. Some of the films were becoming repetitive. Now we have seemingly rested, we would churn out better movies.
How did you meet this your understanding husband in the first place?
Ah, it happened like a joke. He happened to be a cousin to Obi Osotule and came around Nollywood where we met. We exchanged contacts but never saw again until several years later. He thought I'd told him I was in the Faculty of Law and went looking for me there but never saw me. It was later that we connected again and the rest is history. We have three boys to show for it.
You seem to have a very young and handsome man as husband, how does he feel when he sees you acting romantic roles?
My husband knows I am only doing my job even though it is not every kind of romantic roles I would act. I also try to respect myself.
And he isn't jealous?
He understands what I do and he always keeps away from my acting career as best as he could except to encourage it. He would always be interested in what happens but he does not worry about me because he knows and understands me.
What about men who try to toast every woman in skirt.....?
Oh, if it is about men, I know how to handle men no matter who they are and how they feel. Without sounding rude, I understand what it takes to be in public glare and never to be found doing anything silly.
Beyond all these, it is only normal for women to get passes from men. It also depends on what they are thinking in their minds.
Who am I to stop men from thinking whatever they want to think? It is only when it concerns me that I get worried. But I know how to handle men. I have four of them at home, my husband and three male children, so I know what I am saying.
Have you ever encountered sexual harassment in the movie industry?
Never in my life have I felt it even though I have heard of it severally from people in the industry. Aside from this, I do not even think of it so I am not bothered.