I'm single but not searching, says star actress, Jummai Joseph
In Nollywood today, soft-spoken actress, Jummai Joseph stands out as one of the most beautiful and successful actresses.
A product of Kogi State University where she read Mass Communication, aside acting and producing, this second daughter of a serving police officer is also the C.E.O. of Kleen Image Pictures, a complete production outfit. She says: "I like an independent and hardworking man who is also very ambitious." Igala, Kogi State born Jummai who sauntered into Nollywood in 1995 as a minor role actress, now calls the shots in the front rows, not only as a star, but also as a fast growing producer. "I've always loved to be a producer. I also want to contribute my own quota towards the growth of Nollywood, that was one of the reasons behind my going into movie production.
"I want to take movie productions in Nigeria to another level," divulged leggy Jummai, who hated her dad while growing up as a child: "For being too strict".
The story making the rounds is that you have abandoned acting for movie production, how true is this?
Laughs) I don't think so. I did not abandon acting for production. I only went into production last year with Shadows. Acting remains my first love.
Almost five months after completing work on your second movie,Turntable, it is yet to be out. What's the problem?
Emmm! One has to be very careful in releasing his/her movie into the Nigerian market. We are carefully studying the market.
We don't want to push our movie in without making profit at the end of the day. Presently, the market from what we gathered is very dull. The year is still fresh; it is not the best time to release a movie. As a producer, I know what I want. Turntable will hit box offices soon.
How soon is this your soon?
Sincerely speaking, it is coming out soon. My marketer, Ulzee Nigeria Limited and I are already working on a date for the release.
So, what is Turntable all about?
Turntable is a complete family movie. It has love, politics and betrayal as its main themes. In fact, it is a true-life story. Turntable, is also a star-studded movie that was painstakingly shot.
In recent times, you've been lying low in terms of acting?
No! I've been working. Only that most of my new jobs are not yet out, they are still in the cooler. Also, as a repackaged actress, I'm trying to be selective with movie scripts and roles. Very soon, you will start seeing most of my movies.
Back to your life as a producer, what actually inspired it?
I've always loved to be a producer. From the first day that I came into Nollywood, I said to myself that I will work hard to be a producer. Even as a Mass Communication undergraduate then at Kogi State University, I took courses in production and directing. I want to be on my own; I don't want to work for anybody. It is also not advisable to depend on acting alone. It is good for one to have something doing aside acting. I also want to contribute to the growth of Nollywood by going into producing. As producers, we end up creating jobs for thousands of Nigerians. I want to take movies production in Nigeria to another level, that is why I'm involved.
What does it take to be a successful female producer in Nollywood?
(Chuckles). Three things are involved in being a successful female producer. For me, I have a focus, a vision and a mission to be relevant and stay at the top in Nollywood as a producer. You must be hardworking, intelligent, disciplined and financially strong to be a successful female producer.
How do you source for your own funds as a female producer?
It's not been easy at all. But the bulk of my funds come from my people who believe in what I'm doing. My family bankrolled my first movie as a producer. I solicit for funds myself, I also sent out proposals to corporate entities. These are the avenues through which I source for funds.
Aside releasing Turntable, what other major projects do you want to embark upon this 2005?
I'm planning to shoot a television soap opera this year. We will shoot 26 episodes that will last for two quarters. It is going to be a family oriented soap. Everything is set and we are hitting location very soon. I will double as the producer and executive producer. No title yet for the soap. I also intend producing three more movies before the end of 2005. It's a busy year for me as an actress-cum-producer.
You were already in Nollywood as an actress before going back to the university, many people expected you to read Theatre Arts, but you opted for Mass Communication. Why?
Well, acting is inborn, it's either you are an actor or you are not. Actors are born, they are not made. I believe I'm a born actor, so, no reason for me to go read Theatre Arts as a course. I chose Mass Communication because it is very broad and all-encompassing. I like the course very well, but I don't think I can practise it.
Were your parents in support of you going into acting?
Yes, my parents supported me because they have always believed in me as their child.
Going down memory lane, which was your first movie in Nollywood?
I came in as a wakapass (minor) role actress in 1995 on the set of Opa Williams' chartbuster, "Onome". But "Blood Money" by O.J Productions was where I was given a good role to interpret. But "Oracle" by same O.J. Productions, brought me to limelight.
It was also during this period that you suddenly disappeared. What went wrong?
(Laughs heartily). I did not disappear. I only went back to school to get a degree in Mass Communication. Unknown to many people, I was shuttling between school and Nollywood. I finished in 2003.
Tell us about your family and growing up years?
I'm child number two from a family of eight. We are four at par. I'm from the Igala-speaking area of Kogi State. Mum is a successful trader, while dad is a police officer working and residing in Abuja.
How does it feel having a police officer as a father?
Well, it was tough for me initially as a growing up child. Dad was very strict then. I also thank God for him; he made me what I am today. He made me a better person. As a child growing up, I hated my dad because he was so strict. Then I thought he didn't like me because of his very, very strict nature. Aside his strict nature, my growing up was fun and lovely. I was born and raised here in Lagos. I'm a Libra; born on September 29, please don't ask for my age. I'm an adult.
You are single, successful and not married. Is it that you are not searching or that Mr. Right has not come your way yet?
It's every woman's dream to get married and my own will soon come. I will get married soon.
Any lucky guy on the line?
All I can say is that I will get married soon.
In essence, you are still searching?
I'm not searching. I'm not searching.
At what age did you fall in love for the first time in your life?
Sorry, I can't discuss that with you. Remember, I'm also a journalist like you. So, I can't fall for your tricks and traps. I'm not going to entertain personal questions from you.
Okay, tell us the qualities you admire most in a man that can make your heart flutter for him?
First is honesty. He must also be independent and hardworking. He must also be God-fearing, caring and loving. I also love humble and very ambitious men. Good ambitions o!
Have you ever been heartbroken before?
I told you I don't answer personal questions. You are dragging me too far.
As a pioneer actress, what is your assessment of Nollywood?
Nollywood started on a shaky foundation, but is now deeply rooted. Most cynics do not believe we will get to where we are today. The industry is fast growing. I've told several people to stop comparing us with Hollywood. It took them 100 years to get to where they are today. Nollywood now has a clear direction. We need encouragement from you the media, government and our society. Government and corporate bodies should come to our aid financially. We need assistance.
Aside acting and producing, what else are you into?
I do different kind of legit businesses. I'm also the C.E.O. of Kleen Image Pictures, a complete production outfit.
If you are to meet God today, what are the wishes you would ask from him?
First, I will ask God to make me the most successful actress-cum-producer in the whole world. I will also ask Him to make me a good mother and a good wife.
Which among your popular movies do you like sitting down to re-watch whenever time permits?
(Laughs). So many of them. Disguise, Shadows, Ogidan, Ale Ariwo, Camouflage, Blood Money, Oracle, Faces, Culprit and few others.
Aside kissing, can you act nude or make love in a movie?
Not possible. I can't.
If you eventually get married and your husband tells you to quit acting, would you?
My family first before any other thing. I won't die if I don't act again. Other things are there for me to go into as a housewife.
In the next couple of years, where do you hope to be?
(Cuts in) My husband's house.
But you refused to say if there is anybody on line?
Don't worry; you will get to know when I'm set to wed. You will get the I.V. first.
How soon will that be?
At God's own time. Just keep your fingers crossed till the D-day.