Saturday, 20 September 2014

Secret of my staying power in Nollywood—Actress Ijeoma Imoh

Fast-rising Nollywood actress, Ijeoma Imoh, has done quite
well for herself in the past years, having acted in over 30
movies. At the moment, she is planning to visit the popular
Heart of Gold hospice in Surulere, Lagos, as part of activities
to mark her birthday next Thursday. In this interview with
DUPE AYINLA-OLASUKANMI, she spoke about her passion
for acting as well as her newly opened car wash, among
other interesting issues.
What is the motive behind your planned visit to the Heart of
Gold kids, as part of activities to mark your forthcoming
Ha! Really, I have always wanted to go there. But the first
time I visited there was with my friend and colleague, Toyin
Alausa. I told her that I would love to go and see the kids.
Going there was very touching for me and I almost wept
seeing the kids. And since that first visit, I have been
celebrating my birthday with them. I just love putting smiles
on their faces. In fact, you need to see the way they relate to
me whenever I am with them.
Are you sure it is not because your colleagues have been
doing the same to promote themselves?
No! It is about me and what I love doing. I love kids a lot
and I am not doing this because of anybody. I am doing it
because I love being with them.
How will you describe your journey in the industry so far?
I would say it has been well so far. I have been moving from
one movie set to another. I have also done a skit with Bovi.
So, all these are signs of bigger things coming in professional
life. But currently, I am on the set of a new movie, which will
be hitting the market very soon.
Apart from your career, do you have a personal project on
Yes, I will be floating a mini eatery and a car wash very soon
on the Island. All the services will be handled by ladies,
including the washing of customers' cars.
Why ladies?
It is my own unique way of making it different from the other
car wash centres we have all over the place. These ladies are
well trained and will only be rendering services to customers.
There is no personal attachment to what they are doing. And
that is the reason I said they are trained.
You once mentioned that you are in a relationship, so why
haven't you formalised it?
You people like looking for trouble. Don't be in a hurry; it will
happen in Jesus name. I have always been in a relationship.
Are you saying the previous relationships didn't work out
That is not what I meant. I am only saying that I have always
been in a relationship and have never had the cause to
leave. So, it will happen at the right time.
How did your romance with acting start?
I don't like an office job; I have always loved entertainment.
But unfortunately, I cannot sing. So, acting, showbiz and all
the paparazzi are the options (laughs).
So, how have you been juggling your activities?
It is easy for me to combine because acting does not come
regularly; so, I am not that busy. However, I am busy with
other things too.
Does it mean you are not working hard enough to get roles
on a regular basis?
I am working so hard to get these jobs. But every day,
people are born wanting to do this same job. There are lots
of competitions out there. Besides, many of the old faces
seem not to be shifting. And you also have people coming
after you for this same job. So, you need to work extra-
harder to see if it has to come your way.
You are Igbo, yet you speak Yoruba so well. How did you
acquire your competence in the language?
I was born and bred in Lagos and I grew up in Ibadan and
As one who speaks Yoruba well, don't you think you can do
well in the Yoruba movie sector?
Yes, I can. I just need the platform and someone to put me
through. But I have done a few Yoruba movies. I know that
you are respected, if you are introduced by someone, which
ensures that you get jobs to do.
Have you ever thought of trying your hands on comedy?
Why? If I do comedy, you will not buy it. In fact, I am sure it
will not sell. The thing is that I am not stereotyped. If a
comedy comes my way and I fit in, I will do it.
How do you survive with these few roles?
I am doing part-time acting, schooling and modeling-
everything is part-time, just to make ends meet and be
successful. I have got a time-table. So, I thank God my
course is not related to calculation. And I chose to do a part-
time course because it will enable me to go out there and do
my things. With this, I don't need to attend lectures. I can go
online to search for materials. I can also talk to people to
enrich my understanding of the course.
As a model, one would expect you to be skinny…
There are different types of models: the plus-size, the skinny,
those on bill boards and many more. So, which one will you
say I don't fit in into? The face does more of the business of
modelling. But at the same time, I am very smart too with my
How long have you been in the industry?
Ha! I am old o. I have spent like nine years in the industry
now. But I am not yet a star. Some people came and they
just boomed. Some have been there before me, but I thank
God that my name rings a bell to an extent. Some have also
come in after me. But everybody has got his or her own luck
and gift. I am still praying to hit it soon.
How is the journey so far?
Sincerely, it's been tough out there. It is always like a
battlefield, trying to get roles and balance your career.
Auditions, to the best of my knowledge, have virtually
disappeared in Nollywood. You get roles these days based
on how connected you are. The trend is killing the acting
spirit of most of us. If not for the encouragement and advice
of some directors and producers, some of us would have left.
Actually, my first acting role was in a soap opera, 'Young,
Single and Free' directed by Kinsley Omoefe. It is still
running on national TV stations, and my role is very
challenging. My first movie in Nollywood was Bumper-to-
Bumper and it was a party scene. Though it was a minor
role, I really enjoyed myself. In fact, that really opened my
eyes about how Nollywood really operates. After that, I have
featured in several other Nollywood movies.
Asides all these, do you still find Nollywood interesting?
My answer will be yes and no. I say yes because acting is
what I like to do, while no because I'm yet to land my dream
role. Sincerely, it does not really weigh me down because I'm
optimistic that I will soon become a household name in
Nollywood. I know I will soon shine in the industry. However,
I'm not using that to judge. Some people have been in the
industry before me and they are not yet known. The fact that
my name rings a bell in Nollywood gives me joy. At least, I
have featured in about 20 movies. Luckily, I have not been
stereotyped, in terms of characterization. I learn from each
set that I visit and also interact with people as part of my
learning processes. Acting is all about make-believe and you
doing the extraordinary.
Will acting nude pose any difficulty for an actress to get a
In Nigeria, even if you are acting 'Holy, Holy', people just
see you as plenty paparazzi, inasmuch as you are an
actress. Therefore, they will see you as someone they cannot
cope with. They are few men who are brave enough to want
to go the extra mile to propose marriage. But they too have
to consider their family backgrounds.
Any plans to settle down soon?
Why not? See, I am going to get married, and I am sure
whoever I am getting married to will support my career. So,
there is nothing like getting to a particular stage before you
get married. Please, if it comes now, embrace it because it is
your time. If you miss it, you miss out. You may never get
another opportunity again.
But what happens if the man says you have to quit acting?
Is it the same man that came around after you have started
acting? If it is a man you met before acting, you will know
what to do. But if it is the one you met after you have started
acting, I'll tell him I cannot sit in an office. I am an Igbo girl
and I love money. The way I love working, I love money.
These days, most men, I am sure, do not want a woman who
will be like a liability. I love the fact that I am working; it
does not stop the respect I have for my man. Therefore, if he
is not around, I can take care of things.
Some actresses thrive on scandals, how have you been able
to stay out of scandals?
It is because I don't look for trouble now (Laughs). I don't
really go out. But the only outing I love doing is to go
clubbing because I love dancing. But I don't go looking for
trouble. And if somehow I find out that I have an issue with
someone, I try to sort it out without making any noise about
it. So, why would I want to create scandals? I want
endorsements and good things. Why stress yourself with
things not worth the trouble when you can move forward
with plenty things.
People say you a mullato. How true is this?
Don't mind them; I don't know why they call me that. I am a
full-blooded Igbo girl; I am half Anambra, half Abia. Nobody
resembles oyinbo for my family. So, I don't know where all
that came from.
As a celebrity, one expects you to always look gorgeous.
Well, it depends on the mood. Sometimes, you do not know
where that person is coming from or going to. For instance, I
already knew where I would be going today; so, I already
knew what I was going to wear. I love looking simple. I just
love being free.
What do you do in your leisure time?
Sometimes, I could be boring, but I love life. It is not that
hard. Just treat yourself nicely. Only you can make yourself
happy. It is when you make yourself happy that people
around you are happy too. If you start frowning, your face
will start having marks all over. I go swimming and I dance
to any sound I hear. And my friends will always say, 'Ijeoma,
wo fi se e ni? The thing that is usual for me is to just go to
club and dance. I also go to cinemas, if I need to go. I could
be boring, but extremely playful.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

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