General News | 10 February 2011 12:48 CET

Genevieve Is Not My Best Or Close Friend and We Are Not Enemie – Omotola Jalade

By Dimeji Ogedengbe

Dressed in a brown cleavage-revealing fitted top and a pair of blue denim jeans, with absolutely no make-up, the 32-year old mother-of-four is preparing for her child's birthday. She needs to buy all sorts of stuff to make the birthday colourful, so as to retain her name as the best mother in the world (at least to the celebrant). Yet she was in a mood to chat with us. We're at her Ikeja GRA office. Face-to-face in a little cubicle, Omosexy – as she is fondly called by both her husband and her fans opened up like someone who had been bottled up for a while. She smiled warmly, chose her words carefully and took time to stress her points, even though her eldest child waits impatiently in the reception area – waiting for us to get the interview over with, so that the birthday shopping can begin. But the minute-counter on the recorder only reads two minutes five seconds; which means the interview is just beginning.

We traced the story of her life, probing without borders, digging deeper than a Julius Berger drill, and almost giving her goose pimples.

From her days on Molue buses, preaching away like a career evangelist, to her cross over from movie to music, her alleged snobbish attitude, and that celebrated enmity with fellow movie star Genevieve Nnaji, she spoke with Dimeji Ogedengbe until the recorder batteries were completely exhausted.

To start with, do you still find time to cook your hubby's meal?

I do all the time. I always cook in bulk if I am travelling. They bring it out and warm from the microwave. Even if I'm in the middle of a shoot, if I have to, I'll come back, especially if something urgent comes up. It hardly happens. Basically, I cook in large quantities. It's something I've trained myself for. The only problem is NEPA. There are times when there's no light or the generator is bad. Then they have to turn out stuff. I don't like de-frozen food.

Before Ije, We had stopped seeing you in movies. We only heard about you in the music industry; is music conflicting with your movie career?

No. Absolutely not. I'm just chilling not to be in too many movies at this period; because there are not too many projects out there right now that I really want to do. There are a few movies that I love and recently I've have shot about four of them, that's straight to video movies. Otherwise I'm also looking more to shoot movies like 'IJE' and also to encourage the producers and directors of such movies. You know, promoting such movies takes a lot of time; you have to travel around and all that. I really have been travelling to promote other movies. I have another project called 'Mind game' and I've been promoting that since last year as well, just as i did 'IJE' . So, that's what I've mostly been doing with the movie side of my life but otherwise I've shot other movies on the local scene.

You have one album to your credit and the second one is coming out; has it been promising so far? {EDITOR'S NOTE: Omotola's second album Me, Myself and Eyes, has since been released}

Absolutely! Extremely, in fact. I've always known that nothing good comes easy so I'm not one of those people who come in and think everything has to go their way. I know most times that you really have to work hard to get things and I know that if nothing else, something has to give you a fight. I know that I have to be strong-willed, confident and hardworking. I know exactly what to expect. I think I'm surprised that things are catching up quickly and faster than I thought it would. I'm really bracing up for a big fight not only in Nollywood but around the world. It's never been easy for people to cross over from movies to music likewise from music to movies. I envisaged a very tough fight and very hard terrain. You know, a lot of people think it's just something you do to pass time because you are bored or there is something else you are looking for.

But what can you say is your priority Music or Movie?

None necessarily. My priority is entertainment first and foremost because that's the profession I've chosen to do. It's like asking a doctor – GP has to be your specialty. I mean they can decide to take another course and do other parts of medicine. My specialty is entertainment. I could be a poet, a dancer, stage act, singer or an actor. It's all within entertainment.

You and Genny – Is this the first time you are doing a movie together?


Why does 'Ije' seem to be more pronounced?

Well, that's because it's actually a big movie. Other movies we've done like 'Games Women Play' and 'Sister in love' were big too, 'Blood Sisters', is one of the biggest African movies in the world till date. So, I mean we've done a couple of movies together but I guess 'Ije' is just on another level. It's big, it's a film and it's well promoted.

A lot of people see you two as rivals; with 'Ije' it would seem you both have a robust relationship. Are you guys quite close? Did you get along well while on set?

That's the irony. There is nothing to get along and nothing not to get along. The idea is actually in peoples mind. People read meaning to everything. The point is we are not best friends or close friends and we are not enemies too. We are just colleagues and we are cool. I mean if I see her somewhere, I would be like 'hello hello' and we'll go our separate ways like every other person. I really don't understand what the fantasy is with me and Genevieve in particular. She's not the first person I'm acting a sisterly role with and she will definitely not be the last but I know, somebody or people just have feelings of those two brands. I don't even think we look alike so it's an irony why people keep tagging us as sisters. It's weird but it's what it is.

You were alleged to have snobbed a male fan who offered you a handshake on the red carpet of Ije premiere in Lagos. Are you truly a snob?

Wow, I'm hearing this for the first time. I don't remember anything of that nature happening. Are you sure I saw this person? There was no way anyone could have even come up to me because I had a bodyguard with me. Are you sure he was trying to shake me or he was giving me something? That's not possible. To everybody who said 'hello' to me that day, I said 'hello' back. I was even over friendly. We even had a situation where i was playing with the area boys. So if I could play with area boys outside my car why would someone try to shake me on the red carpet and I won't respond to the gesture? That's strange.

Has marriage been fun?

It's been interesting, very interesting. In marriage, there are times when you want to be free; there are times when you feel it's the best. There are times when you fight. Even with your parents it's the same. There are times when you want to be with them, there are times when you just want to get out. My marriage has been good. We are normal people. When I don't want to see him i do not see him. We give each other space. We don't choke each other. We fight, we play, and we talk to each other. When we wanted to be married we decided to be natural. We don't lie to each other. If I goof I tell him.

But you were just 18 when you married, how much did you know then?

At 18, I was wiser than a lot of 20 – something year olds. What I'm living on now are legacies I set for myself when I was younger. I was in tune with God.

Let's rewind a little. Back in the days you used to preach the gospel on Molue buses in Lagos. Do you still evangelize?

I do. I evangelize everyday but maybe not in Molues anymore (laughs). It's a way of life for me. It's about what I believe. It's just a way of life for me. I talk to people about God; I talk to them about Christ and about values and what I believe in. So that's the way I do my own evangelism to the people I come in contact with everyday. I tell them things that could help their lives. But as the case is right now, I don't do Molues anymore (chuckles).

Looking back now, do you think you should have lived your life differently?

I don't think I had a choice in my life. My life has played out the way god wanted it. There are so many things I regret. That's the truth. Anything that happens in my life was meant to be. It's either made me wiser or something. Nothing in my life has been accidental. I am living my destiny, being who God wants me to be. But personally if it was left to me, I would have started music first. Because I didn't start with music, people are skeptical about accepting me as an artiste. I am even shocked that fans accepted my songs so soon. I was shocked at the acceptance of 'Naija lowa'. Even in the north, they know the song. I'm happy everyone is talking about the music. It's because it's worth talking about. It makes me want to work harder. A lot of acts that even started with music didn't hit it with their first album. I am grateful for all I have achieved and I'm working harder. It's what I love. Everyone that knew me first knew me with music….I just watched one of Beyonce's documentaries when she was bringing out her birthday album and saw how she was rehearsing for six hours every day…

Most men want to be in your husband's shoes. Some say they don't envy him. Do you think he's lucky or unlucky to be your husband?

You answer that for yourself. I'll leave people to answer that. But if we've been married since 1996 and we are getting stronger, I don't think he has problems with that. It takes a real man to be like him. Not many men will survive in his shoes. I've met guys who are well informed and have traveled far and wide, but can't tolerate what he does. He's a white man in a black man's skin. He's such a darling… people who've met him also say the same thing…there's no dull moment with him. He's an extremely beautiful soul…even guys fall in love with him, how much more girls?

Four labours behind you and you are still stunning. Do we give the credit to cosmetics?

Which cosmetic do you see on me right now? (laughs out loud). The truth of that matter is that I hate make up. People may not know this, but truly, I don't enjoy dressing up. Personally it's not like my favourite thing to do. I don't like it. I'm a very regular person. I just like to wake up in the morning, throw on something and go. So if you see the real Omotola, I'm like this. Without make up, regular clothes and I'm up and doing with my everyday activities. It's the Omosexy part of me that likes to do all the freaky make up thing and dressing. So if you have to give credit to anything, it has to be to nature and to God (laughs).

It's believed in some circles, especially the media, that you've had affairs…?

For a twelve year career, talks like that must have come up maybe twice or thrice. Why did they come up at all, it's because of my age, if I was like Joke Silva's age, maybe it won't come up. That I've not even been linked with fellow actors, it shows you that when I'm working, I'm professional. In most cases I actually know these people they've accused me of dating. In the case of Ayo Fayose it was from an event we had in London. These things are sensational…some people just sit down and cook up stuff…they said another romp happened in London, I don't know…but the truth is that I thank my God that they always find out that these things are false and baseless…they realize there is nothing. I have no skeletons in my cupboard…I task the writers to investigate and get to the bottom of it. At times some people are even trying to spoil your name. I guess now, with time, I've been able to earn the trust of journalists, my fans and my family. I've passed that murky stage. And it's good to watch your steps. My husband understands. I am who I am. I don't hide. I am a very transparent person. I'm not a very political person. Unfortunately we're in a world where deceit is the order of the day. But I refuse to be that kind of person. He knows there's pressure on me. He knows about them and it's no problem for him. He knows when they call me. Most of them are his friends and they're my friends. He knows and he trusts me. The most important thing is to know who you are.

You work out regularly?

I don't work out regularly unfortunately, I have seasons. There are times I just feel like 'oh sh**t', I really do need to walk out and I get to the gym and I'll be like duh! And after two weeks I'm bored. I walk out because I'm on a goal. I'm very restless; I can't sit down in place for a long time. So I'm always moving around, from one project to the other. Otherwise once in a blue moon I just dash into my gym and do something real quick and rush out.

How old is your eldest child?

13 years

Most actresses' marriages don't work. What are you doing differently?

Like I said, I think its God. Anything that's not built on God is not going to last. I'll advise actresses not to fall in love with their fans. I might be wrong. And then, your partner must be God-fearing. You must know your source. It's a bastard that describes his father's house with a left hand. My marriage is totally built around Jesus. I might appear sexy tomorrow. But I know where I'm coming from. I and my husband are scriptural people. The fact that I'm not cheating on my husband is because I fear someone that's not there. Not because I love him so much. Man to man, the worst that can happen is divorce… but with God, you don't mess with his laws and go free…God is the foundation. Then the blocks you build on it is communication… some spouses are not making as much money as the actors… you must make them understand what is going on… I will not lie that since I got married I have not seen one or two guys that I admire…I know its infatuation… when I see it's getting bigger than that, I discuss it with my husband… anyone can be infatuated. It's nothing to be ashamed of. And the safest person to talk about it to is your spouse…it's always a big step for me…even with God, when you confess your sins, it's like magic, you just see that you've grown past it…so we communicate… when you try to fight things by yourself, you lose… you get deeper, deeper, and you think you've gone too far to go back… then you sink… and I want to say that when people's marriages break up, its not always because they're wayward or because they just dump their homes. We need to help them. We treat marriage as if it's just an affair. Especially for our career, there's so much pressure. Don't care what anyone says, if not you'll start to run a race that you can not win…I've learnt that steady wins the race…

A kissing contest between you and your husband; who do you think would win?

(Laughs) I don't know. I haven't done one before so I will have to think about that real had. He's a very good kisser though. So I don't know.

Tell me an interesting thing about you that nobody else knows

Probably nothing (laughs). If there is anything I've not told you, that means I don't want people to know. But trust me there are lots of things people don't know about me. So whatever you know is what I want you to know.

If you were a man, would you marry Omotola?

Omotola is the best wife anybody can ever have. I'm the best gift any man can have. I'm very independent and inexpensive. I'm very driven, very principled and a good mother to my kids. My husband is lucky to have me. So if I were a man I'd marry Omotola. I don't know if I'll be able to handle her. I'm a very complex person. I don't think like everybody else… I don't compromise…I'm a non-conformist… to me there's nothing like Nigerian standard… I'm extremely strict. It's not easy to work with me…things don't easily impress me… I demand a lot of character from people…I don't encourage frivolities and I hate excuses, so it's hard for people to be around me.

Are you wearing any a tattoo?

No. I don't like it on myself but I'm not going to say I don't like it. My husband has a tattoo of my name on him

(Cuts in) What part of his body?

Why must I tell you that (laughing profusely)? I'm not gonna tell you where. I don't have problem with people wearing tattoos. I just think as an actress I should be able to play any character anytime. So I don't think it's wise to put a tattoo on me. It might just define me or confine me. I believe as an actress my body doesn't belong to me, so I don't like to do anything on it that will stop a character from excelling.

Is trading your private life the price for fame?

I don't think so. I think you can shield away to the best of your ability your private life. I really think you can. It's very hard. I think your private life being in the public will be ridiculed. If I don't want you to know anything about me, you wouldn't know. The only thing is that as you will keep ridiculing me in the process, i might get angry but I won't tell you. So it's possible to hide your private life. I'm saying this for the advantage of the younger ones that are coming. It's possible. Just know that there is nothing in life that doesn't have its other side. You have to ask yourself questions like; is it a big deal for me to have my private life out there and I just save myself the trauma of anybody trying to figure me out? Or would I rather keep it private and allow everybody intruding to try and figure me out? Either ways they are gonna talk. Some people would be like I don't want all these bull sh*t talks, so I'll leave it open for them to see. It depends on the strategy you want. My point is, it's possible.

How does your husband feel about you playing romantic roles, guess he's used to it by now?

Yeah, he is. I think he's one in a million. I'm mega blessed to have found him. I like to call him an entertainer coz anybody who's flowing with my husband will tell you he's an entertainer. I mean this chap is probably the only person you will fly with and you will remember the flight. He talks to the percentagers, he cracks jokes in the air, and people remember him for his landing. I've had people come to me saying, tell your husband God bless him, I've had the best flight experience in my life. So I call him show boy. That helps him to understand entertainment. He loves it and he adores entertainers. He knows the kind of life style that comes with entertainment, so he makes life very easy. He doesn't want me to do anything entertainment is not going to want me to do let me say it that way. He just pride himself in knowing the real me so keep that private to him and for him.

Don't the kids wonder why Mummy should be kissing another man when they watch your romantic scenes?

Oh no. We don't let them look at such movies. They just look away. They know that's what I do and I don't discuss those kind of things with them because they are minor and they know that adults will do what adults have got to do. Whether mummy is doing it or not even other movies where kissing and those stuff are happening, they know they can't watch it. We are very strict parents, especially me.

Was your husband in the labour room during any of your deliveries?

All through my four kids. I can't even imagine him not being there. He's a very good a hands-on dad. He's always there. Like my last baby had to be induced because my dilation was coming too slow at some point, so I was admitted in the hospital for two days before I delivered and he moved into the hospital with me, he went flying from the hospital. We are in it together now (laughs).

With the rage of plane crashes, are you putting pressure on your husband to retire?

If you know pilots very well, you'll realize that they're happiest when they're on air. I can't tell him not to fly. That's what he loves to do. I fly a lot too. It unfortunate that when planes crash, people talk about it a lot. But air transport is still the safest. there're lots of road crashes every day… my husband's been flying since he was 17, and he's one of the youngest captains Nigeria has ever had…how can you stop him now?

But why are there constant rumours that all is not well between you and your hubby?

I've gotten to a stage when I don't bother about it anymore…I've been hearing that for the past 11 years. Time will tell. I only worry for people who see us as role models, who it may affect. Some people think we should go out more often… so people will see us together. But my husband doesn't like going out. He likes to fly, likes to read and sleep. Anything after 8pm.. He's already dosing off.

When you were single, what was the silliest thing you ever did with your man?

I had too many responsibilities when I was younger because I lost my dad when I was 12 and my mom automatically became like the father in the house and I became like the mother, so I had two brother that are way younger than me to take care of, so boys were not on my agenda. Though I did have friends I was dating and close to but it probably never went beyond holding hands and kissing. Nothing interesting.

You still get passes from men right?

What do you think? (Bursts into laughter). Absolutely it happens. I don't have a quest for unnecessary riches. I am not a greedy person. I think most ladies that bow to pressure from men are greedy people. That's when somebody will entice you and you'll fall into a trap. When you start to worry about what people say, you'll get into trouble. Ladies are these days too driven. Not just about money, its about marriage too. They want to live up to society's expectation… you'll only be who you can be. I take my life a step at a time. I don't try to live a false life. I'm not trying to impress nobody.

What's your relationship with your husband's family?

The truth of the matter is I have never, God in heaven is my witness, I have never had any fracas, not even argument with anyone from my husband's family… they even send me things they think is good for my job… My mother in-law stays in the US, she sends me jewellery. She's a very cosmopolitan woman… she's on top of trends. She sends me beads and all that. My father in-law is the one I'd have expected to be worried, but he's not even bothered…he even harasses us for movies. So my in-laws are my fans. They're really great.

So you don't see your 'Omosexy' going stale?

I'm scared. Even people like Nkiru Anumudu, Florence Ita Giwa…they all call me Omosexy. I was on a flight with a female pastor one day and she called me Omosexy…at first I was fighting it…but now I'm used to it. That's the pet name my husband calls me – he calls me Omosexy and I call him honey boy, so when he bought me a jeep, the number plate was Omosexy…that's it!

With Beyonce's portrait on your wall, I can tell she's your favourite international artiste, right?

Yeah, she's my number one and Madonna too though, as an extension. I grow every day. I'm actually growing into myself. I totally love Beyonce, just like I like Justin Timberlake. I totally love them both. I love Beyonce's music and her personality. I don't easily like things. I don't even know about the similarities between her and myself. But I won't deny her. I like her and I love her. I'm not trying to be like her. She's Beyonce and I'm Omotola. I write my own songs… people have just started giving me kudos for that. I'll even love for people to give me credit for that…most singers don't write their own songs. I write from my heart. I feel my songs. It's an expression of what I felt when I was writing and recording those songs. so on stage I'm myself when I'm on stage… that's me and that's where I love to be. That's the truth. I hope to get better. I was recently listening to Janet Jackson's first album, I think mine is better. So I'm consoled.

You can't deny the fact that you're seen as a sex symbol

I can't deny it. I've come to accept it. Few years back I was running away from it because I didn't want it to bring scandals, especially because I'm married. I've grown into it because people know the difference. They respect me and find me positive. I've heard kids call me Omosexy and their parents don't tell them shut up. I was with the president recently and he called me Omosexy, and I was like, oh, that's cool. So you can be sexy and responsible. I hope I've changed something…

What thing would you never be caught doing?

Nothing, one of my rules of life is never say never. I just believe that life is dynamic and you can't see beyond today. I don't know where God is taking me tomorrow. Life is about change. It's about new things. You live to see tomorrow. You live to see new things, so why kill the excitement before it happens. So I'm always open to the next agenda.

Mr and Mrs Ekeinde!

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