NO MORE MARIAGE FOR ME-----PATIENCE OZOKWOR
Patience Ozokwor, popularly called Mama G, has made a phenomenal input in the entertainment industry in Nigeria.
Having distinguished herself in Nollywood, where she featured in most of the movies, Mrs. Ozokwor again took the music sector by storm when she released her debut album entitled the National Moi Moi. And still juggling with innovative ideas, this multi-talented star who is currently working on her other albums, and whose passion for entertainment can't be quantified says she can't quit acting for any plum job.
A widow and mother of four, Mrs. Ozokwor's indomitable quality radiates courage and magnetism. Hence, she has turned to a beacon of hope for her generation and an inspiration to many young girls.
In this riveting encounter with Panache, she poured her mind on her profession and lifestyle, says she has just discovered the line. .....
It ends with the camera
by leonard okachie
s music not entertainment? Is acting not entertainment? So I'm still in the same place. All over the world most actors are musicians, even in Hollywood a lot of actors are musicians. Once you have the talent to entertain you can do all things through God who strengthens us.
I discovered my musical life earlier even before acting but I didn't have money to work on it. Very soon my Christian music will come out before Christmas. But the other one the National Moi Moi Vol 1 & 2 is based on morals, trying to catch the attention of the ruled and the rulers. I actually, was talking to the government, telling them what they are supposed to do for us and talking to ourselves too. We shouldn't expect government to do everything for us and expect everything to be just okay.
I want us to understand the theme of that music (the National Moi Moi), not just to enjoy it. The lyrics are okay but the message in the music is talking to government to let those they govern feel the impact of their governance. Also, the little gutter in front of your house you must not wait for the government to come and clean it or declare a day for clean up for you to clean it. We were taught from the village that every morning you wake up, you clean your house, clean your surroundings.
And then, the only way to capture people's attention is to make them happy. That is why that music came up and if you listen to the volume 2, people are thinking so much now, things are really hard. They may think it is in Africa alone but I want to say that the world over things are hard. Everybody should not faint. There is time for everything if you work hard. And cut your coat according to your cloth, not according to your size. If you have only two yards and you know you need three yards to sew a big coat, you sew a jacket; it could still serve the purpose of a coat.
It has given me joy that people appreciate my music a lot. Any time it comes on air everybody is happy. That I have been able to put smiles and laughter on the faces of people gives me a lot of joy.
Money is okay but the important thing for an entertainer is to capture the public. People have to be happy first before they can listen and know what the music is talking about. That people are happy makes me happy. I couldn't be happier.
Success in both acting and music
It is the hand of God, somebody living on the grace of God. I thank God I have the sufficient grace of God. He has just been carrying me on. And when your foundation is on God you can achieve a lot. But if you put your trust in yourself, you can fail. I have always put my trust in God and He has never disappointed me.
Before you do anything you get inspired. Some people just jump into things because others are doing it. That is not where you will succeed. Right from childhood I have always learnt to pray and God has never disappointed me. It could take time but surely He comes. He taught me also that it is never late and the time He comes is the appropriate time.
When did you discover your talent in acting?
When I was in secondary school, I was doing it from time to time. I was representing my school, Girls Secondary School, Ngwo in Enugu state. I was always representing my school in competitions during the Festival of Arts and Culture. It was a yearly festival organized by the state. You first of all represent your school in the zonal and then you are selected in the grand finale where we now perform before the governor and the state dignitaries.
In secondary school I did short drama coined from the book, Marriage of Anansewa, The Gods are not to Blame. And when I was in Teachers' Training College (TTC) I also had the opportunity of doing stage drama. While in TTC, I was lucky, I had a good literature master that would always want every set to dramatise their drama book for the year and our drama book for the year was Hamlet. I played the role of Hamlet. So I was opportuned to do that. After that I joined Radio Nigeria and from radio I got into movies. It was a gradual process for me.
When I was acting on stage people were paying gate fee to come and watch but now I'm doing it in a bigger way.
Was acting your dream?
In fact, I never knew what I wanted to be and I wasn't opportuned to actually tell myself that I wanted to be here. I knew I wanted to be a musician, I knew I wanted to make people laugh. Then it was not the in-thing. You could only do soap on television, short dramas here and there. I even wanted to be a nurse, and then dropped the idea because I have a phobia for corpses.
But I have always wanted to be a broadcaster, an entertainer or something.
I actually went into higher institution to read Theatre Arts but that year was the year they disqualified my school (Institute of Management and Technology Enugu) from running the programme because they didn't have a good stage. We took entrance to do it and then when we came in, after the orientation course they now told us we will be transferred to either Art Education or Fine and Applied Art and if we didn't want that, then we were to look for admission somewhere else.
But I was having children and going to school, so there was no opportunity for me to look for admission somewhere else. I didn't want Art Education, so I went and read Fine and Applied Art and I majored in Graphic Art.
I have just discovered the line but I'm not fulfilled yet. I have discovered the line, I'm toeing it. The sky is not my limit; it is just my starting point.
I'm combining acting with music. I can't abandon my acting, I love acting a lot. Even if you give me any job today I can't leave acting.
The motivation is that people outside appreciate me. That motivates me a lot more than the money. Most of the time I don't even remember the money when it comes. The most important thing is that people out there appreciate me and this gives me the power to forge ahead. So, I will not rest until we get across Hollywood standard.
If you are a born actor or actress, the roles you play have nothing to do with your real life. It's just people who sit out there that think it is hard. The roles I play don't have anything to do with my real life because as soon as the director says cut I become myself again. So, it doesn't affect any part of my life. If you are doing something that is not your life, it is acting.
As for if I think I am being stereotyped, well that is the way with our industry if they see that you are good in one role they will continue giving that role to you and that is what has happened in my case. But then I still do other good roles too.
But do Nigerians really understand you that way?
Surprisingly, they understand it now, worldwide. Gone are the days when they used to stone people for what they played in a movie. But I have met a lot of people who said," I had vowed that any day I would meet you I would give you punches on your nose, I'm seeing you now, I can't help but fall in love with you, I love you." So they are appreciating us a lot now. They know there is a difference between our real life and acting.
I can't even act my life. I can live my life but I can't act it. Somebody else can watch me and act me.
Coping with stardom
Oh! Coping with stardom is even greater than becoming a star. It is highly difficult. Everybody wants the same attention from you at the same time and it is not possible.
When you are there everybody appreciates you. There are times you are in the company of very highly placed important dignitaries and somebody just rushes and says hey 'I'm calling you now, come'. You can't abandon the people you are with yet you can't shrug off the person that just called. You are in between the two, so you just try to balance the equation. It is very difficult. That is the greatest thing that every star has to cope with. There are things you can no longer do. I can't go to the open market now to buy anything. I can't just walk on the street any how; I can't just go along the road, buy corn and eat. It is because a lot of people look up to you, they see you as role model and you have to just do things the right way at all times.
Nothing is actually missing because what you can't do somebody else can do for you. The only thing I miss is going to the market because I like going to the market a lot to buy things on my own. There are things people cannot buy for you.
Coping with music and acting
It is really difficult but only the strong can survive. With God all things are possible. Like I said earlier only when you try to do things on your own that you fail. But if God is there with you, you can never fail. You can never fail. God will always provide people that will help you. For instance, my producer is a wonderful boy, the one that produced my Christian music. They call him Justus. I don't even know his surname, they just call him Justus. He is a very good producer. The music is not out yet, you will appreciate it when it comes out. I have another one producing contemporary music, very nice guy.
If you have good people working with you, you will achieve a lot. They may cost you money but they really have to give you better work. You know, good soup na money make am (laughs).
We are really working hard and you can see it. Government is coming into it now. What we are trying to fight first is piracy, bring in new equipment and try to update the ones we have. The sky in not our limit.
And you want to surpass Hollywood?
Of course yes. The prayer of every mother is to have children that will become bigger than her. Hollywood gave birth to us. I'm sure they wouldn't want us to be under them, they want us to grow bigger than they are so that they will be proud that they were able to bring into the world something that is great.
Nollywood as an all-comers affair
No, you will believe me that there is a lot of information here. Well, the train is moving, dropping some people along the road and picking some new ones. It is not an all-comers affair now.
Although you may not have to read Theatre Arts before you come into the industry. Once you have the talent you can but you have to register. We have modalities.
Message to young artists
They should work hard, be articulate, put God first, and not depend on anybody because a lot of them are looking up to people. They say 'I want you to make me a star.' They have not even come into the industry yet and they want to become a star.
They should be decent, work hard. It is usually good to rise from the rank than to just jump into stardom and then tomorrow you come down again. It doesn't pay. So I encourage them to come in if they feel inside them that they can do it. They should register properly and attend audition. Some of them wouldn't want to attend audition. They claim they know Mr. A or Mr. B and especially the girls fall into wrong hand. There are lots of things happening today.
Sleeping around for role
Of course some people come to sleep around. They didn't come to even get roles. Naturally, some people are crazy about stars. They want to come in and sleep with stars, the ones that accept to sleep with them. That gives them joy.
Some people come in to work. If you see those who have come to work you know them. By their fruit you shall know them. Even in Hollywood it is like that. In every sphere of life some come to do a lot of things, to get to where they want to go fast and then they go down fast. It is everywhere, even in your media it is there. You (journalists) always talk about us, you don't talk about yourselves. You talk about our relationships, whether we sleep around or not. So, tell me, what do you people do? We sleep around while you people walk around? (laughs).
Word for fans
One thing I have to tell my fans is that they should please not flash my phone, they should call me. They are killing me with their flashes, making me mad (laughs). I receive more than 200 calls a day and then 100 people are flashing me. Sometimes if you call them back they won't even pick. Sometimes if they pick they say "I just want to hear your voice." And I said "It is not fair, if you don't have credit, go out there take N20 and call me."
GSM actually came without any orientation and people just jumped into it and then they think they can use it. It is really meant for business. At least before it came to Nigeria, my cousin called me from Austria and I was asking how about your family and he said "No, no, that talk is for later, I'm using my cell phone. When I use my land phone I can talk longer, just listen I have an invitation for you, bye bye," he dropped. I know some Oyibo that don't have GSM. They don't have means, so they don't try it. But our own, everybody must have it, even small children.
What about your male admirers?
Oh! I admire them a lot too (laughs). You admire me, I admire you, is there anything wrong with that? Am I not a woman? Are they not men? And I have the right to make a choice. My choice is Jesus. I'm a deaconess in my church (Dominion City).
I'm a widow. I have the right to remarry but I don't have any need for it because I'm old and I have my children to take care of. I have my husband's things to take care of. I can't abandon it for a new marriage but if I see any good man tomorrow I may change my mind. (laughs).
My children are quiet people. If God did not train them, they would be wild now. But I just thank God. I have four biological children, three boys and a girl. My daughter is through with her Masters and she will soon get married.
My first daughter actually is an adopted daughter. She is married. She lives in Asaba. She is a pastor and her husband is a pastor too.
I live in Enugu. I prefer to live there. I do my work any where they call me. I travel a lot but at the end of everything I go home.
Source of strength
I fear God a lot. If you have anybody you fear you look up to him. If I commit a sin I weep over it. It makes me to be careful so that I won't be crying every time.
Which of your movies interest you most?
I pay equal attention to all my movies. Are you talking about comedy, epic or contemporary? I just pay equal attention to all my jobs and people choose the one they prefer.
It is actually not for me but for my fans to choose individually because four people may be in the same place watching and one person will say this is my best. Another person will choose another of my movies. So, I leave it to my fans to decide which one they feel is the best for them because the best is yet to come.
Do you really take time to watch your works?
I do a lot. I sit back and I criticize myself. I pick my works and I try to correct it. I even have a problem because when I'm watching my movies I don't follow them up. I'm just looking out for mistakes here and there. People may not see those mistakes and that is why I try to improve on it next time and people will see a new thing and they will love it.
Do you take Odeku (small stout)?
Believe me I don't take alcohol. Sometimes I can take red wine because they say it is good for the heart especially at my age or during celebrations I take light champaign. But just to sit down buying beer or stout, I can't.
What about clubbing?
I have never been to a club in my life. I act like a club lady or woman because I hear people talk. I imagine what people will be doing in such places. People who know me will tell you that I don't do such things. I have never attended a night club except when we are shooting. Sometimes we shoot in hotels.
The early part of my life was with my parents. My uncle loved me so much, he took me to Lagos and I lived with him. From there the Civil War broke out. I was small and he brought me back. After the war we had to go into secondary school even without taking our elementary six examinations because we had wasted all the time during the war. I then went into Teachers' Training College (TTC), Enugu. From there I went to IMT, Enugu and then went back to Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) to read Mass Communication and today I'm here.
I'm from Ngwo in Enugu state. My husband is late Engineer Edmund Agu Ozokwor. He read Mechanical Engineering.