by Isi Esene
Nollywood’s Iyabo Ojo, is an actress of many parts, in this interview with the Punch Newspapers, the talented lady speaks about her career, family, her ex-husband, and life being a single mother.
Read excerpts from the interview below:
Why I love tattoos
I don’t really have as many tattoos as people think I do. I just have three on me and they all have their significance. The one on my hand is a rose and it signifies love. The one on my chest is a crown and it means that I am a queen in whatever I do – I call the shots. The one I have on my back means that I see you even though you think I don’t. I see everything you are doing, so watch it. They all have meaning and I am just someone who loves tattoos. There are no negative reasons I love them. I am not the only one wearing a tattoo, there are so many celebrities, both local and foreign, who wear them. It is just something I like. I can not describe why I like it. I feel it is sexy.
Life as a single mother
My daughter is an award-winning actress. She is going to be 12 but she is not a full time actress. She is still a baby and I try to restrict her acting so that she can concentrate more on her studies. Once in a while, we allow her act and only when she is on holidays. It has to be once in a while. When I started, it was a bit stressful because my kids were quite young. I had to be a working mother and business woman at the same time. I am someone who always strives for perfection. I am a very organised person. I draw out my time-table. I have a schedule of my day-to-day life so I am never caught unawares. That is why I don’t work too much. If I have planned my month and a sudden job comes up, I will not take it. I always have a schedule I follow in life and it has always helped me. When I am working, I know how to place my kids in the right place, sometimes with my mother. When they were much younger, they used to go with me but because of school, they stayed with my mother. I have some of my sisters that stay around. Now, my kids have grown up because my boy is 14 years old and the girl is 12 and they are both in secondary school. They take care of themselves more now. Apart from that, I still try to spend time at home more than I used to when they were younger because they need my attention now. I need to be sure that they are studying. They are becoming teenagers. Teenage pressure could be much on them so I have to be the father and mother to them at all times. It was not easy initially but as time goes on, you learn how to manage it. It becomes easy as time goes on.
I relate with their father. I do not talk about it because I give respect to my children, it is their privacy and they want to keep it private. Like I said, we were not just compatible, I met him and in a very short period of time, we got married. We really did not have much time to date. I was 21 years old then. In less than three months, I was pregnant and in less than six months, I was married to him. It was a very short period of time. We basically got married because of the pregnancy. We did not want to have the baby out of wedlock. We got married and we later discovered that there was some part of him that I did not like and there were certain things about me that he did not also like. We were not friends and that was the disadvantage. He was not my first, he was actually my third. I feel apart with my first boyfriend. My second boyfriend, we did not get intimate. So my ex was actually the second but my third boyfriend. I was young, I had my first boyfriend when I was in SS3 and I was about 18 years old. Then we broke up and I had somebody else. We were more like brothers and sisters in Christ so we really did not have any sexual relationship. Then, I met my ex-husband. He was the second man I was intimate with when it came to a relationship. I was young and the kind of life he wanted was to be married and still live the bachelor life while I wanted him to be married and stay at home. That was were we started having issues and problems but we are still friends. He still communicates with his kids.
I do not regret leaving the marriage because I am better off. I regret rushing into marriage, but I do not use the word ‘regret’ anymore. It has become a lesson; I had to learn from that. Every disappointment is a blessing. Even though I felt disappointed that I got married at a young age and did not get to study the man I got married to and whose name I bear now, I still profited from it by having two wonderful kids. It is more than any other thing in life.
I vowed never to get married again
I said so back then when I was disappointed. When you are going into a marriage with so much expectation, hoping that is where you will end your life, you try all your best to make it work. If it does not work, you begin to have problems. Why I came back to the industry was because I found out that my marriage was not working. My job had nothing to do with my marriage. I knew my marriage was collapsing. I just needed something to keep me going. Since I had so much love for acting, I felt I should go back to what gave me so much happiness and joy because I knew that my home was not giving me that joy I needed. I felt it was not enough for me to sacrifice what would give me joy when I knew the reason why I was sacrificing it was not being appreciated.
I am an emotional person
I am a very emotional person. I am very loving but I am a one-way traffic kind of person. When I am in love, I am fully in love with the person. I give my best to the relationship. I am a very lovey-dovey kind of person and I love my man to always be there for me. Sometimes, it seems as if I am over-possessive. It is not that I am over possessive, I am just someone who wants to give everything into the relationship and expects to get the same back. When I do not get the same, I start having problems with that person. That is why I find it difficult to say I want to settle with a person. To me, marriage is a 50-50 thing. If I put in my 50, you have to put in your 50. In a situation where you cannot give me 50, then we are going to have a problem.
Rumours about me
I have cleared the air about so many things. When I was growing up and I read some things about certain people, I always used to say that there would be an element of truth in every rumour. If they talk about me and Muka Ray, I understand because we are very close. In this society, when a man and a woman are very close, people tend to think that they are dating. That is understandable, but when it comes to the case of someone like Pasuma, it is very strange to me. He never asked me out, we are friends but not as close as people portray it. For crying out loud, we are not dating. I don’t have an intention of dating him and I am sure that he does not too. He is my friend, maybe because I have been to one or two of his events. He respects me and I do too but just as a friend. He is a friend and a brother; nothing beyond that. Muka Ray and I became very close and working business partners. My boyfriend understands that. He did not bring me into the industry. He helped me because he was there before me. He helped me grow. I came into the industry myself and I got into the Yoruba movie industry through Alhaji Taiwo Hassan, Ogogo, in 2001. Bimbo Akintola brought me into the industry when I joined AGN in 1998. About a year after I joined the Yoruba movie industry, I met Muka who believed he could help me build my career. I told him I wanted to be a producer and he told me that it was good as he was also a producer. He said we could work hand in glove and that is what we have been doing. Sometimes he works, I contribute; I work and he contributes, both financially and physically. I am not dating any politician. Can’t I afford a car and a house? I am a producer, I produced about 13 movies and I’m not from a poor background. Whatever it is that I have today, I started with my father’s money. I am okay on my own. So nobody has to get me a car or a house.
I come from a very well-to-do family. My grand father was very okay – Adekunle Ogunro. We are a very comfortable family. My father was a very lively man who lived life to the fullest. People call me daddy’s girl. My father ‘met money at home’, his parents were very wealthy especially my grandmother. We lived in Obanikoro. My father was someone who was so much into enjoying life that it cut his life short. He did everything in excess -drinking, smoking, spending money and having fun. I appreciate my dad for the fact that he was my father and we were more like friends. He also had me when he was young. He was 21 years old when he had my brother and 22 when he had me. He lost his life at a very young age, that is why whatever I do, I don’t get addicted. I don’t drink too much if I have to. I don’t smoke at all, only when I am on set and I have to. I don’t do drugs, never have and never will. When he died, there was some money left for us. His own money. It was shared between my brother and I. It is that money I used to start my life and business – a better apartment, a shop, I travelled. My first car was from my father’s money.
About my boyfriend
He is a very caring person. It was not easy for him. He was really after me because when men come, I shut them off. I always put this defensive mechanism up. He was very patient and came in a very soft manner. We started as friends and we became lovers. His relationship with my kids is wonderful. My kids love him. He is a very busy person but any little time he has, he comes to see them and takes care of them. We have been together for a while. I keep my relationship very private. I made it public at a time and it was very stressful. When it is private, you enjoy it more because there are no third parties. He understands the nature of my job. He understands where I am coming from and I understand his too.